* Prices may differ from that shown
The Priory Bay Hotel is an independent 3 * Country House Hotel located by the sea on the Isle of Wight. I stayed for two nights midweek, whilst on business. It has a website (www.priorybay.co.uk) which has lots of details about the hotel (incidentally the website refers to the Country Hotel by the Sea - they borrowed the idea from me not vice versa
), including tariff although I discovered that when I telephoned the hotel to book that I was offered a principal room for the same price as a standard. It is a small hotel, 7 Principal Rooms, 9 Standard Rooms and two family suites. The Priory Hotel is one of those establishments that would, if bigger, be 5*. As a small hotel they dont have the resources for 24 hour room service etc
That said the hotel is not inexpensive, 2007 tariff for a single person starts at £70 per night low season rising to over £175 per night peak season. I stayed Low season and thought that the hotel was excellent value the high season prices are expensive. The hotel also provides catered and self catering accommodation in cottages on its estate. Dogs are not allowed in the Hotel but are permitted in some of the Cottages.
The staff were extremely helpful and friendly, the Manager seemed to know all the guests by name within a few hours of checking in. The Hotel is housed in a lovely building with lots of character and history, not to mention some superb views. My Room was delightful, a large airy, well decorated, well furnished (Excellent quality large ensuite, with soft fluffy towels and good quality complimentary toiletries) with digital TV, even a DVD player. It also had complimentary bottled water (in my view one of the hallmarks of a good hotel). The Room was immaculate and spotlessly clean with great views out toward the sea. Somewhere I have some photos I took, through my bedroom window, of the Solent. It was really well furnished with a lovely, comfortable, double bed, an assortment of comfortable armchairs, desk, wardrobe etc. Above all it had lots of character. The Room was a corner room which was an added bonus. The hotel proudly asserts that every room is different and has its own character. I can say that in my view that is true, my room literally oozed wall to wall charm and character.
The Hotel had an atmosphere of rest and relaxation. Staying on business meant that I missed out on the relaxation, I didn't have time to walk in the grounds or on the private beach or play golf. The Hotel has its own outdoor pool but it was a bit chilly at that time of the year so I didnt bother
The Hotel has the reputation of providing some of the best food on the Island. Indeed it has won awards for its' cuisine.I have to say that I would agree wholeheartedly with that. I checked in just in time for afternoon tea, proper home made scones. It actually has four restaurants. The Island Room (the A La Carte where I ate dinner - serves classic cuisine - a small menu - cooked to perfection); The Brasserie (Basically the Bar and Terrace - quite a wide menu with some interesting looking dishes); The Bay Restaurant (Where I breakfasted although in the summer its possible to eat on the Terrace) and The Oyster Bar (Which is a separate restaurant/ café overlooking the beach when I stayed it was low season and unfortunately closed, although I understand that locally it has an excellent reputation for fresh seafood).
The Hotel has an excellent bar, prices are, Im told, average for the Island. They seemed pretty reasonable to me. It has very comfortable and cosy furnishings. All of the public areas of the hotel are maintained to a high standard. The whole place is full of character. There is even a Churchill connection to find out what it is youll have to visit
Dinner in the restaurant (the Island Room) was a dining experience. The Hotel does a Dinner option on Bed and Breakfast for an extra £25. I had the main restaurant menu which was about £30 (plus wine) for three courses, although that sounds expensive it wasn't. The menu is fairly limited in terms of the number of dishes but the food is awesome. As I've said before I prefer a hotel to have a small menu and cook it well rather than a large menu which is cooked averagely, here I am pleased to say it is the former. The food was absolutely delicious and cooked to perfection.
I had a breast of wood pigeon starter which was outstanding together with a gorgeous lamb dish followed by an awesome hot soufflé which was cooked to perfection. The food was all cooked exceptionally well using local ingredients with some of the vegetables from the hotels own gardens. The wine list was impressive not just for its' variety but also for the fact that it included a wide range of half bottles which for a lone diner is ideal. The wine list is extensive but is not exorbitantly expensive.
Breakfast was another culinary delight. Not a hot buffet but instead freshly cooked high quality local ingredients, the sausage was delicious. It also set me up for the day
It is difficult to find much to criticise. I checked out with a nice feeling of having really enjoyed my stay. OK there is no sauna or gym but you don't need them. The location is a bit problematical, the directions seem more complicated than they are. I found the place without any real problem. That said the disabled facilities seemed somewhat limited. The hotel seemed very child friendly.
If I ever have an excuse to go back to the isle of Wight I'll be staying again (although perhaps not peak season...). Do I recommend it most definitely!!! If you are looking for a really lovely, relaxing, restful place, with awesome food to stay this is the place to stay. In fact its one of the nicest hotels Ive ever stayed in.
