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Review: the Hilton Bournemouth hotel is still looking good

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This is my review of the new-ish (2016) Hilton Bournemouth hotel.

I spent the weekend in Bournemouth playing golf with friends.  An added benefit was that I could take another look at the relatively new Hilton and Hampton by Hilton hotels, which we first reviewed just after they opened.

We split ourselves across the two hotels.  A review of the Hampton will follow in a few days.

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

HIlton Bournemouth hotel

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.

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 and Nationwide Building Society.  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.  (EDIT: as per the comments, there is now one room that has an extra bed in it.) On the nights I was there, there were a lot of adult groups staying although I would expect that the Hampton next door attracts the boozier crowd.

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 above shows the Hilton, with the Hampton curling around the corner at the right.

Check-in

The hotel looks fantastic, by the standards of UK seaside hotels.  The exterior is good, with the Hilton part being mainly glass wall.

It has 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.

The room decoration is surprisingly modern.  I doubt the furnishings are substantially more expensive than usual but they are very well chosen and really give the place a lift as you will see. When I stayed back in 2017 there was a price list in the rooms to allow you to buy any of the pieces you liked, but I assume most are now out of production.

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 £13 per day midweek and £15 at weekends.

My room at Hilton Bournemouth

I was upgraded, as a Hilton Diamond, to a one-bedroom suite. I was also upgraded back in 2017 although when I returned with my family in 2018 – when I could really have done with the extra space – I didn’t get one! 

The suites 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.

Last time I reviewed this hotel I got a lot of reader feedback that the higher floors suffer from noise from the Level8ight Sky Bar. There was no disturbance at all in my 2nd floor room. I’d certainly try to avoid the 7th floor if you can.

As you can see, the decor was very smart.  Amusingly I got exactly the same suite as I had in 2017 but I’ve redone the photographs anyway even though literally nothing is different:

Hilton Bournemouth hotel review

and

Hilton Bournemouth hotel review

The living room:

Hilton Bournemouth hotel suite

and, showing the dining table at the back:

Hilton Bournemouth hotel review

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

There is also a wrap-around balcony:

Hilton Bournemouth hotel balcony

Whilst not shown in my pictures, there was a full size desk in the bedroom with easily accessible plug, HDMI and USB A sockets. All in all, for a ‘higher end but not luxury’ UK hotel it’s not bad at all.

Here is the shower:

Hilton Bournemouth hotel bathroom

and a shot of the bath from the other angle:

Review Hilton Bournemouth hotel

Nothing to complain about here. Toiletries are Crabtree & Evelyn in mini-bottles.

Note that, as this was not an official review trip – I paid for my room (cashing in two of the current Hilton / Amex cashback deals for 18,000 bonus Membership Rewards points!) – I wasn’t in a position to see other rooms for comparison.

The Executive Lounge at Hilton Bournemouth

…. is now closed at weekends, which means Friday (presumably after breakfast) through to Sunday.

This was an unwelcome surprise, even after I was bribed with vouchers for four free drinks at the bar.

However, when I went up to take a look, I realised why. It has been totally gutted. Moved to the first floor, it is about 2/3rd smaller than it was. It is literally smaller than the suite I had with only a couple of tables. Whilst the serving area is large, I’ve no idea how you’re expected to eat anything with virtually no seating. Apparently if the meeting room adjacent is empty then you can sit in there, but if not I assume you are meant to use the chairs I saw in the corridor outside.

I’m not sure when the change happened. The floor plans in the HIlton app still show it on the 2nd floor, but the space has been replaced by two additional bedrooms. The new space seems to have once been a meeting room.

This photo is literally the entire space, apart from a small reception desk, taken through the locked door:

Hilton Bournemouth executive lounge

The reader comments below suggest that this is actually a ‘Diamond lounge’ and that no rooms are sold with access.

Breakfast at Hilton Bournemouth

I didn’t eat in the Hilton Bournemouth’s main restaurant, Schpoons & Forx, for lunch or in the evening but it is a smart venue on the ground floor:

Hilton Bournemouth restaurant

The bar is smart too, albeit low on seating:

Hilton Bournemouth hotel bar

The breakfast buffet (7am to 10am weekdays, 7.30am to 10.30am Saturday, 8am to 11am Sunday) was not the biggest I’ve ever seen but certainly did the job with a good selection of hot and cold items, including a pancake machine.  There are chefs available if you want an omelette to order – I’m not sure they can do anything else.

Hilton Bournemouth hotel breakfast

Whilst coffee cups are on your table, good luck getting any. I had assumed that you had to do self-service drinks from the machines, as during my first morning no-one offered me anything. On my second day, after I had finished eating and was just about to leave, someone did turn up at my table offering me coffee. If this is meant to be part of the service, the hotel needs to learn that having one person doing a quick tour of the room with a coffee pot once per hour is not the way to do it.

One benefit of the Hilton vs the Hampton is that breakfast is not rammed. Because you have to pay for it, unless you have elite status or you paid extra to bundle it with your room, a lot of people will go out elsewhere or simply not bother. At the Hampton next door, breakfast is free and everyone piles in.

Hilton Bournemouth breakfast

The Hilton Bournemouth Level8ight Sky Bar

I never made it to the Level8ight Sky Bar on this trip. Based on previous visits, 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.

As well as being open at night (until 12.30am on Saturday nights) you can also go there for afternoon tea from 12pm to 3.30pm.

Here is a PR picture, although most people will be visiting in the evening when it is dark outside. The lighting is generally kept low and it is a totally different atmosphere to the one conveyed by this image.

