The Wellington Hotel, Ventnor, Isle of Wight, England

Location - The hotel is a five minute walk from Ventnor town centre, and an equal distance from the beach, which is reached via some steps leading from the sundeck area outside the restaurant. If you are driving into Ventnor from Newport then turn right by the church just as the main road swings left, and the hotel parking is 200 metres along on the left (limited to about 8 spaces in all, but there is also street parking nearby).

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Check In - The receptionist was expecting us (it’s always nice when they don’t loose your reservation, which happens at some places) and there was just one form to fill in for all 5 of us (we were taking 2 rooms, 1 twin with extra campbed and 1 double) so check in was quick – no more than 5 minutes. The receptionist is Greek (as are the owners and head waiter) and he has that genuinely welcoming, joyful, open and friendly manner about him that’s quite common in Greece but not so common here in the south of England. Nothing was too much trouble for him and the same was true of the other staff at the Wellington we were to come into contact with during our 3 day stay.

The Room - The bed was roomy, the linen clean and fresh smelling, the temperature easy to control via a dial and the hot water constant and quick to appear in the taps and shower. There was no safe, or fridge, but we did have a kettle, tea and coffee.

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The TV had the basic 4 channels plus the BBC World Service, and I considered this a blessing. Who wants to watch satellite when you have this view?

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The room was cleaned every day by understanding and helpful staff. We had an accident one night with red wine – spilled all over the white duvet cover, valance and carpet – and they’d cleaned it all up with no fuss (and no further mention) by the time we’d returned from the next day’s walking.

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The curtains were heavy enough to keep out the cold at night so we could lie in bed with the French doors open and curtains drawn and listen to the waves, and the birds too when the dawn chorus began in the trees below our balcony. A strange but welcome thing worth mentioning is that although there was a road behind our room, and also down below between us and the sea, we never ever heard any traffic noise. Maybe this was because the cliffs all around us acted as a natural amphitheatre and reflected back sounds of a certain frequency, such as the waves but not the cars. I’m not sure, but I was very glad of it, it’s a rare joy to be in a town centre European hotel and only have natural noise as a soundtrack.

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Our friends had the twin room next door. One of them had their young son with them and the staff put a third bed in there no problem. They had no balcony but shared the same great view through a large window.

Food - The Wellington’s restaurant is on the ground floor (down stairs from the reception) and looks out onto a broad wooden sundeck, which benefits from a sea view and also from the trees below, in which many birds sit and sing (lovely to hear them as we ate breakfast). In spring and summer there is space enough for 10 tables on the sundeck but it was a little cold when we were there in March so we ate indoors, by the open fireplace.

I loved eating at the Wellington. The food is tasty, well presented and very good value, and the head waiter is knowledgeable, genuinely friendly and informal. He was also very flexible and helpful. We had a teenage lad with us at one dinner who didn’t fancy anything on the menu so the waiter suggested chicken, potato and some vegetables. I kind of expected chicken nuggets to make an appearance since we were ordering independent of the menu but no, there was a nicely sized fillet of chicken on a bed of mash served next to a few veg and a very tasty puree sauce (I don’t know what it was, looked great though and the lad finished it so it must have been good). The only down side of the menu was that there was very little for vegetarians to eat, but I have no doubt that they could rustle up something suitable, of a high standard, if asked.

My own dinner was full of distinctive and complimentary flavours. I had locally caught cod (roasted) with veg whilst the other 2 on my table had sea bream and lamb. All of us were very impressed, and satisfied, with our meals.

The breakfast, which is included in the room rate, is a buffet of cereal, toast, juices and fruit, and then a freshly cooked full English complimented by decent coffee or tea.

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The full English was very well cooked (not overly oily) and presented; I appreciated the little touches such as fresh herbs (basil or parsley) sprinkled on the scrambled eggs, mixed with red pepper.

It’s hard to impress upon you just how good the food at the Wellington is. Whether you’re staying there or not, you must try to eat there.

General Notes and Impressions - I realise that I’ve used the phrase ‘genuinely friendly’ a few times in this review. That’s because in my opinion it’s rare to come across hotel staff in England who have this quality. Usually hotel staff will either be overly subservient (which is unnecessary and awkward to deal with) or slightly un-concerned, and they’ll smile at you and be ok but when you catch them on their lunch break, or when they are really busy, or when you see them walking in town whilst off-duty, the smiles often aren’t there any more. The staff at the Wellington aren’t like this, probably because they’re Greek and come from a background that appreciates the joy of life a little more than we English tend to. The staff were always easy in themselves and happy, not just towards the guests but also each other, and a few times I walked back to the hotel to find the receptionist outside the front door chatting and laughing with passers by, just for the fun of it. Add this quality to a commitment to service and to acting professionally and you have staff that make a stay at the Wellington a totally positive and rewarding experience.

Ventnor town itself is a quiet place. There’s not much to it if you like shopping, but the beach is wide and sandy, the weather generally warmer than other south coast towns (the surrounding cliffs create their own micro-climate apparently, and palm trees abound) and the atmosphere is relaxed. You can do and be what you want here. It’s not like many other English south coast resorts, for instance, Newquay, where if you aren’t dressed in a wetsuit or a lifestyle hoodie and carrying a surfboard you’re just not ‘normal’ (or welcome, it seems at times). In Ventnor you can surf, swim, sunbathe, walk the coastal path, read (maybe get into ‘Fathers and Sons’ – Turgenev started to write it whilst living in a cottage on the beachfront), drink in The Spyglass (a decent pub with tables right on the beach), eat good seafood, chill out…

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There’s a coastal path that runs through Ventnor, we walked it to the east for half an hour and came to the pretty village of Bonchurch, and in the other direction it takes a similar amount of time to reach Steephill Cove. Steephill is a cross between Loutro, an idylic Cretan village and Dahab, a hippie hangout I know in Egypt. There is no vehicle access – anybody staying here has to walk down from the main road, or the Botanic Gardens, about ten minutes away – and the seafront is flanked by little makeshift gardens, with driftwood tables, and a café and a couple of other locally sourced food outlets. It clearly costs a fortune to stay in the rental properties here, but for all that it doesn’t seem too posh or exclusive and makes a nice excursion from Ventnor.

The coastal path continues all the way along the south coast – walk it for a day or so and you’ll come to Tennyson Down just beyond Freshwater Bay, beyond which are The Needles. The scenery is spectacular all the way.

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Summary - Excellent location, tremendous views, brilliant staff and superb food. If you’re thinking of visiting the Isle of Wight, or simply want a taste of the southern English seaside at it’s best and are unsure of where to find it, then TrekandRuns’ opinion is that The Wellington Hotel in Ventnor is definately worth a stay.

To check out The Hotel Wellington and it’s current deals please click www.thewellingtonhotel.net

or email them on info@thewellingtonhotel.net or call them on 01983 856 600

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