The huge charm of Winchester more than makes up what the diminutive city lacks in size. With Roman roots, a glorious cathedral, a buzzing student vibe, and sublime countryside just moments from the centre, you can't go wrong with a city break on the arm of this handsome English gent.
Located on the River Itchen, on the western edge of the South Downs National Park, Winchester is in the county of Hampshire in southern England. At just over an hour from central London, it attracts tourists keen to combine small city charms with big city pleasures, as well as London workers with a taste for the quiet life. In fact, its popularity makes the tiny city one of the most expensive in the UK, which is one reason why you might struggle to find decent, central budget hotels in Winchester.
The good news, however, is that staying in Winchester hotels nestled in the warren of narrow cobbled streets that criss-cross the city centre is well worth the expense. Here, luxury hotels in sympathetically renovated old buildings offer superb rooms and service, and all within a few short steps of Winchester's quaint tearooms, cosy pubs, and excellent restaurants.
Well-known hotel brands in Winchester include Mercure, Holiday Inn, Days Inn or Travelodge. But for those on a budget, the outskirts of the city are more likely to offer accommodation at the right price. Just try to pick a countryside location over a main road to get an idea of where celebrated Hampshire writer Jane Austen drew some of her inspiration.
Top five attractions
This impressive cathedral is one of England's finest Gothic buildings. Stop and look down the length of the nave - it is the longest in Europe.
This charming museum houses three enthralling galleries detailing Winchester through the ages.
Jane Austen's House
It was this house - 8 College Street - where Austen spent the last few weeks of her life, cared for by her sister. It is now a private house, but you can take tours of her former home up the road in Chawton, where she spent much of her life.
Legend has it that the huge circular structure housed in the Great Hall is the Round Table at which King Arthur and his knights sat.
For centuries, this ruined castle was home to the Bishops of Winchester. It was also the venue for the wedding breakfast of Queen Mary, Henry VIII's daughter, and her new Spanish husband.
Grange Park Opera; June-July: One of the great musical events of the summer season, this lively series of operas has fans flocking from the UK and beyond.
Winchester Festival; July: Get involved in this fun festival, which includes a series of live arts events across the city.
Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market and Ice Rink; November-December: Winchester is gorgeous in summer, but there's something about Christmas that brings out the magic of this enchanting city. Mulled wine, chestnuts, ice-skating and shopping - what's not to love?