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Winterbourne Hotel (Bournemouth)

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The Winterbourne is a three star hotel, situated in the centre of Bournemouth, overlooking the sea. Priory Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH2 5DJ

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      15.03.2003 00:21
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      The Jammaker family has recently returned from yet another short break in Bournemouth, so naturally I had to write an op on the hotel we stayed in! We had fully intended to return to the Ullswater Hotel (see op on same), but when I tried to book last November, it was already fully booked for the week we required in February, so it was back to jolly old Smoothhound to come up with another suitable place! This time, we were taking my parents with us. As they are 76 and 78, we wanted somewhere fairly central to Bournemouth town and all the facilities it has to offer. We weren’t looking for cheap and cheerful, although we obviously didn’t want to pay through the nose for our accommodation either. I narrowed the choice down to five or six, and then let my dad make the final choice. I’m pleased to say that he decided on the one I hoped he would, so the Winterbourne it was! WHY DID WE CHOOSE THE WINTERBOURNE? Apart from its locality, adjacent to the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC), there were a number of things that seemed to make this one stand out from the crowd. Firstly, it had its own website, so we had a fair amount of information on which to base our choice. Secondly, my emails requesting availability and dates were answered promptly, and in a friendly, polite manner, with little bits of additional information to help us make our choice. Another reason was because friends of my parents had been there, and said that they had been very comfortable, and the food was good. That was good enough recommendation for me! Give me a comfy bed and good food and I’m happy! THE WINTERBOURNE WEBSITE The site is clear, uncluttered and easy to negotiate. It gives plenty of clear pictures, and the information is presented in an easy to read way. There are several different sections, dealing with the accommodation, restaurant, facilities, tariffs and special offers There are also s ections on conference facilities (which I wasn’t really interested in) and special golfing breaks (which I was even more disinterested in!) Below, I will outline how the Hotel sells itself on its own website, and have taken the information from that site. THE HOTEL The Winterbourne is superbly situated on the West Cliff, overlooking the sea yet right in the heart of Bournemouth. From the garden, lounge and restaurant there are spectacular views of the Bay from the Isle of Wight to the Purbeck Hills The Winterbourne is adjacent to the Bournemouth International Centre and 400 metres from the pier, beaches and the town centre with its extensive shops, theatres and the award winning gardens. The Winterbourne's conference facilities include a fully equipped computer suite with 10 ISDN access computers and video conferencing facilities (This bit appealed to me!! The computer bit anyway! Can’t think why!) The hotel dates from 1860 and retains much of the character and warmth of the original building whilst offering the standards and comfort that today's visitor requires. The Winterbourne has been owned and managed by the same family for over 40 years. The resident directors, Michael and Pamela Stebbings work hard to ensure the hotel retains the welcome and standards that guests have come to expect. ACCOMMODATION All the bedrooms are comfortably furnished and have private en-suite facilities. Many of the bedrooms offer wonderful sea views and there are family rooms for 2 adults and up to 4 children. They are fully equipped with colour television, radio, tea and coffee tray, hairdryer and direct dial telephones. RESTAURANT The Restaurant has a long established reputation for its Table d'hote menu, which changes daily, offering a wide choice of dishes including a vegetarian choice. We also have an A La Carte selection and extensive wine list to complement your m eal. sample menu Table D'Hoté Menu Starters Chefs Cream of Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup Consommé Italienne Cauliflower Cheese Chilled Melon & Prawn Platter Fruit or Tomato Juice ************************** Main Course Roast Loin of Dorset Lamb with Redcurrant Jelly & Peaches Beef Bourguignon on a bed of Long Grain Rice Whole Grilled Lemon Sole with Lemon Garnish Vegetarian Dish Courgette Provencal with a Spicy Nut Topping ****************************** Cold Buffet York Ham Salad Dressed Poole Bay Crab Salad Brussels Sprouts and Garden Peas Roast and New Potatoes ************************** Desserts Hot Black Cherries in a Brandy Sauce A selection of Deserts from the Buffet Table Assorted Ice Creams and Sorbets English and Continental Cheeseboard ************************************* Fresh Filter Coffee Tea FACILITIES AT THE HOTEL · Free Car Park · Central Heating Throughout · Lift To All Floors · Cocktail Bar · Heated Outdoor 30' Swimming Pool · Free Winter Swimming At BIC Pool · Free Golf At Queens Park · Pool Room And Table Tennis · Dancing And Entertainment In Season During the winter months when the pool is closed the hotel offers free swimming at the leisure pool with its wave machine in the Bournemouth