An historic, five-diamond hotel on the most southerly part of the Isle of Wight has been put on the market with a guide price of £1.6m.
The Hermitage Country House hotel is on the top of St Catherine's Down, the island's second highest point, alongside National Trust property and surrounded by footpaths that radiate in all directions.
The property, which sits in 12 acres of garden and woods, carries a five-diamond rating and a Gold Award from the English Tourist Council.
It was built in 1813 by Michael Hoy, a successful merchant who traded mostly with Russia and erected the Alexandrian Pillar (or Hoy Monument) in honour of a visit from the Russian Tsar.
The main house was rebuilt in 1895 after a major fire in the 1860s and has had a somewhat chequered history since. It has served as the island's first youth hostel (from 1935), as a centre for Hitler Youth, as a school for the children of Ventnor during World War Two, and as a restaurant, hotel and conference centre.
It became a private residence in 1990 under current owner Ken Wells, who revived its career as a hotel in 1998.
The property now offers 10 en-suite bedrooms with fully-restored antique beds and furniture. Five of the bedrooms incorporate Jacuzzi baths.
Facilities include a drawing room for breakfast that overlooks the patio and a study on the first floor stocked with books and magazines for guests.
Although the property currently trades as a B&B, there is ample scope to develop the building and the grounds for private functions, conferences and weddings.
The sale of the freehold is being handled by the Winchester office of Christie + Co.
By Angela Frewin