So Southampton is not much of a destination spot beyond the University you would think, but once a year the grand boat show comes to town and you can feast your eyes on the Hip Hop lifestyle you may aspire to.
Like any small town, you have your high street with well known chains, the odd bar offering student pricing, a couple of hotels, but what is good about here are the links to the coast. If you are a Southampton resident, it is so easy to head on down to Lymington for some actual sailing, Bournemouth, Isle of Wight and Studland Bay (apparently one of the best beaches in England). If you like a bit of nature, just across Southampton Water there is also the gorgeous New Forest.
It probably sounds a bit unfair as there are a couple of things to do such as SeaCity Museum, Southampton Common and City Art Gallery. There is also some good shopping in West Quay. For the benefit of those who do come here for a gig, Southampton boat show or to study, I have rounded up a few things which I partook in.
Firstly where to stay…..
Jurys Inn – Really comfortable, clean and nice actually. A bit of walk to the sea and shops, but it overlooks the gorgeous park which in the Summer is worth a stroll, pic nic or cycle. We received a warm welcome. The team where professional. The standard of room cleaning was on point. The bar was a little bit basic and very easily filled due to it’s size, but there are no shortage of drinking haunts a stones’ throw away. Of course, being a Jurys Inn, it was also value for money.
Where to dine…..
Greg’s Bistro was a last minute stop before we got on the train. A bit off the beaten track, not very close to the main high street etc. In a way this was better, as if it survives being away from the crowd it must mean that the food is good to attract the clientele. Our first impression was good as the Manager seemed genuinely happy to welcome us. There are your old favourites like Bella Italia which we also popped in. The good old Indian makes its presence known with the very popular Coriander Lounge restaurant. Truly worth it. The food portions were big, though the price was not. It was a good mix of locals and Boat Show attendees.
Have a walk around the town and you see remnants on times past. Jane Austen is one of its most famous former residents and there is a trail to follow through the Old Town. Henry V marched his troop through Westgate (still standing) to sail for France and the battle of Agincourt. The Mayflower also sailed from Southampton on its discovery voyage to America. Sadly, the Titanic also set off from Southampton. The Old Town has the 800 year old Bargate and it is home to the third longest stretch of unbroken medieval defensive walling in England. There, a few bits and bobs to get your gums around.
Trains from London depart from Victoria and Waterloo. Provided you buy well in advance, you can grab a first class ticket for £45.00 (one-way).