Is Hilton Bournemouth the UK’s smartest seaside hotel redemption?

This is my review of the new Hilton Bournemouth hotel.

I spent last weekend in Bournemouth playing golf with friends.  Part of the reason for choosing Bournemouth for our golf trip this year is that I wanted to take a look at the relatively new Hilton and Hampton by Hilton hotels.  When I offered to book all of our rooms on points, my friends were happy to go along with the idea!

We split ourselves across the two hotels.  A review of the Hampton will follow in a few days, once I have twisted the arm of the person who agreed to write it.  This person once spent 90 consecutive nights in a Marriott ‘Residence Inn’ so he knows his way around 3-star hotels.

You can find out more about Hilton Bournemouth on their website here.

Overview

The Hilton and Hampton by Hilton hotels are part of the same mixed use complex, which includes private apartments.  Some apartments are built into the Hilton and there is a separate lift inside the lobby.  They appear to come fully furnished, so if you like the look in the pictures below then you can literally buy it.

Whilst you might think of Bournemouth as a touristy seaside town, it actually has a lot of financial services activity to justify a ‘business’ hotel.  Big employers include JP Morgan, Nationwide Building Society and Liverpool Victoria.  It also has The Bournemouth International Centre, a major conference venue, which is literally 30 seconds walk from the Hilton.

The hotel is not aimed at the family holiday market.  There are no rooms with bunk beds or built-in kids beds, for example, and no rooms take more than two people.  On the night I was there, there were a lot of adult groups staying including a few stag / wedding parties.  I would expect that the cheaper Hampton next door attracts the boozier crowd however.

Bournemouth is a sprawling town with no real gap between Bournemouth, Christchurch and Boscombe.  The central location of the Hilton is a real benefit, as many hotels are further up into the town in converted Victorian buildings.  It is a 3 minute walk from the lobby to the pier and beach although very few rooms at the hotel have a view of the sea.

The picture below shows the Hilton, with the Hampton curling around the corner at the right.

Hilton Bournemouth review

Check-in

Hilton has really raised its game with its recent UK openings.  London Bankside was a sign of what it can do when it tries, and Bournemouth follows a similar pattern.  The hotel looks fantastic, basically.  They have even managed to make the corridors look attractive, using different fonts for the numbers on each room and lining the corridors with different shaped mirrors.

It is a real triumph of modern design.  I doubt the furnishings are substantially more expensive than usual but they are very well chosen and really give the place a lift.  Most are from Ted Baker, and there is an option to buy any of the cushions or bedding that takes your fancy.

If you are arriving by car, both hotels share a car park which is also open to the public.  The overnight rate for hotel guests is £11 per day midweek and £13 at weekends.

My room

I was upgraded, as a Hilton Diamond, to a one-bedroom suite.   These sit on the ‘prow’ of the building (far left in the photo) and are the only rooms which actually face the sea – although, as I was on the second floor, I only got the tiniest glimpse.

Looking at the comments on my Instagram posts from the hotel, a suite is certainly not guaranteed as a Diamond at Hilton Bournemouth.  The fact that I was only there for one night, on a Saturday in October, would have worked in my favour.

There are big issues with some rooms at this hotel due to noise.  On the 8th floor is the Sky Bar, a very classy – and very expensive (£49.50 for four drinks, including service) – bar.  This causes disturbance at weekends.  The 7th floor is apparently the main one to be avoided.  There was no disturbance at all to my 2nd floor room.

As you can see, the decor was very smart.  Here is the bedroom:

Hilton Bournemouth review bedroom

and

Hilton Bournemouth bedroom review

And the living room:

Hilton Bournemouth suite

The suite came with a second loo and a coffee machine.  There was also a kettle.  The mini bar was, oddly, empty although some water had been left out.

Whilst not photographed, there was a desk in the bedroom.  I chose to work from the dining table instead.  Whilst I was entitled to high speed wi-fi as a Diamond member, I took the standard free service as that is what the average guest would get.  The speed was excellent and, whilst not being officially high speed, I was still able to stream YouTube.

