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Review: the new Holiday Inn Bournemouth hotel

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This is our review of the Holiday Inn Bournemouth hotel.

My week was clearly heading downhill. I started at the lovely University Arms in Cambridge (review here), diverted to the Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Airport at Hatton Cross (review here) and ended up at the Holiday Inn Bournemouth.

The hotel website is here.

Holiday Inn Bournemouth review

Long-term readers of HfP will know that I am a big fan of the new-build Hilton in Bournemouth. The location is great, just steps from the seafront, and top-tier Hilton Honors members can use an executive lounge and potentially get upgraded to impressive suites. It also has a pool and a funky rooftop bar. We reviewed Hilton Bournemouth here.

In the same complex is a Hampton by Hilton. We reviewed Hampton Bournemouth here. The location is just as good, of course, and all guests get free breakfast.

How does Holiday Inn Bournemouth compare?

Not so well, to be honest.

This is not a new hotel. It used to be a Ramada Encore, but reopened in 2019 following refurbishment.

It IS good value as an IHG Rewards Club redemption. Cash rates averaged £140 over the two nights I was there, so 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points was a bargain. I got almost double my target valuation of 0.4p per point.

Importantly, it was also a better points deal than the Hilton, Hampton or Marriott based on what each hotel was asking.

Holiday Inn Bournemouth review


The location is not great, on busy Bath Road. The road is full of hotels and apartment blocks, but you wouldn’t know you were on the coast.

If you take the train, it is about a 15 minute walk along busy roads. You are around 10 minutes from the seafront at the hotel, which is 9 minutes longer than it takes from the Hilton or Hampton.

The hotel has underground and outdoor parking. The hotel lets anyone park in its facilities, guests or not (guests get a discounted rate) so it is far busier than it needs to be. Expect to see cars in every conceivable space, whether or not it is marked out for parking.

Rooms at Holiday Inn Bournemouth

I was upgraded to an executive room, which was on the top-floor and had a sea view, presumably due to my IHG Rewards Club Spire Elite status. The sea view is tiny:

Holiday Inn Bournemouth review

….. but it’s the thought that counts. To be fair, the photo makes the sea look smaller than it was. The street noise was very noticeable and could be pretty horrendous on lower floors.

I’d received an email earlier in the day saying that the hotel had already added 500 points as my ‘welcome amenity’. When asked at check-in if I wanted points or a drink, I therefore took the drinks voucher!

Rooms at Holiday Inn Bournemouth

The rooms are perfectly fine, but no more than that. There is simply too much blonde wood – see the headboard and the desk. See:

Holiday Inn Bournemouth review


Holiday Inn Bournemouth review

It is clear it wasn’t a full refurbishment. There is no way that the desk was only a year old, given how chipped it was, and the thermostat looked at least 20 years old.

At times it seemed the room wasn’t sure how posh it wanted to be. The wardrobe (clearly new) contained slippers and bathrobes, for example, but also the cheapo ‘can’t be stolen’ coathangers.

Meanwhile, whilst there was a minibar, it only contained two bottles of water and a (presumably free) Yorkie bar!

How do executive rooms differ from standard rooms?

Having also seen a standard room, the differences between those and an executive room are:

a room on the top (sixth) floor which has the least road noise – whilst I had a sea-view, you won’t get this from all of the executive rooms

the sofa / daybed

the fridge, albeit only stocked with a Yorkie and two bottle of water

two bathrobes and slippers

a small shelf with two framed posters sitting on it

better quality toiletries (standard rooms have Dove, both room types use wall mounted dispensers)

fully carpeted (standard rooms have wooden floor in the hallway)

You need to look at the price difference for the night you want to stay and decide if it is worth it.

Bathrooms at Holiday Inn Bournemouth

The bathroom seemed new-ish but not brand new. It was full of the turquoise glass that was fashionable around 1999, not 2019 when the redecoration was done. It wasn’t a patch on the lovely refurbished bathroom I had at the Hilton Garden Inn at Heathrow two days earlier.

Holiday Inn Bournemouth review

Food and drink

We didn’t stay for breakfast. I recommend Norwegian Wood, a slightly odd Beatles-themed cafe about five minutes walk away.

The hotel is offering two options – a takeaway bag for £8, or a buffet for £12.95. The way the buffet works is that you are given a piece of paper containing all of the options and you need to tick what you want. It is then delivered to your table for you.

The restaurant and bar area – which is all one space – does look smart, albeit not hugely classy, following the refurbishment. Here is an official PR photograph as it was always busy when I went in:

Holiday Inn Bournemouth review


Holiday Inn Bournemouth is a totally acceptable hotel, and very good value at peak times for IHG Rewards Club points.

Whilst ‘new’, however, it is light-years behind what you would expect from a new-build Holiday Inn in 2020. The rooms look and feel uninspiring, although the public areas are better.

For a redemption, it is likely to be a better deal than the Hampton, Hilton or Marriott at just 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night. I would stay here again on points.

