May 2013 | Ideal Bride Magazine
Travelling overseas to tie the knot does not necessarily mean decamping to a tropical island on the other side of the world. Much closer to home, but still a ferry ride across the Solent, Michelin-starred chef Robert Thompson has opened the doors of The Hambrough, his Isle of Wight fine dining restaurant with rooms, to offer tailor-made boutique-style gourmet weddings.
From The Hambrough's chic sea-front rooms, the views over Ventnor Bay are every bit as evocative as in the tropics, with a panorama of surfers riding the waves and yachts circumnavigating the Island. But getting there costs a fraction of the airfare to the Caribbean or Indian Ocean. Think less than £100 for a return ferry crossing with a car for four people aboard Wightlink Ferries.
In Victorian times The Hambrough was built to accommodate groups and parties looking to experience a Great British Seaside Break in Ventnor, one of Queen Victoria's favourite resorts. These days Robert Thompson, the youngest chef ever to be awarded a Michelin star, has transformed The Hambrough into a sleek small hotel to offer a Great British Seaside Break for the 21st century. And after just four years at the helm, The Hambrough is recognised as one of the UK's leading restaurants with a Michelin Star, 3 AA Rosettes and 5 AA Star rooms, rated 18th in the Hardens Top 100 and 20th in the Good Food Guide.
Thompson's latest venture is a response to a growing number of requests for a romantic Wight wedding from his guests. Couples can tailor their wedding to make it exactly as they want it, no 'off the peg' solutions in this most individual of hotels. They can get married in the Ocean Room, accommodating up to 34 guests, with views over the sea and St Boniface Downs or take over the bar, restaurant or garden for a Wedding Breakfast. For small weddings, there are seven rooms for the wedding couple and guests in The Hambrough. Two minutes away, Robert Thompson's self-catering Villa Lavinia provides 10 more bedrooms for a slightly bigger affair.
Robert Thompson says "We have had so many requests over the past year that we know there is real demand for a very personal bespoke ceremony where the wedding couple can create exactly the experience they want. Our new wedding service is not in the slightest bit formulaic. We want couples to have the controlling hand so that they can make their wedding day a genuinely individual experience with no sense that they are on a weddings conveyor belt."
Prices start from £1,900 (£2,400 on Saturdays) for exclusive daytime use of The Hambrough for a sit down wedding breakfast for 20 guests (additional guests at £75 per person to a maximum of 34). Overnight wedding packages are priced at £6,000 for exclusive use of The Hambrough and its seven luxury rooms, wedding breakfast, evening finger buffet and DJ plus breakfast on the morning after the wedding (Saturday supplement £800-£1,000, additional guests at £125 per person).
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