Best hotels on the Isle of Wight
If you’re looking for homely, laidback charm with a family touch, try this gastropub with just three rooms. Run by a local couple, Ben and Holly, decor at The Little Gloster eschews the standard chintzy curtain B&B fare in favour of white, Scandi lines. Book the balcony suite for views over the Solent (and the beer garden), and make sure you don’t leave without sampling some of the freshly hauled seafood in the restaurant downstairs.
As the name suggests, this thatched 12-room Victorian cottage turned boutique hotel offers impressive views over the rooftops of Ventnor and out to sea. It has its own vegetable garden and roaming chickens, meaning that much of the menu in its restaurant is grown on site or sourced locally. And although it’s a period property, it’s anything but fusty: Danish owner Gert has updated the inside with simple, whitewashed decor and his impressive art collection.
No misnomer, this. Owners Helen and Frazer have three small houses for rent, each one a little hut sleeping up to four people and featuring compost toilets, solar power and wood-burning stoves, as well as a deck and a BBQ area. It’s all about sustainable back-to-nature holidays here: the smallholding is on the outskirts of Parkhurst Forest, which is home to the island’s famous red squirrels and perfect for strolls and cycle rides, though if you need some civilisation, Cowes is a ten minute drive away.
Set on Tapnell Farm (where the Isle of Wight Festival takes place in June), Toms Eco Lodge has a variety of overnight options, from safari tents sleeping up to eight people to pods that sleep two, along with log cabins and a couple of cottages. It’s perfect for those craving a back to basics getaway: all accommodation comes with flushing toilets and hot running water and some options have hot tubs and log fires. Dogs are welcome; kids too: as well as huge fields and nearby beaches, there’s an on-site petting zoo and an indoor play area in one of the barns.
At first glance, you wouldn’t guess that this townhouse was Cowes’s first boutique hotel. Step inside though and it’s a tasteful and homey affair, with chummy service and snappy decor. In the 14 rooms you’ll find cosy fireplaces, seagrass carpets and roll-top baths as well as the occasional piece of fancy, statement wallpaper. Don’t miss the hotel’s buzzy, laidback seafood restaurant, The Oyster Store, which overlooks its garden, where you’ll also find a small pool (mercifully, heated).
This seven-room cliff-top hotel in Ventnor on the island’s south-east coast is another traditional Isle of Wight bolthole that’s been given a contemporary facelift inside. Sea views come as standard for all but one of the rooms (two of which have balconies) and all come with mod cons like TVs, Nespresso machines and minibars. Be warned: there’s no car park, though if you call ahead, the friendly front desk will advise on what to do.
Don’t let the fact that, technically, it’s not on the Isle of Wight, put you off. If you want somewhere unique to stay, try this early 19th-century maritime fortress turned boutique hotel-cum-venue in the middle of the Solent. Accessible by boat (or helicopter, if you’re that way inclined), No Man’s Fort has no less than five bars to keep you busy, as well as open-air hot tubs and an indoor fire pit and spa. As far as the 23 rooms go, its lighthouse suite – a penthouse suite at the top of the lighthouse – has to be one of the UK’s most spectacularly located: 360-degree sea views come as standard.
If you’re in Cowes for the sailing, this family-run pub with six rooms attached makes for a convenient base as it’s walking distance to the yacht clubs and the Marina. During regatta season it can be a bit of squash as every man and their dog (pets are welcome) comes to nurse a pint while drying out in front of the fire. Upstairs though it’s a quieter affair, with six en-suite rooms that are a little more contemporary than the nautical-themed boozer downstairs. Simple, central and friendly.
The Royal Hotel in Ventnor is a perfect example of a traditional Victorian seaside mansion that’s been welcoming guests, including none other than Queen Victoria, for centuries – in this case since 1832. The dining room is big on the sort of heavy curtains and ornate chairs that wouldn’t look out of place in an Agatha Christie novel, while rooms upstairs ditch the bygone charm in favour of simple and modern. The gardens and heated pool are popular, though if you’re really looking to properly get out on the water, the hotel has its own speedboat for hire.
The village of Seaview on the island’s north-east coast offers gentle seaside charm by the bucket-load, and its eponymous hotel is a great place to soak up the nostalgia-tinged vibe. There are 29 en-suite rooms here, spread across various buildings centred around a decent-value, popular restaurant, as well as Pump Room, the hotel’s relaxed pub, which serves ale and fish and chips. Unsurprisingly, the vistas are great; ditto the local coastal walks and cycling. Several of the rooms are dog-friendly and there are six electric bikes available for hire to guests.