Once an archaic city residing in deepest, darkest Wiltshire, Salisbury is growing up fast.
Or should I say growing down? Once thought to be – dare I say it – ‘dated’, Salisbury is quickly becoming a budding haven for shoppers and diners, all the while retaining its old world class and quaint appearance.
While the traditional market roars its lively head every Tuesday and Saturday in the central market square, the city is blooming both inside and out. Not so long ago Salisbury lacked the ‘essential’ shopping outlets that so many of Britain’s cities, and even towns, now boast. Today, however, it is another matter: a Topshop has cropped up, as has a larger-than-life New Look, while a brand spanking new H&M store is currently under construction. Boutique bars and restaurants are popping up all over the place and other popular chains are making an appearance (say hello to the new generation Café Rouge – yum!).
As an up and coming city, I thought I’d dish the dirt with a local’s guide to Salisbury.
Where to go in Salisbury:
Wiltshire is best known for its world famous Heritage site, Stonehenge, or the splendid Salisbury Cathedral. Like any well-known attractions, however, sure they’re worth a visit, but these iconic landmarks are buzzing with bustling tourists seeking the perfect snap. The trick is knowing what to do in Salisbury that isn’t swarming with snappers.
Instead, I’d recommend making the most of the summer sun and visiting Queen Elizabeth Gardens (AKA Lizzy Gardens). Newly refurbished with roomy walkways and lush and colourful flowerbeds, Lizzy Gardens is the perfect place to unwind on a grassy bank. There’s even a stream and natural pool where visitors can have a paddle or dangle their toes. If you fancy a wander, take a walk down the town path, through the grazing fields and down to the 15th century Old Mill Hotel, where you can enjoy award winning menus or even their en-suite accommodation.
Another thing to do in Salisbury could be a visit to the Guild Hall. Right in the heart of the city, the Guild Hall is a Grade II listed building that plays host to numerous events, exhibitions and weddings. If you’re lucky you could catch newlyweds leaving the grandiose doors under a flutter of confetti, or marvel at this year’s Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition.
If you plan on venturing out of the city, my favourite getaway is Lulworth Cove in nearby Dorset, a spectacular seaside retreat perfect for dog walking, sunbathing and taking a dip. See what I got up to on my visit here.
Where to eat Salisbury:
As a food lover, I’ve wined and dined my way around Salisbury over the past few years. Coming up trumps on my list of places to eat in Salisbury would definitely be the freshly faced Cosy Club. Only having opened about a year ago, the quirky restaurant and bar has become a household name. Popular with all ages, the place is decked out in an eclectic mix of miss-match furniture: from antiques to authentic military memorabilia. It’s a cross between your Grandad’s study and a car boot sale – but posh and, well, cosy. The bar is brimming with little-known brands (well, little known to me, and I was a barmaid for five years), antler chandeliers loom overhead and the food is simply delicious. They serve anything from light-bites like paninis and sharing seafood platters, to sumptuous roast dinners and sticky toffee pudding.
Bringing a touch of Turkey to Salisbury is the Eastern Chillout. With home-cooked authentic cuisine freshly made on-site by the owner’s wife, the Eastern Chillout is a fantastic spot to dine in. Decorated to echo Turkey’s luxurious style, the space is light and refreshing, transporting the diners to a home-away-from-home as soon as they step in the door. If you visit at lunchtime or on a summer’s evening, make the most of the outdoor facilities: crisp white gazebos and sofas provide a comfortable shelter from the sun, and a multitude of shisha flavours are available (both with or without tobacco).
Places to drink in Salisbury:
Finding somewhere to drink in Salisbury isn’t much of a task. There are endless pubs in Salisbury, as well as bars, clubs and the occasional lounge. For something unique, though, try YOYO, a tiny, eccentric little bar right in the city centre, where fizzy sweets and pastel colours rule the roost. The retro bar serves an array of colourful and tasty cocktails and shooters, from the classic Mojito to naughty but nice ‘Slippery Nipple’. It’s not just the drinks that have won me over, but the stylish décor: the bar is decorated in funky retro furniture and nostalgic memorabilia. The drinks are even served in jam jars and bamboo pots.
For something a little more ‘Salisbury’, why not try The Chough? Steeped in history, The Chough is a 14th century pub that was once used as a coach house. Full of ghostly tales, the pub still has a dungeon below its main bar where prisoners were kept before being led to the whipping post, stock and execution. If you get chatting to the staff they’ll be happy to tell you of all their creepy encounters with the pub’s many, many ghosts. The bar is stocked with an array of British ales as well as hosting an impressive wine list and food menu. The pub throws themed nights, plays live music and caters to private parties in their extensive function room on the first floor.
Just don’t go in there alone…
Anyone else been to Salisbury? What are you favourite local spots?