Christchurch Harbour Hotel in tranquil Dorset is the perfect retreat for some summer sun and relaxation. The hotel overlooks a picturesque harbour and is just a short walk away from the Mudeford Quay Ferry Landing. From there, you can easily access the stunning sandy beach at Hengistbury Head, lined by colourful beach huts.
Christchurch Harbour Hotel is conveniently just over two hours away from London by train and a short 5-10 minute taxi ride from Christchurch railway station.
We arrived just before lunchtime and after an hour’s walk around Mudeford, our room was ready and waiting. Our Deluxe Four Poster Bed Room is one of the hotel’s newest rooms and boasts a postcard view of the harbour. The expansive, beach-chic room is bright and beautifully designed in a soft colour palette of white, oatmeal and nautical blues.
Room features include a 26-inch flatscreen TV with DVD player, Nespresso machine, kettle with a selection of teas and biscuits, fresh fruits, complimentary bottled water, minibar, ironing board and free wifi.
The king-size bed was very comfortable and covered in high quality, crisp linen. With only the gentle sound of the waters, the fresh sea air and luxurious bed, we had the best possible sleep that evening.
The highlight of the room is the fabulous roll top bath. The bath is well positioned for enjoying the view from the window or watching TV – I couldn’t resist watching Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love from the comfort of the tub.
The petite, pristine white bathroom features an over-sized sink, a powerful rainfall shower, luxurious towels and face clothes and bathroom amenities by Gilchrist & Soames. There are also fluffy white bathrobes and slippers for use in the room and the spa.
The room doesn’t have air-conditioning, but a desk fan is provided and the two window open to let in the sea breeze. The room temperature was fine during our visit on a warmish day, but I’m not sure it will be comfortable in high summer.
For dinner we went downstairs to the Upper Deck Bar & Restaurant (the hotel’s other restaurant is The Jetty). The restaurant was already busy with hotel guests and locals and we were shown to one of the best tables in front of the window, overlooking the harbour.
After ordering, our waiter brought a bread basket to the table and served us a few slices of delicious freshly-baked white or brown bread, topped with sea salt. For drinks, I highly recommend a refreshing Virgin Elderflower Mojito, which was served strong and sweet, so that it didn’t become too diluted in the crushed ice.
Being so close to the sea, I had to start with Seared Scallops, Sticky Pork Belly and Cauliflower Mash (£11.50). The scallops were soft, plump and had a fresh sea taste while the pork belly was slow-cooked and tender. The smooth cauliflower mash had a strong, creamy taste and added flavour to the scallops.
Steven went for the Chicken, Crab, Sweetcorn and Ginger Broth with Prawn Toast (£5.95). The broth was thick, fragrant and full of meat, with prominent flavours of lemongrass and ginger. The crunchy, oily prawn toast was a perfect accompaniment.
My 8oz Ribeye Steak From the Plancha (£21.50) was succulent, nicely charred on the outside and cooked medium as requested. The chunky, home-made chips were flavoursome and crispy – I only wish there were more than three of them! The béarnaise sauce was light and filled with torn fresh tarragon and there was an abundance of juicy cherry tomatoes and salad garnish.
Steven ordered the Fillet of Cod with a Crab and Herb Crust, Mashed Potato and Crushed Peas (£21.50). The plump fillet of cod had a clean, fresh taste and the crunchy crust of flaky crab and fresh herbs added extra flavour. The mashed potato was smooth and buttery while the the crushed peas and creamy sauce made the dish more indulgent.
For dessert, it had to be my usual favourite – Dark Chocolate Fondant with Pistachio Ice Cream (£7.95). The dark chocolate fondant had a soft cake texture on the outside and was perfectly goey and molten under the surface. I loved the pistachio ice cream and even the swirl of cream was infused with fresh vanilla. I accompanied the fondant with a glass of Sauternes Garonelles 2008/9 (£7.95), which was sweet yet drier and less sticky than other dessert wines.
Steven’s Sticky Toffee Pudding (£6.50) was a comforting classic – dense, rich, spongy and smothered in a buttery toffee sauce. He paired it with the suggested cocktail, a short and strong Old Fashioned (£8.50).
We finished our meal with a pot of fresh mint tea and brownie petits fours on the terrace, enjoying the stunning views. The terrace of the Upper Deck is rather romantic at night, with soft lighting and lounge music in the background.
In the morning, breakfast is served in the Upper Deck, with a simple continental buffet and a selection of hot dishes to order. We both started the day with the Full English breakfast, served with a pot of strong English Breakfast tea and toast. The cooked breakfast was excellent, with high quality meat and a perfectly-cooked poached egg.
After breakfast, we spent a long morning in the hotel’s excellent spa. The Harbour Spa is beautifully-designed with a cool, urban feel and it was very well maintained. The sauna, salt room and steam room are all powerful and effective while the stylish swimming pool is at just the right temperature for an enjoyable few laps.
The well-equipped gym is also within the spa area and the jacuzzi is super hot, with leg and neck water jets to massage the body. The spa also offers treatments using ESPA and Thalgo products and the prices are very reasonable.
After checking out, we soaked up the rest of the sun with a pot of fresh mint tea on the comfortable loungers on the terrace, before heading back to London.
Christchurch Harbour Hotel is a fabulous haven close to the beach yet with enough facilities at the hotel to keep you entertained. The staff are friendly and accommodating and the Harbour Spa and dinner at the Upper Deck were the highlights of our stay. It’s definitely the place to leave your stresses behind and emerge feeling refreshed and well-rested.
Rooms at Christchurch Harbour Hotel start from £235 for dinner, bed and breakfast per night on weekends, based on two people sharing a double room. For more information and booking, visit: www.christchurch-harbour-hotel.co.uk
Chérie City was a guest of Christchurch Harbour Hotel
Photos by Chérie City (Upper Deck and Harbour Spa by Christchurch Harbour Hotel)