Hilton Bournemouth Sky Bar Level8ight

Spa

The spa looks good with 25 different treatments on offer. These range from standard manicures (40 minutes, £40) to salt scrubs! Most use Elemis products.

The spa has a pool:

Hilton Bournemouth hotel swimming pool

…. as well as a sauna, steam room and gym. Children are allowed in the pool from 8am to 11am and 3pm to 6pm, which I would say is a reasonable balance.

Unfortunately the pool isn’t very successful. It is about twice as long as my photo shows. There is very little seating around it and it is very dark. You don’t come down here for fun, even though there is a whirlpool. Pop down, swim a few lengths (there is a lane cordoned off) and leave.

One upside is that the pool is very warm, in fact one of the warmest hotel pools I’ve even used.

Conclusion

Hilton Bournemouth is a smart, modern hotel with impressive rooms, an executive lounge (midweek only), good food and – if you like that sort of thing – a pricey designer rooftop bar.  Just be careful to ask about noise from the bar before taking your key from reception.

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.

Our review of the adjacent Hampton will appear in a few days.  Oddly the pricing when we were there was very similar so, if you have Hilton Honors Gold or Diamond status and get free breakfast, the Hilton is a no-brainer. If you don’t have status then you need to decide whether you value free breakfast over the Hilton pool and spa – obviously you can use the Hilton restaurant and bar regardless.

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


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Comments (37)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Ian says:

    Not sure if you still get the hand held windmills in the suites?

    At least this hotel has a lounge unlike the Hilton Ageas Bowl which plays scant regard to Diamonds these days.

    Been a while since I stayed there. But always had pleasant stays in the past.

    • Rob says:

      You do!

    • daveinitalia says:

      Back in 2019 when the Hilton Bournemouth moved their lounge a member of staff told me off the record that they think the only reason they kept the lounge was because of brand standards. The only Hiltons that didn’t have to have a lounge were ones created before lounges were a requirement. If that’s the case how can Ageas Bowl get away with no lounge? Perhaps they should change to a DoubleTree or HGI like the other hotels that overlook a sports field.

      I mean that info could be wrong but it made sense since all new Hiltons seem to have an exec lounge.

  • bookish says:

    There is a king room with a single that takes 3.

    • Michael C says:

      Yes, I saw that – very much a new addition: we’ve been squeezing into a King for years with Kicky McKickerson!

  • Paul says:

    I did about 80-90 nights at the Hilton Bournemouth over 2 years. It is definitely one of the better Hilton hotels in the UK. Last time I was there, the hotel increased the breakfast offerings to include more cook to order items like Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine, etc, so definitely worth having breakfast if you have status or is included in your rate.

    @Rob – The Exec lounge has been like what you see in the picture since 2018. They do open up the partitioning if the hotel but there aren’t meetings using the space. When it has been really busy, guest have been relegated to the corridor 🤭

    • daveinitalia says:

      It was 2019 when they moved the exec lounge. I was told last time I was there that they no longer open the partition (and the lounge is now a diamond only space as they don’t sell executive rooms any more). Hopefully they’ve changed their mind on this and have started expanding the room when possible once more.

      I do remember the times when the lounge spilled over to the corridor. Pre-covid it was usually when they had booked a late meeting in the adjoining meeting room and it couldn’t expand.

      • Mark says:

        Was looking at this as an option for a few nights away around the new forest, and wondered why there were no executive rooms being sold when I was almost certain it had a lounge. Now I know why!

  • Michael C says:

    …and sorry for being Peter Repeater (from yesterday), but Lola’s Spanish restaurant 5 mins.’ walk up the slope is fabulous!

  • Neil says:

    As someone who stays here a couple of times a year and has just finished breakfast I can vonfirm that it is still good. Diamond members are generally very well looked after in terms of room upgrades although yhe original executive lounge closed some years back and the much smaller replacement only opens from Monday to Thursday

  • flyforfun says:

    I stayed here in August 2020 for 4 nights during the “eat out to help out” time frame. I wanted a proper hotel and a modern hotel. I’m not a fan of B&Bs, airbnb etc. Also, it was hot so I was glad we had a functional a/c system!

    Being during the pandemic, lots of cutbacks like no leisure facilities, the lifts was a one way system – one bank of lifts, up and the other down (which a lot of people didn’t stick to!!), the lounge was shut as was the roof top bar. Breakfast was brought to your table from a set menu which was fine.

    I found the room ok, but a little tired in parts. I would have thought the owners would have used the opportunity to do some maintenance, but when you don’t know how long things were going to be shut, I guess you can’t plan.

    Re the comment about breakfast, its been a while since I stayed in a Hamptons but I think I found the food there more processed than the Hilton. Maybe one analogy would be breakfast at Greggs vs Pret – and I’m not a huge fan of Pret! But I do recall some of them having a waffle making machine. I know I can go elsewhere for breakfast, but I’m one of those that just likes the convenience of knowing it’s there and there’s no hassles searching for somewhere else.

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    I’m mainly shocked that you’re there playing golf 😀 You didn’t even play a round when staying at Gleneagles!

    • daveinitalia says:

      He probably really just went to the mini golf place near to the hotel 😁

    • Rob says:

      Solent Meads is a Par 3 course, not a championship course! I am unable to hit a golf ball more than 100 yards and avoid courses where that may be necessary 🙂

  • Bagoly says:

    “We split ourselves across the two hotels. A review of the Hampton will follow in a few days.” + “I wasn’t in a position to see other rooms for comparison.”
    => Suggests that all your friends were in the Hampton?
    I hope they too got to enjoy the suite sitting room.

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