Clifftops lodges, Isle of Portland: Relaxed luxury with unbeatable coastal views

A stone’s throw from the ocean, the chic lodges at Clifftops provide absolute comfort from which to enjoy Portland’s stunning natural beauty.
Ope lodge at Clifftops
Ope lodge at Clifftops
Pennsylvania Castle Estate
Samantha Herbert25 April 2023

Boasting uninterrupted views of the Channel from the southernmost tip of Dorset, the Clifftops lodges at Pennsylvania Castle Estate offer the most luxurious accommodation on the Isle of Portland.

Built directly above Church Ope Cove — believed to have been the site of the first Viking landings in England in 789 AD — the area is steeped in maritime history, with two castles, a church, and numerous stories of battles, smugglers, and quarrymen.

The cove is now a secluded pebble beach and is just one of the stunning sights visible from the chic self-catering lodges, ideally placed to soak in history and nature, and relax by the sea.

Clifftops sit above Church Ope Cove
Clifftops sit above Church Ope Cove
Pennsylvania Castle Estate


Set atop the south-facing cliffs of the Isle of Portland, Clifftops offers a wholly unique location on Dorset’s spectacular Jurassic coastline.

Just south of Weymouth, the island is linked to the mainland by the narrow, shingle-covered Chesil Beach, making a trip here feel wonderfully secluded.

At the north of the island is Portland Harbour — a thriving leisure and commercial port which hosted the 2012 Olympic sailing events.

To the south is the famous Portland Bill Lighthouse, and Pulpit Rock — both accessible via the South West Coast Path.

Part of Pennsylvania Castle Estate, built in 1797 by the Governor of Portland, the lodges sit on a platform below the grand Gothic Revival mansion, just west of historic Rufus Castle.

The estate now offers a range of accommodation, ranging from the private hire of the castle, to the Clifftops luxury lodges and family holiday homes.

A bright, modern finish see the lodges seamlessly blend into their natural surroundings
The lodges’ decor seamlessly blends into their natural surroundings
Jim Stephenson / Pennsylvania Castle Estate


Built with floor-to-ceiling glass looking out across the Channel, the Clifftops lodges feel absolutely at one with their surroundings.

Flooded with natural light and featuring cool tones and Portland Stone throughout, the space feels like a glorious extension of the clifftop on which it sits.

The landscape here is beguiling, and the lodges feel built to frame it, stealing your eyes from wherever you’re placed.

When we visited, the weather was less than picturesque but, from inside the lodge, the strong winds and heavy rain felt like a spectacular show, to enjoy from the complete serenity of this modern, cosy bolthole.

In stark contrast to the rugged outlook, the Clifftops lodges are pristine — built with a keen eye for design, detail, and with the highest quality modern fittings.

Ope terrace
Ope terrace enjoys a panoramic view of the sea
Pennsylvania Castle Estate

Which room?

Clifftops has five lodges, each named after the surrounding area. We stayed in Ope, the largest of the group, set on a corner plot that boasts a huge wraparound terrace.

With the sea-facing front of the property made entirely of glass, Ope offers the ultimate in indoor-outdoor living.

Large sliding doors from the open-plan living area extend the space onto a vast terrace, complete with seating, a hot tub, a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, and uninterrupted views of the water.

From inside, the same view can be enjoyed from the comfort and warmth of the picture window, complete with binoculars with which one can spend hours watching the changing landscape, wildlife, and fishing boats.

Ope comfortably houses four people in two king-size bedrooms which can be set up as twins or doubles. There’s also a large family bathroom and one ensuite.

Complete with breakfast bar, Ope has a fully equipped kitchen, a dishwasher, and washer-dryer, as well as broadband TV, a Bose sound system, underfloor heating, and an electric fire — every mod con you could need.

Enjoy a decadent tasting menu at Catch at the Old Fish Market
Enjoy a decadent tasting menu at Catch at the Old Fish Market

Food and drink

After a potentially long journey to Portland, the team at Clifftops provide absolute convenience with the option of a cook-at-home meal kit, left in the fridge, ready to pop in the oven on your arrival.

From the extensive menu provided when booking, we opted for the mixed vegetable and chickpea curry, served with basmati rice and naan followed by a summer pudding. Both dishes were delicious, with a distinct home-cooked quality that made the lodge feel instantly snug.

To accompany the meal, guests can opt for a bottle of wine from the extensive Penn Estate Cellar, which stocks a carefully selected range of red, white, and sparkling wines.

Also available on-site, just moments from the lodges, is Hayloft café and bar, which serves light snacks and healthy meals throughout the day, with a focus on local produce.

For a memorable evening out, head to Weymouth, to Catch at the Old Fish Market. Located on the quayside — overlooking the water from which much of its menu is sourced — this sea-to-plate concept restaurant offers fine dining with an unequivocal focus on the provenance of its ingredients.

Here, executive chef Mike Naidoo and his team serve up a changing tasting menu in line with local seasonal produce. This makes for a highly dynamic kitchen, serving imaginative contemporary dishes, with a focus on clean flavours to let the fresh ingredients sing.

Catch Executive Chef Mike Naidoo
Catch executive chef Mike Naidoo

Featuring fresh seafood, local game, and organic veg, the menu at Catch even features a map showing exactly where core ingredients originate, offering a refreshingly transparent approach to sustainable dining.

Set in a grade II-listed fish market that dates from 1855, it’s a unique and intimate setting, with an open kitchen to see the team’s meticulous preparation.

While fish is rightfully a big focus at Catch, it’s not however limited to it, with bespoke vegan and vegetarian menus also available when booked in advance. These dishes also feature an impressive depth of flavour. A personal favourite of mine was a creamy hispi cabbage unlike any I’ve tasted before.

For an extra treat, opt for a wine pairing, and enjoy an impressive line-up of English wines to accompany your meal — all from small-batch, low-yield vineyards which use traditional, sustainable techniques.

Sailing at the Andrew Simpson Centre, Portland
Sailing at the Andrew Simpson Centre, Portland
Andrew Simpson Foundation


One can’t visit such a beautiful stretch of coastline and not venture out onto the water. From Portland, you are spoiled for choice as to how. When it’s still a little cold to swim, head to the Andrew Simpson Centre, which offers a range of activities, from sailing to powerboating, foiling, paddle-boarding, and kayaking.

Based at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy — home of the British Sailing Team — Portland Harbour offers the benefit of sea sailing, but in a safe, enclosed environment that benefits from consistent wind all year round.

Here, there’s an activity for all groups, ages, and abilities, including tasters, improver sessions, and race clubs.

With a focus on making watersports accessible to all, the centre also offers specially tailored courses for those with learning disabilities, and every year provides places for thousands of schoolchildren to experience new activities on the water.

Once you’ve exhausted your sea legs, head back to land to join the South West Coast Path. Stretching 630 miles, this spectacular walkway runs from Minehead Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, all the way to Poole Harbour in Dorset, taking in the Isle of Portland and Weymouth along the way. Featuring numerous beauty spots, as well as points of historic interest, there’s a section for everyone on this easy-to-follow trail.

Best for

A peaceful seaside getaway. The undeniable luxury and sweeping ocean views make Clifftops a romantic retreat for couples looking for opulent isolation. However, with two generous twin or double bedrooms and a generous outdoor terrace, this space is extremely versatile and could just as happily accommodate a family looking for a relaxing week in nature.


Lodges start from £630 for a three-night minimum stay, with prices varying seasonally. Check availability and book here.