Now there are four OceanBlue Coastal Retreats of all shapes and sizes, each a quirky labour of love from the husband-and-wife team. There's The Hideaway for couples, Strawberries for friends, or Stable and Carmel for families. Some have cosy log burners, others have suntrap terraces; all have sea views of some sort. We arrived late and slept like babies on our comfy mattresses, hearing not a peep from outside. And the scene that unfolded when we woke the next morning was breathtaking: the sea glittering beneath golden sunshine filled our feature window, stretching to a deserted horizon. We admired it in captivated silence, awed by the realisation that nothing but nature stood between us and northern France.
With the island's Coastal Path running right through the bottom of our garden, the foodie cafes and pubs of Ventnor on our doorstep, and the highest point of the island directly above us, we couldn't believe our luck. We'd found the perfect spot for escaping the daily grind.
- Views! All cottages face south and look out to sea - and Carmel and The Hideaway have suntrap terraces for taking it all in
- Peaceful, homely, and wonderfully secluded
- Heaps of walks and beaches nearby - the Coastal Path runs right past the cottages, and one of the best walks on the island starts here
- Great for families - lots of kids' equipment, twin rooms, games and puzzles, Sky TV and family-friendly activities in the area; dogs welcome too in Carmel and The Hideaway
- Great hosts - owner Lucy's family lives nearby so they're on hand, plus they're full of local recommendations
- It's not the easiest place to get to, especially if arriving in the dark, and GPS isn't always reliable. Follow Lucy's detailed instructions and you'll be fine
- We had no phone signal whatsoever - all the more reason to disconnect! (All houses have WiFi if you can't)
- Strawberries and Stable don't have gardens and don't accept dogs, but they do share a sea-facing yard
- The paths down to the beach can be slippery - bring good footwear
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Cottages
- 4 cottages (for 2-8)
- Self-catering; restaurants nearby
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car essential
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
Three of the cottages sit side-by-side in a honey-stoned building facing the sea, all opening onto a sun-soaked, south-facing stable yard; Carmel stands on its own just up the hill. All share a similar turquoise-white colour scheme to match the coastal surroundings.
We adored Carmel (sleeps 6-8). It's the epitome of cosy country cottage, with stone walls, feature windows, exposed wood floors and heaps of original features. Downstairs there's a kitchen with church-like windows, a utility room, a living room with log burner, a separate dining room and a double bedroom with ensuite shower bathroom. Upstairs you'll find the master bedroom, a kids' room with three single beds (fourth available on request), and a second bathroom with a bath. There's lots of space outside too, with a terraced garden and a gorgeous terrace at the top with dazzling sea views.
With four bedrooms, Stable (sleeps 8) is the largest cottage, and the most modern too. You enter into an open-plan living/dining room with high ceilings, exposed beams, a log burner, lots of comfy seating and a long table for big feasts. Skylights, glass-framed doors and plenty of windows make it a light space. A well-equipped kitchen, a double bedroom and a shower bathroom sit at the back of the house, while the other three rooms (two double, one bunk) are upstairs. You also get prime use of the lawned garden by the car park. Note that dogs are not permitted in Stable.
The layout of Strawberries (sleeps 4) makes it popular with sets of couples and friends. Two double bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms sit either side of a very light, open-plan kitchen/living/dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows. One room can be set up as a twin if you're bringing children, and the bathroom is adapted for wheelchair users. No dogs are permitted, however. With views across the stable yard and an alfresco dining setup, it's a haven on a warm summer's evening.
Gorgeous little Hideaway (sleeps 2) is cute, quiet and perfect for couples. It's split-level, with the bedroom and bathroom downstairs and a very cosy open-plan kitchen/living room complete with log burner upstairs. But its piece de resistance is the hidden - and very spacious - garden and sun terrace with sunloungers facing the sea.
- Washing machine
Every cottage has a well-equipped kitchen for rustling up meals. There's plenty of equipment for cooking, plus plastic cutlery for little ones. All except The Hideaway have dishwashers and washing machines.
For stocking up on supplies, there are Co-ops in Ventnor and Shanklin (5- and 12-minute drive respectively), plus a big Morrisons in Lake (15-minute drive). We'd recommend stopping en route from the ferry terminal so you don't have to head straight out again once you arrive. The island has lots of great farm shops too, so do call at these to pick up fresh, local produce.
Ventnor is gaining a reputation as the food capital of the island, so there are plenty of options for dining out - everything from quaint tea shops to fine-dining affairs. We went to The Spyglass and loved it so much we ended up going twice! It's got a big seafront terrace and lots of cosy spots for dining inside, plus regular live music. Seafood is the speciality around here; make sure you try crab pasties in Steephill Cove. If you don't want to stray too far, The Bonchurch Inn in the local village does good Italian food.
- Coffee / tea making
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Restaurants nearby
- Self-catering; restaurants nearby
- Explore the coastal path. Turn right and walk to Ventnor along the sea wall, or turn left and head towards Shanklin through an Area of Natural Beauty - said to be one of the best walks on the island.
- Spend a day in pretty Ventnor. Relax on the beach, explore its boutique shops, have a rest in a tea shop and stroll over to Ocean Blue Quay for freshly caught fish and chips.
- From Ventnor, continue for another mile along the Coastal Path to Steephill Cove, a hidden bay where crab and lobster is landed daily. Explore the rock pools at low tide, then head up the cliff to the pretty Botanic Gardens.
- Hike or drive up to St Boniface Downs, the highest point on the island, boasting panoramic views out to sea and towards the mainland, and lots of lovely walks.
- Explore Carisbrooke Castle, in the centre of the island, where Charles I spent his remaining days imprisoned during the Civil War.
- Rent bikes and follow The Cycle Track, which runs along an old railway track from Sandown to Newport, and continues to Cowes.
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Historical sites
- Shopping / markets
These homely cottages are ideal family retreats. They're extremely well equipped, come in various shapes and sizes, and have heaps of space for kids to run around in (note that the stable yard, though safe for children to play in, is a shared space with other guests). With lots of beaches within walking distance, family activities and watersports in the area, and books, games, puzzles and DVDs in the cottages, little ones are unlikely to get bored here.
Family friendly accommodation:
Carmel has a triple bedroom with three single beds, Stable has a bunk room for youngsters, and Strawberries has a bedroom that can be converted into a twin. Baby cots are available to borrow.
Kids Activities on site:
- Board games and puzzles
- Sky TV and DVDs
Families Should Know:
The cottages and terraced gardens have some steep steps and quirky features, which families with young children need to be aware of. Everyone should take care in the terraced gardens (at The Hideaway and Carmel).
- Beach: 5-minute walk (Monks Bay)
- Hospital: 40-minute drive (Newport)
- Supermarket: 5-minute drive (Ventnor)
The OceanBlue Coastal Retreats are in the small village of Bonchurch, near Ventnor, on the south coast of the Isle of Wight.
There are no airports on the Isle of Wight; the nearest are Southampton, Bournemouth and Heathrow.
There are frequent sailings from Southampton, Portsmouth and Lymington to the Isle of Wight; most take cars. Book early for the cheapest fares.
On the Island:
You'll need a car to get from your arrival port to Bonchurch, and for exploring the island. If you don't want to bring your own car, you could hire one - see our car rental recommendations. There are regular but slow buses from Ventnor to Newport and to Ryde (via Sandown).
Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.
- Southampton 40.0 km SOU
- Beach 0.2 km
- Shops 0.5 km
- Restaurant 0.5 km