On the edge of seaside Bournemouth in Dorset, The Green House hotel is just a quick five-minute walk from the city's historic centre. This picturesque estate got the whole eco-conscious revamp in its transformation into an intimate and luxurious boutique hotel, with furnishings made of sustainable materials and earth tones throughout. Even much of the electricity is produced on-site and the sun helps to heat the water. Not surprisingly, the restaurant – the best in Bournemouth – uses only local sustainably raised and grown produce.
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11am, but later check-out may be possible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $130.75 (£108), excluding tax at 20 per cent.
Rates usually include a full cooked breakfast of fresh New Forest produce.
It's worth noting that the hotel is a popular wedding venue, so be prepared for the bar and lounge to be busy until around 6pm on weekends. Parties tend to be confined to the basement so that there’s minimal disruption after this time, but it might be worth asking if there’s an event planned if you’re booking a weekend stay. Fancy an endorphin hit? Ask for a guest pass to the neighbouring gym – just £5 a day – to fit in a workout class or a weights session.
At the hotel
Small garden, DVD library (and players to borrow), free WiFi throughout. In rooms: eco-friendly LED TV, Bose iPod dock, tea and coffee (and an eco kettle), bespoke low-impact bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Ask for a room at the rear for maximum peace, and top-floor rooms are the quietest. Crab Apple, a Master Double on the first floor, has plenty of space to run around in, as well as a huge roll-top in the centre of the open bathroom. Cedar is smaller, but worth its weight in bathroom. The Small Doubles can be a bit of a squeeze, so are best kept for one-nighters.
Don’t forget beach towels if you’re here in summer: Bournemouth beach draws a crowd as soon as the sun makes its presence felt. Come by car (electric, naturally) so you can get out of the city into the New Forest and pootle around Dorest’s Jurassic coast.
One room has been adapted for wheelchair users. The hotel is a popular wedding venue on weekends, so be prepared for the bar and lounge to be busy. Check when you book to find out if there's an event on.
Welcome, although there are no outstandingly family-friendly facilities. There's a £15 a night fee for a cot (ages 0-3), £30 a night for an extra bed (ages 4-12) and £50 for ages 13 and up. Little Smiths are welcome in Arbor restaurant before 7pm.
The clue’s in the name. The Green House goes beyond the gimmicks and thinks of everything. All materials and furniture – from the bespoke bamboo-covered Hypnos mattresses to the TVs which automatically adjust picture output to suit the light level – are as green as it gets and everything the hotel does is informed by a dedicated (but not preachy) eco-friendly ethos. Electricals are all low-energy, and everything that plausibly can be is recycled (including rainwater) and/or locally sourced.
By the bay window, in the middle, where it’s brightest (by day) and free from passing elbows.
Informal, though things get suity during the week; country casuals at weekends.
It might not sound like much to say the Arbor Restaurant is the best in Bournemouth, but it’s been drawing appreciative nods from those in the gastro know since it opened. As you’d expect, chef Andrew Hilton takes sustainability seriously, tweaking the menu seasonally to take advantage of what’s fresh, tempting and readily available from the local area. The four-course à la carte menu, which gives starring roles to dishes such as glazed pork cheek with a wholegrain mustard potato cake, and crispy lamb with apricot purée, is gloriously good value, and vegetarians are very well looked after, too. Look our for the eponymous tree, an impressive centrepiece of carved oak and fibre-optic lights that casts a warming glow over the proceedings. Advanced booking advised.
Just off the lobby, the Arbor Restaurant’s snug rectangular bar area is papered in Farrow & Ball thistle-print brocade (best not mention the fact it’s upside down), and dotted with comfy toweling-topped seating in green and purple. It’s ideal for pre-dinner berry mojitos, Sunday brunchtime Bloody Marys, or just a pint of Dorset ale; there’s a wide-ranging biodynamic wine list, too.
The Arbor Restaurant serves dinner until 10pm (lunch is 12.30pm–2pm and breakfast, 7.30am–9.30am). Drink in the bar around the clock and take afternoon tea anywhere in the hotel between noon and 6pm, but the best spot is outside on the terrace.
There’s a 24-hour menu of snacks and sandwiches, with a handful of hot dishes and a tasty cheese platter.
The Green House is just on the edge of Bournemouth city centre, about five minutes’ walk from the beach, on Grove Road – a tree-lined avenue lined with hotels and guesthouses.