Here is the shower:

Hilton Bournemouth suite bathroom

The only issue was the very odd brown stain on the floor of the shower.  It looks like someone used the wrong sort of cleaning products.  Whilst this is only an aesthetic problem, I was surprised it hadn’t been fixed.

And the rest of it:

Hilton Bournemouth suite bathroom review

Toiletries were the standard Roth ones found in almost all Hilton hotels.  They looked a bit drab in such a modern space, in the same way I felt they looked out of place at Hilton Sa Torre in Mallorca.  The packaging needs a serious redesign.

With big wrap-around windows, the suite was a very impressive space.  Apart from the mark in the shower cubicle I genuinely had no complaints.

Note that, as this was not an official review trip – I paid for my room – I wasn’t in a position to ask to see other rooms for comparison.

The Executive Lounge

As a Diamond member, I got automatic access to the Executive Lounge.  If you are Hilton Diamond (and you can still get a match from any other top tier hotel status you have) then this is a good enough reason to stay here.

Hilton Bournemouth executive lounge review

Situated on the 2nd floor, this is a well designed space.  I popped in briefly during happy hour (6pm to 8pm) when there was a mix of cold snacks plus hot chicken wings, vegetable samosas and wine and spirits.  (The photos were taken earlier when there was no food out.)

Hilton Bournemouth executive lounge review

Whilst I had breakfast in the restaurant, I also visited the lounge to see what was on offer.  The breakfast was not as extensive, of course, but certainly nothing to complain about.

All in all, it is definitely one of the better lounges you’ll visit.  If I had one niggle, it is that the seating was arranged for larger groups, whilst I would imagine most users are (on business days) solo travellers and, at weekends and the summer, couples.  You may find yourself having to share a table during happy hour.

I had a small issue with the lounge wi-fi.  If you try to log in to the wi-fi outside of your room, you cannot log in by room number.  You are asked for a general password instead.  I had to track down a member of staff to tell me what this was.

Breakfast

I didn’t eat in the Hilton Bournemouth’s main restaurant, Schpoons & Forx, but the hotel was promoting it – and the chef, Matt Tebbutt – heavily which seemed promising.

The breakfast buffet the next day was not the biggest I’ve ever seen but certainly did the job.  There was no egg station so you were restricted to pre-cooked scrambled or poached eggs.  A bit more pre-cut fruit would also have been welcome.

Hilton Bournemouth breakfast review

I have seen comments from others that it can get very busy over breakfast.  However, at 9am on a Sunday it was no more than 30% full as you can see:

Hilton Bournemouth breakfast review

The Hilton Bournemouth Sky Bar

Here is a photograph of the Sky Bar.  It was dark when we were there so you don’t get a picture of the view!

It is a classy but expensive – and fairly noisy – place.  It is not the sort of bar where you would sit and unwind with a newspaper and a glass of wine at the end of the day – you would need to head to the lounge for that.

Hilton Bournemouth Sky Bar review

Spa

I didn’t have time to visit the spa, but it does appear to have a decent pool from this official picture:

Hilton Bournemouth spa pool review

Conclusion

Hilton Bournemouth is a smart, modern hotel with impressive rooms, a decent executive lounge, good food and – if you like that sort of thing – a pricey designer rooftop bar.  The spa pool also looks good.  Just be careful to ask about noise from the bar before taking your key from reception.

It is a million miles away from the depressing 1970’s Hilton properties still found in many UK cities (I am not looking forward to a Hilton Brighton stay next month!).  If they keep up this standard of new openings then the future is bright.

The cash price obviously moves around a lot depending on season, day of the week and whether there are any big events at the conference centre next door.   The maximum price for Hilton Honors points is 50,000 per night (the Hampton is capped at 30,000) although you will pay less off peak.  We paid 28,000 points at the Hampton and 45,000 at the Hilton.

