The Royal Garden Café - Ventnor Botanic Gardens


I bought my first road bike for £5 from a family friend about 5 years ago; and on a brisk but clear October day, my mountain biking buddy and I set out to test out what the skinny tyres were all about. 
15 miles from home, in the cliff-side town of Ventnor on the south coast of the Isle of Wight - the weather changed. Wearing just bib shorts and jerseys we found ourselves in the middle of a hailstorm; pellets of ice stung our legs and our bodies froze, we desperately looked around for somewhere warm to shelter. 

We headed into the Botanic Gardens and were relieved to find that the café was open for business. Like blocks of ice we shuffled in, and sitting huddled next to the radiator we scraped together a few coins from our saddle bags. Counting it up we realised that there was only enough to buy one hot chocolate; we didn't care, we clip-clopped over to the counter in our SPDs and laid down our change by the till. 
Taking pity on us, the waitress gave us two hot chocolates for the price of one, with extra marshmallows! As 15 year old boys, that was the best thing in the world! All was well again - with grins on our faces we returned to our radiator and dried out as the sky cleared over and we were left with a few more beautiful  hours of riding in the autumn sun.

Since that episode so many years ago, the Ventnor Botanic Gardens Café has held a special place in my heart. In the last five years the café has come a long way though - now known as The Royal Garden Cafe, it serves a lot more than just a takeaway tea or coffee. 
The café is now run in conjunction with The Royal Hotel in Ventnor, and the expertise and style shows through in all the food and drinks that are available there.



The café serves up everything from Classic Cream Teas made with local clotted cream, to light lunches and sandwiches using local bakers' baps. Some of my particular favourites are the Carrot Cake and the chewy meringues; perfect for bringing the energy levels back up after a long ride.

To quench the thirsty cyclist there are fresh juices, Italian coffee and even a selection of local Yates beers and ales, for those that want something stronger!

Situated in the middle of the Botanic Gardens the scenery is stunning - with the cliff top just a short walk away, looking out over the English Channel. You can't ask for much better cycling country to get there either; the Isle of Wight was recently ranked by the Lonely Planet as one of 'The World's Best Cycling Destinations', with a great mixture of climbs, country lanes and long open roads. 
Ventnor is perfectly situated about halfway round the signposted 60mile 'Round the Island Cycle Route', providing the perfect excuse for a mid-ride break if you are coming over to the island for a challenge.

Overall, a great Café serving outstanding local produce in fantastic surroundings - the perfect café stop.

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