Salisbury - Where to Stay
The best hotels in
Salisbury are only rated at three stars by British hotel
guides. They are clean and comfortable, and sometimes
characterful, but not deluxe.
2 of a 4 part series - click for Parts
You definitely should plan to
stay overnight for a night or two in Salisbury, and you'll be
happiest if you choose a place conveniently in the center town
so you can walk around the town without having to worry about
driving or parking.
Here is a complete list of the
three star central hotels, plus a couple of other choices as
Salisbury Accommodation - Few
choices, No luxury
Salisbury has surprisingly
few choices of hotels to offer its visitors, with the highest
rated central city properties only garnering three stars.
There are two very central hotels (the Red Lion and the White
Hart), plus three other hotels only a few extra minutes walk
from the city center (Milford Hall, the Rose & Crown, and
None of the hotels have lift service to all
floors, but all will provide porterage service if you don’t want
to struggle with heavy suitcases up stairs to your room. If the
thought of climbing several flights of stairs each time you go
to your room does not appeal, be sure to request a room on a
lower floor when reserving.
The Red Lion
The Red Lion is believed to be the oldest purpose-built hotel in
England, with some parts originally constructed for the draughtsmen working on Salisbury Cathedral in the 13th century.
The rooms have, however, been refurbished several times since
then, and one now gets only fleeting suggestions of its
antiquity, with most of the hotel seeming to be of indeterminate
age. It has been owned by the same family for over 100 years,
and is a member of the Best Western chain. In 2002, it won
British Heritage Magazine’s award as Best Historic Inn.
Entrance to the hotel is from an attractive courtyard. A small
reception area serves the 52 rooms, which are variously in
either a new or old wing of the building. Some of the rooms
look out onto busy Milford Street, and we recommend that you
specifically request not to be given such rooms, due to the
noise factor from the street at all hours of the day and night.
The hotel is not air conditioned and so if you felt the need for
fresh air, opening the window with street side rooms would bring
in all the outside noise along with the air.
Rooms are finished to a moderately high standard. They are not
particularly spacious and only moderately well lit. They have
most normal fittings and features, although the desk was lacking
a phone, making it difficult for those traveling with a computer
to work on the internet. Nonsmoking rooms are available.
The English staff were friendly and helpful and the hotel as a
whole has a pleasing ambience. It is in a very central
location, but does not offer parking for guests with cars. Note
also their room rates typically do not include breakfast, so if
comparing rates be certain to understand if the rates are with
breakfast included or not. Adding the cost of parking and
breakfast will probably make this the most expensive Salisbury
hotel, and the inconvenience of parking somewhere else detracts
from the overall experience.
The Red Lion Hotel, 4
Milford St, SP1 2AN
Ph (01722)323-334, Fax (01722)325-756
Mercure White Hart
The other central city hotel is the White Hart, and 68 rooms
makes it the largest hotel in the city. It dates back to the
17th century, and when one first walks in the imposing
colonnaded entrance to the White Hart, one feels like one has
stepped back in time 50 years. Elderly ladies in their best
clothes can be seen enjoying a ‘high tea’ in the public lounges,
and there is little to betray the fact that one is in fact in a
21st century hotel. The White Hart is now a Mercure hotel.
The rooms at the White Hart are much as expected - neither too
small nor generously large, with some looking onto the busy (ie
noisy) street. They are well lit, and fairly well fitted out
with facilities, even having cd players as well as televisions.
Rooms also have mini-bars.
Rates generally include breakfast, and free on-site parking is
The White Hart, 1 St John
St, SP1 2SD
Ph (0870)400-8125, Fax (01722)412-761
The other three hotels are slightly further out of the city
center, but still no more than a ten minute walk. They have more
to distinguish between them.
Milford Hall prominently features an old house in its
literature, but the reality is that all but four of its 35 rooms
are in a new wing built alongside the old house. The hotel has
the usual lack of charm that characterizes a fairly modern
custom built hotel, and rooms are cookie-cutter identical while
being efficient and well outfitted.
Their very well lit rooms are slightly larger than normal, and
have all normal amenities including trouser press, hair drier,
and a reasonable sized (5’ wide) and comfortable double bed, but
do not have a mini-bar. The rooms do not offer any type of view
other than of ordinary buildings nearby, but they are nice and
quiet, being well set back from the road. Rooms are heated
during the winter, but - like all hotels in Salisbury - do not
offer a/c during the summer. A small circular table and easy
chair did double duty as my computer desk during my stay.
Nonsmoking rooms are available. The restaurant offers an
excellent Full English breakfast, including such sinful luxuries
as fried bread.
