The Empress at Christmas

The pictures just don’t do it justice. You just can’t see from the images just how dazzling, how sparkling, and how incredibly intense the Christmas lights are in the Empress. It bills itself as the most SPECTACULARLY Christmas decorated pub in the world! (Well… almost certainly in Cambridge)” and I have to agree. There is nowhere quite like the Empress at Christmas. It’s fantastic – a glittering winter wonderland. Even the biggest Scrooge would have to muster up a Christmas smile in this pub, however hard he tried not to. Surely.

When you enter the front bar you are immediately bathed in red light, thanks to the berry fairy lights covering the walls and ceiling. Santas hang from every available hook and are also tucked behind the optics at the bar, and giant ones adorn the walls. And I haven’t even got round to talking about the snowmen yet.

When you pass through the archway into the jukebox / pool table / darts bar, the rooms turn blue and white, with incredibly bright flashing LEDs hanging from everywhere you look. The ceiling is plastered in Christmas wrapping paper, and baubles hang from a net of lights, and still the Santas hang from their red hoods taking up any previously available space. Oh, and there is tinsel. A lot of it.

The lounge bar also has a red theme, but it’s a bit lighter in there (as in the lights are not dimmed like in the main bar) so you could sit and read a paper in this bar. Possibly. There is a decorated tree, more giant santas and snowmen and baubles and fairy lights. And a nice smell of mulled wine.

We opted to sit in the main bar (the red berry one) and I spent ages just looking around the walls and ceiling.  This must have taken days to decorate – and good on em for doing it! I ordered some Buntingford Brewery’s Silent Night, (4.1%) one of many good beers on at the bar (there was also Thwaites Wainwright Ale, Timothy Taylor Landlord straight from the cask, St Austell Tribute and Adnams Broadside).

Silent Night

Buntingford brew a beer called Silent Night every Christmas – but it’s different every year, they change the recipe to spice things up and to confuse people (to their own admission). Sometimes it’s pale and hoppy, sometimes it’s dark and malty. But it’s always good. This time, it was light brown, with a nice balance of caramel flavoured malts and US citrus hops (Summit). The citrus was the first flavour I tasted, and then this developed in to a lovely rounded flavour. Very moorish.

Thus ended our brief but enjoyable visit to the Empress on this cold winter’s night. Then all that was left to do was leave Romsey Town to walk home in the wind and freezing temperatures. Why can’t this pub be closer to home…

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