Priory Bay Hotel is located at Priory Drive, Seaview, Isle of Wight, Telephone 01983 613146
Do you like New Covent Garden soup? Then you will probably like this hotel too. The New Covent Garden soup company were the first to offer us fresh and original flavours of soups in cartons such as the now commonplace but then very original carrot and coriander. The innovative founders of that successful company are now applying equally interesting ideas to the Priory Bay Hotel, located on the N.E coast of the Isle of Wight at Seaview. One such example is the bath in the middle of one of the principal bedrooms. There is one big difference between the soup and the hotel. I think they are trying to keep the hotel a secret. But I am going to tell. A couple of years ago I won £500 to spend on a luxury weekend of my choice. It was a wonderful prize but it was so difficult to choose where to go. I was tempted to stick to places that I was familiar with but as our wedding anniversary was near I thought it would be nice to go back to the Isle of Wight where we had spent our honeymoon – but this time in style. So I tried the best hotels on the Isle of Wight but because it was Cowes week they were all full. I did a search on the internet and discovered the Priory Bay Hotel, which although an unknown quantity at the time, looked quite nice. I phoned to enquire about the hotel. Rooms cost around £200 per night which is really quite expensive so I asked what was so special about the place. The receptionist said it’s a very nice room with a big bed and nice furniture. She wasn’t exactly the best salesperson I have ever come across. I am not sure whom I spoke to next but he told me it was their aim to create a very special hotel – the best on the island. We compared a few ideas on best hotels and food and as they seemed compatible, and it wasn’t my own money I was spending, I decided to risk it. One thing that was certainly missing from my idea of a luxury hotel was the complete lack of a spa – they only had an outdoor
unheated swimming pool. But by now I was so intrigued I just had to find out what was so special about the place. The receptionist was quite correct it was a very nice room with a big bed and nice furniture. The room was in fact huge and the vast bed was nearly as big as our bedroom and proved to be very comfortable. The en suite was equally luxurious and had the rather unusual feature of a separate toilet with double doors, unfortunately they had forgotten to provide the usual supplies of toiletries or hairdryer and even though I asked they failed to materialise. A very nice selection of teas and luxury hot chocolate was available in the room but the effect of this was rather spoilt by having to crawl round the room in search of a place to plug in the kettle. The room was perfectly designed and very comfortable but even in these sumptuous surroundings there were certain impracticalities. It was a perfect room setting but guests make it look untidy. There was nowhere to put our suitcases apart from the floor and this seemed to spoil the elegance of the room. But these were only minor niggles. Three magnificent windows, with deep cushioned window seats and opulent drapes offered spectacular views across the golf course, the woods and to the sea beyond. I could have spent forever sitting in the window seats wrapped in the thick white robe provided and watching small red squirrels scampering around in the foreground while boats and ships drifted in the distance. But I didn’t, as I had to explore the hotel and grounds. The hotel building spans a great deal of history. Some parts of it go back to the medieval monastery from which it takes its name and other parts are quite recent. Downstairs in the bar we were shown a scrapbook with interesting articles on the hotel and pictures of the renovation taking place. I can’t remember everything but I think queen Victoria sat under the old magnolia tree by the entrance, Gertrude Jekll pai
nted the beautiful tithe barn and Lutyens may have had something to do with the design somewhere -perhaps the unusually beautiful half moon windows set within the fireplace. The hotel was still being renovated while we were there but Andrew or James, I can’t remember which, kindly showed us other parts and his vision for them. Each room is decorated uniquely and has its own special ambience. Some rooms have open fires and as I mentioned above one has a bath right in the room – big enough to fit two quite comfortably. (see some pictures on their website) The drawing room is decorated with immaculate taste and would be quite at home in Country Life. Sumptuous sofas and elegant chairs surround marble coffee tables stacked with suitable impressive magazines and coffee table books. Fresh flowers and exotic orchids mix with objet d'art and a gleaming grand piano completes the picture. But for all the grandeur and luxury the atmosphere is very laid back. Guests wander and lounge around in a manner more reminiscent of a house party. The staff are friendly and cooperative. Outside the hotel are secluded sunny courtyards, terraces and lawns where suitably elegant tables entice one to take afternoon tea. It would be a superb place for a wedding. The hotel is just part of a 70 acre estate and apart from the main hotel there are also various cottages and holiday homes available. Some are quite basic and others very picturesque. The accommodation available at the hotel is therefore suitable for all types from families with children and dogs that want to self cater to those who want a touch of absolute luxury. The facilities include a nine hole par 3 golf course, croquet, tennis and a pool but best of all its own perfect beach which is accessed by a beautiful walk through the woods. The private beach is, in reality, not quite so private for apart from the locals from Seaview the beach is widely accessed by many people coming in
various crafts. But this is not surprising as it has all one desires in a perfect beach. It has sand and some pebbles, it has pretty rock pools dribbling with seaweed and full of wonderful creepy things for the children to poke and play with. It has an ever-changing panoramic view of the ships and sails in the Solent and a beautiful backdrop of woods. There is plenty of wood around to build fires and have barbecues. We spent a wonderful afternoon on the beach having a barbecue and discovered we were in quite good company: Virginia Bottomley and family have their own place right next door and had the same idea. Oh and while I’m name dropping rumour has it that this hotel is quite popular with quite a few famous people including Tom Cruise. (Perhaps that’s why they are keeping it secret) I cannot fault the breakfast but was just a little disappointed by the evening meals, but perhaps we were unlucky or have been too spoiled elsewhere. There was no menu at breakfast which was a bit confusing. The waiter simply asked us what we would like without saying what was on offer. On the first day we opted for a full English and that is what we got but we discovered afterwards, by watching other residents, that we could ask for whatever we felt like and would probably have got it. The chef at the time was apparently a two Michelin star or similar chef but perhaps he was having a holiday or the fact there was a huge party in the next room affected his performance. The big party certainly had some effect on the service though because I do remember that they didn’t have enough champagne flutes to go round. I can’t remember what I had for dinner in any detail and usually can if it was at all impressive. I do remember that the food was served in those funny little heaps that were so popular but that there was no sauces served with the salmon or steak and which I think was a terrible omission. But the restaurant was quite busy and this wou
ld suggest that it is popular and therefore usually good. You can see sample menus on their website. Since we stayed they have also now opened a beach café in a beautiful location overlooking the bay for less formal meals. When we left I mentioned a few of my, perhaps petty, complaints to the receptionist who immediately called the manageress who responded with very sincere apologies and wiped the whole of our drinks bill, champagne included, off the total. You couldn’t ask for more. All in all I would thoroughly recommend this hotel for its exquisite surroundings, beautiful location and friendly informal staff.