I have spent most of my life living on the Isle of Wight so I have had quite a few years experience of the pubs, some good and some I just can't remember! The main drinking towns on the island are Newport and Ryde. These are the towns to visit to have a good selection of pubs to choose from and suitable for the typical Friday and Saturday night 'bender'. The island also has a great choice of quiet country pubs.
Both Newport and Ryde offer a long line of pubs so in effect you can start drinking at one end of the high street and finish at the bottom! The only advice I will give though is if you go drinking in Ryde start at the top of the high street and work your way down as it is a very steep hill! These two streets are ideal for those drinkers wanting to go on a pub crawl! The end of the crawl in Ryde ends up at a night club called the Balcony and in Newport at the Chicago Rock Café. If you want to avoid the loud and rowdy drunks it may be worth while doing the crawl in reverse!
My favourite pubs on the island now are the quieter country pubs as I seem to be rapidly growing out of the busy pubs where you can't even have a conversation as it is so loud and you have to queue for twenty minutes just to get served at the bar! The Island has a great selection of country pubs which do great food and have family areas suitable for children.
My choice of pub tends to depend on the time of year. In the summer I love sitting out in beer gardens by the sea such as the Woodvale in Gurnard. I must admit I also like the warm atmosphere inside this pub so often frequent it in the winter also! The food and drinks are a bit pricey here so I am not a regular here!
Another of my favourite pubs is the Hare and Hounds in Arreton. This pub is right next to Robin Hill Country Park on the downs and has great views over the park from the outside seating area. During the winter this pub is very quiet and I wonder how they survive sometimes but the food here is great! There is also supposedly a ghost that haunts the pub, I haven't seen it drunk or sober!
Another pub quite dear to my heart is the Wight Mouse located in Chale on the South of the Island. I used to work here in my teenage years at weekends but since then it has been completely renovated under new management so it has lost some of its charm. It is a friendly family orientated pub with a great play area for the kids. Another bonus is this pub is only five minutes from Blackgang Chine theme park, great for the kids!
The cheapest pubs to eat and drink on the Island are Wetherspoons (Ryde) and Yates (Newport). These are well know chains across the country and are renowned for their cheap pints and meal deals. I recently ate in Wetherspoons with a friend, two meals and two drinks for under £10, bargain!
Like anywhere in the country there are many what I would call 'locals' pubs. These are the kind of bars you walk into and everyone goes quiet and stares at you! If you are of a paranoid disposition try and avoid these! These tend to be the run down looking pubs that are stuck in the 70's with their décor!
Overall I would say that the Isle of Wight has a great selection of pubs suitable for all tastes and lifestyles. Whether you want a night out on the town or a quiet Sunday roast the choice is there! You really are spoilt for choice!
For a fairly small place, the Isle of Wight has an incredible number of pubs. This is most apparent in the town of Ryde, where the main (relatively short) shopping street houses at least ten.
For this reason alone, i'm going to be focussing on the pubs in this particular area, where recently, myself and a group of friends (including fellow dooyoo'ers 'adambrown400', and 'tomflint'), went on an ambitious pub crawl.
Starting at 12 Midday and ending in the early hours of the morning, the plan was to have a drink in the majority of Ryde's bars. This review gives me a chance to speak briefly about each of the pubs that we visited, whilst marking each out of ten for their overall appeal. I've also given a numeric rating regarding the drink prices, with ten being the lowest, and one being the highest (dearest).
Finally, I have written about the places we didn't go into on the day, and what the Island offers as a whole for drinkers.
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It was raining when we started out, and after getting a bit wet we found comfort in a small pub called 'THE SWAN'S NEST' - also known as 'SALVATORE'S'. The old fashioned building has a massive array of swan-based memorabilia, mainly in the form of little sculptures which are packed onto shelves high above the bar. The Swan's Nest also houses an Italian restaurant which serves good food. It's quite a cosy venue and the drinks are of a reasonable price.
Overall: 7/10 (Drink Prices: 7/10, Food: 7/10, Atmosphere: 7.5/10)
After a pint, we moved up the road to 'THE STAR', which is a pub I had never visited before. The building can be found on the corner of Star Street (hence the name), which joins on to Ryde's main shopping precinct. Upon entering, we noticed that there was no-one using the pub, and the bar woman looked at us as if to ask why we were in an drinking establishment so early in the day. I had another pint and stared blankly at the dated decor - it reminded me a bit of the 'Queen Vic' from Eastenders.
