Welcome to the Holiday Inn Winchester
Going to Winchester has really been a girlie weekend getaway; with successful shopping, a relaxing spa and coffee pitstops. If you need a quick weekend like that or need a place where you can finally finish that book that you have been holding off on, then the Holiday Inn in Winchester allows you to do all that and more.
Before we checked in at Holiday Inn, as it is located outside Winchester town, we walked around the town and explored the unique as well as branded shops the high street had to offer. It is just like any English town outside the city of London but when you come from the city it is different walking between the cobbled streets.
We decided to have lunch at a pub called ‘The Bishop on the Bridge’ overlooking the River Itar the river Itchen, which had a nice atmosphere. The food was good, although the service was a bit slow for just some sandwiches.
We made our way to the Holiday Inn in time for our 4:00pm Spa session. The room was clean and had a desk if needed. The bathroom, although leaning towards the small size, was modern but I think it could do with a bit of touching up. That is not to say that I didn't have a pleasant stay.
After we settled into our room, we made our way to Ana Spa. We waited for our masseuse’s in the Relaxation Room with beds and relaxing music and obedient lighting. Honestly you didn’t really need a room in the hotel, I could have just stayed in there and slept.
Our Spa session was a Body Wrap, which involved brushing, putting lotions on and then finally covering you in mud (both sides) and wrapping you up in towels in order for the mud to do its work. While we were wrapped, I had a head massage which was bliss and well needed. We then had a quick shower just to wash off the mud and get ready for the 3rd and final part of the treatment which was a full body moisturising and oiling up. We moisturise at home but it is not the same when someone does it for you, it is very much a different experience!
Sadly our spa session had to finish but that didn’t mean our time at the spa had to finish. Ana Spa also has a jacuzzi, steam room and sauna as well as a foot jacuzzi which was really nice; in a way it massaged your feet, although the pressure could have been stronger.
After our relaxing afternoon, we got ready for dinner. For dinner, I would say go out (car needed). Although the menu at Holiday Inn catered for everyone’s taste, it was not the best meal I have had. However, the service was good and the waiters/waitresses were incredibly nice and polite.
Breakfast was the same as dinner.
We weren’t quite ready to leave the English countryside yet, so once we checked out we made our way to other towns that were equally as nice as Winchester; Farnham and Alresford. We also made a pit-stop at Long Barn which was a shop, mini-supermarket, garden centre and cafe all in one - it was the sort of shop where you could have bought pretty much everything and of course it was beautifully decorated!
So that concludes our little English country getaway. Although it is always an adventure to explore other countries, I think sometimes it is important to remember that your own country has other things to offer than just the town you live in or London. There is always a new experience or scene to discover and it may be just round the corner.
As much as I love London, it is always a joy to see other parts of the UK, as there is such a variety of places to choose from.
This latest trip away from home took us to the town of Winchester in the south of England. It is one of the oldest city’s in the country and has a wonderful 1000 year history.
It was here that King Alfred the Great one the earliest Kings of England was buried in the stunning medieval Cathedral; one of Europe’s most well preserved.
The city’s history does not stop there!
In one the finest surviving aisled halls of the 13th century, Winchester Castle’s Great Hall is all that remains of the medieval castle, which was constructed in 1067.
The Legendary King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table used to meet here and hanging in the Great Hall is an imitation of the legendary table. It does however date back to late medieval times. Made from English oak it measures 5.5m in diameter and weighs 1,200kg. Originally it would have been a table with legs, but has been hanging on the west wall since 1873. Before that it hung from the east wall where it had hung since at least 1540 or even since 1348!
At the time of our trip the Hares of Hampshire art exhibition was taking place; 10 individually painted 6ft tall hares were dotted about the city. At the end of the event, the sculptures will be auctioned off for charity.
At just an over hour’s drive from South-West London, Winchester is an easy day trip. With cobbled pedestrian streets, lovely shops, individual cafes and gifts stores, it is a gem of a city. It is also a hub for a number of locally produced products from honey, cocoa, beer, cider and ice cream to name a few.
This is also home to the UK’s oldest working watermill. You can buy the milled flour from the shop and across the road is the ‘Bishop on the Bridge’ pub, where we chose to have a summer garden lunch. Sitting on the River Itchen the pub had a variety of lunch options and drinks.
After an unexpected day of shopping, our home for the night was the Holiday Inn Winchester. Located out of town, on the edge of the beautiful South Downs, but still easily accessible by car, bus or taxi. With the Science Centre & Planetarium located next door, it meant that once you arrive at the hotel you can indulge in the hotel and all it has to offer.
Once checked in, we headed to the Ana Spa for our pre-booked spa treatment! A full body mud wrap began with body brushing, oiling and then applying the mud wrap. With warm ergonomic treatment beds, we were as relaxed as could be. Our two masseurs were delightful and considerate and made the experience more special.
With a facial and head massage, while the mud did its thing, it was hard to consider moving let alone anything else! But all was not over… after showering off the mud wrap, a full body moisturise completed the deluxe experience.
The spa facilities are simple and elegant with a large jacuzzi, relaxing beds, steam room, dry sauna, cold shower and a soothing foot massage, which we did several times, the whole experience was perfect at the end of a day in town!
The Holiday Inn Winchester is designed and operated to be sustainable and to limit its carbon footprint. However, this is done without reducing or limiting the offering and providing a wonderful cosmopolitan feel and that of a special stay.
Pre-dinner drinks were in the modern open-foyer and offered plenty of seating options and snazzy colourful décor. Dinner was at the hotel’s new Odyssey Restaurant, Bar & Pizzeria. With all your favourite options, this award-winning 4* hotel offers something for everyone and it was a satisfying end to the day.
With room service, private dining and events also available at the hotel, it is an ideal base from which to explore not only Winchester, but also the many other attractions around Hampshire.
Our room as was big with twin double beds, a desk, and tea and coffee making facilities. The bathroom was compact, a bit tired, but functional and utilised eco-bottles of shampoo and shower gel.
After a good night sleep, the buffet breakfast was set up in the main restaurant area. With the usual array of options and hot food to order too, it provided a good start to the day.
We decided to explore a few of the other attractions en-route home including the small village of Alresford with independent shops and pretty painted houses.
Just out of the village was Long Barn Garden Centre. This delightful beautifully decorated place was a shop-come-café with foodie gifts, interior items and plants of course!
Our final stop before home was the historic market town of Farnham. With its historical Georgian streets and well preserved period buildings, it is quintessentially English.
Offering a range of independent boutiques and many high street shops, there are plenty of eateries. At the top of the hill overlooking the town sits the 12th century castle, built in 1138 AD and has been occupied for nearly 900 years.
As we drove home through the green rolling hills of the South Downs, we realised there was still plenty more to discover in Winchester, the county of Hampshire, and so many more attractions, so for sure another trip needs to be planned.
We have decided that any trip away is great if it can be summarised a ‘SSS’ (Shopping, Spa, Sleep)!