THE historic Mariners Hotel in Lyme Regis could be split into a smaller boutique hotel and seven-bed holiday let, if planning permission is granted.
The Grade II listed hotel was originally built in the 17th century and has been used as a school, doctors office and coaching inn. The original building has been added to and adapted over the years, and is now described as a “rabbit warren”.
Recognised for its pastel pink exterior, the Mariners was once the home of the Philpot sisters – Elizabeth, Margaret and Louise. They were known for their pioneering geological discoveries and great friends of Lyme’s most famous fossil hunter, Mary Anning.
Author Beatrix Potter also stayed at the Mariners while on holiday on 1904, two years after she published her most famous work, ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’.
While staying in Lyme she worked on another book, ‘The Tale of Little Pig Robinson’, which did not see print until 1930 – her last published work. She also produced a number of sketches of the town, including several drawings of Broad Street.
Hotel ‘past its heyday’
Now, owners of this historic hotel are seeking to make changes, saying that the Mariners is “sadly past its heyday”.
The application adds: “Customers are now more discerning and a great deal of work would need to be carried out to make the accommodation in to an attractive holiday destination.”
It said that the Mariners has had a difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It opened briefly between the first and second national lockdowns but with little success, meaning it has been largely closed since March 2020.
The application continued: “Prolonged closure and lack of use is not good for any building and this is particularly true of older and Listed Buildings. For each month that passes the maintenance and refurbishment work necessary to bring the building back in to good order increases.
“While ‘stay-cations’ will be with us for several years as we, hopefully, put the pandemic behind us, this does not change how much work is needed to put this rambling old building in to good order.”
The proposed eight-bedroom boutique hotel is described as a “more manageable” business, with a separate seven-bed holiday let still being managed by the hotel, which would offer housekeeping services and catering to those visiting on an ad hoc basis.
You can view the full planning application and make comment on the Dorset Council website.