Two hours on the train from London Waterloo you’ll find THE NICI, a former Victorian landmark hotel in Bournemouth that has emerged from a £20-million makeover looking more luxurious than ever.
Although it makes for the perfect summer staycation, this resort-style property is designed to be enjoyed all year round with cosy corners, lounges with fireplaces, hot tubs in the ten garden suites, plus an impressive spa with an indoor swimming pool, gym, and yoga studio. There are 84 guestrooms in total, many with panoramic views of Poole Bay, and dogs are welcome too. The hotel has an unbeatable location – guests can reach the ten-mile beach in five minutes via a gate at the end of the garden and the winding West Cliff zig-zag path that runs from clifftop to the golden sands.
Bournemouth meets South Beach, Miami, with bright and colourful interiors that feel fresh and vibrant rather than OTT. Step into the lobby and be transported across the Atlantic by cool artwork, bold fabrics, flamingo statues and statement lighting. The latest phase of the refurbishment saw the unveiling of a magnificent 30-metre swimming pool (that was heated to a tropical 31 degrees while we were there), surrounded by a pristine sandy ‘beach’ complete with cabanas, where you can spend the day ordering cocktails and snacks while you top up your tan. A testament to THE NICI’S laid-back atmosphere is that you will feel comfortable strolling through the hotel in just your swimming costume and towelling robe.
Book a bedroom with a sea view to make the most of THE NICI’s prime position overlooking Bournemouth beach; a beautiful sweep of powdery sand and sparkling water beyond. The rooms are all bright and airy with high ceilings and large windows to let maximum light in. The interiors are a calming, minimalist palette of white, with accents such as palm-tree print cushions and a moss-green velvet sofa. Rooms come complete with a tiled shower room, and, if you’re lucky, a standalone bathtub at the foot of the bed. The mini bar is stocked with a cocktail shaker, two pineapple-shaped glasses and a carafe of complimentary rum, and overall the vibe is fun and relaxing.
At the heart of THE NICI is a fabulous new spa, which houses eight treatment rooms and an incredible relaxation room stocked with herbal teas, dried fruit and nuts, and the comfiest loungers to recline on before or after your treatment. The beds are adorned with chic burnt orange blankets, there are diffusers scenting the room and the lighting is low to create a soothing, cocooning effect. This season has also seen the arrival of an 18-metre heated indoor pool and hydrotherapy pool, alongside a poolside steam room and aromatherapy sauna. Yoga aficionados can enjoy morning workouts in the tranquil studio, while there is also a Technogym-equipped training space if you prefer to hit the treadmill or lift weights.
The spa treatments themselves are in partnership with the award-winning British skincare brand, OSKIA, and range from indulgent facials to full-body massages. The name OSKIA derives from the ancient Greek for ‘delivering nutrients’ and ‘beauty’, and the brand’s luxurious products certainly reflect this. As well as vitamins, minerals, proteins, amino acids and omegas to improve your skin’s cellular activity and efficiency, the formulas include high-tech bio-actives (including plant stem cell technology, peptide complexes, anti-oxidants, enzymes, prebiotics, botanical extracts and floral oils) to combat concerns associated with ageing and the impact of lifestyle and the environment. Opt for the 60-minute results-driven facial and you’ll enjoy a blissful hour of exfoliation and sculpting to restore a healthy glow to the skin and completely relax (falling asleep is a real possibility!). Therapists are brilliant and always tailor the treatment to meet individual skin needs while also considering personal preference with regard to massage pressure.
Food + Drink
The hotel’s spacious South Beach Restaurant offers healthy brunches, light lunches and an epic plate of fish and chips – a must-try for any seaside sojourn. Its vast outdoor terrace bar with fringed parasols is the perfect spot for a long, rosé-fuelled lunch and you can choose from a menu with elements of Miami such as the vegan South Beach sushi, a nod to Asian cuisine with BBQ pork belly bao and slaw, Italian dishes such as squid ink seafood tagliatelle, and other comforting British classics. Remember to leave room for pudding as these are not to be missed – a highlight was the passionfruit pavlova with passionfruit curd, vanilla cream, shortbread crumble and sour cream sorbet.
The Little Extras
The hotel offers guests a fleet of complimentary green bicycles on which to explore the seafront, plus the use of kayaks, bodyboards and paddle boards to add to the fun in the waves. There’s also a plush 13-seat cinema that hosts daily screenings, and an excellent playroom for children with toys, books and video games, plus activities to keep them occupied during the holidays and half-terms.
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