For cash, I would go for the Hampton (see here) or Hilton (see here) first unless the price difference is substantial. Don’t forget to factor in the free breakfast at the Hampton. I’ve never stayed at the Marriott (see here) but the pictures don’t look inspiring, albeit the sea-front location is great. For a classy short break, the Hilton is a no-brainer.

The Holiday Inn Bournmouth website is here if you want to learn more.

IHG Rewards update – September 2021:

Get bonus points: IHG Rewards is not currently running a global promotion.

New to IHG Rewards?  Read our overview of IHG Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG Rewards points worth?’ is here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG Rewards points, you can buy them here.

You will receive a mystery bonus, usually 100%, when you buy IHG Rewards points by 8th October 2021.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (27)

  • Tariq says:

    Had a great stay at the Marriott in July, the sea view suite was worth it given the depressed room rates although I found the C19 spec breakfast at the hotel restaurant to be miserly. Unfortunately the hotel pool was closed at the time but it looks good in photos so would stay there again as a family. Else like you say the Hilton is a winner – their pool is really nice and plenty of restaurant options right on the doorstep. It just annoys me that their rooms are maximum occupancy of 2 – even the suites. Never stayed at the Hampton.

  • John says:

    I agree with the luke-warm assessment. I am Spire Elite and did not get an upgrade as the hotel was full; but the room was fine, spotless and everything worked.

    I also use 0.4p as my conversation rate but know how complex it can still be to decide what is a bargain. I felt the room was worth £80, so considered 20,000 to be OK, but no more.

  • Andrew Lee says:

    I stayed there when it was the Ramada encore. Room and bathrooms look almost identical. No real changes.

  • BJ says:

    I have not stayed at many HI in the UK in recent years except Oxford Circus as I prefer Staybridge or Indigo. I have however stayed at a few newer HIX for one night stays on road trips. The rooms in those looked very similar to that in the photos; I was a bit surprized HI wasn’t much different and a step up from HIX.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      It should be a step up.

      I think it’s been abandoned for Indigo the UK

      Marriott has that same yellow/cream look that all the countryside hotels have! I’m sure after a refurb it could be a great property with its location.

  • Simon says:

    Hotels in UK seaside resorts are generally pretty poor. I usually find myself staying in a Premier Inn.

  • Keely says:

    I stayed in the Hampton last month for two nights . Location is fantastic but wasn’t that impressed with either the breakfast or the fact that the room didn’t have a fridge – and one of the two lifts was out of service for the whole time we were there . This was peak season and Covid restrictions meant one group at a time so there were lengthy delays!
    I’m not sure I’d stay there again …

  • Andrew says:

    Where do hotels source the pre-aged thermostats and room telephones?

    I stayed in a brand new Hampton by Hilton in the US about 3 years back. It was so new, that we were the first guests to have had that room.

    The mattresses were still in their delivery plastic stacked up against a wall, the bed linen had been delivered and left folded on the empty bed frame.

    We even had to unbox the TV and clock-radio and plug them in ourselves!

    But the thermostat and the room phone looked like they’d been in storage for 30 years.

    (With chaotic scenes in reception with over-bookings, we simply got on with it and got a 50,000 Honors apology for having assemble our own room.)

  • Travel Strong says:

    Booked the Hilton yesterday (based on past HfP reviews). It was a difficult choice given that HI would have been on points, but I comprised on using the £50 off £200 Hilton spend amex offer and paying cash in exchange for a bit more luxury. Sounds like I made the right choice 🙂

    • Paul says:

      I hope it works for you.

      I simply do not understand the hype around the Hilton Bournemouth. I have stayed twice in the last 12 months and as a diamond member it was poor the first time and downright awful the second. On the first stay I got nothing, no lounge, no upgrade – but I did get breakfast though no one on reception mentioned it when I checked in.
      On the second stay around 10 days ago I parted with a ludicrous £167 for a single night. It was well over £300 a few days in advance of the stay.

      I was allegedly upgraded to a room with a balcony that hadn’t been cleaned in a very long time and which had an enviable view of a two pubs, a main road and the Odeon! The noise was appalling The bathroom floor was filthy and I asked for it to be done again. It didn’t really improve matters. I made sure everything was wiped with anti viral wipes as I simply did not trust the hotels cleaning.

      The bed was the most uncomfortable I have spent a night in for over a decade and which made protesting noises every time I moved!

      The lounge is shut and you get a drinks voucher to sit in an open lobby with the drunks and passers by!

      And by god don’t complain! I had the temerity to do so and was given short shrift by a duty manager who clearly trained at the Fawlty school of hospitality.

      Top Tip – use the NCP car park, not the hotels. The hotel’s car park requires passing many steps which with bags is not easy. NCP is diagonally opposite and is £6 a night less without the need to manage steps.

      Better still stay elsewhere!

      • Rob says:

        You need to see it in the context of other Bournemouth hotels though!

        • paul says:

          Wow that probably the most damning comment about English seaside resorts I seen in while.

          And people wonder why folks don’t do staycations.

          • Lady London says:

            Could have been worse. Could have bern Blackpool.

          • Charlieface says:

            Or Morecambe!

            Far better places even in the UK than bucket and spade. Scottish and Welsh highlands come to mind

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