Room rates vary substantially - they were quoting a rack rate of
£150 for the room that we paid £79 per night for (a double room
including cooked breakfast for
two). The reasonably friendly and helpful reception staff offer
to deliver your choice of paper to your room each morning, but
if you accept this offer, the cost of the paper will be added to
Milford Hall, 206 Castle St,
Ph (01722)417-411, Fax (01722)419-444
The Rose & Crown
The Rose & Crown has been recommended by several travel guides,
but we don’t entirely agree. Perhaps it was just our bad luck,
but the people we met there on our first visit were rude and unhelpful.
This is a shame because many of the newer rooms have a great
deal of potential, being of good size and with lovely views over
their grounds and to the River Avon. Rooms in the old wing tend
to look out over the road, and have the potential for noise
problems. The hotel also suffers from being largely booked out
on many Saturday nights by wedding groups - it’s not much fun
being in a hotel dominated by a drunken wedding party!
We’d put this hotel on a ‘watch’ list – good management would
justify the recommendation that some guides give the hotel, but
poor staff and management, such as we experienced, detract from
the overall guest experience.
Update June 2008 : The
hotel is looking good, having just had a recent refurbishment,
and the staff seemed friendlier too.
Rose & Crown, Harnham Rd,
Harnham SP2 8JQ
Ph (01722)399-955, Fax (01722)339-816
The Grasmere House
And now – our
continuing favorite : The Grasmere House, a small hotel
originally constructed as a private house in 1896, and now with
38 rooms, 15 of which are in a recently built extension. We were immediately
impressed by the quality of the friendly staff, which is perhaps
understandable because it is an owner managed hotel, rather than
a hotel with absentee owners and a manager with less personal
commitment to the guests.
Owner Dale Naug is a transplanted Australian from Melbourne, who
has lived in Salisbury for the last 25 years.
Because this hotel is on ‘the other side’ of the rivers, some
people immediately dismiss it as not being central, but in
reality it took us no more time to walk downtown from this hotel
as it did from Milford Hall.
The restaurant is highly regarded, and overall the hotel has a
cozy welcoming feel in a lovely and quiet setting.
Rooms vary in size from smallish to moderate, but are well
fitted out and all have broadband internet connections. Some rooms have lovely views over the River Nadder and to
the Cathedral, similar to the Rose & Crown (which is only 100yds
distant) and all rooms have been individually named as well as
numbered, differentiating it from the usually faceless hotel
with equally anonymous rooms.
Luxury it isn’t, but for good quality and good service in a
lovely quiet setting, you won’t find better in Salisbury. The
hotel is a rare example of a central city hotel but in a
peaceful rural setting.
Grasmere House, 70 Harnham
Rd, Harnham SP2 8JN
Ph (01722)338-388, Fax (01722)333-710
The Old Mill Hotel
Places like this remind one that so much of England is so very
old. The original mill building dates back to 1135.
There are eleven rooms. They are not particularly
spacious, but they are functional and clean, and some have
lovely views out over the river. It is a lovely tranquil
location (although conceivably, if you had a room overlooking
the beer garden, that could be noisy - best to request a quiet
room) but still very close to the center of the town.
The Old Mill Hotel, Town Path, West Harnham SP2 8EU
Ph (01722)327-517, Fax (01722)333-367
Webster’s Bed & Breakfast
If you’re staying on a tight budget, then you’ll probably want
to seek out a B&B instead of staying in a regular hotel. Like
most of Britain, Salisbury is well served by B&Bs. A recommended
choice would be Webster's B&B. Formerly owned by Mary
Webb, it was recently sold but the new owners, John and Veronica
Mussell, seem resolved to maintain Mary's formerly high
standards. The B&B features five very nicely appointed bedrooms,
all with private shower or bath and toilet. Like most small
B&B’s the rooms don’t have direct dial phones, but there is a
pay phone downstairs and also – unusually – a computer in the
small lounge that you can use to access the internet (a charge
applies for use of the internet computer). The most expensive
room is a mere £45/night for bed and breakfast. Limited parking
directly in front.
Webster’s Bed & Breakfast,
11 Hartington Rd. SP2 7LG
Ph (01722)339-779, Fax (01722)4421-903
Update April 2009 : We
were contacted in April 09 by a gentleman who said he was one of
the new owners of this property. He said that the first
thing they did was an extensive three month renovation, and
suggests the hotel is now one to reconsider if you're looking
for value priced accommodation in the heart of Salisbury.
Their new website certainly looks impressive.
Lastly, a hotel to avoid. The Cathedral. Small spartan rooms are
set above a public bar, with the receptionist doing double duty
as barmaid. When we visited, I was wearing a brimmed cap, and
was told that house rules required me to remove my cap so that
the security cameras would get a good image of my face!
A seedy clientele in the bar such as to make single women feel
uncomfortable coming and going – especially later in the
evening, unsatisfactory rooms, and massive noise factors due to
most rooms overlooking a busy main street all make this a bad
choice of hotel.
The Cathedral Hotel, 7-9
Milford St, SP1 2AJ
Ph (01722)343-700, Fax (01722)343-701
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15 Apr 2003, last update
28 Nov 2012
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