Home Travel Great British boltholes: A review of Hillside Ventnor, Isle of Wight

Great British boltholes: A review of Hillside Ventnor, Isle of Wight


Eye-popping sea views, a secret beach mere footsteps away and an uber-cool interior: Inside the Scandi-chic Isle of Wight lodge that’s shaking up the island’s hotel scene

  • Hillside is located in the quirky resort of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight’s south coast with Scandi-chic decor 
  • There are 12 rooms – eight of which have sea views – plus a couple of apartments all with comfortable beds
  • A short menu of delectable dishes features locally sourced produce – the garden soup is a highlight 

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Hotels in the quirky resort of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight’s south coast have enjoyed their share of the limelight: Queen Victoria frequented the Royal Hotel for afternoon tea, while The Hambrough caused a flurry of foodie excitement when it gained a Michelin star in 2009.

At the bottom of St Boniface Down, another hotel is shaking things up, its thatched-cottage exterior belying an uber-cool interior that feels foreign on the island’s tradition-lapped shores.

The Scandi-chic decor of Hillside makes sense when you meet the charismatic Danish owner, Gert Bach, who has created a minimalist world of stripped-back oak floors, monochrome furnishings and Klint lamps. Stark white walls act as a backdrop for huge canvases of abstract art from the Cobra movement.

Culture clash: Hillside, located in the quirky resort of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight’s south coast, has a traditional thatched-cottage exterior

Culture clash: Hillside, located in the quirky resort of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight’s south coast, has a traditional thatched-cottage exterior

Just as eye-popping are the sea views over lawns that tumble downhill to impressive vegetable gardens. These form the backbone of Hillside’s food ethos – using local produce to create a short menu of delectable dishes (it doesn’t get much better than their garden soup). 

Gert sources his wine in France, and very good it is too – the rosé seems made to be enjoyed sitting by the lily pond before you move inside to feast on dinner served at wooden tables with wishbone chairs.

Breakfast is also surprisingly good for a place with just 12 rooms plus a couple of apartments; the superb buffet features honey from the garden hives (they also keep chickens, doves and three black sheep).

Scandi-chic: The bedrooms feature white decor with splashes of colour from artwork, fresh flowers and blue water bottles

Scandi-chic: The bedrooms feature white decor with splashes of colour from artwork, fresh flowers and blue water bottles 

TRAVEL FACTS 

Hillside, Ventnor, Isle of Wight. B&B doubles cost from £156 a night, with a minimum two-night stay (hillsideventnor.co.uk).

Then it’s just an amble across the art-filled hall to read the papers in the Snug, with its black seating, wood-burner and framed photographs from Hillside’s past – it has been a hostelry since the 1800s. I pause before one sepia photograph entitled ‘Hillside boarding establishment’. My, how things have changed.

The rooms: Think pale but interesting, the white decor given splashes of colour by the artwork, fresh flowers and blue glass water bottles. Comfortable Vispring beds have 420-thread count linen, goose-down duvets and woollen blankets. Bathrooms are compact but adequate; eight rooms have a sea view. Checkout is early at 10am.

The food: It’s all about the taste rather than too much twiddling, in dishes that might include a crab ramekin with local bread, ham and chicken pie with garden veg and a hot chocolate brownie with ice cream (three courses £25 to £30). It was the stand- out meal of summer for my son and me.

The USP: Scandi chic just a short walk from a secret beach. Leave the crowds at Ventnor and take the 20-minute coastal route to Steephill Cove, a delightful throwback to beaches of yesteryear.  

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