Words by Sara Darling
Perfect for a naughty weekend with a partner or group of friends, Bournemouth has shed its shackles of being a retirement town and the renovation of the Nici hotel and restored Bobby Building in the town centre offer lots of pros for a visit to this seaside town.
If you’re not checking out the contemporary art at Bobby’s second floor gallery, you’ll probably spend your time on the beach, which boasts over ten miles of golden sand, promenade and cycle tracks. The pier is flanked by a Ferris Wheel – but the fun doesn’t stop there, pass the slot machines in the arcade, and you can get rigged up for a ride on PierZip, the world’s first pier-to-shore zip wire, which allows you to fly across the waves like Tinkerbell.
With a unique microclimate, Bournemouth boasts the UK’s warmest sea water temperatures and Blue Flag beaches, but if a swim, surf or paddle board lesson doesn’t tempt you, there are plenty of deckchairs for rent or terraced bars, so you can enjoy a lazy afternoon without getting sand in your shorts.
The glorious beaches are crowded by greenery, so you can enjoy really being in nature, and although it’s a long way down, you can use the handy cliff-side funicular railway which has been around since the Victorian days to transport you back up.
The town is also famous for its Victorian Gardens. Consisting of Upper, Central, and Lower Gardens which run through the centre of town, these Grade-II listed green spots are perfectly manicured with shrubs, flowers, and pretty bridges and offer a respite from the hustle of the town. They are popular with summer concerts on the Pinewalk Bandstand, teenage sweethearts and families who enjoy the crazy golf course and aviary.
The August bank holiday weekend hosts ‘Candlelight Nights’ – a century-old tradition, when thousands of tea lights are arranged in imaginative designs, while in December you’ll be able to skate on an ice rink – perfect for getting in the festive spirit.
Another landmark is the Russell Cotes Museum. Once an opulent villa, it was built in 1901 and gifted to the town by the Scottish owner who dedicated his life to travelling. Inside you can relive the glamour and soak up the mighty collection of French, Moorish, Japanese, Renaissance and Scottish Baronial styles.
Slightly further afield, you can check out all the plush properties in Sandbanks. This teeny peninsula separates Poole Harbour from Bournemouth and has a reputation as being the ‘most expensive seaside in the world’ thanks to the high price tags of the waterfront mansions which are on the aptly tagged ‘Millionaires Row’. It’s also the home of Rick Stein’s award-winning restaurant – be sure to book in advance and enjoy some fine dining with a view of the harbour and Brownsea Island.
Back in Bournemouth, the hottest hotel is the newly rebranded Nici Hotel, which stands proudly overlooking the English Channel on Bournemouth’s affluent West Cliff. For years, the art-deco building had been functioning as the Savoy Hotel, but it has just gone under a distinct makeover and brought some much needed sass to the seafront.
The building has been totally refurbished and its 73 bedrooms, including ten garden suites (with outdoor hot tubs) are just minutes from the beach. The extended outdoor pool and restaurant are a welcome addition to the dining scene and the private cabanas provide a perfect cocktail spot. Alternatively you have direct access to the promenade and miles of sandy beach.
Transporting you to the heart of Ocean Drive, the Miami theme is omnipresent throughout the property. Expect palm trees and pineapples and lots of pink, however these are classy additions, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll ask to take your cuddly bedroom flamingo home with you!
After a night on the tiles, breakfast in bed is always a bonus- and boy, what a feast on the menu- just leave your menu card on the door and scoff at your leisure! The ultimate in indulgence and perfect for a morning after the night before on the hotel bar’s specialty cocktails.
For more information on Bournemouth attractions visit bournemouth.co.uk