Bournemouth International airport is around five miles away in Hurn, and, largely thanks to Ryanair and EasyJet, serves an assortment of destinations in Europe and the Channel Islands, with a long-haul or two (such as New York) thrown into the timetable. Taxis are around £15. Most guests coming by plane, however, will land at Heathrow or Gatwick, both around two hours’ drive away.
A mile from the hotel, Bournemouth station is on the South Western Main Line that runs between London Waterloo and Weymouth. The trip to/from London takes less than two hours, and services run about four times an hour.
A car will be handy for escaping the city and exploring Dorset, Hampshire and the Jurassic coast. The Green House is roughly two hours’ drive from London, down the M3 and across the New Forest. There’s a free car park at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Beyond the beach and the shops (the best of the boutiques are in Westbourne, along Poole Road), Bournemouth’s biggest attractions aren’t actually in it. It’s an easy and scenic half-hour drive to the New Forest a rambler’s wonderland, and great cycling/horse-riding territory. Give the New Forest Cider Brewery a ring in advance to book one of their cheese and cider tasting sessions; during appple-pressing season in the autumn, you may even catch their hand press at work (+44 (0)1425 403589). Pack a picnic and catch the ferry from Poole Quay to road-free Brownsea Island, a blessedly road-free wildlife sanctuary where a young Baden Powell set up his prototype Scout camp.
Bournemouth’s not yet known for its foodie scene, but it’s working on it, and there are a few feathers in its culinary cap. Slap-bang by the shore, West Beach is a gently nautical, family-friendly fish joint that’s just as reliable for lobsters and langoustines as it is with beer-battered cod (+44(0)1202 587785). For an evening of tapas-style Thai food, check out Koh Thai. Half an hour outside Bournemouth in New Milton, Vetiver at Smith-approved Chewton Glen has been widely praised for its classic British menu, which draws heavily from local produce and meat (there’s a trolley of roasts in the evenings). The wine list is even more impressive, and the restaurant often hosts special wine dinners, matching vintage to victuals (+44 (0)1425 275341). Beachside Neo is the place to go for seafood-centric meals with a view.
Bournemouth’s bar scene can be boisterous, especially in the summer stag-do season, so steer clear of the swagger and head to 1812 Lounge Bar & Restaurantfor classic cocktails and live music.
I won’t lie. There was a small sigh of relief as we entered our Bournemouth boutique hotel. More Bognor than Bilbao, this South Coast town is not always celebrated for its attractive architecture and the Green House Hotel is sandwiched between a Sixties’ block of flats and a red-and-white concrete abode named (rather ambitiously?) the Celebrity Hotel. Perhaps this is all deliberate – the build up makes first impressions of this stay all the more memorable.
Large conifers hide the hotel strip beyond, and sports cars fringe a palm-dotted front lawn with soft grey steps lead up to a gleaming, white mansion. For one of the most eco hotels in the country, the Green House Hotel’s grandeur is impressive. Our delight only grew stronger as we were led to our room via a beautifully restored Victorian staircase, decorated in a soft leaf-print wallpaper. (Not these, but a lot of the wallcoverings were designed exclusively for the hotel by Royal College of Art students which put paid to our hopes of buying them for our own home.)
Up to the second floor and across to the far side of the hotel and we had reached Silver Birch, our home for the next two nights. With below-freezing weather in store, the room was going to be the real clincher. I could barely contain my excitement on entering a room perfectly proportioned for an indulgent, lazy weekend with Mr Smith. Open plan, half of the room is dominated by an organic cotton mound of a bed, while the other gives centre stage to a stand-alone Victorian bath. It was also spotless (vital for relaxing, given mild OCD tendencies) and cosy (vital for romance, given the temperatures outside). Having dreamed about the roll-top bath all week, it was very tempting to stay put for our first night. But we felt we should at least give Friday night in Bournemouth a try and, more importantly, we were starving and although room service is 24/7, the room had no minibar.
Despite my previous comments about the surrounding architecture, the Green House Hotel is in a pretty good spot. Two minutes’ stroll and you are on the seafront, gazing along a seven-mile stretch of sandy beach. Closing my eyes and ignoring the February chill ripping through my soul, I could just about imagine stepping out in a floaty summer number and ambling barefoot through warm sand in search of seaside cocktails. But in reality, with stomachs rumbling and hands numb, we hurried towards the town centre and dived into the first restaurant we came across.