Overall: 4/10 (Drink Prices: 7.5/10, Atmosphere: 3.5/10)
The next port of call was 'THE CASTLE' - which is on the opposite side of the road and a few doors down from the Star. This is another venue which I hadn't previously been in. When I stepped through the door, I was aware that the majority of people in there were at least seventy-years-old. However, these didn't seem like regular seventy-year-olds, they all seemed to look and talk like Reggie Kray - even the women. This disturbed me somewhat. After we had a round of drinks, I noticed a garden area which seemed to be piled high with junk - not the most welcoming sight! I visited the men's room - where water was dripping from the ceiling onto my head (I hope it was water...) and then promptly left. Not recommended!
Overall: 3/10 (Drink Prices: 7/10, Atmosphere: 4/10)
A short walk down the road is 'THE CROWN', which is a larger pub with a pool table and a nice beer garden. You can see the exterior of this building (along with Wetherspoon's) in the horror movie 'Fragile' starring Calista Flockheart, which was filmed in the area. The Crown has a fairly modern decor and often features live bands.
Regular live sport is shown here, and food is served which isn't bad at all.
Overall: 6/10 (Drink Prices: 7/10, Food: 6.5/10, Atmosphere: 7.5/10)
After all the walking and drinking, we were getting hungry, so we decided to stop at 'WETHERSPOON'S' for a bite to eat. Wetherspoon's in Ryde is based on two floors, with the bar downstairs and extra dining chairs and tables on the upper floor. This is currently the only Wetherspoons on the Island - although knowing Wetherspoons, I'm sure there will be more to come. I ate some fish and chips, which came free with a cup of tea (not bad for £3.20), and then one of our party randomly told the waitress (who looked like a prettier version of Amy Winehouse) that he loved her, and we left. Of course, being Wetherspoons, the drinks were very cheap, although it can be a massive wait for the bar if you come here on a Saturday night.
Overall: 7/10 (Drink Prices: 10/10, Food: 6/10, Atmosphere: 8/10).
It was only around two in the afternoon, and we still had a long way to go, but next up was 'SMITHFIELD'S' (now closed). Smithfield's was a posh-looking wine bar with expensive champagne's located in neat shelving behind the bar. At this point I think I was having some sort of reaction to the food I had just eaten, combined with the four pints of cider I had consumed. This made me suddenly really tired, and I couldn't appreciate the fine looking surroundings that we found ourselves in. adambrown400 was complaining of similar symptoms, and was looking quite white - although the greedy bugger had just eaten a Wetherspoon's Western Sharer all by himself. I had a Vodka and Coke and after making a quick stop home (just down the road) to compose an email, which I had forgotten to send to work, I made my way to Yelf's.
Overall: 7/10 (Drink Prices: 5/10, Food: 7/10, Atmosphere: 7.5/10)
'YELF'S' is actually a hotel with a decent bar, conservatory area and beer garden. It has a rich history and is one of the oldest venues in Ryde. By the time I arrived, adambrown400 was complaining of a stomache ache, for which I suggested Gaviscon; he rushed to the newsagents next door to purchase some, with a grimace on his face. Drinks are fairly reasonably priced at Yelf's, and there is quite a good selection of beverages. The place is popular for wedding receptions, and the food (although touted to be excellent) is in fact often of average quality.
Overall: 7/10 (Drink Prices 7/10, Food: 6/10, Atmosphere: 7/10)
At this point I was starting to feel a bit dizzy, but the sun had just come out which perked me up a bit. We wandered down the road to 'JOE'S' - formerly known as 'Joe Daflo's', which is probably the nicest looking bar on the whole of the Island. There is another Joe's in Newport which is also a great place to have a drink in. Sculptures, paintings and excellent decor make the venue a pleasure to behold. Joe's serve excellent food, and make great cocktails - the only problem is that it isn't cheap for drinks.
