The Holiday Inn at Winchester has been undergoing a front of house transformation. The previously vast open space has been transformed into an ‘Open Lobby’, a vibrant mix of cosy sofas, an e-bar with WiFi, a Media Space with comfy seating, games and TV, and a swish new bar and elegant restaurant.
The new area is designed to encourage a blend of work and leisure. Where previously the lobby space was quieter and a little echo-ey as you approached the reception desk, all day dining and a To Go Cafe, courtesy of Starbucks, ensures a lively and sociable atmosphere. The decor and layout throughout is contemporary. A dedicated entrance to the new The Odyssey Bar & Pizzeria creates a sense of anticipation.
At the opening evening this week guests were treated to canapés of squid starters, little cups of fish and chunky chips, mini pizzas and burgers. Dessert included one of my favourite sweet treats, a colourful display of Macarons in every flavour (pistachio, chocolate, coffee, lemon) and tiny squares of lime cheesecake. Cocktails and prosecco went down very nicely too, thank you.
This is the second time I’ve been fortunate to sample the food at the Holiday Inn Winchester and while it doesn’t have any pretensions it is excellent. Although I haven’t yet dined there the party food has been beautifully prepared and presented. Canapés or a cup of coffee at a cafe or restaurant are early indicators of the quality of the main menu. The staff at The Odyssey are very courteous and professional, with just the right amount of friendly banter.
The Holiday Inn is situated outside Winchester city centre, just a short drive or taxi ride away. I haven’t stayed, but it is a good location for a short city break or to overnight before an early departure from Southampton Ocean Cruise Terminal or international airport (approximately 16 minutes drive via M3).
The next phase of refurbishment and redevelopment at the hotel is a new spa due to open mid July. The Ana Spa will offer a full range of spa facilities (featuring Elemis products) and classes and will offer both membership and a range of spa packages. www.hiwinchester.co.uk