You don’t need to leave the UK for a relaxing and sophisticated beach getaway. We recently had the pleasure of staying at the Christchurch Harbour Hotel in Dorset, a luxurious yet comfortable hotel, restaurant and spa which is right on the water. The hotel is a sophisticated take on the classic seaside hotel, and it’s perfect for a romantic weekend away. Just a five minute taxi ride from Christchurch station, this chic coastal property boasts enormous bedrooms (with rolled top baths!), fine dining (at amazing value for money), an elegant atmosphere and best of all – a wonderful outdoor terrace and beautiful views stretching out over the water.
From the front it might not look like much – but don’t judge a book by its cover! The interiors are tastefully decorated, and if you go through their main restaurant, The Upper Deck, and walk through to the back of the property you’ll find a lovely outdoor terrace with steps down to the garden and hotels second restaurant, The Jetty, and the most wonderful views out to sea.
We checked in and took the lift up to our room, a spacious airy room decorated in creamy, sophisticated hues and coastal touches, with harbour views and a four-poster bed and a rolled top bath taking center stage.
The room had sliding doors into the compact bathroom which had a large walk-in two-person rainshower.
After flopping onto the bed, we made our way down to the spa – which was a lot busier than we expected! The downstairs spa consists of a swimming pool, hot jacuzzi, gym, sauna and steam room. I couldn’t quite face face going to the gym (it’s a holiday, after all) even though it was airconditioned and well-equipped, and instead we worked up a sweat by relaxing in the sauna and steam room, before a nice refreshing swim and then a long soak in the hot jacuzzi, hogging the jets and the waterfall feature which blasts a strong jet of hot water onto your shoulders.
Feeling utterly relaxed, we took the lift back up to our room in our bathrobes and slippers to freshen up (and wake up with the help of the Nespresso machine in the room), then made our way downstairs to the Upper Deck restaurant.
We started the evening with a little pre-dinner drink at the glamorous bar, then took our drinks over to our corner table with comfortable booth seating.
The Upper Deck Bar & Restaurant has an air of understated elegance with giant, retro-style chandeliers and arched French doors that lead onto the terrace.
Our charming waiter Leszek topped up our glasses and talked us through the menu. The menu is designed by award-winning and Michelin-starred chef chef-patron Alex Aitken, and boasts an impressive selection of seafood as well as other dishes. Expect plenty of tempura vegetable and prawns, oysters, seafood including fresh mackerel, crab, salmon, haddock, scallops and squid as well as a daily changing main, and of course steaks, pie, and fish and chips.
In the end, we couldn’t say no to the 5 course tasting menu for £29.50 – we were amazed at the value! It had everything we could have wanted, from crispy whitebait and a creamy crab soup to pork belly, prawn fritters, and a mixed fish and meat grill (with an incredible steak).
The mixed grill was brilliant with juicy meat and meaty oysters.
We washed it all down with a deliciously crisp 2014 Le Poussin Rose – highly recommended!
And then of course the white chocolate terrine with strawberries – heaven!
Although to mix it up a bit, Jonathan swapped his for a toffee apple crumble dessert, so we could go halves on both.
We could barely move after that! We lingered a little longer, cradling our bottle of wine, enjoying the lively atmosphere, before finally making our way up to our four poster bed.
The next morning, we woke up to the sound of the soothing slosh of waves (interrupted only by the occasional seagull) and the morning sunlight playing on the water, the light bouncing into our room.
Breakfast was in The Upper Deck restaurant and there was an impressive buffet laid out, with mini bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, and mini croissants and pain au chocolats, as well as a selection of fruits, a delicious berry compote and yoghurt. There was also an a-la-carte menu with everything from pancakes to poached eggs – although I was still pretty full form the night before!
We sat by the window admiring the view of the terrace, jetty, harbour and sea, and we loved all the little seaside touches – comfortable rattan armchairs to sit on, cornishware to eat from, and even the butter came in a seashell!
The packed dining room was again full of laughter and chatting, with the friendly superstar Leszek taking orders swiftly and food arriving promptly.
Overall, the hotel is amazing value with great atmosphere, beautiful views, excellent food and exceptional service. The perfect spot for an indulgent break by the sea.