Cowes, on the north coast of the Isle of Wight, is Britain's most important yachting center. The Solent, the channel that separates the island from the south coast of England opposite Southampton, is regularly filled with the billowing sails of yachting regattas that originate in Cowes. During Cowes Week, an annual festival of sail races and cup tournaments, the population doubles. Hotels and shops there cater to yachtsmen, sailors and sailing fans.
The Fountain Inn
The Fountain Inn is a small, old-fashioned hotel with an illustrious past. Built in 1771 as the Golden Fleece, in its heyday it hosted the most important people who passed through Cowes. Thomas Jefferson, then US secretary of State, stayed at the end of a state visit in 1789. Today, it is a three-star accommodation with 20 en-suite rooms that are clean and comfortable -- if a bit drab. The hotel is on the quays, near the high-speed ferry terminal.
Villa Rothesay Hotel
Villa Rothesay is a large Victorian townhouse hotel overlooking Princes Green with views of the Solent. Public rooms are so crammed with sailing memorabilia -- pictures, ships models, nautical books -- and antique, fringed Victorian furniture that they look as though they haven't changed since 1873, when the house was built. Guest rooms, on the other hand are bright and airy with a homey furnishings. Breakfast is included in the rates. The hotel also has a full-service restaurant.
Albert Cottage Hotel
Albert Cottage was part of Queen Victoria's summer retreat, Osborne House, and was used as a royal guest house during her reign. It was turned into a 10-room boutique hotel with an adjoining restaurant and bar by the current owners in 1999. Rooms, available for single, double and family occupancy, are large and individually decorated in an ornate, traditional style. All rooms have luxury en-suite bathrooms. The hotel is licensed for civil weddings and civil partnerships and has four large function rooms for wedding parties.
Best Western New Holmwood Hotel
A location on Egypt Point, the northernmost reach of the Isle of Wight, gives this hotel uninterrupted views of the shipping on the Solent and the international cruise liners entering and leaving Southampton harbor. The hotel has 26 twin and double rooms as well as two suites. One of the suites can be adapted to accommodate two adults and three children. Sea-view rooms have elaborate, Victorian-influenced decor. Standard rooms, which do not face the sea, have simpler, contemporary furnishings.
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