What could be more romantic than a flutter of snowflakes as you dash hand in hand between cosy pubs? Dave and I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day a little earlier this year so that I could show you a lovely way to spend the day when it finally comes to February 14th. As you may know, Winchester is one of my favourite cities in the UK thanks to its array of ye olde buildings, chic shops, and that slightly whimsy vibe visible around every corner. I spend quite a lot of time here so I wanted to dedicate a post to this wonderful city, and what better occasion to use than the most romantic one in the calendar. I hope you enjoy my guide to spending a cosy Valentine’s Day in Winchester!
Visit the Great Hall
A short walk from the train station, the Great Hall is the perfect place to start your day out in Winchester. This is where the Round Table hangs grandly inside the beautiful 13th century aisled hall. As the last remains of Winchester Castle, the Great Hall is full of secret passages and a beautiful garden tucked around the back, so there’s plenty to see. I personally love the fun dress-up costumes inside and the beautiful stained glass windows. The outside of the Great Hall is just as picturesque and proved to be a beautiful backdrop for some outfit photos, so keep your eyes peeled for a fashion post very soon!
Warm up with a hot chocolate
After the outfit shoot, we were pretty much frozen from head to toe so we were relieved to find the cosy Eat, Drink and Be cafe just a little further down the High Street. To me, any cafe that’s warm and inviting is always the perfect choice, and this one was just that. Not only that, but the hot chocolate here is so delicious and creamy, even with soya milk, which everyone knows can sometimes be a little lacking in taste. Other lovely cafes to try in the city centre are Chococo, dedicated to all things chocolate including its own handmade ones, and The Winchester Cafe, where you can try a matcha latte and some delicious tiramisu shortbread.
Try authentic Japanese cuisine
Sushi is a love that Dave and I both share so we were delighted to be invited to Kyoto Kitchen for a lunchtime taster. By ‘taster’, we assumed it would be a few pieces of yummy sushi to nibble on, but we were actually greeted with a huge five-course meal consisting of various Japanese delicacies to take us around the country. With a bright and airy interior to match the equally light and delicate cuisine, we were spoilt for choice and sampled everything from smoked cured salmon to scallops with Japanese basil and the World’s first sushi roll wrapped in wasabi leaf instead of seaweed. We finished our meal by sharing a matcha mousse dessert topped with cream and a raspberry coulis, served in a chic martini glass. Since we were able to sample so much of the menu, I feel that this wonderful restaurant deserves its own post for a full review of all the delicious dishes. However, to summarise briefly, this is definitely the place for trying some authentic cuisine from Japan in a sophisticated, classy surrounding!
Explore the cathedral
At the heart of Winchester is the historic cathedral full of history and beautiful architecture, a must see for everyone visiting this city. Full of sculptures, medieval wall paintings and a stone crypt, you could easily spend an hour wandering around admiring the historic areas dating back to the 11th century. As one of the largest cathedrals in Europe and the burial place of Jane Austen, it’s the most standout landmark in Winchester, and not just due to its grand exterior. We popped over to walk off our sumptuous lunch but since it was so cold at this point, we didn’t end up spending too long here. However, it is definitely a highlight of Winchester.
Stop for an afternoon cocktail and dessert
After a stroll around the cathedral, there’s no better place to treat yourself to a tasty cocktail and yummy dessert than at the cosy William Walker pub, tucked around the side of the historic site. With a warm and buzzing atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to relax in with an afternoon drink and sweet treat. The friendly bartender mixed up a rhubarb and custard infused cocktail for us to try, known as the Siren’s Kiss – created especially for Winchester Cocktail Week. We also shared a rich and gooey chocolate brownie with a scoop of orange chip ice-cream and a couple of raspberries on the side for a fruity twist. This very hyggelig pub is named after a deep sea diver and there are lots of subtle hints to his history within the decor. Since it was really busy, we were seated upstairs in a lovely room with sash windows and artfully mixed and matched seating. Although this was my first visit, it has definitely become one of my favourite pubs in Winchester and I would 100% recommend it to others!
Sit in some cosy pubs
Winchester is known for its quaint selection of pubs so to continue the celebrations, you could have a drink or two in some of the lovely ones dotted around the city centre. As it was a Saturday, everywhere was fairly busy with that exciting weekend buzz but we managed to find a cosy spot in The Old Vine to enjoy our drinks in some comfy armchairs by the radiator. The Eclipse is another lovely pub with an eclectic bar and a hyggelig vibe helped by its very own log burner, where you can try some different gins and take a break from exploring the city.
Finish your day with an evening meal
If you start feeling peckish after a few drinks, there are plenty of independent restaurants for a delicious evening meal. My absolute favourite is The Chesil Rectory, one of the most romantic restaurants in the UK and the place to try modern British cuisine with a twist. Located in a 600-year-old building, the restaurant is very cosy and chic with low ceilings, exposed beams and open fireplaces – the perfect place for a romantic Valentine’s meal. However, both the William Walker and Kyoto Kitchen are also open in the evening so would also be lovely spots for dinner if you don’t get the chance to try them in the day!
So this is my guide to spending Valentine’s Day in Winchester, one of my favourite cities in the UK and one which I hope you have enjoyed reading about. If you haven’t been to this wonderful city yet, I definitely recommend choosing it as your next destination in the UK thanks to its rich history, the lovely authentic Kyoto Kitchen and lots of cosy pubs like the William Walker.
How will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year? Have you been to Winchester before?
* We were guests at both Kyoto Kitchen and the William Walker but all opinions are my own.