Freshwater Bay House

Isle of Wight

Freshwater - IOW - External -NoDandelion.jpg

Chalky white cliffs and eyebrow-arching sea views set the tone for the delights that follow at this county house on the Isle of Wight - Queen Victoria's favourite island that’s just a ferry hop from the South Coast. The location is as gorgeous as it gets; to the south of the village of Freshwater, within pebble-throwing distance of its namesake bay, and just a skip from Tennyson Downs. You’ll also be within easy reach of the area’s showstoppers, including the imposing Stag and Mermaid rocks, the multi-coloured sands of Alum Bay, the remarkable Ventnor Botanic Garden, and the 125-million-year-old dinosaur footprints at Compton Bay. And then, of course, there’s the Needles Old Battery for the ubiquitous photo opportunity and the best views of The Needles Rocks. 

Little is known about the history of Freshwater Bay House, yet records show it was a purpose-built hotel owned by Charles Plumley in 1824. Prior to this, it was known as The George Inn and visited by London-born artist George Morland in 1799. He earned a living on the island by painting inn signs and undertaking local portrait commissions, although it’s thought he sought refuge here to dodge his creditors. By the 1850s, the hotel was known as Plumley’s Post House before later changing its name to the Freshwater Bay Hotel and Posting Establishment (it was around this time that playwright George Bernard Shaw visited with his new wife). It was then bought by William T Lambert who renamed it Lambert’s Hotel – and this name stuck until the beginning of the 20th century. Over the years, the rather famous line up of guests included Lewis Carroll, Anthony Trollope, and Lord Tennyson. It has been part of our HF Holidays line-up since 1956. 

Nowadays, Freshwater Bay House has 43 well-appointed guest rooms in three categories (Classic, Premium, and Superior), three cosy lounges (one has a grand piano), a licenced bar, and a light-filled restaurant for a wide range of dishes made with fresh and seasonal ingredients. There’s a handy boot and drying room, an outdoor play area for children, books and games to borrow during your stay, and a Discovery Point offering a wide range of local area maps, route guides, and easy-to-follow information for self-guided walks. Equally fabulous is the putting green, croquet lawn, tennis courts, and lovely gardens with paths leading down to the beach in one direction and Tennyson Down in the other. For sunny days, there’s an outdoor heated pool (open from Easter to September) with a seating area and far-reaching sea views. 

Our Country House: Freshwater Bay House

Open March to November and during the festive season ● 43 well-appointed guest rooms Full-board (including cream tea on arrival) ● Check in from 4:00pm ● Free on-site parking ● Free Wi-Fi ● Boot room and drying room ● Discovery Point offering a wide range of local area maps, route guides, and information for self-guided walks ● Books and games to borrow Licenced bar Three lounges Garden Outdoor heated pool (open Easter to September)

Need to know

The safety of our guests, team, and leaders is always top of our list. We will closely align ourselves with the latest government advice and guidance on COVID-19 and implement the best possible hygiene practices across our country houses. We ask that you take sensible precautions to protect other people’s health and would appreciate you informing the house team immediately if you feel unwell. For the latest COVID-19 FAQs, please visit our Coronavirus Travel Advice Page


Designed with your comfort in mind, Freshwater Bay House has 43 well-appointed guest rooms available in three categories: Classic, Premium, and Superior. 

Classic Rooms are comfortable en-suite guest rooms, ideal for a peaceful night's sleep. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee-making facilities, toiletries (hand wash, shampoo, and shower gel), and a 23-inch TV. 

Premium Rooms are more spacious en-suite guest rooms offering upgraded views of the surrounds. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee-making facilities, toiletries (hand wash, shampoo, body lotion, shower gel, shower cap), and a 32-inch TV. Extras include bathrobes, slippers, and comfortable mattresses. Please note that an extra charge of £15 per person per night applies for this room type. 

Superior Rooms are even more spacious en-suite guest rooms offering upgraded views of the surrounds. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee-making facilities, toiletries (hand wash, shampoo, body lotion, shower gel, shower cap), and a 32-inch TV. Extras include bathrobes, slippers, and comfortable mattresses. Please note that an extra charge of £25 per person per night applies for this room type. 

We love: Rooms 19 and 20 on the first floor for their lovely sea views. Rooms 18 and 22 are both corner rooms overlooking the bay and Tennyson Downs. The more spacious Room 24 has five large windows overlooking the gardens and bay as well as a private sitting room. Room 39 on the second floor is a corner room with a bathtub. 

The Choose Your Room service is available at our UK country houses, allowing you the option of choosing and confirming a specific room for an extra charge of £30 per room. This is subject to availability. Upgrade supplements apply. 


