Set on the coast of Hampshire, south of Winchester, this is a place that abounds with a fascinating heritage. The Romans, who established it as a seaport, founded Southampton approximately 2,000 years ago. This was the port from which the ill-fated Titanic had set sail on her maiden voyage in 1912. Even though the place was affected during the Second World War, Southampton has grown sturdy with huge docks built for the cruise industry. The core of the modern city is now based around the City Centre.
Places of Interest:
Southampton is famous for ports, art galleries and museums. The place has a story to tell everywhere you visit.
Museum of Archaeology – This museum recount’s Southampton’s history with displays from prehistoric, Roman, Saxon and medieval times.
Medieval Merchants’ House-This is one of the earliest surviving merchants’ homes in the UK. Tourists can take in a glimpse and see how life was 700 years ago thanks to the authentically recreated furniture and overall ambience.
Solent Sky – Solent Sky, where the world’s first seaplane was built. It is also the place where the Spitfire fighter plane, used heavily in the Second World War, was born.
Southampton City Art Gallery – Situated in the heart of the Cultural Quarter, it contains over 3,500 works of art spanning six centuries of European culture. The 20th century British art remains the main attraction here.
Things to do:
Southampton is a great place to shop and dine. Be it enjoying the nightlife or being a part of special events, this city has always had lots to offer.
Shopping – The West Quay complex on West Quay Road offers shoppers a good selection of high street retailers, designer boutiques and traditional shops. The West Quay Retail Park brims with the choicest of retailers that are normally found on the outskirts of towns. Other good shopping areas include the Marlands Mall, Portland Terrace and the Bargate Centre, off the High Street on East Street.
Restaurants – There are many restaurants offering an eclectic mix of cuisines. The rates are competitive and the price range for a three course meal for one, including a half bottle of house wine or equivalent (where available) is:
**** (over £40)
*** (£30 to £40)
** (£20 to £30)
* (up to £20)
Tipping of around 10% for a three-course meal with wine is given customarily in up market eating places. During weekends most restaurants require prior booking.
Transport – The airport is situated 7km (4 miles) northeast of Southampton on the outskirts of the city. A good rail network links Southampton with the main rail station in the city. The National Express operates regular coach services connecting Southampton with various destinations in the UK. The National Express terminal is located in the centre of the city on Western Esplanade within a stone’s throw from the Central Railway Station. Taxis can be hailed on the street or at ranks at the railway and bus stations. First Southampton is a company that operates a comprehensive network of buses linking all parts of the city. Bus no. 12 operates between the city centre and International airport.
Nightlife – From conventional old alehouses to stylish bars and nightclubs, Southampton has a flourishing nightlife with a huge chioce. The Red Lion, 55 High Street, or The Duke of Wellington, 36 Bugle Street; are two of the traditional old alehouses having a decent bar menu.
Special events – There are events like Titanic Memorial (Sep 4), the Southampton Boat Show (Sep 16-25) and Trafalgar Day with trips on the SS Shieldhall on the Solent (Oct 21), which are specific to Southampton. In Euroblade, October, Southampton’s city streets are closed off and turned into a track for inline skating. The event is not a race and is open to skaters of all ages and abilities. It assumes dimensions of a festival atmosphere with wigs, crash helmets and fancy dress.
Food and Drink:
Langley’s Bistro and Garden Room Café -This is a non-smoking restaurant that serves the best of food and wine. The ambience as well as the great customer service is worth writing and raving about.
Kuti’s Brasserie – Situated in the centre of the town, Kuti’s is also a place that has great ambience and offers authentic Indian and Bangladeshi food.
La Cantina – With dishes like fajitas, tacos and fiery chilies, this place makes for a good party environment.
Olive Tree – It offers a selection of the best European dishes.
The Woodlands Lodge Hotel – A 15-minute drive away from the city centre, this place gives you the choicest food in the most scenic of surroundings.
Hotels and Accommodation:
Southampton, being an important sea port, receives visitors by the ferry-load, which means there is no shortage of places to choose from. The hotels given below are categorized into four different pricing categories and are based on the cost of a double room per night with breakfast and including all taxes:
**** (over £120)
*** (£80 to £120)
** (£40 to £80)
* (up to £40)
The services offered by the larger hotels will usually include a gym, pool and extensive business and conference facilities.
The Star Hotel
Southampton Park Hotel
Dormy House Hotel
Macdonald Botley Park Hotel, Golf & Country Club
Initial Style Conferences
Express By Holiday Inn Southampton – M27, JCT7
Chilworth Manor Classic Hotel
Jurys Inn Southampton
The Mayflower Theatre on Commercial Road is the largest theatre in southern England. Another good venue for live comedy is the Jongleurs Comedy Club, 2-4a High Street. There is normally a disco after the comedy acts. There are two multiplex cinemas UGC and Odeon, which play the latest movies.
The strategic maritime importance has played a noteworthy part in how Southampton developed over the years. Today the port is synonymous with the city. Tourists love to flock to this place, which is growing every year with several development projects in the pipeline, like a £162 million project to create a huge entertainment arena at West Quay.