They say ‘A change is as good as a rest’ so, with that in mind, my family and I recently took 24 hours out to visit the bustling city of Southampton, on the south coast.
A popular port of call for both huge container ships and ocean liners alike, it turns out Southampton is the perfect place to take children who are fascinated by all things associated with the water – just looking out across the industrial docks is a real feast for young eyes.
In 1912, the RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton on her doomed maiden voyage and most worthy of an early mention is the city’s fantastic SeaCity museum located in the heart of the city. A firm favourite with our three children, this incredible museum is a compulsory addition on every visitor To Do list. 500 households in the city lost a family member in the Titanic disaster, and visitors to the museum get a chance to step back in time to 1912 and immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of bygone Southampton. Our children loved exploring the cabin reconstructions, listening to survivors’ accounts and staring, wide-eyed, at the incredible 1:25 replica of the infamous ship. Family tickets to all exhibitions can be purchased for £25.00, with under 5’s going free. For more information, take a look at the museum’s comprehensive website; www.seacitymuseum.co.uk
Our accommodation for the night was spent at the Leonardo Royal Hotel Southampton Grand Harbour, located on the city’s iconic waterfront. From the moment we left our car at the hotel’s onsite car park and were welcomed through the hotel doors, it felt as though we were ‘properly’ on holiday. The staff were incredibly welcoming and accommodating and nothing was too much trouble. As we took the scenic lift to our hotel bedroom (which the kids loved!) we could see right across to the Isle of Wight – another great place to visit with the family, although sadly not enough time on this whistle-stop tour .
As a family of five, we opted for inter-connecting rooms, which were spacious, immaculate and with super comfortable beds and pillows (I find the latter can so often be hit or miss.) The children devoured the complimentary biscuits on the tea tray and quickly made themselves at home hopping through the myriad selection of channels on their ‘very own’ television.
We didn’t rest for long before heading down to experience the hotel’s swimming pool – Southampton’s largest indoor pool, I should add. Wow! What better way to spend some quality family time together than splashing about in a warm pool in the middle of winter? We had a ball and I even managed to escape to the nearby jacuzzi for a few mins of bubbly relaxation…heaven! I wasn’t able to make the most of the hotel’s onsite spa, leaving my husband alone with three excitable children in the water felt like a little unfair…so I have the perfect excuse to return another day!
For supper, we were tempted to eat in the hotel’s Marco Pierre White steak house but the children were keen to explore some more of the city so, after some deliberation, we left the hotel and headed into Southampton. Thai was the cuisine of choice and so the hunt was on to find somewhere child friendly and with good reviews. After some trawling through Tripadvisor, we decided upon Thai Thai Express https://thai-thai-express-southampton.business.site/; a casual dining experience with ‘amazing, authentic’ Thai cuisine. Yes, the seating was pretty basic; a couple of tables and not much room to swing a cat, but the children loved watching the owner cooking up our feast and I have to say the result of her labour was absolutely sensational – without doubt the best Thai food we’ve eaten outside of Thailand. (stock photo below)
On return to the hotel, we enjoyed a drink in the spacious and comfortable bar before retiring to our rooms for a dreamy night’s sleep (and a cheeky room service dessert once the kids were asleep!) - even the children had a lie in!
Now, I don’t know about you, but having someone make me breakfast is one of my all-time favourite things. During the week, I’m more-often-than-not chasing my tale and fixing everyone else’s breakfast that I’m lucky if I manage to wolf down a banana and someone’s left over granola before we’re heading out of the door and on our way to school. So, to enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the Leonardo Royal Hotel Southampton Grand Harbour was really rather special. Once again, the children were in their element; piling their plates with croissants and glugging hot chocolates with huge chocolatey smiles on their faces. The buffet breakfast on offer was cooked to perfection, the mushrooms (something I so rarely eat at home as nobody else likes them) were amazing, and top it all off, the friendly staff were on hand to tell the children jokes and keep them entertained as we enjoyed a second cappuccino!
As we bid farewell to the Leonardo Royal Hotel Southampton Grand Harbour, the children made us promise that we’d return soon – they’d had so much fun on this mini city break. Next time, we’ll take the Red Funnel ferry across to the Isle of Wight for the day and maybe book a table at the popular Pig in the Wall restaurant (https://www.thepighotel.com/in-the-wall/), just a stone’s throw from the hotel. And, then maybe I’ll while away a few hours in the popular West Quay shopping centre (https://www.west-quay.co.uk/shops) - there’s plenty of excuses to visit Southampton, why not see for yourself?
Bookings made at Leonardo Royal Hotel Southampton Grand Harbour before 28th April 2019 can enjoy a 20% discount when you book direct at the following link: https://www.leonardohotels.co.uk/season-sale