International Centre adjacent to the hotel. During the summer months there is live music and dancing after dinner and there is a pool room and table tennis. There is also a large screen TV in the conference room for sporting events etc. Children are welcome and the hotel provides highchairs, cots, and high teas to make family holidays enjoyable. A baby listening service is also available. There also other links, gi ving tarif fs, conference facilities, golfing weeks and weekends and places to visit around the area. EASE OF BOOKING As stated previously, I initially found the Hotel listed on the Smoothhound site (www.smoothhound.co.uk) which is the site I always use when searching for holiday accommodation in this country. I emailed several hotels, and The Winterbourne was one of the first to reply, giving me details of availability and tariff. They also assured me that the hotel was perfectly accessible for my parents. Once we decided on our venue, one simple phone call provisionally booked our 2 rooms, and I received a very charming, personal letter within a week, confirming the booking, and enclosing a brochure all about the hotel. Once that was done, it was simply a matter of waiting with impatience for February to arrive! SO WHAT WAS IT REALLY LIKE? Finding the hotel was no problem as we simply followed the signs for the BIC, and there it was before us! I was a little dismayed to see the steepness of the approach road to the car park, but then figured that in February we would be driving up it more often than walking up it! However, I can see problems for less mobile people, in the height of summer, negotiating what would be a daunting slope. My mother told me that because of the steepness of the frontage, she actually found it difficult to open their car door in order to get out, as gravity was immediately closing it again. That blip aside, there was ample parking space in the hotel grounds in an area where parking is at a premium. In February, there would have been no parking problems anyway, but in summer, this part of the coast is notoriously short on parking space, so to have plenty in the hotel grounds is most certainly a plus! Registering into the hotel was efficiently carried out, and we were very soon going up to the second floor to find our room. Mum and Dad had arrived before us, and had seen us arr ive, so Dad had come downstairs to meet us. Our rooms were adjacent to one another, tucked away in a corner. I had booked 2 twin rooms, as we find that twin rooms tend to be slightly larger than doubles. In the event, both rooms had both a single and a double bed, and were more than ample in size. Our room was longer and narrower than my parents’ one, which was almost square in shape. Both were tastefully decorated, with plenty of wardrobe and drawer space. Our bathroom was somewhat larger than my parents’, and both consisted of a bath with a shower over it, a loo and a basin. Towels were provided, as was soap, shampoo, shower gel and shower hat. Tea and coffee making equipment was replenished daily, and if you needed more, you could ask at reception. I always take plenty with me anyway, so this wouldn’t have been a problem if we had run low, but there was always enough in the room anyway! There were 2 radiators in our room, with individual thermostats, which was handy, as I can’t bear heat in the room at night. There was also a portable heater in the room, which could be used if it got bitterly cold, but we never needed to turn that on, even though it was very frosty whilst we were there. We did find however, that having a bath or shower in the morning was much more of a luke-warm affair than having one in the evening! Whether it was simply because we were some way from the boilers and it took time for the hot water to come through in the mornings, or whether the water heaters were turned off at night, I don’t know. I do know that after the first day we showered or bathed in the evenings! I have to say that we found the restaurant rather chilly. Our table was at the far end of the room, overlooking the pool, and out to the bay, but as it was in close proximity to 2 windows, we certainly felt the chill. A couple of strategically placed radiators would have mad life a little mo re comfortable. As i t was, we abandoned the posh frocks for dinner, and stuck to the sweaters! The food, both at dinner and breakfast, was as you would expect from a 3 star hotel. It was all nicely cooked, beautifully presented, and there was plenty of it. The menu changed daily, there was ample choice, and if you preferred to choose from the a la carte menu instead, an allowance of £8.00 was made towards the cost. We stuck to the Table d’Hote for the 4 nights that we were there. One morning, we did make use of the tickets to the swimming pool in the BIC, just a couple of hundred yards down the road. I use the word “down” literally….it was the “up” on the way back that could have been awkward for anyone who finds climbing a hill tough going. It was very steep, and I feel that the hotel did not really make it clear in their information that the terrain around the hotel was, to say the least, on the steep side. However, we managed it without too much bother, and enjoyed a good swim to boot. I wasn’t keen on the wave machine, but I suppose I could have got out when they announced that they were turning it on! Most evenings we had a drink in the lounge after dinner, or watched the European Cup football on the big screen