The Weekender: Where To Stay, Eat & Go In Southampton
The gateway to the Isle of Wight, New Forest, the south coast and beyond, Southampton is a major transport hub and a significant port. But before you use it as a jumping off point for your south coast adventures, pause for a moment and explore this historic city.
Southampton Travel Guide
Pig In The Wall
The Pig’s only city hotel is tucked away by the docks in the midst of the city’s historic defensive walls. This cute little bolthole is perfectly positioned as a jumping off point to explore all that the city has to offer. The action onsite is all at the Pig In The Wall’s kitchen-cum-parlour, which also acts as a reception for this 12-room inn. Here, you’ll be able to relax with a cup of tea or a glass of wine (try the PIG CUT red) or soak up some sun on the cobbled streets out front if the weather allows. The unique rooms are small but perfectly formed; think beautifully comfortable beds, cosy country décor, vintage radios, free-standing baths in the larger rooms and bright tiled bathroom floors with walk-in rainforest showers in the smaller. Some rooms look out over the River Test and you’ll see cruise ships and ferries coming and going, the foghorns punctuating dinner to the delight of young diners. thepighotel.com/in-the-wall
The Pig In The Wall
As you’d expect from any Pig stay, it’s all about the food, with this city outpost offering more relaxed, deli-style dining from 7am until 8pm most days. A hearty breakfast is a must to set you up right for a day of exploring and the Piggy Pan (full English) is irresistible. Throw in a cafetiere of coffee (essential if travelling with kids), some date and almond energy bites and a nourishing garden smoothie and you’ll be good to go. The deli menu changes daily, guided by what’s fresh and in season in the local area; but favourites such as Dorset crab and The Pig sausage roll are often on offer and taste great at any time of day. thepighotel.com
With vegan fare more popular than ever, Thrive Café has found favour with locals and visitors (regulars travel from Salisbury and beyond) with its menu offering fresh and nutritious salads and sandwiches alongside plant-based fast food including a vegan ‘halloumi’ burger and seitan ‘chicken’ box. The fried ‘chicken’ seitan burger is a best-seller and makes for perfect hangover food, attested by the constant stream of Deliveroo drivers coming in and out during our Sunday lunchtime visit. The café sits on the corner of Houndwell park, home to an excellent play area, if you’ve kids in tow. cafethrive.co.uk
Facing out onto Southampton’s old waterfront, this award-winning restaurant is a favourite thanks to authentic Italian cuisine and an impressive wine list. As well as a seriously good meal, Ennio’s offers five-star lodgings in its boutique rooms. ennios.co.uk
If retail therapy is in order, head to Westquay for a day of spending, or if sporting fans should keep an eye on the fixture lists to catch England or Hampshire in action in the cricket (or the Saints in action at St Mary’s if football is your thing). The city is packed with parks and play areas to keep little ones happy, or head to the 356-acre common to enjoy nature trails, woodlands, parklands, ponds and an adventure playground with zip wires and towers.
Discover the city’s history with a visit to the excellent Sea City Museum, where alongside exhibitions outlining the city’s connection with the sea and its sporting and military history, you’ll be able to follow the tragic story of the sinking of the Titanic in a fascinating immersive exhibition. From here, you could check out the 75-minute Titanic Trail walking tour of the city, for more backstory about the ship, its passengers and crew.
If, after all this Titanic talk, you’re still willing to take to the waters, how about a Wind Winging session or a weekend sailing course? We’ll stay firmly on dry land and head back to the Pig for a glass of red and a light bite.
You might also like...