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A hundred or so years ago Bournemouth was a magical spa town, where royalty, celebrities and the well-to-do flocked to enjoy the pine-scented air, decent weather - by English standards - seven miles of sandy beach, and the first spa hotel. Some of the best places to stay in Bournemouth are still close to the long stretch of sandy, golden beach, and there are plenty of unsullied views to be found. The Pier, with its fair, arcade, shops and boat trips, is about central.
These days the beautiful spa hotel is now the Town Hall, and many visitors come by the coach load - either retired folk, or stag or hen dos, but there's still plenty of seaside magic to Bournemouth, as well as plenty of opportunity for pampering and wellness treatments. In recent years, Bournemouth's growing populations of students and surfers have given the town a much more bohemian vibe than other old seaside resorts.
Bournemouth also has several galleries, a theatre or two and some lovely gardens. And, as you might have imagined from the mention of stags and hens, Bournemouth is also known for its vibrant nightlife and great range of options when it comes to eating and drinking.
What Not To Miss
- The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum is a glorious place to wander around, filled to the brim with historic artefacts from around the world. One of the last Victorian manor houses to be built, it houses the varied collection acquired by Sir Merton Russell-Cotes and his wife who were extensive travellers.
- Spend the afternoon on sandy Bournemouth Beach. Enjoy a picnic in the sun before going off to find yourselves some ice cream or stopping by the Oceanarium - home to penguins, turtles, clownfish, otters and more! The kids will love spending a few hours here.
- Head off on a delightful stroll around the beautiful Lower Gardens. Work up a sweat with a game of tennis, head to the bird sanctuary or spot Koi Carp swimming in the pond.
- Meander through the lovely Westbourne Urban Village area, full of independent boutique shops, bars and restaurants. This picturesque Victorian arcade is a charming spot to explore.
Due to its year-round popularity, the best places to stay in Bournemouth can prove tricky to book. So if you really want to stay in one of our recommendations, get organised and plan well ahead.
For a lively stay
- The Urban Beach Hotel, located just minutes from the beach, offers twelve contemporary chic rooms. However, the real hub is the bustling bar and bistro which has a real buzz.
- The Green House is a 32 room designer eco-hotel just a few hundred yards back from the beach. As well as being green and comfortable, this hotel has all the mod. cons. and a fine restaurant with an ambitious menu.
- The Pig On The Beach is a charming stay - offering 23 shabby chic bedrooms with lovely furnishings. Enjoy superb gourmet meals with many of the ingredients even grown on site, and spend your days wandering along the gorgeous coastline on long walks.
- Just along the coast in Christchurch, right on the banks of the River Stour, you'll find the Captain's Club Hotel & Spa, a collection of 17 self-catering rooms and suites with great views from their balconies over the river mouth. There's also a great spa, an excellent restaurant and it's all very family friendly.
- On the other side of Christchurch is the 64 room Christchurch Harbour Hotel & Spa, a newly refurbished harbour charmer with smart bedrooms, excellent food, great views and an indulgent spa.
- The Kings Arms is set in a gorgeous Georgian property blending traditional interiors with contemporary furnishings. Tuck into gourmet meals at the restaurant and enjoy quintessentially British afternoon tea! A stylish spot.
For Peace And Quiet
- Priory Hotel enjoys a picturesque setting near Wareham, by the riverside and amidst beautiful gardens. Their classically-styled rooms are incredibly romantic and you'll love meals in their stone-vaulted cellar dining room!
- Chewton Glen is a glorious country house hotel, boasting a number of luxury tree-house bedrooms offering panoramic views of the area. With incredibly smart interiors, a glorious spa, wonderful dining and its own golf course, this is a top-of-the-range 5* stay!
For An Apartment or holiday Cottage
- If you think you'd be best served by a self-catering option then browse through the wide variety available online with our partner, Booking.com.
- Bournemouth is nicest in the summer months, with July experiencing an average temperature of 17°C. Whilst there isn't a specific peak season, the town is busiest at this time as people flock to join in with the large number of summer festivals.
- Visitors coming from a number of mainland European destinations can fly into Bournemouth Airport, located 4 miles north-east of the town itself.
- From here, hop on the B1 bus which will take you to the centre of town (including a stop outside the train station).
- For car hire prices, we recommend you visit our online partner Rentalcars.
Still not sure?
Best Hotels in Bournemouth
The Living Room 6 rooms from £80Bournemouth (East Dorset)
A charming B&B in a smart district of Bournemouth. Seven individually styled rooms are light and airy with soft hues and large sash windows. An atmospheric lounge and traditional tea room are the ideal respite after a day exploring the region.Hideaway - An inconspicuous boutique B&B hidden in a pretty residential area of Bournemouth.Great walks - Take a stroll via the 'chine walks' to Alum Chine beach.Restrictions on children - Children over 12 are welcomeFull of character
The Green House 32 rooms from £160Bournemouth, Dorset
Eco hotel a few hundred yards from the beach. Contemporary rooms with designer wallpaper and some with free standing baths. Award winning restaurant uses produce from the local area. Well placed for exploring Dorset and the New Forest.Sailing - Bournmouth Cruises offers both cruises and rides on their speedboat.Great walks - Within easy access of the New Forest - a paradise for walkers.Sights nearby - Visit Christchurch Castle ruins.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Johansens
Urban Beach Hotel 12 rooms from £97Bournemouth,, Dorset
Attractive boutique hotel in Bournemouth just five minutes from the beach and not far from the New Forest. Contemporary chic rooms have paintings, luscious fabrics, and all the mod cons. A lively bar and bistro is a focal point. Family friendly, stylish, and surrounded by easily found attractions.Sights nearby - Visit the magnificent Durdle Door or Kimmeridge ledges.Sailing - Can be booked nearby.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Great walks - Good for walkers.Recommended by - Sawdays, Good Hotel Guide
10 Castle Street 9 rooms from £195Bournemouth (Wimborne)
Set in a Grade II listed country house, 10 Castle Street is located in Cranborne's idyllic countryside. It offers country-chic style accommodation, as well as a fantastic fine-dining restaurant and cocktail bar, all surrounded by formal gardens and ancient woodland. A splendid couples retreat.Short fly break - 10 Castle Street is just 10 miles from Bournemouth AirportGreat walks - 10 Castle Street is surrounded by a number of fantastic walking trailsSights nearby - The iconic Stonehenge is located less than 20 miles away!Romantic - Good for couples.Recommended by - I Escape