Serviced and Flexible Office Guide: Southampton
The largest city in Hampshire, Southampton is situated 75 miles southwest of London and is one of the UK’s major ports. Steeped in history from its roots dating as far back as the Stone Age, to the Romans, to the launch of the RMS Titanic, to the D Day landings. Today, Southampton is known as the “cruise capital of Europe”– and for being a city with ambition and alive with opportunity.
In fact, the latest UK for Good Growth for Cities Index published by PWC and Demos – which measures the socio-economic performance of cities and regions across the United Kingdom – ranked Southampton third in their index. There is also a large amount of investment currently being poured into the city, including a new £55 million next-generation cruise ship terminal, an £18.5 million scheme to uplift and reinvigorate the city centre, as well as a multimillion-pound regeneration project in the heart of the city. Southampton is also bidding for City of Culture 2025.
It’s clear that Southampton has many key qualities that make it an attractive place to establish and grow a business. It has a large and diverse economy, it has easy access to and from London, and has a strong talent pool. The city is also home to two universities, the University of Southampton – which is a world leader in technological advancement and research – as well as Solent University, known for its cutting-edge research in areas such as sports science, sports development, psychology, health and wellbeing, and social care.
Consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the UK, Southampton is drenched in culture, history, arts, and music, making it a vibrant place to both live and work. Not to mention the fact that it’s a coastal town with beautiful natural surroundings, many green areas to relax in, and has excellent amenities for both families and individuals looking to call it home.
Notable business areas in Southampton
While the heydays of the docks may be long gone, there is still a lot of economic activity being channelled through Southampton’s ports. In fact, Southampton is the UK’s largest cluster of marine and maritime businesses. Some of these businesses include Associated British Ports, DP World, Lloyds Register, Carnival UK, Griffon Hoverwork, Southampton Yacht Services, Green Marine, and BMT Nigel Gee.
Southampton is also home to many major businesses in the professional and financial service sectors. Approximately 4,000 businesses employing 44,000 people in this category can be found in the Southampton City Centre and in business and office parks along the M27 and M3 corridor. These include businesses such as PwC, Grant Thornton, KPMG, Old Mutual Wealth and Ageas, as well as major banks like NatWest, RBS and HBC.
Transport links throughout Southampton are excellent
Southampton is also served by the rail network, which is used for both freight and passenger services. The main station in the city is Southampton Central, which runs routes east towards Portsmouth, Chichester, Worthing and Brighton, as well as routes north to Winchester, the Midlands and London. It also heads west towards Bournemouth, Poole, Dorchester, Weymouth, Salisbury, Bristol and Cardiff.
Travelling to and around Southampton by bus is easy
All towns and suburbs are connected to the city centre via the main bus operators, including Bluestar, which offers commuters unlimited travel from just £3 a day with tap on tap off contactless payments, First (City Reds), Unilink, Xelabus, Wheeler’s Travel and Salisbury Reds, which offers a service between Salisbury and Southampton.
The Quayconnect bus service operates between Southampton's Central railway station and the ferry terminals, running every 30 minutes in the day and every 15 minutes during the evening commuter hours. The journey time is approximately seven minutes.
Southampton is well served by two motorways
Southampton is only 80 miles from the centre of London and well served by two motorways, the M27 and the M3. The M27 motorway runs just to the north of the city, whereas the M3 links the city to London and provides quick and easy access to the rest of the country. There is also a good road network in Southampton itself.
Cycling in Southampton is a popular mode of transport
Southampton is a great place to cycle – in fact, it’s encouraged thanks to its great health and environmental benefits. There are many gentle, traffic-free trails, urban cycle paths and routes on quiet roads around Southampton. The city is also accessible for pedestrians, with the majority of it being flat, particularly around the city centre.
International Airports are close by
Southampton Airport is a regional airport located in the town of Eastleigh, just north of the city. It offers flights within the UK as well as to other European destinations. It’s connected to the city by a frequent rail service from Southampton Airport Parkway railway station and by bus services. For longer flights, Gatwick Airport is linked by a regular rail service, and Heathrow Airport is linked by National Express coach services.
Southampton has excellent business amenities
There is no shortage of places to stay in Southampton
From heritage hotels steeped in historical allure to boutique B&Bs, Southampton has no shortage of places to stay.
