Isle of Wight’s North House hotel to reopen with chef Robert Thompson

“You walk in and your heart leaps it’s so beautiful,” enthuses Sara Curran, the new owner of a boutique hotel that reopens in Cowes at the end of the month.

The media officer is brimming with excitement as she prepares to welcome guests through the (Grade II listed) gates of the historic North Houseon the Hill of the Sun.

Working with her film producer husband, Peter and their partner, Michelin played Robert Thompson (Chef Patron), their love for the 14-room business is infectious.

Their goal is to create an “open and friendly” hotel with fine dining, an accessible brasserie and breakfasts, for islanders and hotel guests alike.

“North House is in the heart of Cowes and we used to come here all the time.

“If they told us that we had to go out in an hour, we would eat very quickly”, laughs Sara.

“We want the people of Cowes to come – that’s part of the reason for opening for breakfast.”

North House’s future was uncertain when, in 2021, its former owners chose to focus on their other businesses.

This was the hotel Judi Dench stayed in during filming Victoria and Abdul in Osborne and luckily fate played a part.

Just two years after moving up the coast from Fishbourne, Sara and Peter were in a prime position to take it on.

North House in Cowes.

“I turned to Peter and said, ‘It’s just magic. It’s a gem,” recalls Sara.

“The swimming pool, the gardens, the terrace, the stripped parquet, the bespoke Farrow and Ball paint… We haven’t changed anything except the kitchen.

“Robert’s style is to have an open kitchen, so we knocked down a wall.

“We want people to see him because he’s the star of the show as far as I’m concerned.”

The couple are true foodies and the nature of their work means they are also seasoned hotel guests…so they know exactly what they want to offer.

“The challenge will be to provide a high standard of service all the time and we will be securing rooms to do so.”

A key factor is what Robert Thompson brings to the company.

Read more: When Thompson’s was voted the Isle of Wight’s best restaurant for Valentine’s Day

From her acclaimed arrival on the island to the opening of Thompson’s in Newport, Sara and Peter have been fans.

“When one of our neighbors called us and said, ‘Do you want to talk to Robert Thompson?’ I said, ‘Do you want Robert to talk to us?’

“It was a done deal,” acknowledges Robert, who has now closed Thompson’s and plans to use the Town Lane building as a base for his fine dining business “delivered in a box”.

“We aim to grow North House and UB Chef together and we see a lot of synergy between them.

“Our guests can stay here and have a great meal, stay in a beautiful room, have exceptional service and then if they want a little piece of North House when they come home they can have it, with UB Chief.”

(Think of it as a tantalizing alternative to an email newsletter, delivering a taste of the Isle of Wight wherever you need it.)

Sara said: “Cowes has gotten stronger and stronger, despite the pandemic. There are more shops, bars and restaurants. It’s buzzing.

“We can’t think of anywhere else in the world we’d rather live in. We love dynamism.

“It’s really good to add to that, to keep North House as a hotel, making sure it hasn’t been turned into something else.

“The gastronomy will be in the evening, certain evenings of the week.

“The rest of the time, it will be a beautiful brasserie with Spanish, French and Italian influences.

“There are so many great restaurants in Cowes and we eat out a lot

“There’s no point in us playing against each other. There has to be variety.”

Robert reveals plans to eat at Cowes Hotel

Robert’s food will reflect the space it is served in, delivered by him and many members of his existing team, as well as others, currently being recruited.

He says North House is “incredible” and a “perfect blend” of tiered dining.

Read more: AA awards two Thompson Rosettes

Read more: When Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes had dinner with Robert Thompson

“Thompson’s was a place for special occasions.

“At North House, guests can show up for a drink and you can send them a nice little plate of Iberian ham, or they can come for a menu while singing and dancing and stay a night.

Isle of Wight County Press: Robert Thompson outside North House.Robert Thompson outside North House.

“This place has it all and for me it’s a fantastic progression. It continues my adventure on the Isle of Wight.”

Life by the sea is “calming” and inspires Robert’s cuisine.

He thinks he could ‘age’ at North House and has even moved into bespoke solid oak dining tables, with individual cutlery drawers, made by his father.

North House reopens at the end of April, but already has reservations for December.

A new online reservation system is under development.

In the meantime, be patient and we will come back to you, promises Sara.

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