A Weekend Of Escapism: Foresters Hall, Isle of Wight – Hotel Review
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A Weekend Of Escapism: Foresters Hall, Isle of Wight – Hotel Review

A restorative escape

By Sofia Tindall | 9 months ago

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Tiring of Cornwall? Set sail for the Isle of Wight instead, and recently spruced-up boutique hotel Foresters Hall, says Sofia Tindall. Having taken the reins last year, first timers Sara Curran and Peter Sussman have reopened this Georgian town house for a new chapter (with a little help from local culinary talent). Step inside and see for yourself.   

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Hotel Review: Foresters Hall, Isle of Wight

Dining table at Foresters Hall

STAY

There’s nothing like a hotel with an intriguing backstory. Combine that with a vast personal art collection, shingly English seaside location and a dash of cinematic influence and you have all the ingredients for Foresters Hall. Previously known as North House, this boutique hotel in pastel-perfect Old Town Cowes has recently been taken on by new owners, with a new name to match. And that’s not the only thing that’s been given a spruce-up. First-timers Sara Curran and Peter Sussman might be new to hotels but, with a combined background in the film industry, they’re well-versed in weaving a captivating narrative.

Once a gathering place for the Isle of Wight’s thriving community of foresters (and latterly a rumored hangout of two certain young royals), threads of the building’s history blend with contemporary artistic influences to give Foresters a hint of Greenwich Village flair in its new chapter. There are the striking Alex Katz prints, weaving their way from the upper floors with its 14 bedrooms, down to the buzzing brasserie. Moving outdoors, overlooking the serene pool, you’ll find a striking wall mural inspired by Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Interiors retain a chintzy coastal charm inspired by the island location (think four poster beds, ropey layers of texture and an abundance of navy), while dashes of fire-engine red, rich ferny greens and playful prints elevate the interiors from pretty to covetable.

A blue themed bedroom at Foresters Hall

Best of all, is the sense that you are not staying in a hotel at all, but as a guest in a private home curated by two very interesting and cultured hosts. From fresh papers first thing in the morning, to the Hunter wellies and bikes at your disposal for exploring, to the jewel-like cocktail bar dotted with velvet chairs and an old piano, from the moment you enter Foresters, the scene is set for a weekend of escapism. If you’re anything like me, you may find you never want to move out.

DO

There’s plenty to be discovered from the doorstep, on foot or bicycle. Stretching from the edge of town to Gurnard with its clutch of hidden coves, the coastline is a good place to start. After, head to the high street for a taste of Cowes’ pretty Georgian architecture and local seafood catches in one of the many snug pubs.

A line of wellies

Further afield, there’s breathtaking cliff top walks near Compton Bay (and surfing for the truly brave) and Tennyson Down. The 30-minute drive to Ventnor on the other side of the island is worth it for Steephill Cove, a former smugglers cove which can be reached only by foot along a coastal path. Once there, you’ll be rewarded with a novel-worthy setting overlooking a tiny private beach, with two restaurants serving up local catch daily.

EAT

The good news? To get a taste of the best local cuisine, you won’t even have to leave the hotel. Having already made a huge success of their island-based Smoking Lobster chain, local superstar restaurateurs Giancarlo Giancovich and Cinzia Reckitt have turned their hands from pan-Asian cuisine to Mediterranean at Foresters’ brasserie.

Foresters Brasserie

With locally sourced seafood and seasonal produce front and centre, the menu is as good as any you’d enjoy in London (no surprises there, thanks to the 15 years Cinzia spent immersed in the London food scene). The restaurant, too, is a feast for the eyes, lined with scarlet leather banquettes and wrapped in the colours of a Sicillian coast on a summer’s day. The bad news? Well, there isn’t any.

A plate of oysters

THE FINAL WORD

If you think the bucket and spade holiday is a thing of the past, think again. Thanks to hotels like Foresters, they’re making a comeback for grown-ups seeking a seaside getaway complete with free standing baths, spritzes on tap and a pool you won’t have to elbow Soho House members out of the way to get to.

Whether you stay in the main house or the clutch of rooms to the rear overlooking the pretty gardens and sea views, no detail has been left unthought of in creating a memorable stay, right down to the Cowshed products in the bathrooms and freshly squeezed orange juice at breakfast. For a restorative escape just a hop, skip and a two hour train journey from London, look no further.  

BOOK IT

Prices in-season from £295 per night. forestershall.com