“ Address: 2 Romsey Rd / Winchester / Hampshire / SO23 8TP / Tel: 01962 820222 „
For a recent visit to Winchester my boyfriend and I needed somewhere to stay, and with all good intentions I thought I should get booking early as it was a bank holiday weekend. Of course, this never actually happened and I booked about three weeks before. My first port of call was to check the local Bed & Breakfast establishments, many of which wanted upward of £80 per night. I thought this quite expensive, especially when you consider I paid less than that for 'popular' cities such as Stratford-Upon-Avon and Bath, which generally are visited a lot more by tourists. I then decided to check out small, local hotels and Westgate Inn popped up. We were after a centrally located place as we were meeting friends in the centre of town on the Sunday afternoon and wanted to be able to get back easily without a taxi. Westgate Inn certainly met that criteria, being just off the High Street, what's more the rooms on the website looked spacious and modern, and not 'chintzy' like so many of the B & B photos, plus they wanted only £75 per night with en suite and full English breakfast. It is a pub with rooms upstairs; they have eight rooms in total, six en-suites and two that use a shared bathroom. When I went to book our double en suite I got the option of upgrading to a larger room at no extra charge, of course I took this up! Booking was through a third party site called Eviivo and was quick and painless, although my card was charged at the time of booking. You can also phone direct and book if you wish.
When we arrived in Winchester we then discovered that neither of us had actually printed a map off of the city centre, only how to get to the town, so we followed our noses as I remembered it being just off the High Street and seeing the suggestion of parking in Tower Street Car Park. We fortunately spotted the car park sign easily, and as it was a Sunday going into a Bank Holiday Monday it was free. Charges would apply at other times, and it is free between 6pm and 8am. As we came out of the car park and turned the corner onto the High Street we saw the Westgate Inn ahead of us.
I have to say first impressions were not good, the pub is on a mini-roundabout and is in desperate need of a coat of paint as it was peeling badly outside and the light coloured walls were dirty. Inside the pub was clean but tired with wooden tables, floors and worn chairs. It was very much a locals' pub, rather than a young, trendy place. The pictures on the website showed smartly dressed people enjoying a drink in a traditional style bar. Whilst I would say that the bar is traditional in style, the way it was portrayed in the photos made it look more sophisticated than it actually was. The table-clothed area featured on the website no longer had cloths and had a food counter similar to those you get in sandwich bars (there was no food in it at any time that I saw), so I am unsure as to whether the pub offers a 'restaurant' as advertised on the website as I saw no menus or signage. Fortunately we had other plans so this didn't bother us, and with the pub's proximity to the High Street, shouldn't bother many others. But I was disconcerted to see something that looked so different to the website.
We caught the attention of a man behind the bar and he checked us off in his book and fetched our key. He escorted us up the two flights of stairs to our room (there is a further flight as I recall but I am not sure if this is for guests). The staircase was narrow, once again in need of a lick of paint and the carpet very worn. I was starting to panic at this stage, thinking "Oh My God, what have I booked?!", after all as a Three Star hotel (according to Trip Advisor, I can't see the Star Rating on their website) I had certain expectations as to the standard of décor.
On arrival to our room (all with Naval names - I can't remember our room's name for the life of me) I was more impressed. It was smart and modern and was more representative of the images on the website which had inspired me to book. There was a TV with remote on one wall, a nice dressing table and tea/coffee facilities, as well as a few local magazines. There was a small built-in cupboard for hanging clothes. There were loads of cushions on the bed which was comfy, although the lighting in the room was quite poor. The en-suite bathroom was also modern (although the walls were a bit cracked here and it looked like it needed re-plastering), clean with a large bath/shower, and a glittery toilet seat. It seems they have made the effort in the rooms where it counted, such a shame the communal areas were not as good. The included toiletries were from a Chinese brand that I haven't heard of, but the packaging was reminiscent of Molton Brown. However they did their job in keeping me clean I found, and the shower had a good amount of power to it.
We didn't have time to linger before meeting some friends, there is a stairway going down to the street, so you don't need to go through the bar, and you have a key to access it if coming back late - however it seemed to be open when I went out through it, on the latch, meaning anyone could have got back in. We returned to the hotel about 10.45 pm and came in through the bar which was quiet; we didn't hear any noise from the bar but were disturbed by two groups of revellers coming back past the Inn in the early hours, as our room was at the front, by the main road. Traffic noise was minimal due to the early hours and the weekend, but I would think it could get quite noisy of you wanted a lie-in on a weekday morning. We were also disturbed by people using the communal bathroom in the night, as it was opposite us.
Breakfast in the morning is in a room on the first floor, it was a neater room than other communal areas, and was light and airy. I had a sneaky look through the kitchen door and it seemed a bit cramped, with one woman cooking the hot food to order and serving it (at least at the time we were there). As I recall breakfast was served until 10am. The cooked breakfast was generous and fresh, plus cereals, fruit and yoghurts etc were also available along with tea or coffee and fruit juice.
They were happy to hold our bags for us, but they did keep them in a communal area, fortunately the pub didn't seem to be particularly busy. The pub also had a pet (dog) which is worth noting for allergy sufferers.
Ultimately I recommend this hotel/inn hesitatingly. Whilst the breakfast and our room were excellent, the communal areas and noise let it down, I realise that you ought to expect some noise in a city centre, but we weren't really aware of quite how central we were. Perhaps if you book by phone you can request a quieter room. Friends of ours had been unable to get in here that same weekend, after we had booked; they ended up in the Royal Hotel and whilst centrally located, it was closer to the Cathedral rather than on a main street, so quieter. I believe they paid a similar amount, so if I return to Winchester I will try that one, rather than come back here. In summation we paid £75 for the room for one night bed and breakfast in a large double room with en-suite.