in the conference room. My parents tend to go to bed at a much more reasonable time that I usually do, so most nights we said our goodnights at around 10.15. The beds were lovely and comfortable, so after being out most of the day, we were pretty glad to close our eyes! We passed the computer suite on our way to the restaurant, and I have to admit I was very tempted to make use of it! During the day it was used for adult training, and for conference delegates to use if required, but after 6 pm, guests could log on for a small fee (about £2.50 an hour I think.) However, I took myself in hand, and resisted the temptation. Oh how difficult that was, knowing that I could be writing my op wh ilst actually in residence in the place! I think Hubby might have had murder in mind if I’d given into the temptation though! THINGS TO DO IN WINTER AROUND BOURNEMOUTH! To begin with, Bournemouth shopping centre is vast, and a day’s shopping is a must! I think I surpassed myself this time though, as within 2 hours of arriving, I had bought a winter coat, 2 blouses, a couple of CD’s and a few other things that have slipped my memory! We spent one day in and around Poole. We had intended walking around the harbour area, but it was so cold the day we went that we ended up in the town centre and Poole Pottery. I now have most of my Christmas shopping done for next Christmas! We also saw a beautiful opal and garnet ring in a shop window. It was second hand but looked brand new, and the shop said they could resize it for me by the Thursday, and all for £35.00. Hubby treated me, as he’d bought me a garnet cross for Christmas, and this really complimented it. On the Wednesday, we drove out into the New Forest, and visited my favourite Spanish Lace Tablecloth shop in Lyndhurst. I love this part of the country, with the New Forest ponies roaming wild. There are deer in the forest too, but in all the years I’ve been going there, I’ve only ever seen one! From Lyndhurst, we drove towards the coast, and stopped briefly at Lymington, and then at Mudeford. We spent a couple of good holidays with the children at a caravan site at Mudeford, many years ago. The site is still there, but under different management now. We would have taken a walk along the front, but the wind was lashing the waves over the promenade, so we stayed put in the warmth of the car! Another place worth visiting is the Motor Museum at Beaulieu in the New Forest, about 40 minutes drive away. The world famous gardens of Compton Acres are nearby whilst in Poole Bay lies Brownsea Island with its nature reserve and open air t heatre. Paulton's Park near Romsey and Tower Park in Poole provide all round family enjoyment and the historical cities of Winchester and Salisbury are within easy reach. Corfe Castle and Swanage are all easily accessible via the very good network of roads around the area. WHAT DID WE PAY? The tariffs obviously depend on the time of year you visit. We paid £144 each for dinner, bed and breakfast, for 4 nights in February. This rises to just over £200 for the same in July and August. The Hotel also caters for Bed and Breakfast, but the cost is not that much less than for half board. Children sharing a room with two adults will be accommodated free, with meals charged as taken. The costs are below. Children’s' Meals Breakfast Dinner or High Tea Under 4 years £3 £4.50/£6 5 - 14 5ears £5 £4.50/£9 Over 14 years £7.50 £14.50 In July and August, over fives are charged at half the adult rate, whilst under fives are accommodated free of charge apart from the cost of meals. There is a £3.00 daily supplement for a single room, or “a room with a view” (overlooking the sea!) During most weeks of the winter, the hotel does a “4 nights for the price of 3” midweek deal, but of course, not at half term.which is the only week I could go! Such is life. WOULD I RECOMMEND THE WINTERBOURNE? For a few days break, such as we were on, then you could do far worse than the Winterbourne. We were warm, comfortable, well fed, and relaxed. I’m not sure I would relish going there in midsummer, as it is very close to the BIC, and one of the busiest roundabouts in Bournemouth. Things could get mighty noisy at times. In spite of its claims of accessibility, the roads around the hotel are on the hilly side, so unless you propose to leave and return by car everytime, it may not be the best place to choose for the very elderly o r infirm. Pushing a wheelchair up the steep appraoch road would be a mighty daunting task! However, if you want to get away from it all out of season, and aren’t too phased by steepish hills, then it could be just the place you are looking for. We paid £36 each per night for dinner, bed and breakfast, which you could pay simply for bed and breakfast in a lot of places. I think we got good value for our money. I’m not sure I would want to pay £50 or more for the same thing in summer. And as a parting remark..as good value as it was, and as nice as the food was, I still prefer the Ullswater! The rooms in the Winterbourne were certainly more comfortable and larger, and I would have no qualms about going back there again, but only if I can’t get the Ullswater. I found a real jewel in that one! Address: Winterbourne Hotel, Priory Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5DJ Email address: reservations@winterbourne.co.uk Website: http://www.winterbourne.co.uk Phone 01202 296366 Fax: 01202 780073

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