You are welcome to check in from 4:00pm at the earliest. On arrival, you’ll enjoy a complimentary cream tea and get to meet your fellow guests, our HF Holidays Leaders, and the rest of the friendly team.  

On the day of departure, we kindly ask all guests to check out by 10:00am. You’ll be asked to settle your bill prior to leaving. You may, of course, make a charitable donation to our HF Holidays Pathways Fund if you wish. Please note that we only accept card payments.  

About Your Stay

We want you to feel comfortable from the moment you arrive. You’ll find a welcome pack in your room with guest registration forms, menus, order forms for dinners and picnic lunches, the Wi-Fi password, and the front door code. Our houses are locked at night, so we recommend noting the Duty Manager’s number on arrival in case of an emergency (or getting locked out). 

While evening entertainment varies from house to house, the HF Holidays Big Pub Quiz held after dinner on Wednesdays is a weekly staple. Your HF Holidays Leader may be around for tips on guided and self-guided walking routes as well as visit-worthy local attractions. 

Our HF Holidays Leaders host guided walking information briefings before and after dinner on arrival days. This is followed by a group Walks Talk for information on the following day’s walking delights (usually held before and after dinner, so you can join whenever suits). Self-guided walking guests are, of course, welcome.  

Prior to setting off on walks, your HF Holidays Leader will run you through a short safety briefing. There’s also an up-to-date weather forecast on display at the house to ensure you have appropriate clothing and footwear (we recommend anything waterproof enough to keep you dry in a sudden downpour). If you choose to do your own walks or are on a self-guided walking holiday, we ask that you please complete an Independent Walker Card each day. These can be found near the Discovery Point in the house. 

Food & Drink

Led by experienced chefs, we serve a wide range of dishes made with fresh and seasonal ingredients. We always aim to source the best produce available and use home-grown herbs and vegetables from our own gardens whenever possible. Additionally, we have a licenced bar with beers, soft drinks, and a superb selection of spirits. 

Full-board comes as standard and includes a cream tea on arrival and a hearty breakfast on departure day. Most dietary requirements can be catered for, so please inform us of any food intolerances or allergies at the time of booking. Currently, global challenges such as COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine are directly impacting our food and drink supply chain. We thank you for appreciating that menu descriptions are kept flexible to allow for last-minute changes if needed. 


For accessibility and assistance information, please contact our expert team on 020 3974 8865 or view the accessibility information online for Freshwater Bay House

What's on?

  • Guided Walking
  • Self-Guided Walking
  • Special Interests
  • Unavailable to Book

Discover Isle of Wight

Local Area

Just off the coast of Southern England, the Isle of Wight is a delightful haven away from the bustle of the mainland, easily reached by ferry or even the world's only commercial hovercraft service (foot passengers only). Broadly diamond shaped, the island is 25 miles long and 15 miles wide. This makes it ideally sized for a week’s walking and exploration.

Freshwater Bay

Freshwater Bay is a small semi-circular cove at the foot of the garden of Freshwater Bay House. There is a pebble beach here and sandy beaches approximately 3 miles away at Totland Bay or Colwell Bay. Shops and banks are located in Freshwater village, about 30 minutes’ walk away. The house is located at the foot of Tennyson Down, a popular walking route which leads to The Needles and Alum Bay.


The small harbour town of Yarmouth is located three miles north of Freshwater Bay; either a 10-minute drive or a pleasant 1-hour walk away, following the path of the River Yar. It can also be reached using the 'Needles Breezer' open-top bus. Yarmouth has a selection of small shops and pubs, and there's always a bustle of activity around the harbour. Yarmouth's Tudor castle is also worth a visit.

Osborne House

Queen Victoria’s island residence, managed by English Heritage, is located near East Cowes at the north of the island. Enjoy the lavish interiors and take time to explore the extensive grounds which slope down to the Solent. Osborne House is about 40 minutes drive from Freshwater Bay.  

Carisbrooke Castle

A fine medieval castle situated near Newport in the heart of the island. The castle's most famous 'resident' was King Charles I, who was imprisoned here after the English Civil War. Walk around the impressive walls and visit the castle's famous well where donkeys are used to raise the water using a large treadmill. Carisbrooke Castle is around 20 minutes' drive from Freshwater Bay and can also be reached direct using the number 12 bus. Alternatively, it is possible to walk here right from the door of Freshwater Bay House by following the Tennyson Trail (approx. 9.5 miles).

