01983 863 449 | info@waterfront-inn.co.uk |   19 Esplanade, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, PO37 6BN

Our homely Guest House, Bistro and Bar is situated in a superb location right on the seafront on Shanklin’s Esplanade, with panoramic sea views and just a stone’s throw from the sandy, Blue Flag 2012 and Quality Coast Award 2012 beach. This is a perfect place for a family beach holiday with the children or a peaceful weekend break away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland.

We are a free house and offer a wide selection of Isle of Wight ales, lagers, wines & spirits, together with a straightforward, homely menu that features local steaks and seafood in addition to the usual seaside favourites.

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Bar & Restaurant

Why not come and unwind with us – enjoy a leisurely meal or just a long cool drink in our bar or outside on our sun terrace – all giving panoramic sea views from Shanklin across Sandown bay towards the white cliffs of Culver Down.
We offer live music most weekends during the summer season. There is free Wi-Fi available throughout.

Guest House / B&B

The Waterfront Inn is family-run Guest House / B&B / Hotel with 7 bedrooms, all en-suite, 4 of which have sea views and all offer bed and breakfast. We appreciate that our guests’ enjoyment is the key to our success and we endeavour to offer high standards in customer service together with a personal touch. We welcome dogs, and pets in general, throughout the hotel.


Charles Darwin, author of The Origin of Species, the book on evolution which changed how many of us think about ourselves, stayed at The Waterfront Inn in 1858 when the property was known as The Norfolk House Hotel.

He was 49, had just lost his baby son Charles and one of his daughters, Etty, was quite ill – it seems that he visited the Isle of Wight to be by the seaside for its curative properties.

During his time here he was starting to think about publishing The Origin of Species which eventually came to print in November 1859.

There are many letters written by Darwin about his trip to the island, including many written during his stay here. The Darwin Correspondence Project in Cambridge has scanned and filed these and you can follow the links below to read them – we find them quite fascinating.

Letter 2304 about how Darwin would like to come the the Isle of Wight but is not sure where to go.

Letter 2314 in which he says about Norfolk House Hotel ‘This is a very charming place and we have got a very comfortable house’.

Letter 2320 he talks about starting to write an abstract about his thoughts about different species.

Letter 2319 more about his work on the above abstract.

Letter 2313 quite a lot of detail here about his thoughts on the origin of species.

Letter 2318 in this letter he says ‘You speak of going to sea-side somewhere: we think this the nicest sea-side place, which we have ever seen & we like Shanklin better than other spots on S. coast of the Island’.