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Review: The Urban Beach Hotel

This article originally appeared in Red Magazine

Bournemouth isn’t all blue rinses and deck chairs on the Pier. It is enjoying a renaissance in the leisure industry, as the nightclubs are attracting the likes of Chase and Status, Tinie Tempah and DJ Fresh, while hotels such as Urban Beach are welcoming a steady stream of stressed out city folk for weekend breaks.

The boutique B&B is walking distance from Boscombe pier and town centre, and a taxi ride from the main Bournemouth centre.

Urban Beach treads that tightrope between laid back and luxe. The staff are in casualwear but you won’t find a main on the menu for less than £11. The wine list is huge but the bar is more famed for its cocktails, which change daily to incorporate fresh ingredients.

Room prices, inclusive of breakfast and VAT, range from £60 to £180 depending on room size and time of year. If you can secure a sub-£100 rate, you are in for a real treat, as every room is luxurious and comfy. Crisp white Egyptian cotton linen, fogarty down bedding, fluffy white towels, arran aromatic toiletries, fair trade tea and coffee… it’s every Sunday supplement reader’s fantasy.

The restaurant is popular with locals and visitors alike for its fresh produce and inventive ideas. They even have an in-house baker bringing treats fresh from the oven every day. Award-wise, its won Best Small Hotel and Bournemouth’s Best Bar in the Bournemouth Tourism Awards, showing how it appeals to diners and drinkers alike.

Urban Beach is owned by local entrepreneur Mark Cribb, who is an active member of the community. As well as coming up with ideas to grow his own businesses, he is also chair of the Boscombe Community Interest Company. The area has suffered from bad press and poor facilities in the past – there are numerous drug rehabilitation units in Boscombe – but with its enviable location by the sea, and passionate business owners such as Mr Cribb, there is certainly scope to change that misconception.

Urban Beach was his first project, launched in 2007. Since then, he has also launched a restaurant on the beach, Urban Reef. Yes, some people do get confused.

Highs:

- Rooms have been fitted out to the highest eco-standard, with no expense spared.

- The customer service is fantastic. Manager Helen is friendly and professional and even adjusted the radiators for me.

- Local produce abounds from the bar to the breakfast. Don’t miss the Dorset Blueberry juice and the homemade cola.

- There is a huge range of unusal and aged whiskeys

- Added touches such as a free DVD library, wellies and umbrellas to borrow, free Wifi.

 

Lows:

- The taps in the bathroom ran really slow – perhaps due to some eco-addition or another?

- You need a taxi to get to Bournemouth town centre – it is too far to walk and buses are sporadic

- On summer Saturdays, it can be hard to grab a table in the bar, due to over-enthusiastic locals

- The bar doesn’t open late

 

Fact file

Number of rooms: 12

Check-in/check-out times: 3pm and 12noon

Room service: No

Swimming pool: No

Spa: No

Child-friendly: Very much so

Dogs welcome: Guide dogs only

Restaurant & bar: The outdoor terrace leads into the snug bar & restaurant. It is decked out with surfboards, local artwork and is just laid back enough to be cool without being intimidating.

Location: The hotel is three minutes walk from Boscombe pier and the now defunct surf reef. It’s tucked away in a residential area but it is one of the quieter parts of Boscombe, thankfully.

Getting there: Bournemouth station is a 10 minute taxi ride away, or drive down on the A338 and follow the signs to Boscombe.

 

Best room:  Room 2 (http://www.urbanbeach.co.uk/rooms/rm2.html) is gorgeous, spacious and filled with light, thanks to a vast triple aspect window. It features a king sized bed and ultra-modern bathroom.

 

Best dish: It is worth travelling to Bournemouth for the breakfast alone. You may have seen Urban Beach on Channel 4’s Four In The Bed, where the morning selection satisfied even the fussiest of critics. The full English features Dorset pork & leek sausage and smoked rindless bacon from the New Forest.

 

Insider fact: The team have taken their obsession with all things local and ethical to launch an ‘Urban Farm’. Seasonal veg can come from field to chef in 20 minutes – it doesn’t get fresher than that.

 

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Editor in chief Suzi Dixon studied at Bournemouth university, went away for a while to work at The Daily Telegraph, then moved back to the sunny South coast for a quiet (er) life. Bournemouth News & Info is her website and she is assisted by the fabulous Fred From France in all things geeky and technical. Hire us to make your website, too, if you like.

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