Overall: 9/10 (Drink Prices: 3/10, Food: 9/10, Atmosphere: 8.5/10)
On stepping outside into the early evening sunlight, adambrown400 claimed he'd had enough and was off. We begged him to stay and called him a variety of names - but to no avail. tomflint was especially disgusted and stormed off to 'SHOOTER'S', which has a pretty bad reputation amongst Ryde's pubs. I'm told it has been shut down a good few times due to illegal activities happening on the premises, and it's known for its pool tables, violence and steamed up windows. On our visit, the place was pretty much empty - I drank my vodka and coke then left. Shooters does serve food, but I can't comment as I've never eaten there.
Overall: 3/10 (Drink Prices: 8/10, Atmosphere: 3.5/10)
Next up was 'LIBERTY'S' - a beautiful bar / restaurant with a great ambience. Art Nouveau in style and light inside, Liberty's serves great food, but there is always quite a long delay in receiving it. In looks alone, this place is only second to Joe's. Drinks are fairly expensive but not extortionate and there is a good selection of beer. Live acoustic bands often play here, and it's a pub I really recommend. (Check out the original iron printing press downstairs next to the Men's toilets which is pretty cool).
Overall: 8/10 (Drink Prices: 4/10, Food: 8.5/10, Atmosphere: 8.5/10)
'THE SQUADRON' was almost empty when we arrived. Traditionally this place has a rough reputation and attracts some strange characters indeed. There's the guy who stands at the bar asking himself questions out loud, whilst another bloke often infiltrates your conversation to tell you that it was actually him who wrote 'Hey Jude'. The Squadron also has the impressive claim of owning the stickiest floors in Ryde. It has a back room known as The Zebra Lounge, which plays alternative music, and although it's shabby, I quite like the place.
Overall: 6/10 (Drink Prices: 7.5/10, Atmosphere: 7/10)
After our visit to the Squadron, we nipped a few doors down to the 'LIQUID LOUNGE' for a quick pint. Previously known as both 'The Loft', and 'Goldies', this place also has a history blotted by trouble (yes, another dodgy Ryde pub!). Here, the drinks are quite cheap, and live football is often shown on the big screens. The bar area is fairly nice looking, and there are a selection of quiz machines to play on should you get bored. We didn't stay long, and moved on to the next venue.
Overall: 5/10 (Drink Prices: 7.5/10, Atmosphere: 4/10)
'THE MARINE' has recently changed hands and was previously called 'Trotters'. These days it has a modern appearance but does feel a little clinical. In terms of food, it offers a carvery on a Sunday, which is said to be of good value. Whilst in the Marine we played some pool and watched the end of the England game which was being broadcast. The Marine is situated at the bottom of the town on the Esplanade, and overlooks the bus station - where a vast array of fighting, loitering, and underage drinking can be viewed on a Friday and Saturday night.
Overall: 6/10 (Drink Prices: 6/10, Food: 6.5/10, Atmosphere: 4.5/10)
Just along the road from the Marine is the 'KING LUD'. This is a place which looks like it hasn't changed a bit since the 70's; I expect the locals all have their own tankards to drink from. When we entered there was an overwhelming smell of disinfectant which actually was starting to impede my breathing! I struggled with a Vodka and made a swift retreat.
Overall: 4/10 (Drink Prices: 7/10, Atmosphere: 3.5/10)
Finally we stumbled to 'THE KASBAH' - our last port of call. The Kasbah is probably the coolest pub in Ryde, and has a Turkish theme. It comprises a series of dimly lit rooms, each with an eastern feel, strange beanbag style seats and low tables. Although I have never sampled it, Tapas style food is served at the Kasbah - the menu looks delicious. Outside is a walled garden area in which we sat and mulled over the day. I was feeling quite sick and was thinking how nice it would be to finally get to bed.
Overall 8/10 (Drink Prices: 6/10, Food 7.5/10, Atmosphere: 8.5/10)
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I hope that has given you a flavour of what Ryde can offer as a drinking venue - although I wouldn't recommend spending that much time consuming alcohol.
Other venues that we didn't visit on the day included 'The Wight Rock', which is a modern bar with a good atmosphere, known to play Classic Rock music and also selling guitar strings / leads alongside drinks! And also 'The Black Sheep', previously known as 'Bar 53', which is a classy looking venue that serves a good range of food, and has an excellent outdoor area.
