With its stylish décor and vibrant bar and restaurant, The Nici has seriously upped Bournemouth’s hotel game.
Every so often, on a hot day in the UK, it’s hard to imagine why anybody would ever want to travel abroad (especially given this year’s airport issues). This is very much on our minds as we arrive at Bournemouth’s most recent 5* hotel opening, The Nici, which is perched on the town’s West Cliff. Views aside, the location is enviable – it’s an easy cab ride from the station, or a short walk, depending on your luggage/energy levels. And, of course, there’s valet car parking available for those who choose to drive.
Previously The Savoy, the hotel’s glamorous £27 million transformation is nothing short of spectacular. There’s a feeling of the French Riviera to the setting, while a kidney shaped pool, cabanas and fantastic sea views give off serious Miami Beach vibes – it’s far from traditional British seaside. We’re not the only ones to be impressed by what we see: locals are visiting in droves to partake of top-notch cocktails and delicious food, while the first hotel residents have been giving rave reviews to the sumptuous suites and uber cool interiors.
It is evident that this is so much more than simply a place to lay your head. A central location means that the amenities of the town centre are easily accessible, meanwhile, at the hotel, there are yoga classes on the lawn, paddle boards and kayaks available to take out on the sea, and bicycles to borrow for a spin. The ethos is wellness combined with fun, and when the new spa opens next year – complete with treatment rooms, an indoor pool and even a salt grotto – this will be even more in evidence. A stunning infinity pool that will stretch out from the terrace is also planned, and a roof-top bar will open next year. Admittedly, we’ve been lucky with the sunshine, but it seems there would be something to do here whatever the weather – like the hotel’s cinema room, which offers three different age-appropriate screenings every day.
The décor throughout is a vibrant mix of tropical greens with gold accents. The airy reception, which leads into the bar and restaurant, is decorated with gold palm trees and bright modern art pieces; there’s a grand piano and even a retro Playboy Bunny pinball machine. Accommodation is offered in over 70 rooms, some boasting private hot tubs, while others are dog friendly. We are booked into a stunning sea view room with a huge terrace, complete with sun loungers that look out onto the pool and the sea beyond. As we crack open a chilled bottle of wine, we remark that we really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Small but oh-so-important touches like a Nespresso machine, fresh milk in the fridge and complimentary rum in a decanter on the cocktail trolley make our stay very comfortable indeed. A huge bath, fluffy robes and full size (much kinder to the environment than minis) Malin+Goetz products add to the luxe feeling.
We spend an inordinate amount of time in the bar and restaurant area (perhaps not a surprise to those who know me). Breakfast is a joyous affair with an array of delicious pastries and fresh bread, as well as all the usual continental and cooked options, and then some. Dinner, too, is a treat, served by knowledgeable and friendly staff; we tuck into fresh oysters, squid ink tagliatelle, tender fillet steaks and retro desserts including a banana split. Don’t leave without trying a South Beach punch served in individual gold pineapples. Or ask the team to spark up a fire pit and sit outside with a Don Johnson cocktail (the Miami influence is strong here!).
In the absence of the hotel spa, on our last day we head to the Saltwater Sauna just up the coast in beautiful Sandbanks (thesaltwatersauna.com). The authentic Finnish wood-fired sauna has a large window looking out onto the beach and we bask in the glorious heat, soaking up the views for ten minutes at a time, before running, shrieking, into the sea to cool down. It is a perfect end to a wonderful stay. We’ve been away just a couple of nights, but it has felt like such a wonderful retreat. And we can’t get over the fact we are just a couple of hours from London, yet feel miles and miles from the daily grind. We’ll be back when next year’s upgrades are in place, if not before…
Bed and breakfast rates from £175 per night. For more information and to book, see nicihotels.com