Cowes Week is just around the corner and, if you hadn’t heard the buzz, the Isle of Wight – where this annual sailing regatta takes place – is the new hot British destination. Just under two hours from the capital by train and, rather novelly, hovercraft, the second-most populous island in England can be found floating in the Channel, about 4 miles off the coast of Hampshire.
But what makes the Isle of Wight so special? And why have more and more people been flocking to the county? Not only was it called home by British icons from Tennyson to Queen Victoria, and proud to boast one of the richest maritime histories in the UK, the Isle also hosts the iconic Isle of Wight festival and offers diverse natural beauty across its 150 square miles.
So why not head on down to the Isle to discover all it has to offer? From sailing and fishing to activities for adrenaline junkies such as paragliding, mountain biking and coasteering, the possibilities are endless for a short break on the island. And, once you’re done enjoying yourself, there’s a whole host of hotels and restaurants to choose from too.
Where to stay
The Hambrough, Ventnor
Located on a pretty residential street in Ventnor, The Hambrough offers a cosy atmosphere, locally-sourced restaurant and panoramic views out to the sea. Homely and contemporary all at once, these elegant rooms and wooden floors give you a regal taste of the island.
Tom’s Eco Lodge, Freshwater
Eco-friendly tourism is the new vogue across the world, so why wouldn’t the Isle of Wight have jumped on the bandwagon? Nine miles from Newport, this rolling farmland – also the site of the Isle of Wight festival – boasts safari tents and a ranch-like retreat.
North House, Cowes
A perfect base of operations should you choose to visit during Cowes Week, the town’s first ever boutique hotel features seaside chic interiors and individually-furnished bedrooms with sea views and elegant antique decoration. Also, a pool – for those of you who prefer freshwater.
What to eat
By Chef Robert Thompson, this eponymous eatery offers dishes from local duck to grilled red mullet, and promises to present Isle of Wight produce in a worldly way. So, book a table and expect local eggs Italian-style, local cheese spiced up and local poultry the Chinese way.
The Little Gloster
If it’s unpretentious food you’re looking for, this is the place. Inspired by years of sailing the globe, this international menu includes confit of lamb, shellfish broth and Lebanese hummus burger – alongside grub from closer to home including day boat cod fillet, fresh Porthilly oysters and whole Ventnor lobster.
If it’s fish you’re looking for, then this restaurant-cum-fishmonger is a must-visit during your stay on the island. All produce is harvested from the Solent, and the roster is quite impressive: halibut, bass, brill, hake, bream, cod, haddock, skate, plaice, monkfish, gurnard and John Dory – to name but a netful.