24 hours in Bournemouth: Things to do and places to eat
PUBLISHED: 12:56 07 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:56 07 March 2017
As Andy Greeves reveals, you may need a lot more time in this award-winning coastal resort which has so much to offer from dawn until dusk and into the night
Breakfast or brunch?
As you would expect from one of the UK’s most popular seaside resorts, there are no shortage of fab breakfast venues across Bournemouth – whether you are seeking a dash and go breakfast, a mid morning caffeine hit or a leisurely brunch.
Recently featured in The Times ‘Top 25 Independent Cafes in the Country’, Café Boscanova at 650 Christchurch Road in Boscombe serves breakfast from 9am – 3pm. Signature dishes include American-style pancakes with maple syrup and streaky bacon and their ‘Eastend’ breakfasts – meaty, veggie and vegan varieties. Also check out their sister café South Coast Roast on Richmond Hill. More at thecaffeinehustler.com.
In August 1963 The Beatles had a six night residency at the Gaumont Cinema, Bournemouth. The décor of the Norwegian Wood Coffee Lounge and Café on Glen Fern Road, in the heart of town, pays homage to the Fab Four and offers great value all-day breakfasts. Just five minutes walk from the town centre an area called The Triangle (thetriangle-bournemouth.co.uk) has a selection of interesting cafes for breakfast including Omelettos which has offers over 20 different omelettes (omelettos.com), while Flirt Café Bar’s morning menu include ‘Posh Porridge’ with maple syrup and fruit coulis (flirtcafebar.com).
Slightly further afield, The Living Room on Drury Road – a short walk from the centre of Westbourne – is most definitely one of Bournemouth’s best kept secrets. Open Wednesday to Sunday, this coffee lounge serves brunch from 9am – 2pm including Egyptian Eggs – sour dough toast, avocado chilli mousse, poached eggs, candied bacon and dukkah and Brunch Tapas of sausages, scrambled egg tart, chorizo, candied halloumi, fritter stack, patatas bravas and truffle-infused mushrooms, more at visitthelivingroom.co.uk.
Bournemouth has a fantastic café scene, with independent gems scattered around the town centre including Mad Cucumber in The Triangle which uses seasonal, local organic ingredients and cooks vegan dishes from scratch including hearty black bean chilli soup with pumpkin seed bread and peanut and aubergine curry. Another vegan venue is The Sukha Lounge (www.sukhaessentials.co.uk). Located inside The Yoga Lounge at 706 Christchurch Road, Boscombe, you can tuck into vegan cheesecakes, superfood coffees, nutrition packed raw salads and the house espresso brownie.
The town’s suburbs are home to three fabulous ‘Loungers’: Circo Lounge in Westbourne, Conto Lounge in Winton and Ludo Lounge in Southbourne. All are informal food-led café/bars offering a range of options (including a gluten free and vegan) from paninis, salads, tapas and burgers or plump for a main such as Tin Pan Louie’s Beef Chilli or Mac and Cheese… a perfect location to chill out with family and friends (thelounges.co.uk).
Little Pickle Deli Café, situated between bustling Boscombe and the antique shops of Pokesdown, is full of upcycled furnishings with comfy bench seating and local art work on display. Their filling lunches use produce from local suppliers, try their Dorset Deli Board to share, homemade pies or local Mudeford crab (available on Fridays) More at littlepickledelicafe.co.uk.
The Pause Cat Café on Old Christchurch Road opened in January and is the South’s first cat café, a concept which originated in Japan in 2004. Food on the menu is vegetarian or vegan and locally sourced and includes a range of sandwiches, bagels, burgers and salads. The cafe operates by booking only, so if you want some inter-species time with the resident felines Bear, Clifford, Liquorice, Pumpkin, Max or Petrus visit pausecatcafe.com or call 01202 240194.
Let’s Do Lunch
Situated at Pier Approach, just to the right of Bournemouth Pier, WestBeach offers stunning beachside dining and an impressive locally inspired menu. Now in its 18th year this seafood restaurant on the beach has twice been voted Best Seafood Restaurant in the UK, and no wonder – it serves fish delivered daily from its own fishing boat. The décor is shabby-chic, New England, and folding floor-to-ceiling glass doors open onto a decked terrace by the beach. In the large open-plan kitchen chefs prepare a range of mouth-watering specials including Poole Bay lobster with garlic and herb butter or béarnaise sauce. Save room for their Dorset Apple Tarte Tatin with brandy cream – it is the stuff of legends (west-beach.co.uk).
Chef and broadcaster (BBC Saturday Kitchen) Matt Tebbutt is the culinary genius behind the modern British restaurant Schpoons and Forx, located at the Hilton Bournemouth on Terrace Road. A tandoor oven is at the heart of Matt’s kitchen which produces dishes which are seasonally driven and locally sourced. Bold flavours and spices run through the menu including their popular signature dish tandoor roasted marinated rump of salt marsh lamb with char-grilled flat bread, couscous, pomegranate and mint, garlic yoghurt and cucumber. Divine! (schpoonsandforx.com).
Out & About
Hattie Miles offers a series of guided history Walking Talks that provide a fascinating insight into the town. Themes include the Hidden Secrets of Bournemouth; Romance and Scandal in Bournemouth and Wonderful Westbourne, full details at walkingtalks.wordpress.com.
