A weekend trip to the Isle of Wight was an absolute delight. Three days of sunshine – no mean feat in summertime England – added to the pleasure of a seaside stay where evening walks along the beach brought each day to a relaxing close.
Transported by Wightlink Ferries and hosted by Visit Isle of Wight and The Seaview Hotel in Seaview, we felt that all our needs were catered for.
We arrived in Portsmouth somewhat harassed as a long diversion from the motorway – due to a fire – meant that, having set out from home with plenty time to spare, we hurtled into the ferry car park rather late. Delighted to find the ferry still boarding, we drove up the ramp, and in no time were sailing off into the Solent with a welcome cup of tea in hand.
It being a somewhat fresh day, as the wind is euphemistically called in these parts, we sat on the deck but briefly, holding on to our hats and our hair. Indoors in the comfortable lounge, we had a fabulous view through full-length glass windows as the mainland grew distant and the Isle of Wight hove into view. All memories of snarled up traffic disappeared as we drove off into Ryde en route to the hotel.
Seaview is one of those small seaside towns that took me straight back to childhood when my family would spend a week in the summer at a small hotel where we sat at the same table throughout for our breakfast and dinner. Starched white tablecloths and melba toast were the order of the day.
The Seaview Hotel reminded me of those long ago days and I felt immediately at home. We were shown to our rooms in The Apartment, a three bedroom suite with lounge and bathroom.
Simply decorated with sisal carpeting, Roman blinds and matching bed covers in blue and white striped ticking, the most welcome detail was the beautiful sea view as the name of the hotel suggests.
Tea and coffee making facilities were used with immediate effect while we recovered from our journey and plotted the events of the weekend. At night we all slept well, in part thanks to the sea air but also due to the comfort of the beds and the quiet surroundings.
Waking to a good breakfast is always one of the thrills of staying in an hotel, at least it is for my family. The Seaview does a copious breakfast. I began each day with a bowl of deliciously rich Greek yoghurt with a summer berry compote. My son tucked in to some of the cereals arrayed in large, glass storage jars. There was a platter of fresh fruit, constantly refilled and baskets of croissants and mini pastries. Tea, coffee and juice were plentiful. The waitress came to take our orders for the hot section of the breakfast and it was not an easy choice.
On the first morning I chose Eggs Benedict and the second I opted for a generous portion of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. Other options included kippers, Eggs Florentine, Smoked Haddock with poached egg and mustard hollandaise, or the Full English along with black pudding.
In the evening there are several options in the hotel. The Pump Bar or the Naval Mess, decorated in the style of a naval officer’s mess, both serve light meals and daily specials which on the weekend we stayed included Lobster orzo pasta with fresh basil.
A more formal, 3 course menu (£28) is served in the Dining Room. The Head Chef, Bruce Theobald, previously worked at Chez Nico, Grosvenor House Hotel and The Capital Hotel in London. On the night we dined we ordered Fish Soup and Crab Ramekin.
Other starters included a goats cheese and beetroot salad, pigeon breast with black pudding and pancetta or smoked salmon with smoked caviar, watercress and boiled egg.
For mains we enjoyed a well prepared fillet of Brill atop of melange of fresh peas, asparagus, Jersey Royals, baby gems and broad beans – a really lovely summer dish.
Also on offer were Monkfish served with belly port, roast duck, wild sea bass with gnocchi, cockles and mussels or vegetarian option of rainbow chard and mozzarella tart. The dessert menu brought us vanilla crème brulee and a cheese platter.
Along with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, no wonder we slept well.
The Seaview Hotel is literally steps from the beach. We walked each evening along the shore, wondering why we live in the city and feeling envious of holidaymakers who had recently arrived for the summer and were firing up their BBQs. One evening there was a party overlooking the sea where locals set up their picnic tables outside the local pub and danced the night away to a live band. This was real community spirit.
The next day, as the ferry glided away from Ryde towards Portsmouth we felt a tug of longing for more time on the Isle of Wight. We will be back.