“ Address: Church Road / Old Village / Shanklin / Isle of Wight „
I'm always rather loathed to share good holiday finds when the establishment in question is small and limited in availability. You see, the more people that know about these places, the less likely I am to be able to book to go again when I want to. Upper Chine Holiday Cottages is one of those places.
Finding self-catering accommodation that is suitable for toddlers and yet not a caravan in a massive park is a task. The best places seem to be booked up well in advance and availability is limited so, when I came to look for accommodation on the Isle of Wight to coincide with a band tour that I was on I was not holding out much hope. It was easy enough to find a cottage that would take 2 adults and a child but not so easy to find one that really offered us an easy holiday. Then I happened upon the Upper Chine website.
*** LOCATION ***
Upper Chine Holiday cottages are situated in Shanklin, one of the most popular holiday destinations on the Isle of Wight. Situated on the main road about 2 minutes walk from the edge of the old town going away from Shanklin the cottages are ideally located for holiday makers of all ages.
Upon arrival I must admit I was rather surprised how close to the main road the cottages were - the website gave the impression that they were very quiet and in extensive grounds. The reality is that they are a matter of metres from the road and although there are extensive grounds they all lie behind the properties. However, this is the Isle of Wight and, despite being on an A road, the traffic is fairly minimal and we experienced no noise disturbance.
*** ACCOMMODATION ***
The "complex" (converted in part from a private girls school) comprises a number of cottages (mostly terraced although we didn't notice any noise from adjoining properties) of varying sizes and then a number of apartments. All properties have their own balconies and/or patios. We stayed in a 2 bed cottage and I was very pleased with the space and the fitting out of the cottage.
Everything we could have wanted for (and more) was provided and the whole was spotlessly clean. There were a few areas that would have benefited from a little bit of re-decoration but nothing that was really wanting. The properties were double glazed and appeared fairly secure (I didn't worry about leaving my rather expensive musical instruments in them whilst we were out).
The kitchen was well-equipped and all manner of cooking utensils were provided (together with any necessary instructions). Basic cleaning products were also provided together with a basic tea/coffee welcome pack.
For entertainment a TV, DVD player and video player were present (together with a radio in the bedroom). Only the 4 basic channels were available (which for us was a godsend as it meant no CBeebies!). A good range of DVDs and videos were available at no charge from reception (although a charitable donation was encouraged).
Cots, highchairs and stair gates were available free of charge.
*** FACILITIES ***
The thing that really sold the cottages to us at the time of booking was the presence of an indoor pool, gym and children's play area. Having worried what we would do for a week on the Isle of Wight with a 2 year old if it rained the whole time these facilities seemed to provide the answer. As it happened we had glorious weather but the on-site presence meant that it was easy to pop for an early morning swim or early evening play to burn off the last bit of energy before bed time.
The pool, although small, was clean and well maintained. There was a small Jacuzzi. The pool lacked any changing facilities but its situation meant that this wasn't really an issue. There is also a sauna and beauty treatments were available on request.
The gym comprised a running machine, a couple of bikes and a multi-gym. A £5 deposit was payable for a key for the multi-gym (the peg that separates the weights).
The children's play area was well equipped with Little Tykes climbing toys (and slides), a play house and a lego table. A pool table, air hockey and table football (the latter free of charge) were available for older children and adults.
The nice thing about all of the facilities was that, although they had advertised opening times, we were informed that we were welcome to use them whenever we wanted but just to respect the noise levels "out of hours". This was great as we did find ourselves in the pool at 6.30 am on a couple of occasions!
Outside, there was a splash pool, ideal for children, and a "tropical garden" with loungers and shades. The outdoor play park was rather overgrown and the only part of the facilities that was poor with much maintenance being required. The tennis court was adequate and reasonably maintained and balls/rackets were available from reception. If you'd forgotten your bucket and spade these could be borrowed free of charge from reception also!
If you did require assistance from reception or wanted to borrow anything you had to plan in advance as reception service was only available from 9-12 each day. In reality this is more than you'd get from most self-catering cottages but it did require some thought. There was an emergency number.
*** OUT and ABOUT ***
The cottages are ideally located within walking distance of most of the attractions. Across the road was a beautiful park with duck pond and play park. A 2 minute walk took you to the edge of the Old Town with its shops and restaurants and from here you could walk down the Chine ( a great ravine) to get to the beach. For those who can't manage steps a road route to the beach is available.
Shanklin itself lies at the top of a cliff and so the less mobile should bear this in mind - there are big big hills to climb to get up from the beach.
*** BOOKING ***
Upper Chine Holiday cottages do appear on a number of self-catering holiday searches, often if I recall, as a sponsored link. Don't let this put you off from finding something which is quite individual. The website of the cottages has been updated since we booked (in fact, they took the pictures for it as we arrived) and looks far more professional than it did previously.
Availability checks can be made on the website and there is clear pricing. An email to the cottages on a Sunday found a swift response and a deposit was paid by cheque enclosed with a traditional booking form. The balance was due 6 weeks before the holiday although we found this wasn't chased (so do make a note!).
The cottages are not cheap, but compared to other self-catering accommodation of a similar size they do offer good value for money, particularly if you maximise the occupancy (which would not have been cramped in the cottage we hired).
We had an excellent stay here and wouldn't hesitate to recommend the accommodation to anyone. The cottages are let on a Sunday to Sunday let although short lets are available outside peak season.
Self-catering holiday cottages.