‘Mum, there’s a pirate ship outside!’ My ten year-old is looking out of the window of our second floor hotel room on the Isle of Wight. The Premier Inn hotel in Newport is on the quayside of the town’s harbour on the Medina River and there’s a large, rusty boat sporting a black and white skull and crossbones flag moored opposite our window. There’s no sign of Jack Sparrow or his crew. Maybe they’ve gone to the pub: there’s a good one further along the quayside.
I’m staying at the hotel with my husband and son (the teen is on a Spanish exchange trip) for two nights during the October half term. It makes a good base as Newport is the Isle of Wight’s administrative centre and sits in the middle of the island. This means that anywhere we go from The Needles in the West to Dinosaur Isle in the East to everywhere in between is no more than thirty minutes’ drive away.
The hotel is in a quiet spot between the quayside and Seaclose Park, a huge area with a children’s playground, skate park and acres of playing fields. We’re staying in a comfortable family room with both a double and a proper single bed and a selection of pillows to choose from. The room has just enough space and is simply furnished in the signature Premier Inn style. There’s a TV on a wide, wooden desk, a kettle, a hairdryer, a heating control and an open wardrobe to store your stuff in. The bathroom has a shower over the bath, Imperial Leather shower gel in a dispenser on the wall, white cotton towels and a big mirror above the sink. So far, so good but, annoyingly, the room doesn’t have a phone. This means going down two flights of stairs to reception every time we need to ask them anything. I’m surprised at this because the other Premier Inn hotels I’ve stayed in have all had phones (I’m a Premier Inn Blogger Ambassador so have been to a few). We make full use of the hotel WiFi.
I love the breakfasts at Premier Inn. There’s anything you might want to eat for breakfast on offer, from poached eggs to porridge, fresh fruit salad to muffins, and you can help yourself to as much as you like. The only thing not available when we have breakfast is hot chocolate. This is a shame as the weather’s quite chilly but there are no hot drinks for children (unless they like tea or coffee). I think this breakfast offers great value at £8.25 per person, especially as two children can eat free with each paying adult.
We eat at good local pubs recommended by the helpful reception staff on both nights of our stay. The Bargemans Rest is about ten minutes’ walk away on the other side of the quay and is homely, friendly and festooned with nautical ephemera. The vast portions of food are mostly homemade using locally sourced ingredients as far as possible. My roasted vegetable lasagne is good and the youngest enjoys his bowl of chilli although my husband says his burger is ‘too thin’. The newly renovated Stag pub is about five minutes’ drive from the hotel and is painted in shades of Farrow and Ball. The menu is quite fancy – I have to ask what parmentier potatoes are. It turns out that they’re little cubes of fried potato which go very well with salmon and mangetout in a creamy sauce.
The Quay Arts Café is a ten minute walk along the quay from the hotel and is a good place for lunch. Next to the café is the common room, a Harry Potter-themed room full of stuff for kids such as a dressing-up box and colouring materials. There’s nobody in there when we visit and my son doesn’t venture inside. I enjoy homemade tomato soup and crusty bread at the café before popping upstairs with him to look at a free art exhibition called Chasing Sputnik about the island’s former space rocket testing facility. My son is fascinated by the giant cardboard spaceship and we decide to visit the site of the rocket testing facility, now under National Trust care, at The Needles the following day.
Family travel lowdown: Family rooms at Newport Premier Inn cost from £71. WiFi is free for thirty minutes or £3 a day for two devices. ‘Eat as much as you like’ breakfast is £8.25 per adult and up to two accompanying children under-16 eat for free. Thank you to Premier Inn for hosting us as part of their Blogger Ambassador scheme.