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Inside the ultimate Dry January staycation hotel – a booze-free Isle of Wight bolthole beloved by ‘dry trippers’, recovering alcoholics… and guests keen to avoid rowdy venues

Is this the ultimate Dry January staycation hotel? Or the perfect spot for the new trend of ‘dry tripping’, where margaritas are swapped for mocktails?

With not a single drop of alcohol on the premises, it’s certainly easier to resist drinking temptations and to combat peer pressure at Somerton Lodge.

Then there is the stunning countryside setting, near the beach in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight.

And rated ‘excellent’ on, 18-room Somerton Lodge appears to be a good choice for the sober – or sober-curious – traveller.

Owner John Elford is in long-term recovery for alcohol addiction and has been sober for 20 years. He told MailOnline Travel that there is no alcohol sold on the premises – and that this set-up has proven to be a hit among guests.

Somerton Lodge (pictured) in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight is completely alcohol-free

He described the lodge firstly as ‘a haven for people in recovery from addiction’ that offers a ‘safe’ and ‘temptation-free’ holiday environment without ‘the pressure of people drinking and asking why you are not’. 

But as well as appealing to sober guests, Mr Elford was surprised to receive regular guests who ‘have never had any issue with alcohol’ but want a quiet venue with no drunken rowdiness or conflict with other guests.

‘Overall guests love the quiet, they love the feeling of safety and that they can fully relax,’ he added.

Facilities at the lodge include a library, garden (pictured), parking, snack bar and restaurant serving a full breakfast each morning

Owner John Elford (above) is in long-term recovery for alcohol addiction and has been sober for 20 years

Mr Elford said that while most people are looking for an alcohol-free environment and ‘love it’, there has been the odd guest who has not read the hotel information and is ‘grumpy to discover we do not serve booze’.

Mr Elford added: ‘But in that case, there are plenty of beautiful pubs in the local village.

‘Very occasionally, after guests have left and we are servicing the room, we may find some bottles or cans in the bin. We are okay with this and we don’t police people.

‘If they bought booze back to drink in one of the public areas, then we would have to ask them to stop. But if they are respectful of other guests then it isn’t a problem.’

Recent reviews on describe Somerton Lodge as ‘a beautiful Victorian building’ with a ‘great breakfast, pleasant rooms, lovely communal lounge and friendly and helpful proprietors’.

A double room like the one seen above costs £58 per night in January, according to a recent search on

 Guest reviews praise the ‘great breakfast’ served at the hotel restaurant, pictured

Scoring it an ‘exceptional’ 10/10, ‘Joanne’ wrote: ‘ Our room was very clean and [the] beds [were] very clean and comfortable. Manager was very friendly.’

Former guest ‘Sue’ described her stay as ‘amazing’, adding that she had a ‘lovely single room’.

In another 10/10 review, ‘Alan’ praised the owner’s knowledge of the island and said they ‘would definitely go back there’.

If guests do fancy a tipple, Shanklin (above) offers a variety of pubs and restaurants

The lodge is open to all, but Mr Elford said it is ‘a haven for people in recovery from addiction’. Pictured: A view towards Shanklin

The 18-room guesthouse is ‘perfectly situated’ near Shanklin Beach (pictured), according to a guest review on

Mr Elford is now launching a second project – a global community of travel agents offering ‘sober and safe destinations’.

The project, called the Association of International Recovery Tourism (AoIRT), is now open to join and has already attracted members around the world – from the U.S to Mexico, Ghana, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Prices for a double room at Somerton Lodge in January start at just £58 per night. Facilities at the lodge include a library, garden, parking, snack bar and restaurant serving a full breakfast each morning.

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