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The Legacy Botleigh Grange Hotel and Spa, Southampton

Botleigh Grange

It was something of a surprise, when visiting Southampton, to find what appeared to be a Victorian, castellated, generously-proportioned Scottish hunting lodge with Highland cattle and ancient pines in the grounds… later we were able to add a couple of small fishing lakes and a sheltered, large sunny terrace as well as learning the building dated from the 17th Century...”

YOU CAN GATHER THE HOTEL HAS INDIVIDUAL STYLE and from the décor it was obviously family owned no penny-pinching national chain would have spent as much on some of the soft furnishings.

Our bedroom was spacious with lovely views of the lakes and the bathroom was fine. However, our favourite room was the anteroom off the large dining room. The room, original in high Victorian style, would do Istanbul's fabled Pera Palace proud — Agatha Christie fans will recall that the Pera Palace was the inspiration for the glamorous Tokatlian Hotel in her 1934 thriller Murder On The Orient Express.

Both dinner and breakfast were excellent, but the portions were rather larger than we are used to being served; not a complaint but it did make us toy with the idea that they could serve smaller portions and offer larger servings at no extra charge.

The Spa

There is a very good modern swimming pool complemented by spa treatment rooms with a menu offering an outstanding selection of experiences. The Lakeside Spa offers flexibility and you choose which type of treatment you would like depending upon your mood on the day.

Bonnie opted for the Khanya whole body massage supposedly recommended for anyone needing a 'pick me up' or re-energising. Abbi, her masseuse, was so thorough that Bonnie slept for two hours afterwards. Perhaps a truly relaxing experience after all?

The lucky locals can take advantage of the extensive day or half-day spa programmes designed around each individual — we met a mother and daughter having a great time celebrating an 18th birthday with lunch and champagne included in the package.

The Bottom Line

Our usual observation of seeing whether or not many local people used these facilities confirmed it appealed widely to different age groups, old and young alike.

The overall appeal of the hotel is good; we spoke to a couple of university-aged chaps who were passing through — both were very complimentary and, as expected, their only observation was that they would prefer a more modern décor. There were also families staying for a few days and businessmen in a rush.

Botleigh Grange

Southampton in its own right does not have much out of the ordinary except for the docks and boat show. However, there are many great places to visit nearby: with Salisbury and Winchester for their cathedrals and beautiful buildings; the New Forest; Portsmouth with the Mary Rose; the rejuvenated Bournemouth; and, of course, the Solent is a yachting Mecca plus there's the finest fishing imaginable on the river Test. Even more locally, the village of Wickham we found to be enchanting. — Tim and Bonnie Stevens

The Details

The Legacy Botleigh Grange Hotel and Spa, Grange Road, Hedge End, Southampton, Hampshire, SO30 2GA Telephone: 0844 411 9050.

Lakeside Spa Telephone: 0844 411 9 065.