“Striking architecture and a holiday atmosphere on the banks of the River Stour in pretty Christchurch”
This modern, nautical building of wood panelling, aquamarine port holes and swathes of glass is a destination in its own right. Housing a luxurious spa, a lively bar popular with locals, and an atmospheric restaurant serving great seafood, we soon fell into holiday mode. Sipping champagne on the terrace, overlooking a river dotted with sailing boats and swans, it felt like the perfect spot for a short break. And thankfully, there was not a Pontin's blue coat in sight.
- Fantastic location: picturesque, popular, and perfect for pottering about the park and taking the ferry to nearby beaches
- A luxurious spa with a hydrotherapy pool; we booked in for a massage during out 2015 revisit and couldn’t recommend it highly enough
- All rooms have river views and a sunny evening on the riverfront terrace calls for cocktails
- A creative dinner menu and wine list; afternoon teas are also a highlight
- Families will feel right at home in the 2- and 3-bedroom suites
- In summer, noise carries from the terrace to the rooms above. However, diners must move indoors at 11pm, and, let's face it, you'll probably be down there with them
- The function spaces regularly host events, making it a touch more corporate than most i-escape offerings
- The interior design is cool and calming, but not cutting-edge
- The air con unit can be heard from certain rooms
- Book ahead for the popular spa and restaurant
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Plunge Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
One of the best things about this hotel is that all the rooms (with the exception of some of the suites' second bedrooms) overlook the river: with a flurry of little boats sailing up and down, swans and a small nature reserve on the other side, it's a very pretty view. There's little artistic flair to the décor, but you do get a pleasing contemporary simplicity that doesn't distract from the floor-to-ceiling outlook.
The State Room and Large State Rooms are comfortable, light and airy, and full of mod cons. The 2- and 3-bedroom Suites are perfect for a family or group of friends. We stayed in a 1 double, 1 single configuration: with its large open-plan lounge, comprehensive kitchen and 2 bathrooms, it was felt like a true home from home.
Beds are extremely comfortable and bathrooms have fluffy bathrobes and luxurious Aromatherapy Associates products. With WiFi, flat-screen TVs and free tea, coffee and Hildon water in the rooms you may choose not to leave the hotel: a plus point given the unpredictable British weather!
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Coffee / tea making
- Cots Available
- DVD player (on request)
- Plunge pool
- Safe box
- Satellite TV
The buzzing restaurant has floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto the riverside terrace. With music spilling over from the adjoining bar, and a mix of locals of all ages, it has a fun, holiday vibe. The service is warm and efficient, the presentation has flair, and the seafood is excellent - our salmon Scotch egg starter was cooked to runny perfect, while the sea bass fillet with crab gnocchi was delicious.
Come morning, the breakfast buffet included fresh fruit platters, mini pastries, yoghurts, but there was clearly a different chef cooking my eggs Benedict, which came out hard and layered with an almost floury hollandaise. That said, there’s an impressive selection of nutritious smoothies, as well as Bloody Marys and champagne if you want to extend last night's festivities.
If you're staying a few days, go for lunch at Hengistbury sandbank, where the laid-back Beach House Café has fantastic views across Christchurch Harbour. There are also numerous good restaurants within driving distance - ask the team for recommendations.
The suites also have fully-equipped, top-of-the-range kitchens - particularly useful if you have little ones. You can stock up at the Waitrose just down the road.
- Children's meals
- Coffee / tea making
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Take the Wick Ferry from the jetty outside the hotel round to Hengistbury Head: you'll see yachts bobbing on the water, and kids crabbing on Mudeford Quay. On the Solent side, you can sometimes spot dolphins and, of course, the Needles on the Isle of Wight
- Relax in the hotel’s small but excellent spa, paddle in the hydrotherapy pool (with a counter-current for exercising) and warm up in the sauna. Our back, neck and shoulder massage was wonderfully restorative
- Putting the "church" in Christchurch, the Priory is a short walk away. It's reputed to be the longest-running parish church in the country, and displays architectural styles including Norman, the 3 types of Gothic (Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular) and Tudor Renaissance
- Drive 10 minutes west to the beaches of Bournemouth, and many more!
- Staff can also arrange bike hire, canoeing and kayaking trips
- Drive to the gorgeously tranquil New Forest (25 minutes away) - the hotel can arrange horse riding, there are excellent walking and cycling trails, and you'll find plenty of good pubs en route
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Shopping / markets
- Well being
The staff are very friendly and helpful regarding children and there's lots to do round here for families, including some options for rainy days.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
The 2- and 3-bedroom suites are ideal, with their own kitchens, lounges and 2 bathrooms each (one with a shower and one with a tub); the Hulsta Suite even has a cinema room. State Rooms have space for a baby cot.
Babysitting is available by arrangement via a local agency (contact the hotel in advance).
- 3 travel baby cots
- High chair
- Bottle-warming facilities
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The restaurant has a children's menu with tasty options such as homemade fish fingers and chicken goujons. If you're staying in a suite you can self-cater in the kitchen. Baby food can be warmed on request.
Kids Activities on site:
- In-room DVD player on request
- A collection of kids' DVDs, on request
- Basket of toys and books in the bar
Kids Activities nearby:
- Playground 2 minutes away
- Local ferry to nearby beaches
- Park and splash pool a few minutes' walk away (open May-October)
- New Forest ponies
- Adventure Wonderland theme park (10 minutes' drive)
- Beaulieu Motor Museum (20 minutes' drive)
Families Should Know:
The hotel's spa pool is adults-only. The terrace can be noisy at weekends, if you have little light sleepers you may prefer to visit during the week instead.
- Airport: 10 minutes
- Hospital / pharmacy: 15 minutes / 10 minutes
- Supermarket: 10 minutes