A local’s guide to Southampton
PUBLISHED: 12:32 28 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:46 28 May 2019
West Quay may be known as a big draw for shoppers, but Southampton still has an independent spirit and hidden neighbourhoods - from swanky Ocean Village to super stylish Bedford Place; locals reveal secrets and surprises
An award-winning airport; two leading public art galleries; top theatre and music venues; new public spaces… There is a lot happening in this busy port city dubbed Europe's cruise capital, but what do the locals like about Southampton?
Daniel and Dishi Umfleet opened The Docks Coffee House in Oxford Street two years ago with a focus on sourcing locally and eliminating single use plastic as well as serving great coffee, homemade cake and tasty brunches.
Dishi's local life
"The best things about Southampton are its parks, its history, its independent businesses and Oxford Street. Oxford Street really is quite special with a very neighbourly feel and every weekend, particularly during spring and summer when the sun is out, it is buzzing."
- Restaurant: "La Regatta on Town Quay or Simon's Bar and Kitchen on Oxford Street - the food is always delicious and perfectly presented."
- Overnight stay: "The White Star tavern with rooms - ideally located for exploring."
- Hair salon: "I recently had my haircut at the newly opened Storm Hair Salon (they have moved from Bedford Place) and was so impressed with the results."
- Fitness class: "Personal training at Brightside PT. Ask for Eliza - she is brilliant!"
- Spare time: "Apart from drinking coffee and watching the world go by at Docks Coffee House? Walking the town walls, ice creams on a sunny day at Mayflower Park, exploring the SS Shieldhall [the largest working steamship in Britain] and relaxing in the Tudor House gardens."
- Days out with kiddies: "On a rainy day, we will head over to Jungle Jeans [off West Quay Road] or the children's book area at Waterstones. Otherwise it is Itchen Valley Country Park for a walk and fun in the play area."
Banana Wharf was established in 2005 as part of the Delicious Dining group with waterside restaurants in Southampton's Ocean Village, Hamble and Poole.
Kerry's local life
"Southampton has so much to offer with some great bars, clubs, shopping, theatres and its arts and music scene. Also, due to its coastal location, you have access to Southampton Water and the Isle of Wight for trips out."
- Favourite pub: "The London on Oxford Street. It's the city's cabaret venue and there's always something going on including singers, DJs, fantastic drag artists and karaoke. It's great fun entertainment and never fails to deliver."
- Café: "Afternoon tea at Grand Café. This venue is a bit like stepping back in time, and the afternoon tea experience is even better served with a glass of champagne!"
- Hair and beauty: "Ukiyo on the High Street; great for making you feel relaxed and pampered."
Southampton Football Club (Saints) was founded in 1885 as St Mary's YMA. Saints' greatest achievement came in 1976 when they beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final. They have competed in the Premier League since 2012 and are recognised for the production line of world-class players that have progressed from their academy, including Adam Lallana, Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale.
Daniel's local life
"The best thing about Southampton is the football team of course! The city also has a rich history, from its role in WW2 to launching the Titanic."
Something quirky: "The spitfire was created on the banks of the river Itchen in Woolston, in a Supermarine factory that used to sit where the Itchen Bridge is now."
- Favourite pub: "The Rockstone [Onslow Road] has a good selection of ales, and the burgers are huge."
- Café: "For the best breakfast head over the Itchen to Annie's in Woolston."
- Restaurant: "I've never had anything other than incredible Indian food from Coriander Lounge on the High Street."
- Overnight stay: "The Harbour Hotel & Spa in Ocean Village has amazing views over the water and probably the best rooftop bar in the city."
- Best night out: "Bedford Place is more lively, but Oxford Street has a good array of bars and pubs."
- Spare time: "Catching a game at St Mary's is a must! You can't beat the buzz of a few pre-match pints and then following the crowds to the stadium."
Southampton Airport employs nearly 100 staff and contributes more than £160 million a year to the local economy. In 2018 it welcomed more than two million passengers, celebrated its first year of service with easyJet and first ever direct flight to the Greek island of Skiathos with FlyLoLo. The airport is regularly ranked number one in the UK for overall passenger satisfaction in the ACI Airport Service Quality Survey. In March 2019, it was named the ACI ASQ Best Airport in Europe (between two and five million passengers).
Lucy's local life
"Best thing about Southampton is the new John Hansard Gallery in the city centre which is wonderful!"
- Do you know a secret?: "All aircraft that flew during WWI from the US Navy flying corps were trained and flew from our airfield!"
- And something quirky: "In the 1940s the Cierva Air Horse was just about the world's most famous helicopter - a huge beast that almost defied aero-dynamics! It flew out of the Cunliffe-Owen company from the then Eastleigh Airport. Sadly, it crashed a short time later and was scrapped. Rumour has it the original prototype is buried under our airfield in one piece, alongside seven early model Spitfires. Local workers at the time told tales of these amazing aircraft being buried here!"
- Favourite restaurant: "For a girl's night out - happy hour at Turtle Bay is a great place to start.
- Overnight stay: "The Pig In The Wall on Western Esplanade. It's lovely."
- Local event: "You cannot beat a test match when England play at the Ageas Bowl."
Devernois is a quality French womenswear brand known for its classic yet quirky styling. There are just three boutiques in the UK. The Southampton boutique in Bedford Place has been run by Sharon Lisle for 18 years with many regular customers (some from as far as Bath and Brighton) becoming friends.
Sharon's local life
"The best thing about Southampton is Bedford Place, it's a little gem with a parade of independents that delivers an experience. It's the kind of place you can spend the day, having your hair done, meeting friends for lunch, coming in here for a shop and chat."
- Southampton secret: "We are lucky to have Southampton Common; I've heard that it is one of HM The Queen's favourite entrances to a city."
- Best restaurant: "Bedford Place is becoming a foodie enclave with Lakaz Maman, Mauritian street food from MasterChef winner Shelina Permalloo, and Sakura for amazing Japanese food. The latest addition is Popsi's pizzeria with really good pizzas. My husband likes Overdraft craft ale bar in Shirley."
- Café: "Halladays - old fashioned tearooms on Bedford Place. There are queues out the door for brunch at the weekend."
- Night out: "Turner Sims for the jazz."
- Beauty salon: "I go to All Beauty (on Bedford Place) for my facials. It's my little treat. What they don't know about beauty products isn't worth knowing! All Beauty have won lots of awards as an online retailer and this is their first (and only) retail outlet in the UK."
- Hair Salon: "Arcana next door - I've been going there for years and wouldn't go anywhere else."
- Local Event: Bedford Place's Vintage Festival on 21 July 2019 with petting farm, farmers' market, stalls, Still Moving DJS, who are as mad as hatters and play all kinds of music, and Lindy Hop Dancers.
- Favourite walk: I love walking round the old cemetery, looking for Lisles, and the Common, ending up at Bellemoor Tavern.
- Cocktail bars in Southampton: 4 of the best places - Got a date or planning a catch up with a friend? Head to one of these fantastic cocktail bars in Southampton