Trip of the Week: The Hut at Colwell Bay, Isle of Wight
Ask a fellow aviator to name the first place that comes to mind when they hear the words ‘Isle of Wight’ and the chances are they’ll say Sandown or Bembridge, the island’s two busy airfields.
Ask a helicopter pilot the same question and there’s the possibility of a more exciting answer: The Hut at Colwell Bay. To make sure we could bring you the most accurate and up-to-date information on visiting, and obviously not just because we fancied a jolly, we flew there in the R66 to get the lowdown on what must surely be one of the UK’s best seaside heli destinations…
What to do while you’re there
The Hut is a delightful seaside restaurant that can be found on the island’s northwest coast, not far from The Needles. While it doesn’t have its own helipad, it has an arrangement in place with the owners of a nearby stately home called Afton Manor, a beautifully proportioned pile that looks suitably impressive on the approach.
The Hut team will be waiting to pick you up in this fabulous vintage Land Rover 101, which certainly gets your visit off to a fun start.
It’s a short trundle down to the seafront, where colourful beach huts and vivid blue water lend a definite holiday atmosphere to the proceedings.
On arrival we were led up to The Hut’s outdoor terrace, which was full of people enjoying its spectacular sea view despite the fact that it was a Monday.
Browsing the menu, you’ll quickly see that what’s on offer is a cut above the average British seaside resort fare. You’ll find a great range of contemporary dishes that hit just the right level of sophistication, all made from fresh ingredients sourced locally where possible. The Hut’s meticulous attention to detail when it comes to branding makes this a restaurant that wouldn’t feel out of place in a big metropolis like London.
In view of The Hut’s location, it’s no surprise that the menu places an emphasis on fish dishes, but there are plenty of options to tempt the seafood naysayers among your party, and there’s a comprehensive Vegetarian and Vegan menu, too.
We ordered tuna and tofu poke bowls, lemon sole and other delights from a menu that also included such treats as sashimi, stone bass and Cornish coppa ham. If you’re feeling ostentatious, don’t forget to order some oysters to start!
As British seaside experiences go, it doesn’t get much better than this. Even just two or three hours here is enough to make you feel as though you’ve been on holiday. The only downside to flying there for lunch was, of course, that we couldn’t indulge in The Hut’s tempting wine list, but your passengers will enjoy sipping a nice chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc on your behalf – especially on a hot summer’s day like the one we were blessed with.
Having had our fill and paid our bill, we piled back into the Land Rover and headed back to the helicopter. Lifting out of Afton Manor, it’s but a short hop to The Needles, so we couldn’t resist a little photo opportunity before heading off home.
Next time, we’ll see if we can have a go at landing on that lighthouse…
Planning your visit
The Hut is only open for the summer, from early April to the end of October, so make sure you get your trip in before it closes for the winter. You can book a table online, but you’ll need to let them know you’re arriving by helicopter so that they can inform the manor house owners and dispatch the Land Rover to collect you!
It took us about an hour from Elstree to the Afton Manor landing site, marked with the red pin on the map below.
It’s a straightforward approach and there’s plenty of room for several helicopters to land if you’re planning a flyout – just land in the field marked above.
The landing fee is £10 and it’s donated to a charity called Polly’s Challenge, which you can read about here.
Check out the short clips below from our exciting trip!