A carefully balanced mix of traditional and modern, the Alexandra Hotel is set in elevated gardens above sea-faring Lyme Regis - a short walk from the town's sand and shingle beaches, its quaint Georgian streets, and the fossil-rich cliffs that line the curve of Lyme Bay. Dating from the 1730s, the Alex has a classic, very English style and though a recent revamp has jazzed up the decor, it retains the air of an old fashioned seaside hotel - unpretentious, family-run and big on personal service. And nowhere else on this enchanting stretch of Dorset's Jurassic coastline (a World Heritage site) boasts a better view. Visit in summer for a bucket-and-spade beach holiday, or in winter to watch waves crashing over the famous 'Cobb' harbour (think French Lieutenant's Woman). There are play areas for children, a cosy lounge (think comfy sofas), an al fresco cliff deck (perfect for sundowners and cream teas), and two excellent restaurants: The Alexandra and the less formal Conservatory. Bedrooms are bright and airy, with contemporary bathrooms; most enjoy sensational views. For a romantic wedding, you couldn't do better than in the 18th century chapel (where you can be married and hold the reception) for in the romantic garden Lookout Tower (perfect for intimate ceremonies of 6 or private dining). Once discovered, the Alexandra is likely to become a favourite escape on the south coast.