The city’s rich maritime history is reflected in many of the hotels. For example, the Star Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in the whole of Hampshire. First built in the 18th century, this historical building provides a traditional Victorian setting with classic décor, giving guests the opportunity to step back in time with all the modern comforts close at hand.
Another great option is the Pig-in the-Wall. Whether you are staying for business or pleasure, the Pig-in-the-Wall's convenient location close-by to the cruise terminal and the city centre – combined with its deli-bar and fireside cosiness – makes it a perfect place to stay for the weary business traveller.
If you want a more unique experience, check out room2 Southampton, the world’s first Hometel. This concept hotel combines all the comforts and flexibility of your home, plus the best bits of a hotel, to give guests the best of both worlds.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for more budget-friendly, value-for-money options there’s also a Mercure Hotel, Novotel, Premier Inn and ibis Budget Hotel – all located just five minutes’ walk from Southampton Central railway station.
And if you really want to spoil yourself with luxurious opulence, why not book a room at Southampton’s only five-star hotel the Harbour Hotel? It offers 119 luxury rooms, including 10 suites, an award-winning restaurant, a luxury spa with state-of-the-art gym, a destination rooftop bar, and stunning contemporary interiors throughout.
The city has a number of superb restaurants
From hearty breakfasts to prepare you for a busy day in the office, to quick bites in between meetings, to fine dining and cosy pub drinks after work – there’s something to suit every taste and preference in Southampton.
The city has a number of superb restaurants dishing up a mouth-watering selection of global cuisine. For example, if you’re in the mood for Italian, head over to Max’s Brasserie on Oxford Street, where you can enjoy traditional Sicilian fare in a rustic environment. Loved by the locals, Max’s is a firm favourite for quality food, fresh produce, and it has one of the best wine lists in the city.
There’s also Le Regata, a beautiful Spanish tapas restaurant in the heart of Southampton’s waterfront. Nestled in Southampton’s Old Town is George’s, a well-known Greek establishment that serves up an array of Greek delicacies – from king prawns in filo pastry to lamb kleftiko.
And if you need somewhere more upmarket to impress a client – or you just want to give your taste buds a treat – why not book a table at The Jetty? This restaurant is run by locally-renowned chef patron Alex Aitken.
Other useful amenities
With more than 400 shops, ranging from department stores and high street favourites, to small independent boutiques – as well as a retail park right in the city centre – there is something to keep every type of shopper busy.
However, if you prefer spending time outdoors, Southampton most certainly does not disappoint. With the South Downs, the New Forest, and the coast on your doorstep, there is plenty to keep outdoor enthusiasts happy – not to mention the hundreds of acres of wetlands and fields of Southampton Common.
And if sports are more your thing, there’s also the Quays Swimming and Diving Centre, as well as the Alpine Snowsports Centre, which offers skiing and snowboarding throughout the year. And the Outdoor Sports Centre has everything from cycle tracks to football pitches.
You can also learn to sail, play golf, or enjoy the many walks and cycle paths that take you right into the heart of the New Forest National Park. Arts and culture lovers can also visit Southampton’s many fine theatres and live music venues. The Nuffield and The Mayflower Theatre are very popular, as is Turner Sims, the live music venue at the University of Southampton. From film to fine arts, Southampton City Art Gallery attracts many visitors and is a part of what is now the Cultural Quarter around Guildhall Square.
Notable tenants in Southampton
- University of Southampton
- Ordnance Survey
- BBC South
- Associated British Ports
- Carnival UK
Key agents in Southampton
- Vail Williams LLP
- Ashville Group Ltd
- Avison Young
- Pullen Associates Ltd
- Real Estate Strategies Ltd
- Omega RE
Interesting facts about Southampton
- The port has been the point of departure for RMS Titanic, RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth, the ports container terminals opened in 1968 and have continued to expand since then.
- It was the place Jane Austen lived with her family for two years after the passing of her father. She celebrated her 18th birthday at the Dolphin Hotel. While Jane Austen was living in Southampton she wrote one of her much novels, Sense and Sensibility.
- On 5 March 1936, the Spitfire first flew from Southampton Airport.
- Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire and the only UK city with a geothermal power station.
- The famous Mayflower ship (which took the Pilgrim Fathers to America) set sail from Southampton in 1620.