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SAM HOWLETT BA (Hons.) JOURNALISM

Specialist reporting feature May 2013


THE WEEKEND ESCAPE

BOURNEMOUTH It’s true that Bournemouth has one of the UK’s highest populations of elderly people and it does draw hundreds of families to its packed beaches every year, however it also has a culturally rich and exclusive side that’s yearning to be noticed. By Sam Howlett

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THERE’S A REASON that the town attracts almost 5 million visitors every year and sat gazing across the English Channel from the pleasant warm sands of Bournemouth beach it’s easy to understand why. The golden shores and seafront cafés make it one of the most popular seaside resorts in the United Kingdom and they draw many families to the Dorset coast. But there is a much more sophisticated, urbane side to Bournemouth to be discovered away from the busy beaches. Since being renovated in 1979 Bournemouth Pier has become a landmark of the Dorset coast. It is probably most famous for its arcade and theatre, but the pier is also home to one of Bournemouth’s most sophisticated bars. Aruba boasts a stunning view across the pier and out to sea. Manager Gordon Kimber says: “My perfect afternoon, if I’m not working? I would probably come for lunch and get here nice and early so I can sit on the balcony outside. I’d have a couple of cocktails, personally ‘Serendipity’ is my favourite because I made it.” A relaxing retreat from the busy beach by day, Aruba transforms into one of the town’s most popular nightclubs at night. Accross the plaza from Aruba is Hot Rocks, a beachfront restaurant that offers up a range of surf and Cuban inspired Cuisine. Stephen Sims, who heads up the team at Hot Rocks, recommends their popular Big Kahuna Burger: “It’s one of our signature dishes, a ten ounce handmade burger.”

WHERE TO STAY Whitehall Hotel This centrally located hotel offers an exclusive view over the town’s lower gardens. All rooms are en-suite. Exeter Park Road (01202 554682; www. thewhitehallhotel.co.uk) Doubles around £240 for two nights Norfolk Hotel Once the residence of the Duke of Norfolk, this hotel was conver ted

“I’d have a couple of cocktails, a bit of dinner then go on into town afterwards.” Those looking for something a little more elegant than a colossal burger may wish to venture to The Print Room. Situated in the former pressrooms of the Daily Echo building, the brasserie is a favourite spot for those looking to treat themselves. Bournemouth has a lot to offer, including its Oceanarium and a selection of boutique shops in the nearby Westbourne Arcade. But for a taste of culture there isn’t a better place than Bournemouth’s Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum. Its location within a five-minute walk from the pier makes it easy to get to and boasts a collection that represents a 19th century passion for world cultures. Bournemouth truly is a busy place, and with all it offers it’s almost easy to feel spoilt for choice. Perhaps one of the best ways to take it all in is to get a birds-eye view and just escape it all for just a few minutes, which is exactly what the Bournemouth Balloon allows people to do. Louis Hill, his head in the clouds operating the balloon, simply says: “It’s got a hell of a view”. He assures, at 500 feet in the air it offers something other attractions in Bournemouth can’t. This seaside town is right on Britain’s doorstep and offers a great weekend escape for those that need a spontaneous break. It’s no Hawaiian island, but just sipping a Serendipity cocktail as the amber sun sets over the Dorset coast and the last glimmer of warm sunlight recedes across the beach, it really doesn’t matter.

BOURNEMOUTH IN BRIEFbournemouth.co.uk) offerings. West Cliff

from two Victorian villas. It is conveniently located in the hear t of town. Richmond Hill (01202 551521; www. thenorfolkhotel.co.uk) Doubles from around £113 for two with Breakfast

Wessex Hotel Being just 5 minutes out of the centre, the hotel offers perhaps a little more peace and quiet. The rates are a little easier on the pocket than some of the other

Road (01202 208803; www.forestdalehotels. com) Doubles from around £70

WHERE TO EAT

The Print Room One of Bournemouth’s finest restaurants, located in a grade II listed building. A one course meal for two and a bottle of house wine will cost around £50. Richmond Hill (01202 789669; www.theprintroom-

Hot Rocks The surf inspired dishes make a great accompaniment to a day at the beach. Their signature Big Kahuna Burger is a favourite but a more intimate option is the sharing platter for £18. Pier Approach (01202 555 559; www.hotrocks.com) Roxy’s Bistro Bar This restaurant offers a range of European dishes. Roxy’s carries

an air of sophistication. Prices vary from around £10 to £20 for steaks. Charminster Road (01202 259505; www. roxysbistrobar.co.uk

GETTING THERE Train Regular trains to Bournemouth station from London Waterloo Road From the M27 join the A31 and head to Bournemouth via the A338.

Opposite, clockwise from top left: The Bournemouth Balloon dominates the skyline; the pier stretches out into the waves; the Oceanarium; Aruba’s exclusive ‘Serendipity’; the conical roof of the Russel-Cotes Ar t Gallery and Museum; a Big Kahuna Burger ; Westbourne Arcade


Š Sam Howlett 2013


Travel feature May 2013