Byline: Steve Wollaston
IT USED to be a refuge for Benedictine monks. For a while it was used as a mill. Now the only Benedictine is behind the bar, and the only grinding is done by salt and peppermills on the table.
Because, for the last 200 years, the Royal Winchester Hotel has been welcoming visitors to the historic city from which it takes its name.
The 16th century building has recently undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment under new owners, maintaining its traditional character but giving the place a contemporary new lease of life.
Bedrooms and function rooms have been modernised, with some overlooking the quaint walled "secret garden", a lovely place to have a walk after dinner or to have a drink as the night draws in.
I measure most hotels by the quality of the breakfast, much to my wife's disgust.
The Royal Winchester passes with flying colours with a very nice English breakfast buffet or an extensive continental buffet and various cereals. The options were plentiful and the quality superb.
of the The same can be said for the dinner menu. We took advantage of the special offer which was two courses for two people and a bottle of wine for PS39. Excellent value and fantastic food.
The hotel is perfectly situated for a short break, and is just a five-minute walk from the majestic Winchester Cathedral.
Upon entering the cathedral grounds you find yourself admiring the architecture - but once inside you admire it even more.
Standing proudly as one of the largest cathedrals in Britain, it has the longest nave and greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe.
The huge stained glass windows are a sight to behold and the high roof seems to go on forever.
The origins of the cathedral date back to 642 and as you stroll down the aisles, the memorials are a trip though history.
Many cardinals and noteworthy people are buried here, including author Jane Austen.
The cathedral has been at the centrepiece of Winchester throughout the ages, back to when the city was the old capital of England. Many coronations, weddings and funerals of kings and queens have taken place here.
Just along from the cathedral is the house where Jane Austen spent her last few weeks before her death, by the way. It's done big business this year thanks to the 200th anniversary of Pride And Prejudice.
The remnants of the castle of Winchester can still be seen and nearby is the Great Hall - home of the 13th century Round Table of King Arthur which hangs proudly on the wall. …