This landmark hotel opposite the docks in Southampton, literally on the water and adjacent to the ramparts of the old city, has been revitalised! The legends that are Leonardo Hotels have swooped in, buffed, detailed, improved dining with celebrity chef Marco Pierre White and are updating the fabulous family leisure facility as we speak!
The 173 rooms, many with sea views, are all on well-manicured and quiet corridors of luxury. The Enjoy-It experience was an absolute pleasure, and I need to verbalise the effort put in to our reservation by reception staff as we checked in, time of dinner, speak to the team, spa treatment times and a full rundown of the area and facilities… once again confirmed by phone when we had settled into our double suite on the top floor. One of the comfiest mattresses on the Enjoy-It tour and an abundance of Sea of Spa Dead Sea Minerals beauty products, which were/are (don’t tell) most luscious!
We had a balcony, prompt room service and a lovely swim in the family pool (the longest pool in any Southampton hotel, fractionally more leisure than fitness), and eagerly await the stunning new steam room completion… That’s for next time!
Drinks in the modern Royal Bar lead us to violet gin, chats with bar staff and onto a wonderful dinner in the restaurant, thanks to MPW (as those of us in the know!) The Marco Pierre White Steakhouse is very bistro, signature black and white decor and hero pieces adorn the walls and in the entrance. And this is where Leonardo has got it so right, MPW proves to be the perfect dining partner – the service was remarkable. As was the delivery from the open kitchens and flamed grill.
Busy enough to be buzzing, yet serviced well enough to be relaxing. Artisan breads followed by earthy salt roasted beetroot and goats’ cheese salad, Mr White’s very own Scotch egg and a glass of white burgundy… We took the lead for Mr White himself on the choice of red to accompany the mains, in a 2018 Malbec Lunaris by Callia, perfect for the blue (my choice) grilled centre cut fillet, it melted – pommes frites, roasted vine tomatoes and watercress, classic!
Talking of classic my guest enjoyed the chicken Kiev with matching accompaniments – the Kiev a nod towards other classic favourites – fish pie and shepherd’s pie, more off piste is the shrimp curry, honey roast bacon chop and burgers to keep you entertained for a long weekend!
Desserts are generous in richness and portion – dark chocolate mousse, Mr Coulson’s sticky toffee pudding, caramel ice cream and warm butterscotch – it tasted better than it even sounds – and it sounds so, so sweet!
Well slept, well watered, well swam and well fed at breakfast – lovely touches like crumpets from the buffet style choices alongside some à la carte choices – pancakes etc.
Public areas are clean and welcoming – all staff visible and helpful and this has many guises in corporate occupation in 13-meeting rooms, families on holiday, travellers en route to the ferry and cruise terminals, and those just wanting some R ‘n R ‘n R! Retail being the third R – the hotel is minutes from the Mecca of West Quay Shopping Centre…
All in all the Leonardo Royal Hotel in Southampton, today, is a better version of itself, welcoming, versatile and central – highly, highly recommended!