12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
What do you do if you want to open a hotel by the beach but the nearest you can get to it is 500 yards away?
Call it Urban Beach & Bistro of course, employ some surfy staff, decent cocktail makers and give the whole place a trendy ambience that brings in the locals as well as residents.
Urban Beach in the Boscombe area of the English town Bournemouth, reflects the regeneration of that formerly very unglamorous part of the famous seaside resort that is slowly turning it from seedy backwater to upmarket potential.
And owner Mark Cribb has progressively turned around what was previously a rather run-down building into something achingly trendy ” and right in the heart of a residential road to boot.
Guests can practically see and smell the sea though. Just those 500 yards away down a precipitously steep hill lies Boscombe pier and its beach ” soon to be radically transformed by the creation of an artificial reef that will attract surfers looking for that guaranteed break from October this year.
Indeed, the whole waterfront is slated for an ”8m makeover, largely from the sale of a council car park that will revolutionise what was a particularly grim part of town.
But Cribb is not necessarily looking for hoardes of grungy dudes to descend on Urban Beach. With rooms from ”70 to ”170, this is certainly no back-packer hostel ” it”s much more about families and yes, some business travellers who are looking to find something else than a standard chain box.
Styling itself more in the boutique mould, Urban Beach is marked out by its staff, from the sandal and short-wearing assistant manager James, who greets guests on arrival to Mark himself, often found chatting to punters late in the evening and looking after breakfast a few hours later.
One of the must-dos on arrival is to spend a little time at the luxuriously-appointed bar. A natural focal point for Bournemouth residents, the back bar is stocked with top-end brands and tastefully lit. Meanwhile, a selection of cocktails are all recommended and hand-made by various bartenders ” or should we say mixologists? ” who shake and stir to create a wide variety of tasty treats.
The food is truly excellent as well. Be patient though, on busy nights such as Friday, it can take quite some time to be served, so kick back with something that the barman mixes up and relax ” this is not fast food.
Cribb tries as much as possible to source locally, from a selection of Hampshire cheeses to pork and apple sausages. Most of Urban”s meat comes from the Cranborne Estate, 18 miles from Bournemouth, while the hotel has also signed up to the River Cottage ”Chicken Out” campaign to promote humane rearing of small flocks that are fed GM free food.
The bistro is open seven days a week from noon until 11pm ” the early curfew ” which applies to the bar as well ” reflecting Urban Beach”s status being situated in a residential area.
One of Urban Beach”s genuine innovations is the decked area immediately outside the hotel. Featuring several large umbrellas with heaters to ward off the chill, the terrace also features a ”beach shack,” which in summer serves cocktails and reverberates to a lively musical beat.
Each of the 12 rooms is individual at Urban and all feature en suite shower or bathrooms. My room also had an enormous Japanese-style wood carving over the extremely comfortable bed. One nice touch is that the hotel has a range of free DVDs to play in the rooms. A complimentary local fitness club is also available.
Bournemouth is not lacking in hotels ” it has long been a favourite seaside destination of Brits ” but Urban Beach really does stand out from the crowd. And coupled with Boscombe”s regeneration, it is well-placed to serve a business and leisure clientele, all driven by Cribb”s genuine enthusiasm.
Urban Beach hotel23 Argyle RoadBournemouthBH5 1EBTel: 01202 email@example.com