Hotel Du Vin & Bistro Winchester
There are 15 Hotels Du Vin across the UK so one might be tempted to think of them as merely another chain, but they run the whole business with care and passion, concentrating, despite the name, on the British character of their locations.
The Hotel du Vin in Winchester came recommended to us by friends who are chefs and it made an ideal stop on our Aston Martin British Luxury Tour, as we had wanted to visit the Cathedral and the surrounding countryside for a while.
We had booked a table in the courtyard as it was a beautiful September day and were very pleasantly surprised on arrival by the picturesque walled garden with its wicker chairs and parasols. It had a lovely English summer’s day atmosphere that demanded relaxation and a little fine food and wine.
We were fairly thirsty as we’d been tearing along with the roof down and ordered a nice bottle of Laurent Perrier Champagne to get the relaxing off to a proper start. The waiter was attentive and the glasses arrived promptly so we took a little time to enjoy the menu. The cuisine is a British French assortment, with plenty of meat and fish and they pride themselves on locally sourced fresh seasonal ingredients.
To start we shared a perfect platter of nibbles, parma ham wrapped grissini, bread sticks with mixed dips, pesto, mayonnaise and chopped tomatoes. For my main I had the Bouillabaisse and Spinach which was quite lovely conjuring up the smells of the South of France, the sea and warm summer days. My colleague had the Rump of Lamb with Chorizo, Potatoes and tender stem Broccoli. The Lamb was a perfect pink and as tender as any we have ever tasted.
For pudding we both plumped, and that is definitely the appropriate word, for the Mint Choc Chip Tart with Creme Fraiche. It was creamy and filled with enough chocolate goodness to impart plenty of energy for the drive ahead. You can’t beat mint and chocolate as a combination for some reason.
We continued relaxing for some time in that charming garden, absorbing the Indian summer sunshine and just kicking back for a while without a care in the world. Definitely a place to pop into on a regular basis, a little haven of peace in this old world town of Winchester.
They even have a cigar shack for those that really hanker after the ancient art of inhaling high quality burning leaves. The rooms are well designed too in an English boutique style with roll top baths at the end of the bed for those that enjoy reading a good book next to their aquatically immersed naked partner. A quaint fairy tale place to stay.