Discover North House - Hotel to the Stars

Back in the summer of 2016 I was tasked with helping to find accommodation for the cast and crew of Victoria and Abdul, the feature film that was going to be filming at Osborne in the September and October of that year.

And I heard about North House in Cowes, which seemed like it might be the perfect place for the A listers to stay, especially as it was a brand spanking new refurbishment – in fact it wasn’t going to open until Cowes Week of that year.

Stay in Style

I had a tour of the hotel and loved it – very contemporary and yet cosy - a home from home, if you had an expensive home. It wasn’t even finished at that point, but its character shone through. The furnishings were very in keeping and I loved the slightly outrageous Farrow and Ball wallpapers.

One bedroom is decorated in huge patterned French Damask style blue and white wallpaper, has a blue velvet chesterfield at the end of the huge bed and a roll top bath in the corner of the room. In my mind’s eye I had already installed Eddie Izzard in this one. I don’t know if he actually chose it.

In a Grade II listed building, the hotel now incorporates a former theatre that stood next to the original building and the stables behind it have also been converted into suites/rooms. The garden has a pretty terrace that has views down to Cowes harbour and there’s a decent sized swimming pool.

It had once been Rawlings Hotel, and sadly I’d never visited it when it was in that incarnation. But the royals did – in fact William and Harry stayed there with their mates on a stag weekend in 2008. It was also reputed to be a hideaway for other royals, especially during former Cowes Weeks. But the owner had always been very discrete about her guests, and that hasn’t changed.

Celebrity Guests

In fact I think I’m the first person to spill the beans about the fact that Judi Dench, Eddie Izzard, Michael Gambon and Tim Piggott Smith stayed there during the filming. And I’m not even supposed to do so – although as I’m writing incognito I think I’ll get away with it.

Judi Dench did say how much she’d loved the hotel when interviewed in the local press, although she didn’t name it. She mentioned that she’d loved gathering with the other members of the cast around the fire pit on the terrace for drinks in the late evening before retiring to bed. They have a basket of blankets for just such evenings – very hygge.

Judi and Eddie returned to the island at the end of September 2017 to attend a dinner at Osborne House. It was a friend of mine’s birthday on that day and we decided to have dinner at North House and encountered Dame Judi and her party waiting for their lift to Osborne on the doorstep when we arrived.

I explained how I’d found the hotel for them back in 2016.

“Well it’s our hotel now,” said Judi, laughing. “We love it here.”

Delicious Dining

Dinner was delicious. I had oysters, which were divine and presented beautifully on a huge raised platter of ice. Did I mention that the restaurant is called The Oyster Store? My friend had the fish curry, with huge shell on prawns and declared it delicious.

The bar and overflow lounge were heaving with people. I couldn’t work out if they’d all booked dinner or were just hanging out. It’s quite a good place to hang out I have to say.

You meet the most interesting people.

Lady Penelope

26 February 2018

By Lady Penelope in The locals' blogs