As a vintage home-style devotee and a big fan of the Isle of Wight, The Mission has been on my bucket list for some time so it would be an understatement to say I was excited when we finally managed to book up a visit.
The Mission is a converted ‘tin tabernacle’ just a stone’s throw from the South coast of the island. Owners Helen and Fraser also run various other retro retreats, such as the amazing Vintage Vacations airstreams, The Shack (a glorious little beach chalet), and the pet-friendly Scout Hall, which is situated just up the road to The Mission and we’ve earmarked to try at some point in the future. They are also currently preparing to open the unique Tiny Homes Holidays in Summer 2017 (definitely one to watch!).
But it was The Mission that I’d had my eye on since starting Host Unusual – could it be the unique mix of vintage chic in a converted chapel? The back-to-back mezzanine bedrooms overlooking the main space? That utterly enormous wood-burner, those ultra-cool 70s lounge chairs fit for a Bond Villain? Or the idea of taking a bath in the former baptismal font … To be honest, it was all of those things and more.
We arrived on a dark and windy Friday night after navigating the choppy waters of the Solent via the Wightlink Ferry (which is all part of the excitement for me). The property was really easy to find via our satnav (a free app called Waze, if anyone’s interested – it’s got me out of many a potentially stressful journey situation) – but you can’t really miss an enormous green and red chapel with a big sign reading ‘BELIEVE’, even in that kind of weather!
A soft, warm glow emanated from the lit-up windows, and as we entered the porch we felt the warmth of the ample central heating straight away – a truly glorious welcome.
Built in 1895, The Mission has been restored on the outside to remain true to its original appearance which is impressive enough – but on stepping inside, I can honestly say it blew me away. I was like a kid in a candy store – I just couldn’t decide where to go first, so for a little while I stood there and tried to take it all in (which also meant my partner got on with unpacking the car whilst I gawped – bonus).
The main space, despite its spectacular high ceilings, had the vibe of a cosy mountain lodge thanks to the wood panelling throughout. The combination of various original features of the chapel along with kitsch vintage home-style is one which works brilliantly in this space.
Particularly fabulous are the afore-mentioned egg-shaped Bond Villain chairs and that enormous wood-burner, which along with the central heating kept us super cosy all weekend despite the weather outside. The large circular shag pile rug and low, round coffee table helped complete the chic 70s scene.
The two retro-tastic main bedrooms are set on a mezzanine level in the centre of the main space (which you can walk all the way around downstairs), so the only thing we needed to decide was whether we wanted to look down on the kitchen or lounge area. Beneath the back bedroom we discovered a large and decadent bathroom fit for Joan Crawford herself, with the great big sunken bath nestled where once there was a baptismal font – certainly Host Unusual!
Table football and some nifty vintage theatre chairs feature amongst the other delights discovered around the chapel, and there is a fascinating noticeboard full of information about the founders of The Mission which history buffs will enjoy. We also noticed some of the original chapel crockery in the large unit in the main space – a lovely little addition that ensures it retains its connection to its early days.
The kitchen and dining area is also incredibly spacious and features lovely original 1950s units, with a large dining table to seat all its guests (where we found a delicious homemade date, banana and walnut cake from Helen – the perfect winter warmer to enjoy with a brew on our arrival).
From the kitchen, a sweet Sunday school annexed area provides a shower room/WC and another two bedrooms, one with twin bunks and one with a double bed (or twins if you prefer). This is where my cousin and his partner opted to stay – there was plenty of space for our party of four, but The Mission is easily big enough to comfortably house its full capacity of 8 guests. From the Sunday school annexe there is also access to a lovely decked area outside, which leads on up to a raised wild garden and an adorable pink summer house.
In suitably nostalgic fashion, we spent our evenings playing retro board games we’d brought along with us – first up, the game version of 80s TV classic ‘Bread’ (NB: Joey doesn’t always win!) and after that, the spooky Ghost Castle – another 80s classic. The Mission provided the perfect space for socialising, enjoying a few drinks and relaxing together; so much so that we didn’t even turn on the flat screen television. When the time came to turn in, we found the bedrooms really cosy and comfortable, and it was certainly a novel experience to sleep right up high under the roof of a former chapel.
The Isle of Wight is a great place for vintage-seekers – we can recommend having a good mooch around in Ryde where I treated myself to a vintage beaded cape from the awesome Dig for Vintage, and purchased two vintage unworn kids He-Man t-shirts from a cool little retro toy shop in the covered arcade. We also paid a visit to the Dores Hill Emporium, and Arreton Barns Craft Village where I found the most adorable shop selling some retro-inspired plush toys. I emerged with a fluffy plush ball of joy (think Humpty from Playschool wearing bright orange psychedelic garb!).
We also made time to visit the truly unmissable Osborne House – Queen Victoria’s beloved holiday retreat and proof that the Isle of Wight has the royal seal of approval. After exploring the fascinating rooms of the House, we took the highly recommended walk down to the private beach to view Victoria’s bathing machine and scoff some ice-cream, before strolling back via the woodland walk and the adorable Swiss Cottage (looking out for the infamous red squirrels on the way).
For a little island we’ve always found plenty to do on the Isle of Wight, and it’s an ideal destination for families with young kids too as nothing is too far away to drive to.
Our stay at The Mission was all too brief (we could have entertained ourselves here for at least a week or two!); this is definitely one of the most memorable and fascinating places we’ve been lucky enough to stay at. We’re determined to make it our ‘Mission’ to revisit this utterly quirky and spectacular holiday let as soon as possible.