Alum Bay

Alum Bay is world-famous for its multi-coloured sand cliffs where 21 different shades of sand have been naturally created from various minerals. There is a chairlift down the cliff to the beach which gives amazing views of the sands and across the Solent. On the cliff top there are various other visitor attractions including a glass-blowing workshop and obligatory sand shop where visitors can fill glass ornaments with their choice of sand. Alum Bay can be reached on foot directly from Freshwater Bay house or on a 15-minute ride by public bus.

Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Step back in time and ride this vintage steam railway from Wootton to Smallbrook Junction. The railway has a particularly historic collection of locomotives and rolling stock, including many wooden 4-wheeled carriages dating from the the 19th Century. The main station is at Havenstreet where you'll also find a museum and the line's workshops. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is about 45 minutes' drive away from Freshwater Bay. It can also be reached by local bus, via Newport. 

Blackgang Chine

The Blackgang Chine fantasy theme park is a big hit with children of all ages. Attractions include Cowboy village, 'Fantasyland', maze and the giant snakes and ladders. Adults may also enjoy the maritime exhibition and working sawmill. Blackgang is 20 minutes' drive from Freshwater Bay and in summer can be reached using the 'Island Coaster' bus. 

Ventnor Botanical Gardens

The island's rich climate enables Mediterranean and sub-tropical plants to prosper. Enjoy magnificent floral displays and relaxing gardens based on geographical parts of the world at Ventnor's Botanical Gardens and keep an eye out for the garden's resident wall lizards. Ventnor is 30 minutes' drive from Freshwater Bay and in Summer can be reached using the 'Island Coaster' bus. 

Bembridge Windmill

This Grade I listed windmill is the only surviving windmill on the Isle of Wight, now managed by the National Trust. It was built around 1700 and closed in 1913. It has four floors to explore and most of its original machinery is still in situ. The windmill was famously painted by JMW Turner in 1795. There are some lovely countryside walks near the windmill which sits on the Bembridge and Yar River Trail in the east of the island about a 45-minute drive away from Freshwater Bay House.

Getting to Freshwater Bay House

Travel Details

Our address is: Freshwater Bay House, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight PO40 9RB
Tel: 01983 753854

By taxi:

It is possible to get a taxi to Freshwater Bay House from Yarmouth ferry port. The 5-mile journey takes approximately 15 minutes. You can pre-book a taxi from our recommended taxi company, Bay Taxi. As a guide price, it costs £12 per 4-seat taxi in 2022. 8-seat taxis are also available at a higher rate. Please pre-book your taxi at least 7 days in advance by contacting:

Bay Taxi*
Tel: +44 (0) 7475 662350
The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Freshwater Bay House Manager.
*Bay Taxi is not owned or managed by HF Holidays

By train:

The nearest railway station is Lymington Pier on the mainland. This is immediately adjacent to the ferry terminal. For train times and route planning by train visit or phone 03457 48 49 50.

By ferry:

The Wightlink Lymington to Yarmouth ferry is the most convenient for Freshwater Bay - see

Alternatively, the Red Funnel Southampton to East Cowes ferry is often the cheapest option if you want to take your car to the Isle of Wight - see

HF Holidays' Members receive 15% off their car travel and 20% off foot travel with Wightlink Ferry. For full details and to book your crossing visit

By car:

From Yarmouth turn right out of the ferry terminal onto the A3054 and over the bridge across the River Yar. After 1 mile turn left down Pixley Hill, signposted to Freshwater Bay. Turn left at Freshwater Garage and continue along Afton road. At the Lifeboat station turn right and follow the road round passing the Albion Hotel on the left. The entrance to Freshwater Bay House is the next driveway on your left.

From East Cowes: follow signs for Newport, taking the A3021 and then A3054. Continue through Newport and Carisbrooke. Turn left onto the B3401 through Calbourne. At the T junction with Afton Road (A3055) turn left and then right by the Lifeboat station and follow the road round passing the Albion Hotel on the left. The entrance to Freshwater Bay House is the next driveway on your left.

Alternatively leave your car on the mainland and travel to the Isle of Wight as a foot passenger (see above for HF Member discount with Wightlink).  There is a pay and display car park at Lymington Pier - price approximately £11/£12 per day.

Travelling from overseas

If you're travelling from Europe the most convenient airport is at Southampton. From Southampton Airport Parkway station (adjacent to the airport terminal) there are regular trains to Lymington Pier - journey time 40 minutes). See for details. From Lymington take the ferry to the Isle of Wight (see above).

For most guests, travelling to either London Heathrow or London Gatwick airport is the best option. See for onward connections by train to Lymington Pier.