There are some atmospheres you just can’t find in London, and this was one. A grand piano hosted a silver fox blasting out his piano rendition of Bryan Adams while a waiter in black tie ushered us to a candlelit table. The restaurant was full of the celebrating and celebrated of Bournemouth, all dressed to the nines, guffawing the night away with full glasses, platters of seafood and red faces. ‘This is amazing!’ I whispered to Mr Smith, in the way that you do when you’re an outsider really excited to be at someone else’s ‘normal’. With two AA rosettes the Crab at Bournemouth is said to be the best seafood restaurant in town, and I’m not going to argue. Having popped out for a quick snack and some drinks, we couldn’t resist a full-blown feast.
After a lie in, a warming bath and locally sourced (and also very tasty) breakfast, we decided to head into some of the surrounding countryside this part of Dorset is so famous for. The area is a mecca for GCSE Geography case studies: Durdle Door, Old Harry Rocks, Purbeck Hills, Swanage Bay, Chesil Beach. The lure of a geeky trip down memory lane aside, we were both excited at the prospect of cliffs, sea breezes and a pint of local cider. Our ‘since we’re by the sea, perhaps the sun will poke out’ hopes sadly didn’t manifest, but the West Country cider provided more than the necessary warmth.
Back at the hotel we walked straight into the warming and excitable atmosphere of a wedding, giving us the perfect excuse to go the whole hog when it came to drinks and six-course tasting menu at the Arbor Restaurant. With bridesmaids and pageboys hiding from merry parents and a flushed bride and groom having a romantic moment in the garden, we settled in at the bar to start our night of beautifully prepared and responsibly sourced food and drink. A bottle of English sparkling wine in (which could almost have been champagne) and I was declaring the Green House Hotel the most wholesome and relaxing place to spend a Saturday night in the whole of Dorset. And when it comes to Bournemouth, frankly, this place is a lifesaver.
Slightly sore heads tempted us back to the beach on Sunday morning. With the sun breaking through dark grey clouds it was just as beautiful as it would be in summer. Bournemouth has hosted leisure seekers for more than a hundred years and in some ways, with its deck chairs, promenaders and piers, that morning it felt unchanged. Until we stumbled into a jazz-filled seafront bar where Bournemouth’s media set were getting stuck into some punchy Bloody Marys.
Environmentally friendly hotels so often fall into two camps – the corporate and efficient hotel room with as little soul as it has carbon, and the preachy hippy with so much eco-chat that you spend the whole time scratching at your hairshirt and walking on eggshells. Not so here. The Green House Hotel is genuinely better for its subtly delivered organic and responsible credentials, and it leaves you feeling all the better for it.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in The Green House’s Guestbook below.
The attention to detail that goes into making the hotel green. The food, the staff, the room and bathroom.
An armchair in your bedroom, which means you only have the bed to sit on (standard double) even though there's plenty of space in the room.
Stayed on 15 Mar 2019
Friendly staff, personal touches, good location and relaxed atmosphere.
Stayed on 11 Mar 2019
The attitude, professionalism and courtesy of all the staff that we met and the clever design and quality of the interior.
A swimming pool or extensive garden- the hotel is a little town centre gem.
Stayed on 8 Mar 2019
The staff at the hotel were fantastic in every department: reception, bar, restaurant and housekeeping. Friendly and very professional service. Ideal location to walk to all the attractions in the centre of Bournemouth and at the beachfront.
To be disappointed. You won't be.
Stayed on 22 Feb 2019
We loved the 'green' aspect of this hotel – as much as possible (including furnishings) was sourced locally. The staff were friendly and helpful and the service was excellent. We went for a quiet weekend break after Christmas and were not disappointed. We had dinner at he hotel one night, which was delicious and an afternoon tea the following day, the quantity of which defeated us! Would definitely stay there again and would recommend to friends and family.
Not really a hotel for families with children.
Stayed on 4 Jan 2019
The room was lovely, well presented, clean with a beautiful wet room and free standing bath. The menu was limited but the food was very nice and well cooked. Service was pretty well spot on. Would definitely stay here again when visiting Bournemouth.
Stayed on 11 Nov 2018
We love everything about The Green House hotel, it is our favourite hotel and we try and stay every year around our anniversary. The rooms are beautiful, the staff go above and beyond and the food is exceptional! We first booked this hotel for it's eco credentials – eating meat/dairy/eggs from farms that have the highest animal welfare standards, raised outdoors and sourced locally. Relaxed bar serving delicious cocktails and 5 minutes walk to Bournemouth's sandy beaches. We always leave feeling relaxed and rejuvinated! The beds are so comfortable and many of the rooms have roll top baths and monsoon showers. Comfortable, classy and ethical! Five-star service all the way.
