Great places in Bournemouth
From our upcoming book ‘222 Great Places in Dorset’
Great places in Bournemouth – this mini guide focuses on Bournemouth’s great places to visit and functions as sample content from the upcoming book.
Dorset, including Bournemouth, has changed a lot in the past few years and you can get an idea how with the help of our upcoming book. We will showcase a variety of places such as shops offering cool products and celebrated spots providing unique experiences. And keep in mind there are now even better places to eat, drink, visit and stay than ever before.
This book is not an attempt to create a ‘best-of’ listing. We are not even saying that these are the best places in Bournemouth and Dorset. Our focus is to highlight some of the really great establishments that you need to be aware of and ready to explore.
Based in Bournemouth, we focus on great places on the south coast.
Great places in Bournemouth
001 THE CROOKED BOOK
The Crooked Book is a pretty little second hand bookshop on Boscombe’s main road serving delicious homemade cakes and splendid coffee. You will also find vintage furniture and bric-a-brac for a unique experience! The shop may only have a few tables to sit at and a single sofa to relax on, but this quaint establishment has everything you need for a great time out. The food is amazing; there are vegetarian-friendly options available, as well as open sandwiches and iced tea.
Do you love shopping? The good news is that everything in the Crooked Book – literally everything – is for sale. Do you like that plate your cake was served on? Why not make an offer? Have you fallen in love with that Lloyd Loom chair? Initiate a proposal! There are cool tunes to listen to and numerous amounts of books to select from while the avid comic fan is catered for too, with a wide choice of publications on offer.
725 Christchurch Road, Boscombe, BH7 6AQ | The vintage café culture
002 GREEN HOUSE HOTEL
Green House Hotel is a coastal Victorian villa surrounded by giant palm trees that offers luxury in a most eco-friendly way. Once an old boarding house, the building has been thoroughly modernised. It is all about sustainability. The heating and power are generated by solar thermal panels on the roof, and the owners source products as locally as possible to reduce the carbon footprint and support local trade. The solid wood furniture on display has been made in the UK using trees felled by storms. The hotel’s reception desk is made from recovered teak floor joists originating from the remains of an old school in Sussex. Each room boasts 100% wool carpets. The wallpaper used in each room is Forest Stewardship Council certified and made in the UK using vegetable inks.
What else? Each eco bed comes with 100% organic feathers, while the pillows are filled with Hungarian goose feathers. The hotel’s company car runs on the cooking oil previously used in the kitchen. Food is sourced from local, organic producers and the hotel bar is stocked with the widest range of organic spirits. The beer selection comes from Dorset microbreweries and the wine list has been carefully chosen to take into account the carbon footprint of every bottle.
4 Grove Rd, Bournemouth BH1 3AX | Probably the greenest hotel on the planet
003 MOON STUDIO CERAMICS
Founded in 2015 by artist Imogen Charleston, Moon Studio is situated in a converted barn on the outskirts of Christchurch. There are several lovely pubs close by and across the yard is a cider press! Imogen is a ceramicist and arts educator, specialising in ceramics and blown glass, using clay as her primary material. She has been facilitating creative workshops since 2009, and offers a variety of pottery classes from taster sessions to short courses and workshops for kids and families.
Pottery experiences start with a short demonstration of hand building, modelling and surface decoration techniques. There is also a quick wheel-throwing opportunity. Structured lessons enable visitors to design and craft their own ceramic creations, which will be fired ready for collection a few weeks later. Sessions are suitable for complete beginners and creatives wishing to improve their skills or to try something new.
Hawthorn Farm Buildings, Lyndhurst Road, Christchurch, BH23 7AB| Learn to throw on the potter’s wheel
004 BOURNEMOUTH VINTAGE EMPORIUM
Bournemouth Vintage Emporium is unlike any other shopping experience. Why? It is a one-off vintage arena with unique items by artists, antique dealers and stylists on display. The Vintage Emporium is also home to historical tea rooms and a fine food market which plays great ambient music.
Owner Graham Spridgeon curates a truly original place of unique products for shoppers. The Emporium houses more than 50 vintage brands under one roof. Visitors will always find something different: a range of furniture, lighting, pottery and glassware are always on display. There are vintage fashion brands and expert homeware supplies; no bric-a-brac or granddad jumpers. What if you love a unique piece but don’t like the shade of blue it comes in? You’re in luck because the shop offers upholstery and restoration services so you can definitely own a customised product. In addition, they will even send your shopping by post – an easy life.
