Photo of Christchurch

About Christchurch

In 1784, a group of smugglers came to blows with local customs officials in the thriving fishing town of Christchurch, in an event that became known as the Battle of Mudeford. The natural harbour, too narrow and shallow for large vessels, was ideal for smuggling tobacco and rum into the British Isles and for many years, this picturesque Dorset seaside town was a bootlegger's haven. Luckily, Christchurch no longer has the notoriety that it once did. 1/3 of the population are retirees, who came to the town for the sunny weather, golden beaches, majestic views, stunning historic sites and abundance of wildlife. An ideal place for a family seaside holiday or a romantic weekend away. Our collection of the best places to stay in Christchurch range from charming inns to luxury seaside stays.

While standing atop Friar's Cliff, you can see the wide stretches of coastline sweep golden before your feet and, on a clear day, you can even see the Isle of Wight. Christchurch teems with these stunning views, whether you're strolling through the gorgeous green grounds of the Priory - the longest in the UK - or exploring the ruins of the 12th-century hilltop castle. The harbour itself is stunning; picturesque and quaint, the quay is full of swans, waders and colourful fishing dinghies, and is a protected wildlife refuge. It is also a great place to buy fish and chips, a speciality of Christchurch.

The town itself is ideal for shopping sprees. Take some time to gently stroll down Church Street, which brims with charming boutiques and cafes. For a more idiosyncratic experience, be sure to check out Ducking Stool Lane, where you can see the weird and cruel contraption - the "ducking stool" - used to punish anti-social women.

The area surrounding Christchurch is spectacular, boasting some of England's most beautiful scenery. The New Forest National Park lies to the east of town and is the ideal place to go cycling or walking. As for wildlife-spotting, you are spoilt for choice: St. Catherine's Hill, on the outskirts of town, crawls with sand lizards, nightjars and Dartford warblers, while the Stanpit Marsh is occupied by grazing horses, rare birds and rare species of plants.

What not to miss

  • Check out the ruins of the 12th-century castle sitting atop a hill.
  • Buy fish and chips at the harbour and sit and watch the sun go down.
  • Take a walk down Ducking Stool Lane and stand horrified at the contraption used to punish anti-social women.
  • Walk around the quay and watch the swans bob gently in the water.
  • Explore the Bronze Age settlement at Hengistbury Head, the southernmost tip of the harbour.
  • Sample local produce at the Christchurch Food Festival in May!
  • Walk up Friar's Cliff and enjoy the view of the coast sweep beneath your feet.

This is a popular spot on weekends so to ensure a room in one of the best places to stay in Christchurch we recommend you plan your trip well in advance.

The best places to stay in Christchurch

Local exploring

  • The Kings Arms: majestic Victorian townhouse offering traditionally-furnished rooms complete with antiques and luxurious bathrooms, and to top it all off, a fantastic gourmet restaurant. An ideal base for exploring the town and its surroundings.

Seaside luxury

  • The Captains Club Hotel & Spa: a modern seaside family-orientated hotel boasting superb seaside views, a spoiling spa and a sumptous restaurant. Modern and effortlessly cool.

For an apartment or villa

  • Our partner has a wide range of cottages and apartments in the nearby area.

Travel information

  • The best time to go is during the summer, when the temperature averages at around 19 degrees.
  • Fly to Bournemouth International Airport and get a train or bus to Christchurch.
  • If you want to rent a car, contact our partner Rentalcars.

Still not sure?

Best Hotels in Christchurch

  • The Lord Bute Christchurch 13 rooms from €135

    Local exploring  -  Boasting a fabulous location wedged between the two natural bounties of the New Forest and the spectacular Dorset coast.
    Sights nearby  -  Take the Ferry across to Hengistbury Head, famous as a site of archaeological and ecological importance.
    Great walks  -  Discover the pretty rugged landscapes of the New Forest on long walks.
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.

    A luxury boutique hotel set in the original grounds of the Highcliffe Castle. Elegant rooms are traditionally dressed with heavily draped sash windows, antique furniture and spacious bathrooms. An award winning restaurant serves up innovative fusion dishes to great success. See More

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  • The Kings Arms Christchurch (East Dorset) 20 rooms from €156

    Sights nearby  -  The historic Christchurch Priory Church, Christchurch Castle and Highcliffe Castle are within walking distance or very close.
    Great walks  -  The many pathways of the Jurassic Coast are on your doorstep.
    Sailing  -  Can be booked nearby.

    This grand Georgian property provides a stylish stay. Inside it is a sympathetic blend of traditional architecture with modern furnishings. Rooms are decorated with velvet headboards, sumptuous armchairs and luxurious bathrooms. The gourmet restaurant has a seasonal delicious locally sourced menu. See More

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  • Christchurch Harbour Hotel & Spa Christchurch 64 rooms from €184

    Kayaking  -  Complimentary single and double kayaks available for the guests to use.
    Great walks  -  Plenty of coastal walks for all abilities
    Views  -  Superb views over Christchurch harbour

    Style and exceptional service on the Dorset coast. The newly refurbished Christchurch Harbour Hotel offers smart bedrooms, excellent food, pampering spa and wonderful views. Perfect for an indulgent break by the sea. See More

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  • Captain's Club Hotel & Spa Christchurch (East Dorset) 17 rooms from €264

    Families  -  Family can accommodate between 3 and 6 guest (plus furry friends) and one even comes with a cinema room!
    Riverside  -  Perfectly set on the banks of the River Stour.
    Swimming Pool  -  The spa has an indoor hydrotherapy pool complete with resistance jets and poolside loungers
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, Sawdays

    A modern seaside hotel on the banks of the River Stour in Christchurch. Self-catering rooms and suites have fully equipped kitchens, modern furnishings, and balconies with views. Top of the range spa and therapies, terraces, good restaurant, and plenty of local activities. Very family oriented. See More

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