There’s a first time for everything, Charlotte Pearson discovers.
Driving up to the Ageas Bowl Hilton in Southampton certainly does give you butterflies.
The outside is impressive and when you step inside it just gets better and better.
Opened in May this year the four-star hotel is bright and modern.
With 171 rooms the views consist of either the Ageas Bowl cricket pitch or the golf course which will be ready in January.
Our luxurious king deluxe overlooked the pitch, which even for a non-cricket fan was exciting and made me wish there was a match on to watch from our room.
When myself and my fiancé Denis could drag ourselves away from the balcony we headed down to the hotel’s restaurant Beefy’s, a steakhouse and seafood concept developed by Sir Ian Botham.
We were taken to our table by restaurant manager Maricel, where we started to peruse the menu and extensive wine list.
Exclusive to Beefy’s is wine from Sir Ian Botham’s label Botham Merrill Willis.
As we knew we would be opting for a meaty meal, we picked the Cabernet Sauvignon (£40) which was delightful on the palate, rich and smooth.
To start Denis went with Maricel’s recommendation of the Connaught kipper and whisky pâté with melba toast (£7.50), describing it as ‘really moreish’.
Having never had it before, and again on recommendation, I picked the steak tartare with sourdough toast (£10.50).
Prepared at the table you can pick how much mustard, capers, gherkins and shallots you want so it is to your taste.
I was suitably surprised, as it is raw meat I was expecting it to be tough but the texture was smooth as butter and something I would love to try again.
On to the main event the Beefy’s Tomahawk Ribeye 20oz steak caught Denis’ eye straight away.
And while Maricel went through how the steak is prepared and cooked the fact it was actually 18oz because of the bone did nothing to dampen Denis’ excitement.
I, on the other hand, debated over the menu for a while.
Tempted by the Prime Sirloin cut to the size of your choice (£2.25 per oz), and also the fishy options of Granny B’s fish pie (£12.50) and grilled lobster (£29.75) I eventually went for Beefy’s prime 10oz ground steak burger with spicy chilli and smoked garlic with added English Cheddar (£13.95).
My burger came with chips and the steak had Lyonnaise potatoes, new potatoes with onions.
We also opted for a side of creamed spinach (£3) which was rich in flavour.
It was clear Denis was in love the moment the steak was placed in front of him.
“It is a real delight,” he exclaimed. “The best steak I have ever tasted.”
The burger was deliciously meaty with the oozing cheese mixing perfectly with the chilli and garlic marrying a fusion of flavours perfectly. Plus the chips were utter heaven.
To finish, the puddings included a whole host of English favourites such as Eton Mess and sticky toffee pudding but on a weekend of firsts we opted for the Baked Alaska for two (£11).
Everything at the Ageas Bowl Hilton felt like an occasion so when the pudding was placed in front of us and Maricel came blowtorch in hand it was a sight to behold as she cooked it in front of our eyes.
The meringue was lovely and gooey with a slight crunch to the outside while the ice cream inside was perfectly cold.
After a restful night sleep we made a pit stop at breakfast before heading to the eforea spa.
While Denis had the aroma stone therapy massage (£80 for 70 minutes), I experienced the face and body sensation treatment (£75 for 60 minutes).
Natalie the consultant went through what would happen and asked me to smell three different essential oils and pick the one that I liked.
I opted for the third, which later turned out to be lime and perfect for de-stressing.
The treatment was sublime as Natalie kneaded away the knots in my neck as part of the full back body massage, while the aromatherapy oils drifted from a diffuser placed under the bed.
It was followed by a facial using Elemis products that made my skin feel the best it has in years.
Having never had a hot stone massage Denis was whisked away to a land of tranquillity.
“It is a perfect way to de-stress,” he said. “It gives a deep feeling of muscle relaxation.”
Once the treatments were over we were taken to the transition room where I received my tea to match my oil and we sat there in wonderment.
From start to finish the whole experience of the Ageas Bowl was perfect, with attentive and helpful staff and luxurious surroundings.
For a special occasion or just a few nights away I can think of no better place than the home of Hampshire cricket.
For more information, visit www.hiltonhotelsouthampton.co.uk