Sometimes the best breaks are those that allow us to simply relax and spend time with the people we love. And that’s exactly what we got when we checked in for two nights at the Solent Hotel & Spa in Whiteley. 

Admittedly we only live a short drive away, but the simple act of being away from home meant that chores were swept aside and the full focus was on family time.  

The hotel, built in 1990 at the start of the development of the now bustling town of Whiteley, expanded in 2018 and built new ‘lodges’, basic modern rooms which enable people to stay at the location and enjoy the hospitality of the pub Parson’s Collar, but without the luxuries and the price tag of the hotel.  

Hampshire Chronicle: The Solent Hotel and Spa in Whiteley

There are 54 of these more affordable rooms, while the four-star hotel itself has 117, as well as a whole host of facilities including a spa, fitness suite, bar and AA Rosette restaurant.  

The hotel is part of the Daniel Thwaites Group, established in 1807 as a brewer, the group now owns several hotels across the country, 13 inns, as well as still producing craft beer, albeit on a smaller scale than once was, from its brewery in the Ribble Valley, Blackburn.  

The first night we checked into the main hotel. The first thing that hits you is that the interior is much nicer than its 1990 architecture would have you think from the outside. There’s a roaring fire, a gorgeous bar and everything is tastefully decorated, as well as smelling fabulous.  

Our room is set up for four – my partner and I in the big main bed – and my two children have a single bed each, converted from an L-shaped sofa bed. Despite the extra beds, the room is still spacious, decorated with light colours, this room has class. There’s a well-appreciated Lavazza coffee machine with pods in the room and toiletries in the bathroom from the White Company. The Solent Hotel has class and style, the room is spotless and there are two gift bags for the kids with goodies, colouring, kid’s toiletries, and snacks, a nice welcoming touch. The room has plenty of storage and we are delighted to see a proper bath.  

Hampshire Chronicle: Giftbags for the kids at the Solent Hotel and Spa in Whiteley

A short skip down the hall, and we are at the spa, with its crowning glory – a big indoor pool. There is also a sauna and steam room, and jacuzzi, but the pool is a nice size so that even with gym users and hotel stays, there's enough room for everyone – and for the kids to play without bothering those who want to get a few laps in. The kids love the pool. The hotel has set family hours too, a nice touch that means families do not feel awkward and serious spa visits can benefit from a few hours away from kids’ excited squeals.  

For dinner, we are booked into the hotel’s AA Rosette-winning FYR restaurant which has received top plaudits for its classic British cuisine which uses the finest local ingredients. The food is as good as the service – everything is excellent here. The children are once again catered for and made to feel special, a request for the plainest meal is not sniffed at, while the other one goes for a burger, which as with the adult version, is hand-pressed and delicious.  

Hampshire Chronicle: The pool at the Solent Hotel and Spa in Whiteley

The adults go for the chicken supreme which comes with Hampshire watercress wild mushroom and smoked potatoes, and a venison and stilton pie, from the special's menu, which comes with dauphinoise potatoes, roasted root veg and red wine jus. The meals are divine, well worthy of their awards. This is classic fayre, excellently done.  

Hampshire Chronicle: Dinner at FYR Restaurant at Solent Hotel and Spa in Whiteley

The next morning, the same high standards apply for breakfast, two big breakfasts with local ingredients are served and polished off happily for the adults, while the kids enjoy fruit salad, cereal and a plate of bacon – everyone is happy and fuelled up for the day. We walk to Whiteley Shopping Centre, 10 minutes on foot from the hotel, and enjoy shopping – there are some big names like M&S, Fatface, H&M etc – as well as a trip to the multiplex cinema. There are lots of restaurants to choose from for lunch – our family favourite Wagamama gets the majority vote for us – but you can pick from Harvester, Nando’s, Five Guys, and many more, all the top chains are here.  

The second night we checked into the Lodge; it’s a smaller room, with both kids sharing a pull-out double bed, more modern and basic. There’s a shower, no bath, but it’s clean, functional and even comes with a balcony. It’s next to the Parson’s Collar, a proper pub, where we eat dinner and breakfast. This is a much more laid-back affair than the hotel, we go for a hearty fish and chips and burgers, and the kids enjoy ice-cream sundaes after. It’s a weekend so there are a few groups in, but it’s a nice atmosphere, and after a few drinks, we are back in the room to watch some television from bed.  

Hampshire Chronicle: The Lodge at Solent

The next day, with two young children to tire out, we visit Rock Up, a rock-climbing centre with a soft play area which is at Whiteley Shopping Centre. It’s a hit with the family, as is a visit to Meadowside Recreation Ground for the outdoor park afterwards.  

For a new town, Whiteley has a lot to offer. It may not be a traditional city break destination, but it has everything you need to spend some quality time with your family, and for those who want to spend longer and explore the local area, Southampton, Portsmouth and Winchester are all within a short drive, as is Paultons Park, home of Peppa Pig World.  

Solent Hotel and Spa has plenty of parking (a perk of being built in the 90s) and gardens and woods to explore in nicer months. With options to suit every budget, it’s a perfect base to explore Hampshire from.  

Hampshire Chronicle: Main hotel room at Solent Hotel and Spa in Whiteley


Based on two people sharing, Signature Double Room at Solent Hotel and Spa, prices start from £139 on a B&B rate.

Based on two adults and two children sharing, Signature Family Room at Solent Hotel and Spa, prices start from £199 on a B&B rate.

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