In July 2014, Winchester YMCA Cafe opened its doors to the public, offering a blend of high-quality hot drinks, cakes and snacks at excellent value prices.
Situated in the beautiful basement of historic St. John’s House, a Grade One listed building, the bright and colourful cafe is a laid-back retreat from the bustle of the high street.
All proceeds help support Winchester YMCA’s work with young people in Winchester and across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
James A Graham, a regular at Winchester YMCA cafe has written about it below:
Just by King Alfred’s statue, in agreeable and ecclesiastical Winchester, across the road – there is a doorway, a glass door, you push through, down the steps and it feels like you are on a movie set – thick walls, high ceilings, airy and spacious, with various extras flitting about – perhaps it is a remake of ‘Robin Hood’ or something medieval and romantic – but it’s the YMCA cafe, where you are immediately at home, or made to feel so.
In fact, all is very much up to date and the coffee is excellent, the cakes scrumptious and there are other items that one day I must sample – but for me and my friends, some of a rather literary bent, this is our South Bank in drizzly and occasionally cheerless England – it is, to begin with, somewhere you can talk.
It is set on our South Bank of the Seine, though, of course, these days, you can saunter also, south of the Thames where there is much fun and so forth – but not quite that pleasantly casual atmosphere you get in Paris – well, perhaps – the thing about our YMCA cafe is that it has that, and is, quite seriously, unique!
As a lover of coffee and conversation, I do wander about the usual haunts of the bewildered – names I dare not use – the great franchises who are all very well but also, all the same – and Winchester, of course, has these. They have their merits but in the YMCA there is very much the sense of being somewhere special. It is clearly ancient – not the ‘extras’, of course, and so belongs in this historic and illustrious city. You feel there are stories about what went on here, in days of yore, waiting to be dug up.
In the space to the left, the children play – peacefully, most oft. On the right, the senior citizens, of whom I am one, tend to foregather and often tend to sit around in groups of ten or more. Naturally youth is also about, doing its merry thing.. this is a people cafe, not a gleam and glassy money-making machine: atmosphere is all. Here, persons of all ages relax and thrive. Yes, there is nothing like a really good cafe.
Visit Winchester YMCA cafe
Address: YMCA Cafe, St John’s House, The Broadway, Winchester SO23 9BE
Opening times: 9.00am-5.00pm Monday to Saturday and 11am-4pm on Sunday