“Striking architecture and a holiday atmosphere on the banks of the River Stour in pretty Christchurch”
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!
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.
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)
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).
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.
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.