Top places to live in Hampshire & IOW Winchester
Within commuting distance of London and home to excellent schools and foodie hotspots, Winchester is stylish and sought-after in equal measure. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.
Winchester is always a popular option for Londoners longing for a little rural idyll (a fact that’s reflected in the house prices), but with its lush, leafy surrounds, foodie hot spots and historic attractions at every turn, you can see why this is the perfect stepping stone for city mice. The nightlife may leave something to be desired, but the luxe mix of boutiques, eateries and top-rated schools make a desirable prospect for families of all ages.
Big names Rick Stein and Raymond Blanc both have great outposts in the city. The Black Rat is another heavy hitter, no longer a star but still Michelin-rated. For date night, Inn the Park, the casual new dining option from the Chesil Rectory ,is a new favourite. Wine lovers should head straight for the fantastic vaulted wine room where there’s a massive 180 vintages to pick from! Ladies-that-lunch do it stylishly at The Ivy. International palate? There’s superb Mexican street food at Mi Cocina and beautiful Japanese food at Kyoto Kitchen. And of course, you can’t miss classics like Hotel du Vin, just a hop and skip from Winchester Cathedral and King Alfred’s statue.
The mix of indie boutiques and highbrow chains largely concentrated around the high street gives Winchester its famous charm – no copy-and-paste retail centres here (for a wider variety, you’ll need to travel slightly further afield). For designer men’s and womenswear stop in at Pavilion Fashion. Mint Tea and Sass & Edge are our go-to boutiques for gorgeous womenswear, while alternative department store The Hambledon covers fashion, homewares, kids and gifting. Fast becoming a favourite with city shoppers, H&B Style is packed with cool and quirky fashion, gadgets and interior finds – check out the fabulous slogan tees.
This is a city with history seeping from every cobblestone, which means you can’t turn a corner without tripping over a tourist attraction. As well as the famous cathedral, you have Winchester College, which you’ll recognise as the filming location for various Harry Potter flicks and Les Mis, and the ancient ruins of Wolvesey Castle. Not a history buff? Head to Marwell Zoo for a family day out that’s less than a twenty-minute drive away. Kids will also love the brilliant Winchester Science Centre, around a ten minute drive from the city centre.
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE
Unsurprisingly for an area popular with the London exodus, house prices can be eye-watering in Winchester, with the average detached house clocking in at £902,062. Semi-detached properties fetch on average £579,777, bringing the overall average price down to £615,161.
A massive draw for the area, there’s an abundance of (very competitive) Good and Outstanding state schools in the city, as well as some prestigious indie options that we love here at Muddy. The Pilgrims School is a top prep for boys aged 4 – 13, day or boarding, tucked away between Winchester Cathedral and Winchester College. St Swithun’s School is a day, weekly and full-boarding through school for girls aged 3 – 18. Prince’s Mead and Twyford are both excellent co-ed preps just outside of the city centre (meaning your little ones get to enjoy the Hants countryside on a daily basis).
BEST KEPT SECRET
Head for a postprandial stroll through the Water Meadows and you’ll be following in the footsteps of Keats – he was inspired to write his famous Ode to Autumn while staying in the city.
A solid option for those working in the city, direct rush hour trains to Waterloo take just over an hour. Trains to Southampton take 15 to 25 minutes via the Airport, or you can make it there by car in half an hour. You’re also 40 minutes’ drive from the New Forest and 50 minutes’ away from Bournemouth.
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