A certain Queen's Isle of Wight holiday home
et’s be honest; we’ve all dreamt of owning a ‘holiday home’, where you can escape the nine-to-five for a few days. Well that’s pretty much what this place was to Queen Victoria – but with 342-acres of formal grounds instead of the cosy cottage garden that the rest of us have in mind.
Still, who’s complaining? Since it was opened to the public 1904, Osborne House has been the perfect place to spend a warm summer’s day – strolling the Italianate gardens and staring out over the Solent.
Victoria and her husband, Albert, designed Osborne House as a family home in 1845, and there’s a surprisingly cosy, relaxed feel about it all – courtesy of the sumptuous soft furnishings.
As you’d expect, though, the rooms are still packed with mementos of Victoria’s vast empire. You can’t move in the exotic Durbar Room without seeing a silver vase, Agra carpet or miniature Indian palace.
There’s plenty for kids to do, here too. Hidden among the manicured lawns and formal flowerbeds you’ll find the wood-paneled Swiss Cottage, where the royal brood were taught domestic chores and culinary skills (and no, we don’t mean how to ring the servants’ bell). Take a horse and carriage ride around the grounds – and if you’re keen, you could spend the night in the old cricket pavilion cottage. Now that’s much more our style.