Well, if it was good enough for Queen Victoria, it is good enough for me! However, we didn’t stay at Osborne House which would have been fabulous, but staying at the superbly located Warner Leisure Bembridge Coast Hotel with its uninterrupted sea views, modern accommodation, excellent food and attentive staff, why would we want to stay anywhere else.
Our trip was well organised and included in the cost of the weekend was our ferry crossing from Portsmouth which was quick and efficient. It takes approximately 45 minutes from Portsmouth to Fishbourne by ferry or 22 minutes from Portsmouth to Ryde by passenger catamaran. If Warner haven’t booked the ferry for you then you have to book it yourself. Wightlink is the ferry service that sails every half hour throughout the day and the cost is approximately £41 return but check the web site for further details and discounts.
Tip: If you arrive about an hour before your booked ferry time you may be asked to embark on an earlier ferry if there is space.
We followed the well signposted roads to the village of Bembridge past the life boat station to the beautiful grounds that surround this lovely hotel. There is ample parking and, if required, help is available to carry your luggage – just ask at reception. Checking in and getting your room key is done at 2pm but if you arrive earlier as we did, the lounge and bar awaits. Light lunch and a drink on the patio was delightful. Our room was excellent, a standard room along a flat, disabled friendly corridor. The hotel has disabled rooms which are located near the reception, lounge, bar and entertainment area and all have wheelchair access. The rooms which are on two tiers – a lift is provided for the upper rooms – are situated with a sea view or a garden view. The downstairs rooms have a small patio with a table and two chairs a space for you to relax outside. The rooms are spacious and comfortable with a TV and all the facilities you expect in a good quality hotel.
The hotel does have activities that many people enjoy from a large pitch and putt course, archery, indoor and outdoor bowls, swimming pool and a boules playing area and it is on the Isle of Wight coastal footpath walk, so no need to relax!!! But, if you do want to relax then this is the place; a leisurely breakfast followed by a short stroll by the sea to watch the cruise ships and other smaller crafts sail by, back for a coffee. This is the life!! For the ultimate in relaxation the hotel does offer a spa so why not try a rejuvenating massage or a luxury facial. If fresh air is for you the hotel does have a lovely Italian style garden for visitors to wander around and enjoy the flowers and sit awhile. This is what Warner Leisure Hotels want you to do – do whatever you want, it is up to you – wonderful.
Bembridge is an adult only resort, a place that does let grandmothers and grandfathers relax and have some ‘Me’ time, but it isn’t an ‘oldies’ place at all. Yes, the silver travellers are there, but it is an eclectic mix and Warner cater for all ages. Many people find the short hop across the Solent a ‘no hassle’ journey, no passports or boarders to cross very relaxing and a lot less stressful than going to the airport. I have always regarded the Warner Hotels as a ‘cruise’ on land and that is what it is. Lots of activities but also lots of places to relax or go to see. The entertainment in the evening is also very good, just a short walk from your rooms and you are there. Dance groups gather there and spill on to the dance floor doing modern, sequence and line dancing which brings the ballroom alive. Top flight acts entertain with theme nights and specialty nights but Warner staff entertainment team also provide excellent entertainment each evening. If this is not what you wish to do then the bar and lounge area provide a comfortable surrounding to enjoy the friends you have just made or just sit and listen to a singer with melodic tones.
On our visit we decided to see a little more of the island. We were only there a weekend so time didn’t allow us to see all of it but we did get to the lovely old village of Shanklin and with Sandown beach forms part of Sandown Bay with its beautiful beaches and safe bathing areas. Shanklin is like stepping back in time with its thatched roof cottages and lots of places to enjoy cream teas. We also went to Osborne House, the wonderful summer house of Queen Victoria and her family which is now looked after by the National Trust. If you are not a member it costs £17.50 per person, but it is worth the money believe me. From the amazing state rooms to the beautifully kept grounds a trip to the Swiss Cottage that was the ‘Wendy House’ of the royal children for them to run free and enjoy this beautiful place. Look out for the red squirrels!! You can walk to the Swiss Cottage and beach area but a mini bus takes you down to the Swiss Cottage or the beach, where you will find the famous bathing machine and excellent ice cream. If you have walking difficulties or if you just want to ride down and enjoy the grounds from a different aspect. The house is disabled friendly and has wheelchair ramps and a lift to certain floors but some rooms are not accessible.
I could not do justice to this beautiful small island off the coast of England in a weekend, there is so much more to do on the island. Visit the yachting area of Cowes, famous for the Fastnet yacht race. A trip to the Needles Landmark attraction at Alum Bay to see a row of three distinctive chalk stacks and the multi-coloured sand cliffs. There is so much to see and do on the Isle of Wight but we did our island exploring in the early part of the day to have some time back at the beautiful Warner Leisure Bembridge Coast Hotel and really enjoyed the surroundings. A weekend is a lovely break but we could easily have stayed another week to explore the Isle of Wight and ‘stay awhile’ longer at Bembridge. If you decide to leave your car in the car park or come by coach Warner’s have organised tours for you to go on. For example, the Two Ports cruise out of Cowes Harbour through the Solent with views of Osborne House and Norris Castle every Thursday from just £23 per person. Other activities are arranged so check the entertainment guide which you will be given when you arrive.
The love Queen Victoria and Albert had for the Isle of Wight shows in the warmth and grandeur of their holiday home and I am sure Victoria would be pleased her subjects were enjoying this lovely island just as much as she and Albert did.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Warner Leisure Hotels.