This month, our resident Pet Inspector, Kiki, travelled to the Isle of Wight for an autumn adventure at the Luccombe Manor Country House Hotel. Find out what got her little tail wagging with enthusiasm ….
When we were offered the chance to stay at the fabulous Luccombe Manor, we jumped at the opportunity. This was a very nostalgic trip for us, as I used to visit Ventnor on the Isle of Wight when I was younger, so it holds a very special place in my heart. In my eyes, there is no wrong time to visit the Isle of Wight, so an Autumn weekend getaway really did get Kiki and I jumping with excitement.
Getting to the Isle of Wight couldn’t be easier, and Kiki loves the journey and being at sea. We hopped on the ferry at Southampton, and once on board we headed for the dog-friendly lounge and found that we were soon surrounded by a group of other dogs of all shapes and sizes who wanted to rub noses and be friends! The crossing only took an hour (and was lovely and smooth), so before we knew it, we arrived in Cowes in the tranquil embrace of the Isle of Wight ready for our adventure to begin.
We had already heard how super dog-friendly Luccombe Manor was, but it exceeded expectations when we received such a warm welcome. This characterful hotel is nestled amidst lush gardens and overlooks the shimmering sea in Shanklin. The fabulous position on the cliffs means you are surrounded by amazing sea views, as well as having wonderful walks and beaches galore on your doorstep – Kiki was delighted!
The hotel itself was built in 1870 and was a former gentlemen’s residence, which just adds to its charm. It has retained many of its characterful, original Victorian features such as decorative architraves and ornate ceilings in the public areas. As usual, Kiki raced into the hotel, received some friendly pats and welcomes from reception, before she scampered up the stairs to our room.
Dogs really are the focus at Luccombe Manor. In our room, Kiki had been given a lovely big bed and blanket, as well as a bag filled with toys and treats to make her feel totally at home! And the setting means that you don’t have to venture far to be out in nature on a dog walk. The well-manicured gardens proved to be the perfect playground for Kiki to chase the wind and greet a few fellow furry guests.
Food at Luccombe Manor was stand out, for us and Kiki (especially the breakfast sausages), but the highlight was afternoon tea including a doggie tea for Kiki which she woofed down before sitting politely while we finished our scones. We also enjoyed dinner at Luccombe’s sister hotel – Luccombe Hall Hotel, where we had a lovely table with views out to sea and enjoyed a delicious supper of goat cheese tart, roast chicken and tiramisu.
The area surrounding Luccombe Manor is a dog walkers paradise – Kiki is still resting from all of the activity! On our first day, although it was raining a bit, we were undeterred and decided to walk along to Shanklin Chine – which has been welcoming visitors for over 200 years and was much beloved by Jane Austin and a number of other historical figures. It’s a stunning tree-lined gorge with lush foliage and waterfalls. A stroll through the Chine is like stepping back in time and Kiki absolutely loved meandering through the winding pathways. Plus we had our Caboodle treat tin to hand to keep her energised! There are quite a lot of steps down but you are rewarded by fabulous vistas – there’s even the cutest cafe – and then at the bottom of the steps is Fisherman’s Cottage – a delightful little pub on the beach where we enjoyed a glass of wine before dinner. Whilst we were there they put on a Halloween evening event, with live entertainment, wonderful illuminations and lots of spooky werewolves and witches plus pumpkins galore.
We also took a stroll along the beaches to Small Hope Beach, a lovely sandy beach, where Kiki had fun with a ball, splashing in the sea and then joined us for coffee at a dog-friendly Salic cafe. We continued on to Shanklin Old Village which is absolutely charming. We recommended heading to The Crab for lunch.
If we had had longer I would have loved to have visited Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s holiday home, where dogs are allowed in the grounds and you can take it in turns to visit the house. Another dog-friendly recommendation is the super stylish Beach Hut at Bembridge, a gorgeous cafe in a fabulous location by the sea which re-opens for the Season in April.
It was a short but sweet trip to Luccombe Manor but we can’t wait to return. The staff had been so charming and dog-welcoming – it really felt restorative and like a breath of fresh air. After saying our fond farewells to everyone, we headed off for some last-minute beaches and sightseeing before our afternoon ferry, whilst already planning our next trip back.