Hotels in Southampton (England, United Kingdom)
Hotels in Southampton
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Southampton, the cruise capital, makes for a titanic city break
Southampton, on England’s south coast, is best known for being the port where the Titanic embarked on its fateful maiden voyage. Nowadays, the “Cruise Capital of Europe” still attracts luxury cruise liners and four million visitors each year.
Visitors who hang around a bit longer before embarking on their cruise discover an eclectic and vibrant city, where ultra-modern developments flaunt a rich sea-faring heritage. A city, which borders the idyllic New Forest National Park and where culture, sport and live music thrive.
So why not book into a hotel in Southampton for a lively and original city break?
Southampton: aviation and maritime history
It is common knowledge that on 10 April 1912, the luxury cruise liner The Titanic left the port of Southampton, with 500 of its crew and passengers destined never to return. However, it is less known that the city has been an important trading port since Roman times, when the fortress settlement Clausentum was founded.
The port was known as Hamwic by the Anglo Saxons, and later Hampton – where the county of Hampshire got its name from. With its strategic location between the then capital of England, Winchester, and Normandy it became an important port for the Normans. Southampton was also where Henry V and his troops set sail for France prior to the Battle of Agincourt and where, in 1620, the Pilgrims set sail towards the new world aboard The Mayflower.
Southampton’s history as a port is, however, not just limited to sea-faring. The iconic World War II plane, the Spitfire also took its maiden flight from what is now Southampton Airport. If you stay in one of Southampton’s city centre hotels, you can visit one of its most popular attractions: Solent Sky, hosting a collection of ancient planes including the Spitfire.
An old sea-faring town
Southampton’s wonderful medieval old town boasts the third longest stretch of medieval defensive walls in England and gives an insight into the port’s rich history.
Starting at the impressive 800-year-old Bargate, you can take a walking tour around its streets, steeped in history, past its 90 listed buildings, and 30 ancient monuments. The pick of these being the recently restored Tudor House Museum, The Medieval Merchant’s House and God’s House Tower Museum within the city walls.
The old town in Southampton makes for a pleasant place to stop-over in a hotel, guest house or tavern before hopping on the ferry to the Isle of Wight nearby or on one of the cruise liners from the Ocean Cruise Terminal.
There is a nice selection of traditional pubs and restaurants to wile away the evenings and The West Quay Shopping Centre and Retail Park, a short walk away, offers an abundance of shops, restaurants and leisure attractions.
Southampton’s Cultural Quarter
If you would prefer to stay somewhere more contemporary, why not try one of the hotels in Southampton’s emerging Cultural Quarter? The city is investing heavily in making this area a vibrant and modern leisure destination. It is already home to the largest theatre in southern England, outside of London: The Mayflower Theatre. It also boasts the famous O2 Guildhall – the venue for many high profile music gigs, as well as many lively restaurant chains and bars. The ultra-modern and interactive SeaCity Museum showcases the city’s seafaring and Titanic heritage, whilst a cutting-edge art complex is under development.
Stay outside Southampton for rural tranquillity
If you would like to keep the buzz of the city centre at arm’s reach and retreat to a peaceful country setting, there are many lovely hotels outside Southampton. The luscious New Forest National Park with its beautiful woodland walks, glades and country villages makes an idyllic spot. Beaulieu Abbey with its beautiful gardens and incorporating the National Motor Museum is a magnet for car enthusiasts as well as nature and history lovers.
You can also stay in a hotel around the Itchen Valley Country Park to the north of the city, near Southampton Airport, and explore its 440 acres of secluded meadows and woodland.
If you’re looking for a hotel before catching a flight from Southampton Airport, the small town of Eastleigh, off the M3 makes for a pleasant base – just one stop away from the airport by rail. There is a wide variety of hotels located here as well as the lovely Lakeside Country Park and Steam Railway and a museum dedicated to the Spitfire.
Connections to Southampton
Experiencing the diverse delights of Southampton, including its high profile annual events such as The Boat Show and the annual Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, has never been easier.
London Waterloo is just 80 minutes away by rail and there are also direct services to Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol.
Southampton is accessible easily from the channel ports and by road along the M3 and M27 motorways. The city is also served by seven airlines making it accessible from many UK and European destinations.
So what are you waiting for? Navigate towards Southampton by rail, road, air or sea and get to know this modern city with a past anchored in all forms of transport – not only seafaring.