It’s hard to complain when you have a sea view room overlooking beach huts that sell for £320K a pop, but that’s the beauty of Dorset. This tranquil coastline is something that people will pay a packet to enjoy, but at Christchurch Harbour Hotel it doesn’t have to cost the earth.
This 64 bedroom hotel keeps things simple, but refined, with a modern feel that makes good use of light colours and whites that work so well in waterside properties. More than just looking great, it’s those extra special touches that you’ll notice when staying here like the comfy beds, silky pillows and walk in shower.
Its popularity is self-evident the minute you walk in. The bustling hotel is testament to the role that it plays in local and visiting trades. It was booked out for a wedding when we visited and apparently that’s a regular occurrence during the spring and summer months, but the atmosphere is something to savour, not shun.
Down in the basement of the hotel is the Harbour Spa. A tempting menu of treatments is available, whilst the plunge pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna are a lot better than what you get in most hotels of this ilk.
After a night’s sleep with the windows wide open and the sounds of the sea creeping in, the Upper Deck restaurant is where your English breakfast is brought to you. Sausages are always the most important part of every brekkie and I can safely say this locally sourced offering is in the top five I’ve ever had.
There are plenty of other options for getting your head down for a cheaper price at the Christchurch Harbour Hotel & Spa, with inland view rooms being the best on a budget, but that doesn’t mean you’re losing out. You’re still only a stone’s throw away from the waterfront where you can walk off your lunch and there’s even an option to hire one of the hotels canoes.
Nearby Christchurch is worth a visit if you want to sink a brew or two, have a gander at the tat on sale in the local shops or fancy a stroll down the picturesque canal.
The Upper Deck Bar & Restaurant
The slightly wacky nautical theme at the Upper Deck is as cavalier as the dining experience. The buzzing atmosphere of the restaurant and the casual, but attentive, nature of the staff is a welcoming change to many a hotel restaurant. You could say this is first and foremost a restaurant, with some rooms upstairs.
The cuisine here is all down to Michelin star winning Alex Aitken, a chef who turned his hand to seafood and discovering the culinary delicacies of the nearby New Forest during his stint at Le Poussin in Brockenhurst. Now, as well as being the resident chef at the Jetty, a restaurant 10 metres away from the hotel, he also devised the menu at the more casual Upper Deck
Choosing the ‘Bring us food and drink menu’ gave me and my fellow diner a chance to try a selection of dishes and wines. Understandably, locally sourced seafood features highly on the menu, including the delicate and delicious curry salt seasoned scallops and a lemon sole mousse.
There’s been a conscious effort at the Upper Deck to keep things simple and let the ingredients speak for themselves and this is particularly apparent when the Thai broth and Quail pie arrived. Both showed that the chef can handle eastern spice and English fare, without overdoing it, the same can be said about the portion size.
Standard offerings of crème brûlée and brownie and vanilla ice cream for dessert were treated with care and precision, while the espresso martinis to finish were divine.
The Upper Deck’s Rating
Cuisine type: British
Dinner for two: Tasting menu £45 per person, £75 with a selection of wines
Hotel rooms price: Starting from £100, including breakfast
Christchurch Harbour Hotel & Spa
Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 3NT
Tel: 01202 400954