In conclusion, Ryde, and the Island in general, has a great variety of pubs to cater for many tastes. On the weekend (Friday and Saturday nights especially), the main venues are usually packed, but it's fairly easy to avoid the crowds if you don't go into the main pubs e.g. Wetherspoons at the peak times.
You can see that the Island can be a viable destination for either a Hen / Stag night, or just a few quiet afternoon drinks - you certainly won't run out of places to visit. As with any area, there are good and bad pubs, and although the Island has more than its fair share of dodgy ones, there are more than enough excellent venues to make up for it.
was born on the Isle of Wight and have lived here for all of my 27 years so as you can imagine, pub life has featured pretty heavily in my life over the past 12 years - having started a little under age!
When I first started going out it was in the Ryde area and things have changed a lot over the years but it is, in my opinion, the best place to go out on the Island as most of the pubs are on a hill - Union Street and all are within staggering distance! - As a quick summary -
The Crown at the top of Union Street is actually a hotel with rather a large bar area, it shows football matches and serves food through out the day.
Wight rock bar is around the corner by the theatre, I belive this used to be a topless bar years before but now you can find some great live music, alternative and otherwise, great booths cut into the wall, the decor is very modern and would just like to comment on the sinks in the ladies - like waterfalls!
Next down the hill is Wetherspoons - most people know about this brand - no music, cheap drinks and decent food.
The recently opened Black Sheep and club underneath is a fab place for music - they have regular live acts weekly and serve a tapas menu.
Further down the hill is Yelfs hotel which is a bit more up-market and a place to go for a quiet drink and a meal.
Joes is a modern place serving high quality meals and fabulous cocktails as well as usual bar drinks, great wine bar.
Stanley's has several pool tables, juke box and attracts a more rowdy clientele.
The Squadron is a real locals kind of a place, live music in the back bar, it does have a reputation that unfortunately proceeds it as a bit on the rough side but I have never had any trouble in there so I can't really comment.
Liquid Lounge has a late licence until 2am. It is more of a bar than a club however there is a raised dance floor to party the night away, the only drawback I've found is that the toilets are upstairs and after one too many can be a little problem!!
Kasbah - a Moroccan themed bar - in the back room there are sofas covered with throws, atmospheric lighting, a great atmosphere, this bar also serves tapas. It has an outside garden, perfect for summer drinking.
Other pubs on the Island worth a mention are Flanagan's in Sandown, I happen to go here most weekends, to drink, eat or watch football and it is a lovely place - it has the old style American diner feel with 4 booths and lots of memorabilia on the walls. There is an outside veranda for external eating/drinking with gorgeous views of the beach. I have been coming here regularly for the last 2 years and have never had a bad meal - anything from soup/sandwiches to steaks/pasta and the fabulous range on the specials board.
The Ponda Rosa is well renowned, it has recently been refurbished, there is a function room available to hire upstairs and there carvery on a Sunday is very popular.
The Wight Mouse on the Western coast is a very popular venue. They offer an extensive menu in beautiful surroundings and a vast garden area with both indoors and outdoors play areas for children
Pubs on the Isle of Wight in General....
Having grown up on the Isle of Wight and now being in my mid twenties, I should think I have a good knowledge on the pubs across the island. Lately however I am somewhat out of the scene having had a child makes afternoon drinking in the pubs a thing of the past. However I do still have the occasional night out and when this happens I try to have at least one drink in as many different pubs as possible!!
There are many different sorts of pubs on the Island, depending on what you are wanting, to have a nice family meal with the kids, a nice drink outside in the summer or a heavy drinking session, there literally are pubs to suit most needs.
Sandown has a wide variety of pubs and many fit all of the above criteria. The Caulkheads, Avenue Road, is the most popular pub in Sandown and this is most certainly a family style pub. It has an indoor large ball play area for the little ones and lots to do for the kids outside in the large garden. They serve food all day everyday and have a rather extensive menu for both adults and children. The prices are fairly reasonable though there are cheaper places to drink in Sandown but these places would not have the children's facilities that The Caulkheads does.
Other public houses in Sandown include "The Tap", Avenue Road, where you can have a really good weekend as they usually have special party nights where all different sorts of live music will be played. The drinks are cheaper in here than most places in Sandown and the atmosphere, although a little dodgy at times, makes for a good evening. You will find other pubs which are more off the beaten track which although are good for locals are not so great for tourists.
