If you’re looking for a Winchester boutique B&B in the heart of the city, 27-year-old bed and breakfast proprietor, Hannah McIntyre, says she may have the perfect place…
Located in a quiet courtyard, hannah’s Winchester boutique B&B is not your average bed and breakfast – I’ve tried to make it more in keeping with a luxury boutique hotel. A truly unique and exclusive place to stay and a haven for even the most discerning of guests.
My passion for the hotel industry started when I was 17 and working in the restaurant at my mum’s hotel. I was on a two-month trial initially, but it went so well I was front of house for a year. I went on to work for Hotel du Vin, then joined Lime Wood hotel in the New Forest when I was 21, as reservations manager.
The ethos is making sure each guest truly enjoys their experience in my home
I wanted to open a B&B as part of my retirement plan, but when I inherited money in my mid-20s, I decided that, rather than putting it away, I should invest in property and start a business.
When I bought the property, it was barely habitable, especially the side now used as the B&B. The whole building needed to be remodelled, apart from the external walls. It was a big project…fun, but big! I decided to live in an annex in the building, so I’d always be around for my guests.
When it came to designing the interior, my mum’s influence rubbed off on me massively; she has her own interior design shop, an Aladdin’s cave of home furnishings, just around the corner from the B&B. Growing up, she always had interior magazines and did up every property we ever lived in.
Now I was designing my own place, I got slightly addicted to Pinterest and was always searching for “concrete”, “wood” and “industrial” – I really wanted to mix contemporary styling with the more traditional side of Winchester.
hannah’s opened in September 2015 and its ethos is to make sure each guest truly enjoys their experience in my home. To that end, the beds are super king size and super comfy; the three spacious bedrooms are individually decorated with quirky touches here and there; and the copper showers, distressed headboards and bathing mezzanine are reminiscent of New York loft apartments. Downstairs there’s a well-stocked “honesty bar” and a library with oversized sofas in front of the log fire.
I strive to create a calm, peaceful, homely environment with an abundance of yummy homemade food – I bake every weekend so my guests have a nice little treat when they arrive. I bake loaf cakes with my homemade jams and marmalade, scones and biscuits. The shared space at hannah’s makes it quite unique, encouraging the guests to spend time outside their room. They can have cream tea on the terrace in the summer, or be warmed by a spiced loaf cake and roaring fire in the winter.
I moved to this area with my family when I was four, so I can recommend lots of things to do in Winchester. It’s the old capital of England and there’s a rich history to explore. My guests visit the cathedral and cathedral square, Winchester College (often compared to Hogwarts) and Wolvesey Castle, also known as the Old Bishop’s Palace. There are lots of lovely walks you can do in and around the city, too.
There are lots of foodie options in Winchester, but Rawberry, just at the end of the road, has a huge selection of juices, salads and wraps, vegan cakes and biscuits, and the Black Boy, a chilled out, traditional pub full of taxidermy and other curiosities, does good pub food.
In the evening, you could just slouch with a good book and a stiff drink at the B&B. If you want to go out, I’d recommend the Everyman cinema; it’s been refurbished with velvet sofas, drinks served to your cinema seat, a nice bar and it screens live opera and theatre events. Or, for something quirkier, try the games night at Toscanaccio wine shop.
A little further away from the B&B, Alresford is a picturesque Georgian town and home to Long Barn Lavender Growers, where you can buy lavender infused products or lavender plants. Stockbridge village is also well worth a visit – you can buy lovely, fresh fish at Thyme and Tides deli, and there’s a great boutique there called Hero.
On their last day, guests often drive down to the seaside. If you get going nice and early, before 9:30am, when the traffic gets busy, it’s less than an hour to Lymington. There, you can wander down the cobbles, see the salt marshes and have lunch at The Haven, a café bar in the marina.
When you stay at hannah’s, I’m always on hand to offer suggestions for things to see and do, including visiting the beautiful South Downs, New Forest or Isle of Wight, all close enough for day trips.
People like the personal touch – that’s why B&Bs remain so popular. I genuinely love meeting so many new people, having nice chats and sharing local recommendations: I actually feel sad when they all go home!
How to get to hannah’s Winchester boutique B&B without flying:
An hour’s drive from London and the ferry port at Portsmouth, Winchester can be reached via junctions 9, 10 and 11 of the M3. It is also accessible via the A34 from Newbury and Oxford.
If you’re travelling by train, Winchester is on direct routes from London, Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Weymouth, Birmingham and the north of England.
A few minutes’ walk from Winchester High Street (on Parchment Street), there is no parking at hannah’s but, if you’re driving, you can pull right up in front of the bin store and park for 10 minutes (max) while Hannah helps you unload your bags.
Words: Hannah McIntyre for Feet on the Ground
Images: hannah’s B&B