We chose the Winchester Hotel for a one night stay in the city, the main purpose of our visit being a 50th birthday party which was held in Froggies restaurant, virtually in the grounds of the stunning cathedral.
Winchester has an unforgiving one way system which meant we did a few circles before finding our hotel, which is located on the outskirts of town but within a few minutes' walk of the centre, and also within very easy walking distance of the railway station.
The Winchester Hotel is situated at the top of a public carpark which made me wonder if these were in fact the original grounds of the hotel, as one could imagine rolling lawns rather than parking spaces which would have made for a spectacular entrance.
The carpark is paying (except Sundays) but there's a free carpark for guests at the back of the hotel making access very simple. There's also a ramp for wheelchair users leading into the main reception.
Staff are welcoming and courteous, and the reception area is attractive and well laid-out with a separate bar area leading into the restaurant.
Bedrooms are functional and of a very good standard – they have the feel of a business hotel, but everything is there and the shower was excellent. A magnifying mirror in the bathroom would have been useful but that was my only comment. Rooms are available for wheelchair users on the ground floor.
A very nice touch are the fabulous photos of Winchester which adorn the corridoors. Black and white images taken from unusual angles, they add a local flavour and whet the appetite to explore this beautiful and historic town.
We did not use the restaurant in the evening, but enjoyed an excellent buffet breakfast on the Sunday morning. The cooked breakfast was particularly good, and the service was swift and attentive, which is exactly what you need when several cups of strong tea are in order after a late night!
There is a health spa with a small swimming pool, sauna, steam room and a very well-equipped gym. The pool is not ideal for serious swimmers due to its size, but there is a "current" machine so that you can swim against the tide as it were, even though you don't actually go anywhere!
I was told that the hotel has recently changed owner, and that the new owner is in the process of investing in the upgrading of the hotel. He has done a good job in the bar and restaurant, and the plans for an extended front terrace will enhance that area.
All in all, this is a very good hotel, reasonably priced and perfectly situated for discovering Winchester. What it lacks in tradition or charm, it makes up for with quality and service – and you really do feel that every member of staff enjoys their work and is proud to be a part of the team.