When you’re thinking about going on a romantic city break, Southampton is not the first city to come to your mind, is it? In fact, you might not even think about it at all. Before I moved down south for university in 2009, I just thought of Southampton as the place that you go to to catch a ferry over to the Isle of Wight. However, it is so much more than that and has so much to offer. Last weekend I took a trip down to Southampton and I stayed in the nearby Hilton Ageas Bowl.
Hilton Ageas Bowl
Home to the Hampshire county cricket team, the Ageas Bowl is located in Hedge End. Hedge End is just six miles away from the city of Southampton. As you can imagine, thousands of people will flock to the Ageas Bowl during the summer cricket season. The Hilton at the Ageas Bowl is a great place to stay for anyone involved in the cricket. During the rest of the year, there are still plenty of visitors to the Hilton. It’s a popular place for meetings and events. At the hotel, there are 171 bedrooms. Each room provides a stunning view over either the golf course or the Ageas Bowl.
The King Guest Room
I stayed in a King Guest Room which had an amazing view over the 18-hole golf course. I was also lucky enough to have a corner room. So, I had an extra window from which I could see part of the Ageas Bowl. The room was so spacious, there was plenty of space for two people and their luggage. The bathroom was really modern and spacious, with a light up mirror which was great for applying makeup. I also really loved the shower which was very powerful and just what I needed after a trip to the spa. The bathroom was kitted out with toiletries from Crabtree & Evelyn. I love little touches like this in hotel rooms, as it means that you don’t have to cart around your own bottles of shower gel. I realised that I had forgotten my toothpaste, but luckily I was able to get some from reception.
Inside the wardrobes there were two towelling robes and two pairs of slippers. These were very handy as I was visiting the spa while I was there. There were also tea and coffee making facilities which I think is very important in a hotel room. These were hidden away in a compartment under the desk. There was a great selection of decaf and normal coffee and teas. As there was a bit of a mix up with breakfast, I had my morning coffee in my room.
The king size bed is absolutely massive – there is plenty of room for two people to sleep. You don’t even have to worry about losing your half of the duvet as it is so big! There were four pillows already on the bed, but you are able to request harder or softer ones from reception. You are even able to do this before you arrive which is a great touch.
You can also arrange for drinks and food to be in your room when you arrive and there is room service available if you don’t fancy leaving the hotel. If I hadn’t have been going out in Southampton that evening, I would definitely have taken advantage of this.
Eforea Spa at the Ageas
As well as the room, I also had access to the Eforea Spa during my stay. I actually hadn’t been to a spa until my trip to the Czech Republic in November. Since then I have also visited another one closer to home, so I was keen to see how this one compared. I had an early check in of 12pm and I didn’t need to leave to go out until around 5:30pm. So, I decided to go down to the spa and relax for an hour.
The Eforea Spa is not just for hotel guests, you can pay to visit as a day guest too. The facilities include steam rooms, a hydrotherapy pool, a sauna and a salt grotto. There’s a relaxation room with pods which I would have loved to have made use of if I had more time. To use the spa, there is a £25 charge Monday – Thursday and a £35 charge Friday – Sunday.
On the Saturday, I spent an hour or so in the sauna, steam room and relaxing by the pool. On Sunday morning, I had a lot longer to spend in the spa, so I tried out the hydrotherapy pool as well. I really loved the pool, there were plenty of different sections, each with jets which did different things. I spent my time trying out each one and I really felt like they were doing my aching muscles some good. The steam rooms and the sauna were both great too and I felt properly refreshed when I came out. I wish I could have spent longer at the spa, but I needed to leave the hotel to find some food before I headed to Winchester.
Other facilities at the hotel
The Hilton Ageas Bowl is very popular for meetings and events. On the night that I was staying there, there was a wedding reception taking place in one of the events rooms. I also know someone who has stayed at the hotel several times when travelling for business. If you’re hungry, you can check out Beefy’s restaurant. This is where breakfast is served in the morning as well. Next time I stay, I will be adding breakfast (at the cost of £16.95) onto my room so that I can eat whilst looking out over the Ageas Bowl. There is also a Lakeview Sports Bar if you fancy a few drinks or perhaps afternoon tea.
Getting to the Hilton Ageas Bowl
I travelled to the Hilton Ageas Bowl via public transport, however it is really easy to get to by car. The hotel is located just 1.2 miles from Junction 7 of the M27. The Ageas Bowl is signposted from the motorway, so it is easy to find. It is also a fifteen minute drive from Southampton city centre. There are 300 free car parking spaces for hotel guests. If you are planning on getting to the hotel via public transport as I did, then you will find that it is really easy.
I travelled down to Southampton from London with National Express. They provided the travel as part of their Valentine’s Campaign. They are aiming to help people in long distance relationships like me see their partners over the Valentines period. Both of my journeys to and from Southampton ran on time and were really comfortable. I went from London Victoria to Southampton Coach Station which is conveniently located next to West Quay and close to Southampton Central coach station. The coach is a lot cheaper than the train as well. A standard train ticket from London Waterloo to Southampton Central is £43.10 whereas a coach ticket from London Victoria to Southampton starts at just £5.
If you are travelling from Southampton, then you can just get the number 8 (ran by First). This service runs until around 8:30pm. You will need to get off at the stop Moorgreen Hospital. This is just over the road from the entrance to the Ageas Bowl. This costs £6.50 for a day ticket.
If you are travelling from Winchester then you may find it easier to travel via train. It takes around 25 minutes from Winchester train station with a change at Eastleigh to Hedge End. Hedge End station is located 1.5 miles away from the Ageas Bowl. This is walkable, or you can get a taxi which will cost around £5-6. If you prefer using the buses, then you can get the number 1 (ran by Bluestar) from Winchester to Southampton. You can then follow the above directions.
I really enjoyed my stay at the Hilton Ageas Bowl and I’m already planning a trip back in March. This time, I think I’m going to try to book myself in for a massage too. If you’re looking for a romantic break, or you want to explore a new city then I definitely recommend the Hilton! You will definitely come away feeling refreshed if you have access to the spa as well. The Hilton at the Ageas Bowl is definitely not just for cricket fans, you are guaranteed to have a great time.
Have you stayed at a Hilton before?
Disclaimer: The room and spa access was provided to me by the Hilton in exchange for a fair review. Coach travel was provided by National Express. All views and words are my own.