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Reviewed on 15 Nov 2020
Reviewed on 17 Nov 2020
Reviewed on 13 Feb 2020
Portsmouth has got some serious maritime heritage, with a historic dockyard housing some of the world's most important ships of the past, iconic ocean-themed modern architecture and an impressive number of nautical museums. Though many use the city as a gateway to the Isle of Wight, just a few miles away in the English Channel, those who stay in the Portsmouth bed and breakfasts find a pretty Old Town with cobbled streets flanked by cosy pubs, handsome Georgian townhouses and a sprinkling of half-timbered Tudor properties. Along its ocean-facing side is the suburb of Southsea, and a long single beach that has all the retro trappings of a British seaside resort, such as amusement arcades, a long wooden pier and ice cream parlours.
Like many seaside resorts, Portsmouth bed and breakfasts have always been the accommodation of choice for holidaymakers, and they heavily outnumber the city's impersonal chain hotels. Here, the B&Bs are diverse. Some are family-run and found within terraced houses with just a handful of guestrooms, a stone's throw away from the sea. Others are sleeker affairs, occupying converted period properties with high ceilings and windows that overlook the beach and lapping ocean. If you're looking for pet-friendly B&Bs, or ones with family-sized guestrooms, you'll find there are plenty of award-winners around these parts. If you're planning to visit in summer, you'll want to book up quick to avoid disappointment. The best place to start looking is on Expedia, whose listings include photos and descriptions to help you find the perfect match.
While all the bed and breakfasts in Portsmouth are different, there are similarities in the guestrooms. You can expect to find everything you would in a hotel room, like facilities for making tea and coffee, TVs on the walls and large comfortable beds. There'll almost always be free WiFi and most rooms now have private ensuite bathrooms. You can guarantee there'll always be a slap-up English breakfast waiting for you downstairs each morning, the perfect thing to set you up for the day ahead. Looking for something different? Why not try trendy Brighton, just a little further up the coast.
No one could complain that Portsmouth is short of things to do. Beyond the beaches there's a wealth of attractions, like the soaring Spinnaker Tower, whose iconic sail-shaped design rises up over Portsmouth and offers splendid views across the ocean. Down at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, there's centuries of seafaring history. Here, you can see the HMS Victory, which didn't end up so victorious for her captain, Nelson, who died aboard during the Battle of Trafalgar. Then there's the Mary Rose Museum, which houses what's left of the Tudor ship after she sank and lay at the bottom of the ocean for more than 400 years. For more maritime history you could try the National Museum of the Royal Navy, or the D-Day Museum, which chronicles the history of the WWII event.
There's more than just Portsmouth's seafaring past to enjoy. At Southsea Castle you can walk in the footsteps of Henry VIII, or you could visit the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum to explore the first home of one of the world's most famed English writers. If you're bringing the little ones, they'll love spotting the exotic inhabitants at the Blue Reef Aquarium, which range from clownfish to sharks, or riding the colourful roller coasters along the seafront at Clarence Pier.