Nestling on the waters edge in the bustling harbour town of Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, you will find The George Hotel, a 17th century town house, boasting picturesque views right next to England’s longest wooden pier.
This magnificent building is steeped in history and was once home to the most noteworthy of the Island’s Governors, Sir Robert Holmes who often entertained King Charles II and it still contains many of the original features, including a splendid four-abreast staircase.
The George is now under the ownership of London nightclub impresario, Howard Spooner (whose club creations include The Leopard Lounge, Crazy Larry’s, Embargo, Public and The Clapham Grand). It has undergone an extensive refurbishment designed and implemented by Howard’s business partner, Sally Faber Johnson.
It’s a fun place to be all year round, in the winter relax in front of a fire in the characterful lounge. In the summer, enjoy the Italianate outdoor terrace dotted with olive trees, where you can watch the yachts bobbing on the Solent.
At this time of year, its grand panelled entrance hall sets the scene. On a winter’s day step into Christmas, when The George is adorned with fairy lights and the smell of cinnamon is always present in the air.
Playful touches include a wall of ‘George’ portraits which feature the faces of many celebrities called George, that are superimposed onto period portraits.
Its 17 boutique style bedrooms are all individually designed. Our room (a prestige room with terrace) has its own balcony overlooking the harbour, a steam shower room and, being family friendly, we were also supplied with a travel cot for our three-month-old son Leo.
After settling in we headed down for dinner to The Conservatory – a brasserie style restaurant with a light airy interior and uninterrupted views of the Solent.
Headed up by executive chef Robert Thompson, the youngest British chef to be awarded a Michelin star, the kitchen boasts an impressive menu. It’s unfussy and full of dishes from the wonderful natural Isle of Wight larder – devised into categories of land, sea and farm.
Being a vegetarian I order from “the land” section, starting with the roasted parsnip soup with curry spiced crème fraiche and crisp parsnip. It packs a punch of flavour and luckily isn’t too filling, leaving just enough room for the Jerusalem artichoke risotto, which could probably feed two grown men! No worries about portion sizes here!
My husband orders from “the sea” section and enjoys the crab and crayfish cocktail to start, followed by a substantial portion of The George fish pie for the main event.
Food is served quickly and the staff are more than welcoming, paying close attention to everything you need to make your evening memorable, including that all important drink top up. Although full, we both cannot resist the dark chocolate tart dessert served with ginger spiced pear and mascarpone cream, which was just delicious!
Whilst cosy at night, The Conservatory transforms to a bright and airy breakfast room in the morning complete with its very own personalised breakfast mugs.
As far as veggie breakfasts go some can be pretty minimal (just substituting the meat elements) but The George served one of the best vegetarian breakfasts I have had to date, complete with baked halloumi, hash browns, avocado, poached eggs, homemade beans and tomatoes.
Sufficiently energised, it was time to head out and explore the island. Yarmouth itself is a quaint historic town and nearby sights include the Needles, about a 20-min drive away, Tapnell Farm Park, about a 15-minute drive away and the National Trust Newton Nature Reserve, just 10 minutes to the east.
The downside to visiting at this time of year is that most of the attractions are closed due to it being off season, but not to worry as well as giving yourself a good excuse to visit again in the summer, there are plenty of towns to visit such as Cowes.
After a lovely afternoon stroll around the shops we found ourselves in a quaint café called the Harbour Kitchen, which was the perfect pit stop for a large coffee and a scone!
Depending on what time of year you visit there are plenty of festivals going on at the Isle of Wight, including the story festival in February, the walking festival in May, the Isle of Wight Festival in June, the revamp festival in July, and the renowned garlic festival in August.
All year round The George offers a home to everyone, whether you want to escape for some summer fun or retreat for some festive cheer, you wont find a better place to host your stay than The George Hotel on this beautiful island.
Coming up at The George…Four Course Dinner with Live Music from The Soul Lounge – book tickets here
Address: Quay Street, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. PO41 0PE
Phone: +44 (0) 1983 760331