IT IS the luxury hotel in the centre of Romsey.

The Grade II listed building has been a hallmark of the town for hundreds of years, and now The White Horse Hotel and Brasserie has another small piece of history to mark down.

Manager Paul Bingham is celebrating with staff after they achieved a 'highly commended' status for their afternoon tea. Level with renowned names such as The Dorchester and Savoy hotels, they were one of only three venues outside of London to be awarded the status.

The Afternoon Tea Awards 2018 put The White Horse in the top 30 of 1,500, above the London Hilton and the Verdi at the Royal Albert Hall.

To be recognised, the organisation fits in two anonymous visits throughout the year, and then offers feedback. It is the first time that The White Horse has entered.

Paul, who has been the manager since 2008, said they were thrilled with the achievement.

He said: "To compete against those big London names – there are only three outside of the capital – is a fantastic achievement for us, and something we're hugely proud of. We have about 20 or 25 staff who will regularly oversee the afternoon tea. It's more popular in winter to be honest, and on our busiest days with two sittings, we can see 100 people every day."

Paul said that they weren't sure what to expect at the award ceremony as it was the first year they had entered.

A bit of investigative work had given them an idea of what might happen when they got there, though.

The awards are held each year at the previous winner's venue. After searching online, Paul discovered that the Pompadour Ballroom at the Hotel Cafe Royal, only held around 250 people, and 1,500 entrants had registered.

Paul said: "We were invited down, and having seen the capacity of the gorgeous room we were in, we either thought we might be up for something, or that it was because this was our first year.

"We're just thrilled and it was a wonderful experience. There are still areas we can chip away at, we're still targeting that five-star rating."