3 weeks ago, as soon as hotels opened up after. the lockdown we headed down to Portsmouth and decided to book a few nights in Fareham’s Solent Hotel which is only 10 minutes drive to Portsmouth. The pool and spa being open and functioning on a reasonable booking needed basis sealed the deal to book a family room.
Fareham is located in Hampshire, Whiteley. The area is absolutely beautiful, there’s a lot to do and visit. We have visited the Jane Austen House on the way down (about 40 minutes drive from the hotel) and of course went to Portsmouth. But the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu is also close, as is the New Forest Wildlife Park and Manor Farm Country Park. It’s not too far from London: only about an hour an a half drive.
Solent Hotel itself is unfortunately not located in the most beautiful of areas of all: it’s in a business park, next to an Aldi. However, the hotel grounds are really beautiful – see photos, you’ll forget about the business park completely once you checked in.
We booked a family room but a day before our check in we received a call that we will be downgraded and our swimming pool use would be free (which otherwise cost £25 if you don’t book directly). We said no, we wanted to have two joining rooms, as per the original idea otherwise if we have to sleep in the same room they won’t go to sleep till 11pm. And once they have gone to sleep we just leave the door between the rooms open so we can hear them. Finally we have got a family suit which was just fantastic – just as we wanted it. The decor is a little dated but the room was spotlessly clean and well kept. We had a filled minibar (soft drinks only – but still, I can’t stand the empty minibar trend as a hotelier myself) in both room, reusable cups and drinks in glass bottle. We had a recycling bin and an empty milk bottle to fill it up in with milk from a machine in the hall. Brilliant way to cut down on waste! The coffee machine was the Nespresso kind that works with disposable plastic pods. But the rest was really considerate towards the environment.
Breakfast and restaurant
We didn’t eat in the hotel’s restaurant, but it looked fantastic! Really loved the decor. It’s predominately a seafood restaurant so not exactly compatible with our children (or me) so we went out for dinner in Portsmouth Harbour. The breakfast was great though, both buffet and table service with everything from cooked English to gorgeous stacked pancakes with berry compote. Guess what I had for breakfast!
The hotel – apart from the restaurant food is very well prepared for having kids. We enjoyed the pool with them that has a baby pool for the littles. They have also received their own little bathrobes for the pool (no plastic wrap, reusable net bag), they have got an activity pack with crayons and finger puppet making kit (paper) and welcome cookies. But the best of all was the bean bag cinema. It has been set up in one of the unused meeting rooms, with a projector and bean bags scattered around the darkened room. So they watched Moana one afternoon. But it’s not just the idea of the cinema that’s cute but the way – totally over the top – they executed the idea. The room had plush cinema curtains, outside of it a candy bar and they set up a little photo corner with a director’s chair and reflector lights. We have received cinema tickets at. the reception and a menu to pick treats from like popcorn, candy, refreshments etc. It was amazingly cute. Kids loved it.
Solent Hotel Spa and pool
We used the pool with the children – no photos of course, sorry. We had an hour slot and it was not busy, apart from us just a couple, a single man swimming and a mum with a child were there during our slot. The pool is perfect as it’s divided for swimming lanes and everything else (people being around with small children) there’s a baby paddling pool, sauna, steam cabin and hot tub. (The last three obviously not for children under 16 years).
I also got a treatment in the spa, a lovely full body massage. The spa is great, they have lots of treatments and therapists on site. It was very relaxing and my therapist was very good. She also wear PPE and was following all COVID regulations – just like everyone else in the hotel. (The only thing was that instead of checking me in when I turned up for my treatment the receptionist accidentally cancelled the booking so I waited in the waiting room for 30 minutes before asking what has happened as husband was looking after the children which can be challenging in new environment, but they were ok and I enjoyed an extra half an hour to myself with a cup of green tea).
What we thought
Solent hotel is a great hotel, thinking to be back at some point as it’s very convenient for the New Forest and the beach as well, so a summer weekend away is what we’re planning here for next time. The spa and the pool as well as the kids activities were really great and we enjoyed our stay.