by Wendy Turner Webster
At the end of the summer I wanted to grab a last chance to take the boys to the beach. Gary was busy working (well, he was actually busy having a heart attack too although we didn’t know it at the time!) so his mum (Nanny Kathleen) and I bungled Jack and Freddie in the car and headed down to Bournemouth...
...and hey presto, in less than two hours from Kingston we were there, plotted up by the hotel’s outdoor pool, soaking up the sun and sipping a cold and very welcome glass of wine.
I hadn’t been to Bournemouth for years and didn’t know what to expect... what I found was a seaside town and surrounding coastline that is seriously buzzing and that the boys and I instantly fell in love with. (I can’t speak for Nanny Kathleen at this point... she had a dodgy tummy and was confined to quarters). But what a discovery! So close to our home, so easy to get to and so much fun to be had....
The Bournemouth Balloon
On a pulley system (so you don’t float away!) this amazing feature of the town is a real ‘must do’. We went up in the daytime and also in the dark – both equally enjoyable experiences.
The Bournemouth Aquarium
So many of the aquatic life in here has come from rescue centres or from zoos that no longer want them. I’m not a fan of animals in captivity but it was good to see so many fish, terrapins, lizards etc get a second chance of having a happy home.
The pier entrance was home to trampolines, a fun house, a carousel ride, souvenir stalls, a climbing wall and a gruesome looking ‘sling shot’ that catapulted its occupants into the sky at heart stopping speed. The fun house was a firm favourite and swallowed an awful lot of our money to prove it. On the pier itself the helter skelter got a thumbs up from Freddie, although the other rides were deemed to be too young for him to grace with his presence! We didn’t venture in but the pier also has a games arcade and theatre. www.thebournemouthpier.com
Sorted Surf School
In a prime position at Boscombe beach the Sorted Surf School provides surf hire, sales, group lessons and private tuition. Boscombe – which is considered to be pretty cool – has its own artificial reef and is easily accessed by a small land train which runs back and forth from Bournemouth Pier to Boscombe Pier.
Little India Restaurant, Old Christchurch Road
Thoroughly recommend this Indian restaurant. Good food, good service and a lovely relaxed atmosphere. www.littleindiabournemouth.com
Pizza Express, Post Office Road
Always a firm favourite with the kids – right in the town centre and large enough to make sure you’re not waiting too long for a table. Book in advance however to make sure of your seat! http://www.pizzaexpress.com/our-restaurants/3330/bournemouth-post-office-road.aspx
Aruba Bar & Restaurant, Pier Approach
We sat eating dinner on Aruba’s balcony, overlooking the beach and watching the sun go down. I swear it reminded me of a similar ‘dinner on balcony’ experience in Malibu!!! Great food, brilliant cocktails and a prime location. www.aruba-bournemouth.co.uk
The Cumberland Hotel
This gem of a hotel is a piece of Art Deco magic – so much so that I fully expected to see Hercule Poirot strolling through the lobby. We stayed three nights and thoroughly enjoyed the friendliness, comfort and location of The Cumberland. And during our short time there we saw no less than three weddings taking place at the hotel – a true testament to its unique style and well deserved popularity.
The Lounge, Bar and Restaurant areas. Black, silver and shocking pink art deco styling – fabulously over the top and deserving of 5 stars, not 3!
Outdoor Pool. It’s always great to sit by a pool sipping a cocktail and we loved the large ‘chill beds’ here.
Family Rooms. The boys LOVED having their own room (which had a connecting door through to ours). They had bunk beds, their own TV/DVD and en suite bathroom.
Friendly Staff. Every member of staff we came into contact with was smiling, courteous, helpful and friendly.
Could have Been Better Bits
Outdoor Pool Temperature. It was bloomin’ cold – too cold to enjoy!
Pool Changing Room. Don’t even go there – literally. I sent the boys traipsing their wet bodies through the lounge to use the toilets in reception, but in fairness no one seemed to mind.
Room Decor. The decor of the fabulous lounge areas didn’t translate to our room – the Art Deco touches spoilt by Ikea type furniture. This is a shame as it’s not about budget but more about an eye for styling and co-ordination.
If you want a fun break with everything on your doorstep then Bournemouth ticks all the boxes. And for comfort and style the town surely can’t boast a better 3* hotel than The Cumberland. The Cumberland Hotel, East Overcliff Drive, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH1 3AF. Tel: +44 (0)1202 375643.