Flanagan's which is located on Pier Street has wonderful views in the summer (in the winter too but frost bite might set in if you were to sit out in the outer area). The pub serves good food and drinks at a reasonable price although this pub is not really suitable for families.
You would also get a rather good drink in the relaxed and slightly upper class feeling that "The Kings" wine bar has. In the summer there are truly wonderful views from the balcony which has a great seating area. The winter is lovely in the bar too when they have the open fires going and you are able to snuggle up on the oversized sofas or indeed watch the ships pass by from the large conservatory windows. The drinks are slightly higher priced in here but you are most likely paying for the great atmosphere and this place has this by the bucket load.
Moving away from the Sandown area and on to the next best place for pubs, in my opinion, which is the costal town of Ryde. There is a great nightlife scene here (well great for the island) and the place really sees a lot of action on a Friday or Saturday night. There are many pubs scattered all the way down the main "Union Street". None of the pubs in the main area I would say are for families but the one that comes closest for being suitable for a family is Weatherspoons. Most towns have one of these it seems but they do severe both cheap food and drink. I have tried lots of the meals from Weatherspoons and have never been disappointed.
"The Crown Inn" is a rather large pub with rooms to stay in and this is where most of the drinking begins on a night out in Ryde. The drinks are priced reasonably and the atmosphere is usually pretty good. There is a small courtyard out the back or they do have a few tables and chairs positioned outside the front in the summer. The music is okay but because this is usually a place to start the atmosphere is pretty mellowed.
There are a fair few "rough" pubs in Ryde which have a bad reputation for fights and general rowdiness of a weekend, these I try to stay well clear of because I am merely out to have a good night. "The Royal Squadron" is one of those with a bad reputation but because of this I have stayed well clear and cannot deny or confirm these allegations!!!
However "Liquid Lounge" has a brilliant atmosphere and is the last pub I usually go into before heading off to a night club. They have a good sized dance floor and drinks at a reasonable price. There is not much seating in this bar though and it borders on being a club itself as it is open until the early hours of the morning.
It would take me ages to work my way all over the Island naming al the pubs in each village because there are so many different pubs in each town. However there are so really good ones that I would often go to have a meal on a Sunday. The Wight Mouse Inn is particularly good and its location in Chale is rather out of the way but well worth the trip. This is a family pub which welcomes children and has an outside area where they have built a outhouse type building especially for the kids. The prices are reasonable and the food is very tasty.
Shanklin has a rather nice pub located down in the old village called "The Crab" which although not overly aimed at families with children is still a place to take the family for a good meal at a good price. This is more of an eating pub rather than a drinking pub.
Bembridge has a couple of nice places to eat and they are "The Windmill" where you could also rent a room for a week or two. This is a more of an upper class place to eat and although it is good for a drink or two, the prices are rather steep. It has all been refurbished in the last few years and has now been done up to a rather high spec and feels very nice to sit either inside or outside. The other good pub/restaurant is "The Crab and Lobster" and this is a pub which specialises in sea food fresh from the boats in Bembridge (Bembridge is a harbour village). The prices in here are again a little steeper but the atmosphere is great and although not overly child friendly does except children and cater for them pretty well.
Newport which is the main town on the Isle of Wight has a fair few pubs but none that I find particularly brilliant or enjoyable. The best of a bad bunch is probably Joe Daflos if you are wanting a more sophisticated bite to eat and glass of wine. No children allowed in here but I think it suits the place well. Another place is "The Hogs Head" which really comes alive at the weekend with good music and a lively atmosphere. Generally however I don't really spend much time in Newport either drinking on a weekend or taking the family out for lunch as I feel there are far better places to go.
So to conclude, there are many public houses on the Isle of Wight offering a great range of things. From good music to great food there is pretty much something for everyone's different tastes. There are pubs which are cheaper and some which you pay that little bit more for because of the great atmosphere or surroundings but this is I expect the same as most areas around the country. I do however think living on the Island is brilliant because you have all these different areas so close to you and never have to travel very far. Plus I feel safe enough to walk home from a night out and not have to worry too much about being mugged or things like that.
The Islands pubs are pretty good and although may not be up to mainland standard are just what we need here and severe their purpose well. A 5 star rating is very fitting for the standard of pubs in general across the Isle of Wight.