Not many, if any, hotels are named after their owners, but then not many hoteliers are quite as much of a selling point as Hannah McIntyre. Not that she craves the limelight – quite the opposite – but her youth (just turned 26) and her warm and engaging personality do set the tone for her equally impressive guesthouse.
Three years ago, Hannah and her sister (isn’t that the title of a film?) received an inheritance. With the money, her sister opened Plas Curig, a five-star hostel in Snowdonia, while Hannah, who has worked in hotels on and off since she was 17, opted for a luxury bed and breakfast in Winchester.
Two things alone make it a great new address for this absorbing town: it has wow factor and Hannah is doing the finest possible job. Her 50 or so reviews on TripAdvisor, all of them five‑star, attest to that.
Wiggle around the one-way system in Winchester, and Hannah’s is set back in a quiet little courtyard off Parchment Street, lined with terraced houses. It took a year to transform the abandoned former dance hall into the quirky, high-ceilinged space that it is today, with Hannah undertaking much of the work herself.
A huge arched front door leads into a lofty living space, just for the guests (Hannah lives in an adjoining flat, reached by a communicating door). In a dramatic opening flourish, a beautiful antique piano sits on a raised platform, surrounded by uplighters. Sheer, lace-trimmed Roman blinds make a charming feature of a row of sash windows that look onto a little terrace, while the sitting area has elegant sofas grouped around a wood-burning stove, shelves of books and an honesty bar. Above the carved stone mantelpiece is a striking portrait of a woman made, though it’s hard to believe, from wool.
Most of Hannah’s guests arrive at teatime, when they are plied with home-made cakes, biscuits and scones. This is good: Hannah is asking hotel prices for her rooms and complimentary tea helps to justify them. I’m still startled by these sorts of rates in facility-free guesthouses, however upmarket, but guests seem happy to pay them, swapping the amenities of a hotel such as more space, a bar, a concierge and so on for intimacy and personal service. Hannah’s breakfast (which she cooks and delivers unaided), served at separate tables, is something no hotel could emulate: after yogurt, granola and berries served in little glass jars, she brings a platter of sausages, scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms and roast tomatoes for each couple to share. Everyone is happy and only one person to date has asked for a fried egg instead of scrambled.
The three bedrooms have amusing sliding reclaimed front doors for the bathrooms, power showers fashioned from copper piping by Hannah’s stepfather, and huge luxurious beds and baths on mezzanines reached by almost-vertical wooden steps. For dinner, Hannah suggests several good restaurants. We chose Rick Stein’s, which has brought not a little of his Padstow magic to the town; combine the two and you have a pretty cool 24 hours in this venerable town. Young people, thrilled to find someone like Hannah at the helm, love it.
R & S x
Hannah’s B&B, 16a Parchment Street, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 8AZ
Doubles from £185 per night, including breakfast. Not suitable for guests using wheelchairs.