Expect a great atmosphere, friendly people and a good range of wondrous things. Enjoy breakfast, a light lunch or a cream tea in the lovely Tea Rooms. Chaz and her daughter serve beautiful homemade cakes with great coffee sourced from Southampton. If you’re nice, the chatty pair will help you with any photos you want to take so you can get them on Instagram straight away. Open seven days a week.
1172-1180 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH7 6DY | Stylish setting
005 M’S BAKERY
Marta’s Bakery is run by Istvan and his wife, Marta, and they bake all the products themselves. The pretty little bakery in Pokesdown is a big deal: their French country-style sourdough has been crowned the Best Loaf of Bread in the UK in the 2018 World Bread Awards. Their organic sourdough is stoneground with 90 per cent white flour, 5 per cent wholemeal and 5 per cent whole rye.
Anyone who appreciates their loaf straight from the oven will love that the couple bake everything from scratch in the morning, so you can enjoy the freshness of exquisite pastries, gorgeous cakes and delicious sourdough bread. M’s Bakery also offers more than 70 different products including Cruffins (a wonderful hybrid of a croissant and a muffin!) to Gerbeaud Tarts and breads filled with cheddar cheese, olives and sundried tomato. The bakery offers a little seating area inside to enjoy drinks and food. It’s also a great spot to watch the golden croissants and pastries being made while enjoying a chat with the incredibly friendly staff.
Expect a feast for the eyes and a traditional working-bakery experience!
805 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH7 6AP | The bread pudding
006 WESTOVER GALLERY
Westover Gallery is a beautiful place well known for superheroes, Frogman and Bob Dylan, among many other local and international artists. Established since 1995, the gallery is worth a regular visit to experience their ever-changing collection of art. Artists regularly make appearances to offer live painting sessions and preview evenings which can be great fun!
Situated in Westover Road in the heart of Bournemouth, the gallery is a great starting point for those keen on art. There are a few other galleries close by, as well as the open air art exhibition, ‘Art & Makers Market’ nearby in Westover Gardens.
4 Westover Road, Bournemouth BH1 2BY | The Kosta Boda Art Glass
007 TAPAS PLUS
Located by the Central Gardens in Bournemouth town centre, the family-run Tapas Plus restaurant and bar offers authentic Spanish cuisine inspired by the Galicia region. You will experience a friendly atmosphere with no rush. The owners will ensure you are looked after and that you have a great time. A selection of tasty and appetising tapas are served with vegetarian, gluten-free and seafood options alongside the authentic meat platters.
There is an excellent selection of Spanish beers – try the Estrella de Galicia on draught for that mature and less bubbly taste. If you prefer wine, there is an extensive selection offered by the glass and carafe while the lovely traditional Spanish beverage Sangria is also served.
53 Bourne Avenue, Bournemouth BH2 6DW | Probably the best place in town to enjoy sunset
008 BOHO BEACH HOUSE
Bournemouth Airbnb-Hotel Boho Beach House is one of the town’s newest and most friendly places to stay. Just a five-minute walk to the beach and town centre, this uniquely-styled space was created by ‘superhost’ and hotelier, Chanine, in 2018. She purchased an old Victorian building and transformed it into a home from home with quirky decor. Guests will love the beautiful furnishings that Chanine has found from her many travels.
On arrival, expect a warm welcome, before experiencing an outstanding relaxing stay. Chanine can assist you in learning more about the area and advising on nearby places to eat breakfast. Speaking of food, she cooks a mean chilli and shepherd’s pie and if you ask her she will prepare this for you (just don’t tell her we told you). You can even book the whole house for 16 adults and, yes, put your music on!
St Michael’s Road, Bournemouth BH2 5DP | Walk around in your PJs and make yourself at home
009 URBAN BEACH
Urban Beach Hotel in Boscombe is a delight, featuring a modern bistro, cocktail bar and 12 bedrooms. The sister venue of Urban Reef, this boutique hotel has an amazing terrace with heated seats. It is situated near Boscombe Pier, just five minutes’ walk from the beach. This eatery is dog friendly and offers a great al-fresco dining experience during the warm summer evenings.
Part of the Bournemouth based Urban Guild Group, Urban Beach is obsessed with a warm welcome, giant hugs, relaxed vibes and sustainable food served with love. And this hotel is probably the only one that provides ‘yoga stays’ to guests, offering the ultimate yoga retreat near the sea.
23 Argyll Road, Boscombe, BH5 1EB | The Dorset focaccia
010 BREWHOUSE KITCHEN
When it comes to beer, Brewhouse Kitchen is probably the best place to be. This is because not only do they brew on site in their microbrewery but they also have their own academy offering beer masterclasses and brewery experience days (yes, spending the whole day brewing your very own beer).
