What does it say to you about Southampton’s appeal as a pre- or post-cruise destination that the top ranking hotel on TripAdvisor is not a place down on the city’s quite lovely waterfront – but the Premier Inn Southampton Airport?
Clearly Southampton wins, hands down, when it comes to be the U.K.’s busiest home port. So a lot of us have little choice if we’re cruising from England (Dover’s way behind). Southampton has a lot of quiet charms – and quite a bit of potential — but after my most recent stay here it seems that its hotels, in particular (which are a key aspect of a pre- or post-cruise visit) have gotten smug and lazy. Let’s put it this way: It’s no Barcelona.
The hotels that are located in cruise-centric places are primarily a utilitarian Novotel and Ibis (nothing wrong with cheap and cheerful but it’s not exciting). Numerous friends have grumbled about the Holiday Inn on the Solent. At the DeVere Grand Harbour Hotel, which is considered the city’s top-rated hostelry, it would appear that there have been few if any upgrades since the place opened in 1994. Beds are lumpy, rooms are tired, there aren’t many contemporary amenities (slow Ethernet, no Internet, lousy selection of television channels, fans in rooms in place of better air system). One caveat here is its balcony rooms; snag one that overlooks the Solent and you won’t care about the limitations!). Speaking of which – this photo of Celebrity Eclipse was snapped this morning from just one such balcony as the sun began to creep over the horizon at 4:15 a.m.!
With one exception – the delightful boutique hotel Ennios, which lies at the foot of the Red Funnel ferry and is a six-room place atop its own delightful Italian restaurant – the best way to sleep well in Southampton is to get out of town. Otherwise, New Forest-area places like Hotel Terravina and Lime Wood are superb spots for splurge stays.
Do you have a favorite Southampton (area) hotel? Tell us about it.