Sunshine, thatched villages and an easy pace of life – what's not to love about the Isle of Wight's retro charms?
Bucket-and-spade holidays, rolling hills, chintzy tea shops…'the island’ simply oozes retro cool. And in August, it becomes a yachting mecca and plays host to a very aromatic foodie festival...
See & Do
From 6 – 13 August, the Solent will be awash with racing dayboats, classic yachts and old gaffers as the largest sailing regatta in the world – Cowes Week – picks up wind (aamcowesweek.co.uk). Every year, more than 100,000 sailors and spectators descend on the small harbour town, where 40 daily races pit gutsy amateurs against professionals and Olympic champions. Across the River Medina, you'll find Osborne House (english-heritage.org.uk), the former summer home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Stop by on a detour from the 67-mile Isle of Wight Coastal Path, which passes nearby. The Garlic Festival (garlicfestival.co.uk) runs over the weekend of 20 – 21 August. Fans of the pungent bulb can watch a cooking demonstration byGreat British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain.
The Isle of Wight is full of atmospheric drinking holes in idyllic surroundings, many of which specialise in local brews. At the island’s most southerly point, the Buddle Inn (buddleinn.co.uk) is a true year-round venue, with hefty beams, flagstone floors and an award-winning bloom-filled garden. For something more pastoral, head inland to The Dairyman's Daughter (arretonbarns.co.uk). Known for its weekly folk-music nights, this traditional pub sits at the heart of a working craft village. An excellent wine list is just one of the draws at The Taverners gastropub (thetavernersgodshill.co.uk) in Godshill, while, over on the west coast, pints of Scrumdiggity (a local ale) and sunny Solent views tempt visitors to The Waterfront (waterfrontiow.com) in Totland Bay. If you want somewhere to watch the sun go down, this venue’s elevated position can't be beaten.
The 2015 opening of Robert Thompson’s eponymous restaurant (robertthompson.co.uk) has brought island capital Newport to the attention of critics and gastronomes across the UK. Book a sought-after spot next to the open-concept kitchen and watch the Michelin-starred chef bring his modern British menu to life. The crab and seafood dishes at the tiny Beach Hut in Bembridge (isleofwightbeachcafe.co.uk) are raved about by locals and visitors alike, but plan ahead as they’re only open for lunch and afternoon tea. Committed carnivores should head to The Cow Co (thecowco.com) near Yarmouth. With beef and dairy the stars of the show, you’ll find classic burgers and rib-eye steaks alongside naturally flavoured ice creams made with thick double cream. Or head to Italian-inspired Pond Café (pondcafe.com) in the pretty village of Bonchurch for excellent coffee and antipasti boards.
Overlooking Yarmouth Pier, the 17th-century George Hotel (thegeorge.co.uk) is one of those places you long to return to after a full day of sightseeing. Snuggle down in the wood-panelled bar, or spend a warm evening on the terrace watching boats sail by.
For a dose of Victoriana, head to Rylstone Manor (rylstone-manor.co.uk) in Shanklin. Set in clifftop gardens, the hotel offers views of sparkling Shanklin Bay, along with rooms decked out in William Morris fabrics and V&A-print wallpapers. It may have Victorian bones, but polished B&B Onefifty Cowes (onefiftycowes.co.uk) is fresh and modern on the inside. Book one of the four smart rooms, or come for an island sailing event and rent the whole house. If you’re looking for something more rustic, Vintage Vacations (vintagevacations.co.uk) has 13 retro Airstream trailers to rent at Hazelgrove Farm near Ryde, all equipped with radios, log burners and vintage board games.
Save up to 15 per cent with Wightlink
The IoW is ideal for a quick UK break. Hop on a Wightlink catamaran in Portsmouth and you'll be in Ryde in 22 minutes; the car ferry will get you to nearby Fishbourne in 45 minutes, and the car ferry from Lymington will get you to Yarmouth in 40 minutes. See boundless.co.uk/save-more/wightlinklink for offers for Boundless members