Hotel du Vin
I remember my mum being invited to Hotel du Vin Winchester for a special meal by her boss almost twenty years ago. I can recall hearing about the amazing dining experience she had and about the world of ‘wine’ this place celebrated (I was drinking ‘Diamond White’ around that time. Ahem.) I wondered if I would ever set foot in this hallowed place, whether I would know which knife and fork to use and if I could ever afford a bottle of wine other than ‘House White/Red’. Little did I know that, not only would I get to live just a stone’s throw away from the hotel, but I would also spend many very happy occasions there. For me, and now for us, this place holds special memories.
There are now 16 hotels with the ‘Hotel du Vin’ name, currently owned by Frasers Hospitality and part of a global hotel chain, but Winchester was the first. “Housed in the fine architecture of one of central Winchester’s most important Georgian buildings dating back to 1715, the hotel has just 24 bedrooms, enjoys an intimate ambience in the cosy bistro, Champagne bar, and delightful walled garden” is how the company describe it today. Founded in 1994 by Gerard Basset and Robin Hutson; Gerard was the Head Sommelier and Robin the Managing Director at Chewton Glen Hotel, in Hampshire.
We both love the simple sophistication of today’s menu and there are always good vegetarian options for one of us (the other enjoys the well-cooked meat!) We’ve enjoyed a romantic meal for two, meals with friends, a wedding reception and, most memorably, an amazing New Year’s Eve in 2010. We enjoyed our stay at the hotel, a marvellous meal, party and plenty of wine as the conversation flowed and midnight was welcomed by all.
As we’ve got to know a few people who run local businesses through our work as ‘Cabinet Rooms’, it has been a pleasure to attend several events managed by Hotel du Vin. We were absolutely thrilled when they offered to host our Press Launch for Winchester Cocktail Week and they set out a table with two of our favourite HdV cocktails – the Espresso Martini and the French Martini. Only a few weeks previously, we had been in the same room at the invitation of the hotel to taste its festive menu. The Ruinart Suite had been transformed into a ‘Winter Wonderland’ so that the hotel could showcase their Christmas and New Year offering. Menu items, served as canapés, were readily received by the guests and we particularly liked the aubergine dish. Chocolates, provided by Winchester Cocoa Company, were delightfully flavoured. One of the truffles was flavoured by Hotel du Vin’s own Champagne. Much fun was had by toasting marshmallows in the courtyard garden and the ‘French 75’ cocktail certainly gave the senses a kick! These people know how to manage an event with apparent effortlessness.
For hotel stays, visits to the dining room or drinks in the bar (we won’t tell you about our favourite spot for cocktails outside in the Cigar Hut) then do go to the Hotel du Vin Winchester website. Perhaps you’ll bump into us there!go back