With its dockyards and cute little town centre, Southampton makes for the perfect place to explore life by the sea. Old-fashioned pubs rub shoulders with new buildings and a whole new cultural quarter bursting with trendy cafes and high-brow restaurants. There’s a little something for everyone in this creative coastal city.
Situated in the bustling centre of Shamrock Quay, Quay Fifteen (Shamrock Quay, William St, Southampton SO14 5QL) is all elegance and fine dining – exactly what you’d expect from its outside décor of luxury yachts and smooth ocean. Here, enjoy Prosecco and light bites on the sun terrace or tuck into high-end dishes that adorn the main menu.
At one point in time, the setting of the Grand Café (South Western House, Southampton SO14 3AS) was Southampton’s grandest hotel. Now a Grade II listed building, it promises a hearty dose of history alongside a delicious seasonal menu. Contemporary cuisine meets old-fashioned décor with an extensive menu of wines, cocktails, and locally-brewed ales.
Set inside a former theatre decked out in a monochrome design, the Ovation Mayflower Restaurant (Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Rd, Southampton SO15 1GE) oozes old-fashioned charm alongside its mouth-watering Mediterranean menu. Expect foodie classics from the coast, as well as modern takes on old favourites. Sip a drink in the classy bar before you tuck into the main course.
Rustic ambiance meets modern-day nuances in the Vestry Restaurant (61 Commercial Rd, Southampton SO15 1GG), a lively spot that boasts a selection of modern Irish menus. At the weekend, the place comes alive with DJ sets on Saturday nights, so you can enjoy your dinner against an upbeat soundtrack to get you in the mood to party.
Contemporary and creative, Ceno Restaurant (119 Highfield Lane, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1AQ) sits just outside the centre of Southampton in a leafy enclave, making it the perfect escape restaurant for anyone looking to get away from the busy crowds. The modern café-diner specialises in using locally-sourced ingredients, bringing them together to create a menu full of seasonal surprises.
Get your Spanish on at La Regata (Town Quay, Southampton SO14 2AR), an intimate tapas bar that serves a collection of typical Spanish cuisine. Expect paella, tapas, and other firm favourites served up against a cosy backdrop in the heart of Southampton. When the weather’s nice, dine on the outdoor tables in true Spanish style.
Ready to indulge your taste buds in some of Southampton’s finest local brews? Grab a frothy ale at the Dancing Man Brewery (1 Bugle St, Southampton SO14 2AR), the city’s only award-winning micro-brewery. In the cavernous wooden space, you can try all sorts of tipple from around the county, including sumptuous ales and beers, wines, and cocktails.
Low-lighting and bright modern highlights set the scene for a night at the Orange Rooms (1-2 Vernon Walk, Southampton SO15 2EJ). This kitsch bar boasts a 70s-style vibe with comfy leather sofas and cosy booths perfect for gathering friends around and enjoying a cocktail or two. Weeknights were made for partying here, too, with daily DJ sets to get you on your feet.
Get your dance on at Junk Club (55 London Rd, Southampton SO15 2AD), a two-room hotspot that’s popular with both visitors and locals. If you’re into the techno house scene, this is the place to go, thanks to its all-night, electro-house DJ sessions that keep the crowds pumping until the small hours of the morning.
Bring and Mix (34 Bedford Pl, Southampton SO15 2DG) offers visitors a unique experience. Instead of serving a collection of cocktails, you can bring your own bottles for the staff to mix – which means there will always be something you fancy on the menu. Sit back and relax as the waiters work their magic on your ingredients in this laidback, original night-time activity.
If you’ve always wanted to go to Middle Earth, now is your chance. Inspired by Tolkein’s magical world in Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit (134 Bevois Valley Rd, Southampton SO14 0JZ) is a live music venue boasting on-trend exposed brick walls and a terraced garden that brings in the crowds when the weather is nice. Grab an ale or two here for a whimsical experience.
Add a dash of Cuban charm to your night out with a drink in Rumba (29 Bedford Pl, Southampton SO15 2DG), a modern and stylish bar with luxurious leather seats and trendy exposed brick walls. Dine on delicious Asian fusion dishes before getting on those tasty Spanish cocktails.
The Art House (178 Above Bar St, Southampton SO14 7DW) is so much more than just a café. As well as serving a fine selection of hot and cold drinks, it also brings art and creativity to its punters. Boasting a menu filled with ethical food choices and weekly spoken word nights and musician evenings, it’s a fun way to while away an afternoon.
For a modern take on Southampton’s café scene, hotfoot it to Ebb and Flow (104-108 Above Bar St, Southampton SO14 7DT), a stylish, contemporary café cross bar that serves a great selection of pub classics and light bites. It’s a jack of all trades really because, when darkness falls, the dance floor comes out and revellers get their groove on.