Our review of the adjacent Hampton will appear in a few days.  The Hampton is cheaper, both in points and in cash.  If you are Hilton Diamond, I would take the Hilton due to guaranteed lounge access and the spa.  If you are Hilton Gold, I would also be tempted to take the Hilton as you’ll get free breakfast and it is a smarter property.  If you only have Silver or no Hilton status, the cheaper Hampton – with a free (but crowded) breakfast – may be more tempting.

The Hilton Bournemouth website is here if you want to find out more.

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Comments

  1. Another gooid hotel review with seaviews, good to see the review title appropriately updated.. 🙂

    http://www.headforpoints.com/2017/06/28/review-trump-turnberry-starwood-luxury-collection-resort/

    • Bit bracing compared to Bournemouth.

      Would rather be staying at the Fairmont in St Andrews. The MacDonald’s just along the road is also a good seaside stay.

  2. “The maximum price for Hilton Honors points is 50,000 per night”

    Thought I might try the hilton out next weekend but the lowest redemption available next saturday, for what looks like a base level room with a balcony, is 140,000 points. The one bed suite is 289,000!

    That’s just nuts.

    • Sounds like the standard rooms have all gone and you’re stuck with the (totally ludicrous) premium room rewards at a time when cash prices are high at that property…

    • That just a Premium Room Reward when Hilton Honors basically buys the room for you. Standard Rooms sold out for rewards.

      • guesswho2000 says:

        I agree that these are generally ridiculous, however they once (and only once) worked in my favour – DoubleTree Alice Springs had rooms which were available as premium rewards for less than those priced as standard rewards.

        This was a couple of years ago, and I don’t recall the price, but I remember cancelling and rebooking for that reason.

        This dynamic award pricing can sometimes work in your favour too, room I’ve got booked at Hilton Queenstown was 30k, I checked again recently and it was 28k – so rebook and cancelled. Every little helps I guess!

  3. The brand new Hampton at Stansted is a decent redemption at 20,000 a night if you need a hotel there (Usually £90 – £100 cash). Stayed a few times over last couple of months, nice hotel, good breakfast included, and a few mins walk to terminal.

  4. Sort of on topic, just checked out of a Hilton this morning. Stay was booked about six weeks ago, looks I have got double Honors points and triple Avios from the two offers running at the moment.

  5. For those who were waiting for the Iberia Hilton Honors Triple Avios link here you are – https://www.hiltonhhonors.com/ProcessLanding/ProcessLanding/?lp=Q42017Iberia

  6. This hotel is now a franchise and they are cutting back on benefits. Staff admitted to that.

    Not sure if it has changed hands or if the initial hand holding period by Hilton has ended.

    • I don’t think Hilton actually owns m/any hotels does it ?

      As a contrast, McDonalds doesn’t own m/any restaurants in the UK but it does run new ones for two years before handing them to a franchisee.

  7. Have stayed approximately 300 nights in Bournemouth over the last 6 years – many of these before the Hampton and then the Hilton opened.

    The better rooms at the Marriott are fine although the place has been waiting for renovation for years. Surprisingly the owners decided that a major competitor opening 18 months in the future at an inferior site with far fewer sea view opportunities did not provide the required impetus to progress said upgrade much to the GM’s frustration.

    The Hampton and Hilton are clearly fresher infrastructure wise and have funkier designs and better functioning AC.

    Fitness suite at The Hampton smallish but well equipped, the Hilton very spacious with Watt bikes in addition to the standard offerings.

  8. Simon Schus says:

    I have found the Hilton Blackpool to be a decent value in the past (managed to get a £49 a night rate last year… and that included a free bottle of red wine, a free Sunday newspaper, free parking, free breakfast and a refurbished room overlooking the sea! Was great value for cash but the redemption rate was good too from memory).

  9. The Sky Bar only serves bottled beer!!! No Larger or beer on tap!!!