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Pocket Guide: West Wight Dimbola Lodge Hotels

Home to dramatic landscapes and inspiring views, it's no surprise the Isle of Wight is often thought of as an artistic haven. Before the famous Hendrix-centric Isle of Wight festivals of the 1960s and 1970s, the island was home to some earlier but similarly pioneering, artists. Julia Margaret Cameron, the Victorian photographer, made her home on the island between 1860 and 1875. Visitors staying in hotels near Freshwater Bay in the west of the island can now visit her home and studio at Dimbola Lodge.

A Dominating Sight

The idyllic beach at Freshwater Bay must have been quite a sight back in the late-19th Century, just as it is today. Arriving on the island in the early 1860, Cameron bought a pair of adjacent houses and chose to unite the two by building a central Gothic tower. The resulting building dominates this pretty cove, and is a demonstration of the considerable wealth of the photographer's family. The house was named Dimbola Lodge, after the family's coffee plantation in Sri Lanka.

An Artistic Centre

Today, the impressive home houses a vast collection of artistic works. In addition to the permanent collection of Cameron's own work, there are also displays of cameras and a changing exhibition feature the work of other photographic artists. Visitors can relax after looking around, by taking a tea, coffee or cake in the on-site tearoom.

Hotels near Freshwater Bay

Freshwater Bay - the setting for Dimbola Lodge - is located on the far western tip of the island. Close to the Needles, the area is popular with tourists, thus ensuring that many of the finest hotels on the Isle of Wight are nearby.

The Freshwater Bay House offers a particularly convenient location, overlooking the picturesque cove. In addition to direct beach access, the hotel provides a seasonal outdoor pool, on-site bar and a breakfast each morning.

Nearby Totland also houses a number of fine hotels, including the Wester Manor Bed and Breakfast, and the traditional Highland Inn. Alternatively, visitors can find a number of quaint places to stay in nearby Yarmouth, which offers regular ferry services to Lymington, on the mainland.