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.
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.
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:
The living room:
and, showing the dining table at the back:
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:
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:
and a shot of the bath from the other angle:
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:
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:
The bar is smart too, albeit low on seating:
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.
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.
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.
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:
…. 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.
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.
How to earn Hilton Honors points and status from UK credit cards (December 2023)
There are various ways of earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
Did you know that the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are a great way of earning Hilton Honors points? Two Virgin Points can be converted into three Hilton Honors points. The Virgin Atlantic cards are the only Visa or Mastercard products in the UK which can indirectly earn Hilton Honors points. You can apply here.
You can also earn Hilton Honors points indirectly with:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (10,000 bonus Amex points)
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Hilton points is 1:2.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)