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Winchester Royal Hotel, Winchester, Hampshire
You can't beat the location of this mid-size hotel, just a couple of blocks from the busy high street and less than ten minutes from Winchester Cathedral. The main building was the bishop's house in the 16th century and a smattering of Renaissance features remain in the lofty ceilings, wood-panelled lobby and pretty walled garden (where you can dine al fresco in summer months). The suites in the original main house are grand and furnished in full period regalia, while the rooms in the modern extension are more recently refurbished and have lower ceilings and smaller proportions. The modern British food in the conservatory restaurant is very good, with dishes such as lamb shank with dauphinoise potatoes and kale. Afternoon teas are also popular.
If you get excited by the shops and buy more than you can carry, you can easily pop back to the hotel to drop off bags.
The central location means you're best placed to see sights including the cathedral, Great Hall and Winchester City Mill.
By car: around 1 hour 30 minutes from Bristol, 1 hour 45 minutes from London and 4 hours 30 minutes from Manchester. Parking costs £10 per night.
By train: direct trains to Winchester station from Southampton Central (20 minutes) London Waterloo (1 hour) and Manchester Piccadilly (4 hours). The hotel is an 8-minute walk away. thetrainline.com
Style & Character
It felt like being in a Jane Austen novel when sitting in the red-brick walled garden.
Service & Facilities
Thankfully, you can store your luggage in the boardroom if you check in early or depart late.
- Free Wi-Fi
The spacious Milner (Superior) Suite is where they put their wedding-night couples; it has a king-size silver four poster bed in the room that was once a chapel. We loved the refurbished bathrooms in the main house.
Room, Feature Room, Four Poster Room, Superior Suite
Facilities include: ensuite bathroom with toiletries, hairdryer, tea and coffee facilities, ironing board, flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi
Food & Drink
The afternoon tea comes with crumbling homemade scones. The starter of smoked haddock with dill risotto and poached egg was a meal in itself.
Garden Restaurant: main dining room and lounge. Local ingredients, classic dishes including beef bourguignon, chicken supreme and Royal burger. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Secret Garden: al fresco dining, garden views. Serving sandwiches, wraps and light bites. Afternoon tea served daily, 12-5pm.