Being a brewery, you can expect to taste great dishes with beers used in many of the recipes. And rightly so! In addition, each meal comes with a recommended beer match. Is this some heaven on earth or what?
152-154 Commercial road, Bournemouth BH2 5LU | Churchill’s Fall Session Bitter
011 7BONE BURGER CO
We are not even going to try to debate the best burger in town; all we know is it is really great in 7Bone Burger Co. And there are people out there who are truly convinced that 7Bone serves the dirtiest chilli cheese fries on the south coast. The keywords to look out for at this restaurant are patty, beef, dogs, chicken, grill, wings, dips and shakes.
The restaurant is located near Bournemouth Arcade, so you can go for a quick shopping trip in case you have to wait for an available table – they have a first come, first served rule. Or you can try to ask them to let you wait in the cellar; they might even serve you a few cocktails in the meantime.
9 Gervis Place, Bournemouth BH1 2AN | Texan all-steak chilli, cheese, American mustard, jalapenos
012 PICNIC PARK DELI
Picnic Park Deli is probably the most scenic spot in central Bournemouth as it overlooks the Lower Gardens. This lovely terrace has it all; you can listen to birds in the nearby aviary while watching squirrels play around on the surrounding pine trees. The all-day social Deli offers not only an amazing view but great coffee and cheese melts.
As a hub of creativity, Picnic Park Deli regularly organises activities in Westover Gardens. Guests can play table tennis, board games, join outdoor yoga sessions or listen to live music performances. The open air art exhibition, ‘Art & Makers Market’, is a stone’s throw away too, making the Deli an ideal place to spend some quality time.
Westover Gardens, Westover Road, Bournemouth BH1 2BY | The shade of the pine trees
013 SOUTH COAST ROAST
Probably the most vibrant place to eat breakfast in Bournemouth is South Coast Roast. The café is located just a short walk from the town square so it is easy to pop in to. The coffee shop opened in 2008 and is still the favourite place for a healthy start in the morning for many – surfers, tourists, students, vegans and beat lovers all gather here. What are they looking for? Beautiful fresh dishes and banging coffee, that’s what.
South Coast Roast offers an extensive plant-based menu and cleansing juices. The cafe serves locally-roasted craft coffee (yes, that bitter espresso) which they source from Bad Hand Coffee. You can eat delicious homemade food in all the colours of the world. Expect intense music with even the odd DJ turning up! The team is environmentally savvy and will tell you that takeaway cups suck.
24 Richmond Hill, Bournemouth BH2 6EJ | The avocado toast
014 ESPRESSO KITCHEN
Espresso Kitchen is probably the most charming cafe in Bournemouth. The tiny place, which has an even tinier staircase leading to a secret hideout on the first floor, offers second-to-none coffee. Francesca, owner of Espresso Kitchen, is from Italy and that is something that still matters when it comes to coffee making. In addition, the limited space and quirky décor lend themselves to a unique atmosphere.
The shop, which opened in 2012 offers not only the finest artisan coffee but also homemade vegan, gluten-free (and non!) cakes, toast and smoothies. Dorset roaster Beanpress provides the house blend but you can try guest coffee from other suppliers as well. The team has an ethical approach to business and they have a sustainable conscience as they use plant-based compostable material for takeaway cups and lids. Try the espresso or chai latte!
Expect great music and a bohemian vibe without any pretentiousness. Sit (or stand) and watch people popping in to stay for a few minutes to get their morning off to a refreshing start! You will love the first floor’s setting with its chalkboard wall and ceiling where you’re able to add your own doodles or messages. The cafe is a non-working zone at the weekend so you will have to leave your laptop at home.
69 Commercial Road, Bournemouth BH2 5RT | The hidden first floor
015 THE VAULT
Perhaps a little bit of Soho in Bournemouth town centre for you. The Vault’s ever-changing display of vinyl records has been attracting not only the music lover but also the unsuspecting passer-by for a couple of years now. This is such a great shop that some of its clientele will only visit it to get a few LPs to decorate their rooms with hanging album covers – amateurs you could say.
Owners Alan and his wife are lucky enough to own another Vault in Christchurch, which favours more CDs on display than vinyl. Why do they do it? Just for their love of music. They offer many genres, but do not expect to find South Korean K-pop and what not. Local DJs still turn up to find some pearls they can build into their masterpieces.
88 Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH1 1LR | Probably the best record-shopping experience in Bournemouth