(Apologies for missing images. They were a casulaty of the crossover from thislittlelady.co.uk)
I love London. Adore it. And when the sun is shining, I honestly believe it’s probably the best place in the world.
But even devotees of this fair city crave a change of scenery every once in a while, and last week…the time came to make a mini escape. So, with the help of my lovely friend @bakeaboo, we packed up the car, jumped on the motorway and sped away to the seaside for a change of pace.
It’s easy to forget just how close we are to a different world, when we get caught up in London life. But just a couple of hours away, down the M3, lies Christchurch. A sleepy little town near Bournemouth, which surprisingly boasts not one, but two castles, two rivers, and some delicious Dorset cream teas. Slightly to the South, right at the bottom of the country, you’ll find Mudeford – a tiny fishing village with a quaint harbour – that is the home of the wonderful Christchurch Harbour Hotel.
Arriving at the hotel is quite literally a breath of fresh air. Getting out of the car, we inhaled pure, fresh oxygen for the first time in months, and stepped into the reception. The relaxed way of life clearly agrees with people here, as they’re all…well…remarkably friendly and unhurried. They seem genuinely pleased to see us, and happy to help.
Weird, huh?! We just don’t get that in the big smoke.
We were walked up to our (frankly magnificent) room, via the spa, and left to appreciate the views for the first time. The front of the hotel is nice, sure, but the rear? Incredible. Our room (number 523 if you’re interested) looked out over the harbour, with a clear view to the pretty little beach huts in the distance (a bargain at c£375,000 each…), and the moored boats bobbing in the ebbing tide. A little closer? We had a modern, four poster bed and a stunning free standing bath tub in our beautifully appointed room. Possibly a little wasted on us ladies (we’re not THAT close…), but a real treat nonetheless. And for those who don’t fancy bathing, looking out at that view (are you mad??) a huge, double shower in the private bathroom next door. Everything you could need. Really.
After a relaxing little lay down after the drive, we headed down to dinner at the Upper Deck restaurant. It’s one of two on the premises and part of the main hotel building and prides itself on local, seasonal ingredients (the Jetty restaurant, which specialises in local seafood, is slightly separate and perched on the waters edge). We were seated at one of the best tables – with both seats angled towards the window, taking in that gorgeous view.
Now. We’d already chosen what we were going to eat before we’d sat down (total foodies) and were keen to dig straight in. After we’d ordered and been poured a sparkling glass of Prosecco, we were brought out some tasters from the chef – including some beautiful plump mussels with garlic butter, a smoked salmon mousse, tempura prawns and a delicate crab tart. You know when you just know you’re going to have an enjoyable evening? I think this was it.
We sat chatting and laughing with our lovely Waiter (Leszek) who kept us amused, fed and watered all evening, and then devoured our dishes. Zoe chose the prawn cocktail to start which was good – although a little bit mushy at the bottom (perhaps the salad was put in too early and left to sit?) and I quite literally inhaled the scallops with pork belly. I absolutely adore scallops, and this combination was spot on. The pork was sticky and moist, and the scallops juicy. I could have eaten it all over again.
Luckily, I didn’t need to…as our main course of lobster arrived. Lobster is one of my favourite things on the planet and a real treat for me (as I’d never attempt to cook it at home). I chose to have mine hot, drizzled with garlic butter, while Zoe chose to try hers cold with mayo. Both were tender and meaty, cooked to perfection and generous in portion size. The chips were also good, and the salad dressed well.
Now. This next bit of the story is where you may start to judge me. And I think….no, I’m sure…I’m OK with that.
We finished our lobster at about 8.45pm. Zoe was enjoying another glass of Prosecco. The sun was still shining, but sinking in the sky, and everything was wonderful.
BUT IT WAS TUESDAY.
Luther is (was) on Tuesdays. So, much to the amusement of the hotel staff, we asked (nicely) if they’d mind bringing the rest of our bottle, and our desserts, up to our room while we settled in to watch the season finale.
And that’s what we did.
We spent a Tuesday night in the Christchurch Harbour Hotel with Idris Elba. Bet there’s not many of you who can say that. BRILLIANT.
Soooo. After eating elderflower and strawberry jelly and drinking bubbles while watching TV, we returned back to the bar (and ignored the fact they thought we were mental) and sat outside, under the stars, relaxing and feeling utterly blissed out. If this was a romantic break? It would have been perfect. But still pretty marvellous with my smashing friend, too…
The next day, we woke up after a brilliant night’s sleep feeling rather sprightly and decided that it would be a good idea to take out one of the free kayaks in the harbour. A somewhat strange decision for two city girls, perhaps, but hey…anything for a giggle.
Zoe (hilariously) informed me that she had a GCSE in Kayaking (IS THERE SUCH A THING??) so we strapped up in our life jackets and went for it. Now, with my injuries, I was more of a dead weight in the back of the kayak than any actual help…but I must say, we (Zoe) did rather well. No falling in, no crashing…much to the disappointment of the onlookers who were clearly waiting for mayhem. They got bored quite quickly at the lack of action and got back to their sunbathing – the swines. We wanted applause.
After all that activity (or sitting still, however you want to look at it), I decided I deserved another treat, and headed to the spa for an ESPA facial. As with everything else at the hotel, the spa was beautifully appointed, with a lot of space, plenty of treatment rooms and helpful, knowledgeable staff. I came out glowing, refreshed…and ready to fall asleep in the car home.
We may have only been away for around 24 hours – but honestly, our stay at Christchurch Harbour Hotel was a little slice of heaven. With the glorious sunshine, the stunning decor, the breathtaking views, friendly staff and delicious food…you really couldn’t ask for anything else. And just 2.5 hours away from London?
What are you waiting for?!
We were guests of Christchurch Harbour Hotel who offered us dinner, bed and breakfast for the night (equivalent approx £300 for two). Spa treatment was at own expense.