Have you ever been on holiday and had literally no idea what to expect, only to arrive and have a really delicious feeling of anticipation, as you realise you DID make the right decision? Well, that’s EXACTLY what the first day of our holiday to the Isle of Wight with Blue Chip Holidays was like over half term.
It was the first time the husband had even met Not Another Mummy Blog’s Alison Perry and her family, who we were staying with, so it could all have been a bit of a disaster. Thankfully, we knew within minutes of meeting up on the ferry that this wasn’t going to be the case.
We were staying at the rather grand Hermitage near Ventnor, on the southern tip of the island. Set in remote countryside (it’s the remotest country house on the island, apparently) overlooking breathtaking scenery across the rolling grounds, this ten bedroom house somehow manages to be both cosy, inviting AND luxuriously spacious. It’s perfect for a multiple family holiday where you don’t necessarily want to be in each other’s faces 24 hours a day.
Within minutes of arriving, the house was full of laughter as Frog joined Alison’s five year old in checking out every single room (and testing every bed) in the house. The open plan kitchen / dining room provided an ideal base for everyone to drift in and out of, and the fact it adjoined a well stocked playroom went down very well with my toddler.
This became the place we would all congregate in the morning for a bowl of cereal and a cup of tea. I loved sitting here as the sun came up in the morning, watching the red squirrels (yes, really!) dart across the extensive lawns outside. It’s amazing how quickly you can feel at home in a place.
There were some lovely personal touches to The Hermitage which, for me, really made the Blue Chip Holidays offering stand out. For example, there were fresh flowers on display, along with a welcome hamper including wine and delicious local cheese. I know from experience that you don’t always get this welcome every time you visit a holiday property.
Once we’d unpacked the cars it was a case of exploring the house, which was so big you could get lost in it. This is the type of place I’d imagine a very happy week could be spent with extended family or a few families looking to share the cost of a holiday together.
As well as the kitchen and playroom, there’s a cosy living room (with TV, natch), a large drawing room with French doors opening onto a terrace area, a games room and gym, as well as an upstairs reading area and ten (did I mention TEN?!) bedrooms. In fact, it’s so big our five year olds got an entire wing of the house to themselves. Frog even tested out various beds throughout the week (as did the NLM in a game of musical beds one night!). You can see a full tour of the house over at Roost TV, if nosing around big gorgeous properties is your thing.
The games room was stacked with plenty of games, as well as a big TV, table tennis and pool tables. From here you could access a gym and separate shower room, although we kept this locked due to little people running around (little people and heavy weights don’t mix).
The games room was loved by young and old alike. The girls spent hours in here making up dance routines and playing gymnastics, while the adults enjoyed a few table tennis tournaments fuelled by prosecco and gin. Everyone was happy!
Perhaps the biggest draw to this property though is the outside space. Like inside, you’re spoilt for choice. You can sit on the terrace and drink in the views, run across the lawn, wander around the edge of the gardens and look at all the flowers, or (as our girls chose to do) play in the house’s very own outdoor play area.
On the second day of the holiday Baby Girl broke out in chicken pox, which meant one of us had to stay behind with her every day. If you’re going to get chicken pox though, THIS is the place to get it. The house and gardens were so big that bubs didn’t get cabin fever. In fact, she cried when it was time to go home!
We were very lucky with the weather and spent lots of time outdoors. One day me and Alison took Baby Girl for a walk down the lane leading up to the house. The blue skies, birdsong and idyllic scenery was like something out of a Disney film – or Country File. Either way, it was rather perfect.
We managed to get that elusive balance between relaxation and planned activities throughout the week, largely thanks to the Blue Chip Holidays Experience we opted for. This is a concierge service that works in much the same way as a hotel concierge does. You let Blue Chip Holidays know what kind of things you like to do and they put together an itinery for you, complete with sorting out table and ticket bookings.
It means you don’t have that last-minute stress of looking up activities and can spend your time actually enjoying the holiday instead of researching ways to keep the kids occupied. Again, this would be a big bonus on a multiple family trip where you have lots of different needs to cater for.
During the week we went to an evening festival in the woods, explored the local seaside town of Shanklin (where me and Alison indulged our love of Instagram-friendly beach huts), ate at the fantastic Cow Co. at Tapnell Farm and Frog and Alison’s little girl went to Isle Jump – an indoor trampoline park on the island – with the dads.
In between all of this there were plenty of moments to unwind with a cup of tea and a magazine, do some colouring, play in the play area or just run around the house playing hide and seek – and that was just the grown-ups.
On our last evening the Blue Chip Experience gave us a treat that I’ve never experienced before: a private chef coming to the house to cook us a three course meal. It was so fancy, I felt like an actual movie star! We ate crab and prawn salad, the most mouth-watering chicken wrapped in parma ham I’ve ever tasted, with profiteroles for pudding. It was one of those evenings I know I won’t forget in a hurry.
Thanks Blue Chip Holidays for a fantastic week. And thanks Alison and gang for fantastic company.
We were guests of Blue Chip Holidays for the purpose of this review. For more information about how I work with brands see my Work With Me page.