Watching cricket at Hampshire’s splendid Ageas Bowl near Southampton has also provided an opportunity to see the development stages of the new, 171-room, four-star hotel, which now occupies the Western side of the huge arena. The project has been under way for over four years – with interruptions for various reasons – but at last it has opened this month and is well worth the wait.
The elegant white curved structure fits so well with the overall design of the cricket ground – which now seats over 12,000 spectators and has brought Test matches and One Day Internationals to Hampshire, as well as all the fixtures for the county team. The hotel structure includes a state-of -the-art media centre for TV, radio and press facilities and it is all part of an ambitious development which also includes an 18-hole golf course which is due to open next year.
Staying at the Ageas Hilton for one of the inaugural events was a truly impressive and memorable experience. The interior design is elegant, contemporary and spacious throughout and the newly recruited staff provided the friendly welcome and service so often missing in the ‘chain’ hotels.
The 171 rooms include seven suites and 28 executive rooms which provide a view of the cricket ground. However, for understandable commercial reasons, the other rooms and public areas do NOT offer a ‘free’ view of the playing area – but it is just a short walk to the main entrances to the ground.
The main restaurant is “Beefy’s” – named for the cricketer Ian Botham – and there is also a spacious and comfortable Sports Bar. Those using the well-equipped spa and gymnasium have another restaurant, designed for relaxing in a dressing gown and enjoying a healthy menu. There are also function, conference and business facilities to a high standard.
So whether for cricket, golf, business or just as a base for a visit to the Southampton area, this hotel provides a new and very special option, well-worth trying.