If you are looking for a more vertical challenge, RockReef on Bournemouth Pier is an all-weather indoor adventure activity attraction which features 25 Clip ‘n’ Climb walls. They include a vertical drop slide, the Leap of Faith challenge and the HighLine high ropes obstacle course. Also on site is the PierCave – a 65m indoor fun cave experience.
RockReef’s star attraction is the PierZip; launching from the Zip Tower you ‘zip surf’ via a 250m dual zip wire over the top of the waves to land on the beach. Go to rockreef.co.uk for session opening times.
Fancy a tour of Bournemouth with a slap up afternoon tear? Then step aboard Frieda’s TeaBus. Departing from the pier at 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays, the 90-minute bus journey combines a tour of the town with afternoon tea. Tuck into an array sandwiches, homemade cakes, scones and pastries accompanied by a pot of tea (£30 for adults/ £20 for children under 12). More at friedastearoom.co.uk.
Life’s a Beach
What better way to enjoy Bournemouth’s famous golden beaches than to hire one of its 250+ beach huts for the day. Pricing and booking at bournemouthbeachhuts.co.uk. Speaking of the beach, a 1km area of sand either side of Boscombe Pier is designated as a Coastal Activity Park. There are over 30 different activities you can take part in there including bouldering, body boarding, beach football, touch rugby, sea kayaking and slacklining as well as running and walking trails, fitness sessions and sea angling. More at coastalactivitypark.co.uk.
For fabulous cocktails with dramatic vista of the coastline the Level8ight Sky Bar & Terrace at the Hilton Bournemouth offers both, and is the highest bar in the South West. Choose from an array of champagnes and signature cocktails such as the Bournemouth Pier Martini, featuring Belvedere Vodka, aperol and rhubarb syrup. More at level8skybar.com.
Situated at The Cumberland – a glorious art deco boutique hotel with a glamorous Miami vibe on East Overcliff Drive- the Ventana Bar has its own Gin Menu featuring gins selected for their specific botanical notes including Tanqueray Ten (citrusy and full bodied), Hendricks (cucumber), The Botanist (citrus, delicate menthols and flowers) and Bathtub (juniper, orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom). They created the Dorset Martini: double shot of Dorset Dry Gin by Conker Spirit served in a Bols Dry Orange and Extra Dry Martini washed glass, with twisted fresh lemon peel. They also offer a Hendrick’s Afternoon Tea which comes with a tea-inspired gin cocktail. More at cumberlandbournemouth.co.uk.
Want to learn how to make the perfect Martini, Singapore Sling or Mojito? Then Bar 13 at Cliff House Hotel on Belle Vue Road, offers a two hour masterclass with their resident mixologist. Cost is £20 per person (minimum of six people per class) – pre-booking required. Or, if you prefer, just sit back and leaf through their comprehensive cocktail menu and let them do the shaking and stirring. More at cliffhouse-hotel.com.
The new BH2 leisure complex in Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens only opened in February. It features a state-of-the-art Odeon cinema with 10 screens (eight have reclining seats). There is also a Kids Screen (tickets £2.50) with fun, comfortable seating area as well as a hot food range of pizzas and planks. Older film goers aren’t forgotten as there are special Silver Cinema screenings from £3 for the over-55s which includes tea, coffee and biscuits. odeon.co.uk/cinema/bournemouth.
Nearby the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) and Pavilion Theatre offer world class music and entertainment with many big names from the music scene stopping on tour here. More at bic.co.uk.
The Shelley Theatre on Beechwood Avenue, (once the home and theatre of Sir Percy Florence Shelley, son of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and Frankenstein author Mary Shelley) always has a fascinating programme of events including some great drama and music. More at shelleytheatre.co.uk.
For gigs featuring rising stars and music legends the O2 Academy in Boscombe, never fails to please. More at academymusicgroup.com/o2academybournemouth.
Situated in the former Tourist Information Centre building on Westover Road, The Stable specialises in locally inspired pizza, pies and ciders. The pizza chain was started back in 2009 by Richard and Nikki Cooper in the former stable of The Bull Hotel in Bridport. They now have 17 ‘Stable’ venues across the south west and London.
Each restaurant has its own locally inspired pizzas, in this case The Bournemouth Blaster – topped with spicy chopped pork and naga chillies, while The Branksome Bantam features free-range chicken. More at stablepizza.com.
The seaside ‘urban village’ of Westbourne – a mile from Bournemouth town centre – has a wide array of restaurants. Renoufs is a charming cheese and wine establishment renowned for is ‘ultimate platter’ of charcuterie, cheeses and pickles, along with a specially chosen ‘flight’ of wines (renoufs.co.uk). There is also a new Turkish restaurant – Le Beyti on Poole Road, serving excellent, authentic Mediterranean cuisine. Also on Poole Road, but moving your taste buds further eastwards, Mi Ya is where Chef Ronnie offers a modern approach to the rich traditions of Japanese cooking. More at miyajapaneserestaurant.co.uk.
For authentic Thai food it’s hard to beat the menu at Tiien Westbourne. This restaurant on West Cliff Road is the newest venue for the highly regarded Tiien Thai Cuisine which has restaurants in Bournemouth and Broadstone. Alongside their wide-ranging Thai menu, is a steak menu featuring rump, fillet and rib-eye accompanied by a choice of six different sauces. More at tiienthairestaurant.co.uk.