Great British Boltholes: Fine food and relaxed luxury near the waterfront… North House in Cowes is a Wight winner!

  • North House is the first boutique hotel in Cowes – it offers ‘relaxed luxury’
  • It is a 19th Century townhouse and theatre that have been knocked together 
  • There are 14 bedrooms and a restaurant rated one of the island’s best  

This boutique hotel is packed with luxury features and just a gull’s squawk from the waterfront – but my favourite feature was a simple pot of milk.

That small china jug meant my first welcoming cup of tea was perfect and set the tone for a relaxing escape.

In advance, an Isle of Wight trip seems more daunting than it is. The hotel claims it’s ‘just two hours from London’ and I made it in less than that from Wiltshire.

The best bit is the 25-minute Red Jet catamaran from Southampton. I sat at the front like an excited schoolboy as we splashed past ships, forts and buoys.

Relaxed luxury: Pictured above is one of the spacious rooms

Red Jet lands at Cowes harbour, alongside the main street, a pedestrianised area of boutique shops, bars, restaurants and boating clubs.

North House is a stroll up a quiet street of pastel-painted period houses. A 19th Century townhouse and theatre have been knocked together, renovated and whitewashed to form a hotel with 14 bedrooms and a restaurant rated one of the island’s best. It’s close enough for rooftop sea views but far enough to avoid quayside crowds during yachting events.

Inside, the interiors are as you’d expect to find in design magazines, with chalky painted wood panelling, stripped wooden floors, period fireplaces and framed botanical drawings. 

Bedrooms have three categories: cosy, comfy or spacious. My room 11 is spacious. Double doors lead to a huge bathroom, with freestanding bath, twin sinks and shower that could accommodate a boat crew.

Cyclists can borrow free bikes, appropriately smart Pashley models. You can join the ‘Round Island’ and ‘Red Squirrel’ bike trails near the hotel.

Walkers can choose from a long row of brightly coloured courtesy wellies. I had no need of wellingtons for my coastpath stroll westwards to Gurnard’s harbour.

Eat in the hotel’s smart gourmet restaurant, on the garden terrace (above) or in the owners’ lively bistro 

USP: Cowes first boutique hotel offers fine food and relaxed luxury near the waterfront and foot ferry. There are gardens and heated pool (March to October) too.

Rooms: Various-sized period rooms share chic, chalky decor, scrubbedwood furniture and massive beds. A classic Roberts radio is pre-tuned to Radio 3 and there’s fresh milk in the fridge.

Food: Eat in the hotel’s smart gourmet restaurant, on the garden terrace or in the owners’ lively bistro, The Coast Bar, on the main street. Menus are stuffed with local seafood and delicious fresh offerings from local farmers.


North house, Cowes, Isle of Wight. Double B&B from £110. For more information visit

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