Taking time out from our busy schedules really is essential to our well-being, even just one night away from it all, indulging in a little bit of luxury can work wonders. This is exactly what I did just before the madness of our new issue arriving, and it was just what I needed. Staying somewhere beautiful has become more and more important to me the older I get. For this trip, we were very lucky to be invited to stay at 16a Winchester – self-catering accommodation in the heart of historic Winchester – and beautiful it certainly was….
Pushing open the heavy black door to 16a, reveals a stunning, spacious open plan area, housing a grand piano, a dining table and a cosy reading nook. To the left, an archway leads through to the living room, and to the right, the kitchen and a snug area. The space had a sense of grandeur, but not in an untouchable way. The style could be described as ‘elegant rustic’ – original ceiling beams, concrete flooring and vintage wooden furniture mixes with luxurious velvet fabrics, an ornate fireplace and classical pieces of furniture.
Owner Hannah McIntyre explained that the building was once a livery, then during wartime it was used as a venue for a women’s society and finally, a dancehall. But, the building had fallen into disrepair, and at the age of 23, Hannah took on the task of renovating the property and bringing it back to life. She initially ran the business as a B&B, but at the start of 2019, Hannah decided to take a more hands-off approach and transformed it into self-catering accommodation. The property is now unstaffed, but Hannah is always at the end of the phone if you have any questions or problems. It can either be booked as a whole house for a larger group or you can book one of the three bedrooms individually and the rest of the house is then a shared space.
The feeling of spaciousness continued into the kitchen where you can prepare meals if you wish, and some basics are provided such as tea, coffee, milk, eggs, bread, butter & juice. The snug doubles up as a movie room, with a selection of DVDs available, although there are also TVs in each bedroom.
We stayed in Room 41. All three bedrooms are upstairs, so do bear this in mind if you have any mobility issues. The room is beautifully pared back and calming, and at times sunshine streamed in through the window. The bed was super comfy and the en suite bathroom has a similar ‘industrial luxe’ aesthetic. A huge shower area was equipped with a very cool DIY copper piping shower fitting, and on the opposite wall, a copper piping towel radiator was mounted on the wall. Our room also had a mezzanine which is where the roll top bath was located. There are some very cool, but very steep, steps that lead up to this, so again, if you have reduced mobility this will likely be inaccessible. Even I was slightly nervous climbing up and down (!) but a lovely luxury if you can brave it. 🙂
We went child-free for this stay, mainly because there is not space in the room to accommodate another bed. You could potentially fit in a travel cot, although you would need to check this with Hannah. Of course, if you were visiting with more family, you could book all three rooms to accommodate more people.
Apart from it’s beautiful interior and great facilities, one of the best things about 16a is it’s location. It’s in a courtyard off Parchment Street, which is just a few minutes walk from the centre of town. In the rooms, Hannah has included a booklet with lots of recommendations for places to visit as well as restaurants and bars, and it’s proximity to everything makes it easy to pop back and forward from the house if needed. Below are a few places we spent time at during out short stay.
THINGS TO DO NEARBY
There are plenty of shops to browse around Winchester, both high street and independent, but an all time favourite of mine is definitely The Hambledon. This shop holds a special place in my heart as it features on the cover of my first book The Shopkeepers Home. There is something for everyone here – from fashion and beauty lovers, to kids and homeware fans – the lovely brands they stock are all beautifully displayed in the airy, welcoming space.
We weren’t very organised when it came to booking an evening meal, and after calling a number of places on Hannah’s list of recommendations – all sadly fully booked – we headed out to hunt for somewhere instead. We ended up eating in The Ivy where we had a really lovely meal. The next morning, we followed Hannah’s instructions of getting up and out early for breakfast at Forte Kitchen, which can be a busy spot. Luckily it’s on the same street as the house, so only a short stroll away. I really enjoyed their vegan breakfast. Before we headed home, we had a quick stop off in Coffee Lab (pictured above), which is known for it’s great coffee. Neither of us actually drank coffee so can’t vouch for this, but it was certainly a nice spot to round off our trip.
Out of town
if you are travelling by car, either on route or before you leave, make sure to pop into Long Barn. The barn houses a shop selling a mix of clothing, beauty products, homewares, plants, books and food, so there is lots to browse, before taking a seat in the cafe for lunch or tea and cake. In the summer, you can enjoy a view of their lavender field at the back. They also grow it on their farm nearby and produce their own range of lavender products available at the barn. If you are into your houseplants, I noted they had some really unusual species that I had never seen before. Well worth a stop off if you can.
For more details on 16a Winchester or to book a stay visit their website. Many thanks to Hannah for providing us with a complimentary stay for purposes of this review.