Take a look at what Motor Boats Monthly considers to be the best places to eat, sleep and drink in our insider's guide to the greatest boat show on earth
It’s hard not to get excited about the PSP Southampton Boat Show if you’re a serious boat lover. It’s the main event, the big top, Circus Maximus, the icing on our boating cake, and lots more laboured puns besides.
Last year’s event is probably best remembered as a sideshow to the collapse of the financial world when Wall Street banks were not so much masters of the universe but beggars at the Government’s door, so hopefully 2009’s installment will offer a bit more cheer. As reported inSeptember’s MBM(out now), there are signs that we might have turned a corner in the boating market, and all of us at MBM hope this holds true during the show, on from 11-20 September.
We’ve already posted online our special Southampton standfinder and map , which you can download and print. For ticketing information, take a look at the latest MBM, or simply head to the show’s website . But for the inside track on some of the best places toeat, drink and sleep, read on. And if you think we’ve missed out anything crucial or you have a tip to share, let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can add your suggestion below.
If you’re coming bycar, one of the best places to park is at West Quay shopping centre . This enormous complex has 4000 spaces, with charges running to about £7.50 for seven hours’ parking. Those familiar with MDL’s Ocean Village Marina will already know about the 776 parking spaces available just 10 minutes’ walk from the show, but for those that don’t, eight hours’ parking costs around £8. There are other options, and we’ve always found Parking Southampton pretty useful in deciding where to stick the car.
If coming bytrain, you’ll arrive at Southampton Central . From here, it’s a brisk 15-minute walk to the show, or you can hop on a free City Link bus to Town Quay, which runs every 15 minutes. Visit South West Trains for ticketing info and prices.
Before you even consider starting your boat show experience, you need to fill up on some top-quality fodder. We’re not talking a bowl of muesli here; a day like this requires a good old-fashionedBritish brekkie. The best place we’ve found to fill up is The Platform News and Blues Café , which abuts the popular Platform Tavern. Best of all, this café sits right outside one of the main entrances to the show. Even better still,MBM readers will get 10% offtheir breakfast if they show a copy of the magazine. The café is open every day of the show from 8am, and offers huge portions, quality sausages (very important), quick service and friendly staff. In the evenings, it turns into a fresh fish restaurant.
As ever, there’ll be lots going on to keep everyone in your partyentertained, from tall ships to the ever-popular Try-a-Boat . One new, and slightly odd addition to the entertainment schedule at this year’s show is the Record Breaker Stage Show . Here you’ll see people trying to break world records on every single day of the show, including an attempt to run the world’s biggest speed dating event on 13 September. Organisers need a minimum of 130 people to break the record, so if you’re single, don’t forget the mouthwash.
While there are sporadic areas of culinary joy throughout the city, Oxford Street still appears to hold all the aces when it comes toafter-show eats. Just book early to save disappointment.
The bestcurrywe’ve found to date is at Kuti’s . The décor may be a bit pink for some tastes, but fear not, a quality meal awaits. It can get crowded in here, so if you don’t fancy waiting, nip down Oxford Street to Poppadom Express , which comes a very close second.
For a taste of the East, the King and I is an intimate restaurant that offers fantasticThaicuisine. It’s a walk from Oxford Street, but well worth it. You may even be treated to some traditional Thai dancing – not to be confused with the kind of dancing that goes on a few doors down at one particular venue.
For a morelaid-backexperience, head back to Oxford Street and the excellent White Star bar and restaurant. It’s not cheap, but for good food and drinks after a busy day at the show, few places can match it.
Further down Oxford Street, you’ll find Oxfords Restaurant , which is a favourite of the boat show crowd. Like all the other restaurants on Oxford Street, it can get busy but it always comes up with the goods. (Note: not to be confused with the Oxford Brasserie, which is unhelpfully right next door).
But if all you’re looking for is a quickpost-show beer, the Bosuns Locker pub is officially the closest watering hole to the show.
The centre of post-shownightlifeseems to be Oxford Street, with its bars and restaurants. There are more raucous alternatives, however. If you want to see the man you’ve just bought a boat off cutting some quite horrendous shapes on the dance floor, head to La Margherita , right outside the show.
One tip that we absolutely have to share is this – avoid the High Street if you’re looking for an after-dinner drink, and whatever you do, do not venture into the Walkabout . Especially on a weekend. It’s not nice.
Due to the fact the entire marine industry descends on Southampton throughout the show,hotel roomsare at a premium. Local hoteliers know this only too well, and aren’t afraid to jack up their prices to eye-watering levels. If you are set on staying over, we suggest you take a look at this website which offers a decent listing.
If you’re after cheap and cheerful (if there is such a thing at the show), then check out The Grapes in the middle of Oxford Street. If you hate leaving the pub, you can simply stay in one! The rooms are decent value and are big, clean and offer en-suite bathrooms.
That’s about it, and remember, if you’ve got a tip to share, email email@example.com