Isle of Wight Ventnor

Ventnor is the oldest seaside resort on the island, apart from Ryde – and the most attractive. It’s a sun-trap, facing south and protected from winds by St Boniface Down. Its climate, pronounced specially beneficial for pulmonary disorders in the 182os, was the making of the town.

From the Esplanade, bow-windowed villas and white-painted hotels with glassed-in verandahs zigzag up to the cliff top. Plenty of shaggy palm trees and bright gardens to evoke wistful comparisons with the Riviera. Stream runs underground through the town and cascades from the cliff top to a boating lake with a little island in the middle shaped like a miniature Isle of Wight. Eccentrically seaside details – the scaly onion dome of the Gaiety Bingo Hail on the Esplanade, the seafront villa with a wrought-iron fence shaped like a musical stave. The notes spell out themes from Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg and Die Fledermaus.

Most of the shops are at the top of the cliffs. In Pier St there are a couple of nice antique shops, I. W. Mercury at No 83 and A. & S. Keen at No 19, which also sells second-hand books. Pubs include the Mill Bay down on the front, the Blenheim, which serves nice pies and puddings for lunch, and the Hole in the Wall, much patronized by longshoremen, which serves Burt’s beer, brewed in the town since the 1840s. A fine Botanic Garden, on outskirts of town – all sorts of exotic trees and shrubs flourish in the open here which only grow in glasshouses at Kew.

Virgin Australia