Café Reflections (25 Shirley High St, Southampton SO15 3NL) is a great pit stop for a light bite or a hot drink. During the week it’s a classic café in the heart of Southampton, but at the weekend it evolves into a lively venue with live music acts, events, and evening concerts to keep visitors occupied.
If artisan tea and coffee are two of your favourite things, then Mettricks (1 Guildhall Walk, Cultural Quarter, Southampton SO14 7DU) is your go-to café. On a mission to bring better leaf tea and speciality coffee to the streets of Southampton, it serves locally-sourced goods. The brunch is particularly popular, served on heavy wooden tables under high ceilings.
The relatively new Artisan Café (Guildhall Square Sir James Matthew Bldg, Southampton SO14 7NN) is a café crossed with a live music venue – a trend that seems to be all the rage in Southampton. Set in the modern Guildhall Square, it promises delicious coffee in a stylish setting. Grab a light bite during the week, or hit up some of the live shows when the weekend rolls around.
Coffee and wine come together to make the perfect partnership at No.4 (4 Canute Rd, Southampton SO14 3FH), a café that again doubles up as a stylish evening venue. By day, you can sip on delicious hot drinks and tuck into hot sandwiches and light bites, and by night you can enjoy the soothing sounds of live music with a glass of wine in hand.
On the hunt for some vintage and retro clothing to jazz up your wardrobe? Browse the rails at Beatnik Emporium (202 Above Bar St, Southampton SO14 7DW), a quirky little store that sells a selection of vintage wares as well as fancy dress costumes for every occasion. Spend a little time digging through the displays so you don’t miss out on a hidden find.
For sleek men’s fashions from the trendiest designers of the moment, check out the rails of John Anthony (17 Above Bar St, Southampton SO14 7DX). This boutique store boasts a white cube design, with plenty of eye-popping colours and cuts to keep you occupied.
For a fair trade snack, hit up the shelves in Rice Up Wholefoods (20 Hanover Buildings, Southampton SO14 1JH), an independent grocery that stocks a huge range of ethical treats. Pick up some goodies for a picnic, or simply sample some of the unique flavours at the in-house deli.
Got a sweet tooth or a penchant for cakes? Then the Cake Workshop (68 Romsey Rd, Southampton SO16 4DB) is for you. This crafty cake shop bakes custom cakes for every occasion but, more importantly, it sells a huge range of cake accessories and knickknacks so you can try your hand at baking a delicious treat for friends and family.
Dating back to 1977, October Books (243 Portswood Rd, Southampton SO17 2NG) is the place to go if you want to pick up a piece of literary genius. Selling all sorts of fiction and non-fiction delights spanning a range of decades and continents, you’re sure to find a read that suits your taste.
Retro boutique Rutti Tutti (34 Victoria Rd, Southampton SO19 9DX) has you covered for all your vintage needs. Selling an extensive range of retro women’s wear covering several decades and hundreds of styles, you’ll need to dig deep into the rails as they promise a good find or three when you least expect it.
Snuggled amongst some of the city’s best dining spots, The London Hotel (2 Terminus Terrace, Southampton SO14 3DT) is a quirky little pub that exudes traditional English style. It’s green tiled exterior harks back to Britain’s yesteryear, and the selection of ales will want to make you stop a while. It’s the perfect place to grab a drink before dinner.
For an historic drink and bite to eat, grab a table at the Duke of Wellington (36 Bugle St, Southampton SO14 2AH), a traditional beam-heavy pub that dates back to 1220. Here, you can knock back a pint or two of real ales and tuck into some old-fashioned pub grub. On certain nights, you might be able to catch an open mic performance.
Try some of the 200 different spirits from all over the world at the Rockstone (63 Onslow Rd, Bevois Valley, Southampton SO14 0JL), a lively pub that boasts themed nights every day of the week. Don’t miss burger night on Mondays and Tuesdays, and get your dancing shoes on to “Rock the Stone”, where live bands play on Fridays and Saturdays.
Step outside of the city and enjoy the countryside that Southampton has on its doorstep at The Cowherds (The Common, Southampton SO15 7NN), a traditional pub with pattern carpets and views across Southampton Common. Sit outside in the summer months and soak up the peaceful charm while chucking back a beer or two.
From the outside, The Red Lion (55 High St, Southampton SO14 2NS) looks hundreds of years old and, when you step inside, there’s still a historic charm about it. Dark wood rubs shoulders with deep red furnishings, while punters tuck into huge portions of old school pub classics.
The bright orange façade of the Platform Tavern (Town Quay, Southampton SO14 2NY0 adds a vibrant touch to Southampton’s dockyard. This classic boozer is perfect for an afternoon drink in the sunshine. Mop it up with a traditional pub lunch or a naughty all day breakfast.