A local’s guide to Winchester
PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 January 2020
Winchester topped the list of happiest places to live in the UK earlier this year – but what do the locals think?
Winchester has it all. Coffee academies and cocktail festivals. Countryside a couple of minutes' stroll from the High Street. Market stalls and destination restaurants. And so thick with history you can almost touch it. Mary Tudor was married here; Keats was inspired; Jane Austen is buried…
Keith Scrogie, Design House, The Square
Design House celebrated its 30th anniversary in Winchester this year. Owners Keith and Peter offer a complete design service including flooring, lighting, furniture, and a library of fabrics, paints and wallpapers. The showroom is a treasure trove of the unexpected and the luxurious sourced from Paris, Germany and Italy along with bespoke pieces.
Keith's local life
"Even though it's a growing city, Winchester still has a village atmosphere; walking down the High Street is a constant 'hello, how are you doing?'"
Recommended stay: "Over 30 years we've seen a huge amount of change in Winchester. The best thing was The Old Vine being taken over by Ashton and Marcelo who are now friends of ours. They helped make The Square become more vibrant. They have some of the best rooms in Winchester with views overlooking the Cathedral and they asked us to decorate each room individually - we've named each one after a particular design house (such as the Nina Campbell Room)."
Café: "A favourite is Café Monde, a great place for us to grab a sandwich."
Restaurant: "We really like River Cottage for lunch, for its great food and location in Abbey Mill Gardens. However, Kyoto Kitchen is our number one choice."
Events: "I love the Hat Fair - there's always a good act in The Square. Like the Christmas market, it creates a lively atmosphere and brings people in, which can't be a bad thing for the city."
What's special: "We're very close to the cathedral. When I'm locking up the shop in the evening, I turn round and think how lucky am I being in this fantastic location!"
Harriet France, Jeremy France Jewellers, High Street
Next year marks Jeremy France Jewellers' 30th year in Winchester. This multi-award-winning independent jewellers includes a team of CAD designers and goldsmiths on-site providing bespoke design, remodelling and repairs. Jeremy France also offer a range of jewellery, from £29 earrings to £50,000 diamonds.
Harriet's local life
"The best thing about Winchester is the friendly people! We have a great collection of creative, proactive people - from passionate independent business owners to the lovely men and women of the Round Table and Ladies Circle who work so hard to raise money for local causes."
What's special: "I love the history right under our noses. We are lucky to be able to exhibit our late ninth century staircase in our showroom, and many of the buildings in town have similar treasures. Some can be seen, like the archway in Montezuma's, while others are hidden out back."
Favourite café: "Thrive Café in Oliver's Battery. As a vegetarian and vegan café they offer something different and they stand by their morals when it comes to reduce, reuse and recycle. They also make amazing coffee smoothies and the best iced teas!"
Restaurant: "Kyoto Kitchen and The Black Rat are high on my list, however Tanoshii is a favourite with their fusion style, amazing service from Anita and team and plenty of dry ice for dramatic effect."
Pub: "There is never a dull drink in the Black Boy. Their quirky taxidermy and unusual charm is right up my street."
Fitness class: "Winchester Pilates are miracle workers. Louisa and Nick help keep me moving!"
Hair salon: "Associates in Upper High Street. After going for a 'big chop', Steph found my perfect style and makes sure I always look my best with minimal effort on my front!"
Little Pub Company
Jayne opened first business The Corner House in 2009. It closed last December as a casualty of a market that has seen 1,400 new restaurant/café seats in Winchester within three years. Her remaining Winchester businesses, The King Alfred, The Mucky Duck and St James Tavern, have all found their niche with loyal followings.
Jayne's local life
"Winchester is always a delight to come home to whenever I've been away. Walking through the Cathedral Close never fails to lift my spirits. I feel very fortunate to live in such a beautiful, ancient place."
What's special: "The water meadows and St Catherine's Hill on the doorstep. The landscape hasn't changed in centuries and the fact it is accessible for so many is wonderful."
Favourite restaurant: "Rick Stein's as I am totally addicted to their fish soup."
Boutique: "Eclectic Hound - I can always find that quirky present for someone, or just for me."
Evening out: "Has to be the quiz or jazz nights in St James Tavern with pub supper!"
Walk: "The walk to The Bush at Ovington is a long one down the river, and you can take in four pubs en route!"
Event: "Christmas Carols at Winchester Cathedral: this is an annual event for me and my girlfriends and always marks the start of Christmas proper for us all."
Attraction: "The Cathedral. I am totally hooked on churches (albeit don't subscribe); their architecture and history never ceases to amaze me and our cathedral is spectacular."
Nyk Sweeten, Jack Rabbits Barbers, Stockbridge Road
Jack Rabbits Barbers was established in Winchester in 2014 - born from an idea to offer gents the finer qualities that a salon service provides, with an appointment-based service and mellow vibe. The group now comprises five barbers with two in Winchester.
Nyk's local life
"Winchester has everything that makes a small city great, and does it so well - from its fab food offerings to its vibrant people."
Café: "Our second barber's and academy is next to Coffee Lab's Dhan Tamang Roastery in Winnall. When Coffee Lab began they had a tiny café on St Thomas Street which was my favourite, before they expanded, moving to bigger premises around the corner. Working with Bakehouse 24, that little shop is once again my favourite: a lovely little café with Dhan Tamang roasted coffee and the best sourdough bread in the city."
Restaurant: "Tom's Deli tastes like I am eating right in the heart of Italy. Tom also serves up some great Italian coffee if you're after a pick-me-up or fancy finishing the night with a superb espresso."
Evening out: "For a recent staff get-together we headed to Incognito, a speakeasy-style cocktail, prosecco and gin parlour. It's on the corner of St John's House in The Broadway, with barely any signage. When you go through the door, you enter a totally new world!"
Fitness class: "Orange Theory on Andover Road. The trainers are passionate about your fitness which pushes me to train hard."
Event: "Putting Winchester on the map is the impressive annual bonfire and fireworks display. It's family friendly and run by volunteers from Winchester Round Table to raise money for local charities."
Charlotte Barnaville, Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium
Winchester Science Centre is an interactive science and technology centre with the largest standalone planetarium in the UK.
Charlotte's local life
"Winchester is small, beautiful and packed full of brilliant people, places and things to do - it's good for the soul."
Pub: "Cabinet Rooms: technically not a pub but a café bar on Jewry Street. Not only does it serve fantastic Extract Coffee and fabulous cocktails, but owners Gary and Marcus have created a cosy, relaxing and decadent experience."
Boutique: "My go-to shop for gifts and inspiration has to be The Hambledon in The Square. It's full of loveliness. I love the kids' space at the back with stickers, stationery and decorations. I spend ages ogling over the display of kitchenware."
Fitness class: "ANA Spa at Holiday Inn is a perfect combination of gym, studio and spa. Knowing my workout will end with an indulgent spa experience is exactly the kind of incentive I need to turn up regularly."
Local event: "It's got to be the Christmas Market. All proceeds support the life and upkeep of the Cathedral. I recommend the Gourmet Grilled Cheese stall in the food court for the very best grilled cheese toasted sandwich."
Local attraction: "I have a six-year-old daughter bursting with energy who loves visiting Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium. The fun free live science shows are aimed at inspiring children (although I learn just as much!) and usually involve an exciting explosion or two. The Planetarium is brilliant, especially the live show Flight Through the Universe which includes tips on how to spot stars, planets and constellations, before heading on a journey through the Solar System, Milky Way and out to the edges of the known universe; utterly mind-blowing."