Isle of Wight - Shanklin

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By Tim Saunders

Until we stay at Daish’s Hotel on the Isle of Wight we are unfamiliar with the benefits of half board.

Often our choice of accommodation is no frills self-catering but during our stay at the company’s flagship Shanklin hotel guests enjoy breakfast and dinner as part of the package.

On arrival at this family friendly, 72 bedroom 18th century coaching inn, it’s reassuring to know that it’s been awarded the highest food hygiene rating of five from the Food Standards Agency.

There’s an extensive menu for both breakfast (830am to 9am) and dinner (630pm to 7pm). Favourite breakfast has to be yoghurt followed by poached eggs and toast with marmalade while the best dinner is homemade vegetable soup and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with spotted Dick and custard for dessert.

We all enjoy the restaurant experience and Caroline and I relax without having to worry about getting dinner - a real treat. During courses a little voice inevitably says, “I need the toilet.” Will Medas, our cheerful waiter puts everyone at ease, his personality fills the room. Nothing is too much trouble.

During our four night stay the hotel is at full occupancy. Our children are entertained watching the waiters taking and delivering orders. No doubt this will be re-enacted in a role play at a later date. After dinner they run outside to the playhouse and the swings.

Daish is both a hotel and coach operator, which makes it a popular provider. They cater for self-drive guests like us and there’s an ample car park. The company puts on excursions for its guests and self-drivers can join in.

Activities in the early evening are provided such as gingerbread decorating and film nights with popcorn for the children and at bedtime there are cookies and milk for them, too. Live entertainment is provided every night for the grown ups.

The joy of staying in a Victorian property is that the rooms are enormous with high ceilings. Our en-suite family room is large enough for the five of us (two singles for Harriett and Heidi, our double bed and Henry’s travel cot). Huge sash windows provide views over the garden. We all sleep well every night. Even though lights out has to be by 9pm for the little rascals I am still able to read my Wallander thriller by the window thanks to the light summer nights.

Our room is tidied and towels are replaced daily if we wish. What luxury.

A 10-minute stroll takes us to Shanklin’s wonderful sandy beach where we all paddle and teach Henry how to wave his bubble wand.

For safety reasons we prefer to swim in a pool and have an hour-long family swim at Waterside Pool, Ryde. This indoor pool has a retractable roof, which is open on a summer’s day, making it feel like an outdoor one. We also swim at Cowes Club. Both sessions really help Harriett (7) and Heidi (5) gain in confidence. They even remove their armbands in favour of floats and complete many widths.

We visit the Donkey Sanctuary, Quarr Abbey, Mottistone Gardens and Brading Roman Villa. There’s just time to visit Osborne House at Cowes, which was Queen Victoria’s holiday home for 50 years. It’s palatial with stunning views across the Solent and strolling around the gardens is a joy.

Our hour long crossing with Red Funnel is perfect for impatient children and adults alike. When compared to arduous journeys abroad this really does appeal. On our outward journey we go on the deck and wave goodbye to Southampton while on the return leg there’s just enough time for a quick meal before arriving home.

An excellent break.


210 views