Stayed on 10 Oct 2018
We loved the room which was clean, spacious, well decorated, comfortable and had everything we needed. Having the milk for tea and coffee in a flask was much nicer than UHT milk! The provision of gluten free biscuits was much appreciated (very tasty!) All the staff at reception, in the bar and in the restaurant were very friendly, conscientious and incredibly helpful, especially concerning my food intolerances which were catered for extremely well. Its ideal location is so convenient for getting a bus, walking into the town centre or to getting to the beach. We had a very relaxed stay and enjoyed being there very much. We will definitely go again. We stayed there a few years ago and it is still as good as it was then!
Stayed on 30 Aug 2018
Lovely, boutique hotel - rooms nicely decorated and spotless, with crisp bedding and fluffy towels. The dinner was amazing and the cooked breakfast just the right amount with quality produce. The staff were very friendly and helpful! The lovely beaches are just a few mins walk from the main strip.
No air conditioning (as the hotel is green) but we were fine with the blind down, window open and the little fan supplied, even though it was 30 degrees outside.
Stayed on 1 Jul 2018
The hotel was very central. 5 minutes to the waterfront. 15 minutes walk into town We loved the hotel. It was modern, clean and staff were very friendly and hepful.
Stayed on 5 Jun 2018
We liked the cool, Scandinavian decor throughout the hotel. We were there on a very good value Lazy Sunday package so we did not expect a huge room, but ours was well appointed and very well maintained. The restaurant served delicious, locally sourced dishes at dinner and a very generous breakfast. The location is very close to the beach and within easy walking distance of the town. The staff in all departments were excellent.
Conditioner and body lotion in the bathroom, but there was plenty of shampoo, shower gel, liquid soap and hand cream.
Stayed on 22 Apr 2018
The hotel and the food was fabulous. The location is great too, just a 5-10 minute walk down to the beach.
I would just call before you book to make sure that there isn't a wedding booked in. Unfortunately there was during our stay, and we were not really moved very far away from the stairs or the basement where the dancefloor was, which meant that we could hear the music reverberating up the walls until 11.45pm and then had 15 minutes of everyone tramping up and down to bed. We did, however, get a really good seat in the fairly empty dining room for breakfast!
Stayed on 14 Apr 2018
The sumptuous bed and bath in the room. The bed was amazing and you sunk into the bed and pillows and we had the best nights sleep. It's an easy and quick walk to the beach and restaurants.
Room service or extra treats like a pillow menu etc.
Stayed on 1 Apr 2018
We loved the room, everything in it was eco (the woollen rug, the towels and the bathroom products) and the restaurant 'Arbore' was warm and welcoming with nice, friendly staff.
It to be so nice.
Stayed on 16 Mar 2018
The eco basis on which the hotel is run. Wonderful comfortable bed with luxury bedding. Luxury and very large bathroom. Superb evening meal. West Beach Café on the beach has a good location and great seafood. Russell-Cotes museum/house is well worth a visit.
Lots of activities for kids. This is a grown up hotel.
Stayed on 12 Mar 2018
The service, lounge bar and the fact that the hotel generally had a nice ambiance. The food at the restaurant was particularly good. Would not recommend Bournemouth. Although nearby Christchurch and the New Forest were good. Would not be returning due to its location.
The breakfast service and food were very poor. Wrong food and poor quality produce. They had run out of certain foods. I can only imagine the chef works nights as it was a different restaurant in terms of food quality, hygiene and service for breakfast. Different staff for breakfast. After a good previous evening it did slightly spoil the stay as it's the last experience at the hotel.
Stayed on 10 Mar 2018
The warm welcome we received complete with rose petals on the bed and chocolate brownies in the room as they knew we were celebrating our anniversary. Food at the hotel restaurant (Arbor) was amazing. It was a really comfortable and relaxing stay. There was a wedding in the hotel basement while we were there, but they gave us a nice quiet room on the top floor and for the most part we wouldn't have known there was a wedding on.
A completely sound proof room – it is quite a big old house so you do get some noise from the neighbouring rooms and underneath the door. Also I could hear what sounded like taxis outside the hotel leaving their engines on waiting to pick up wedding guests for about an hour around midnight.
Stayed on 9 Mar 2018
Clean, airy room. Lovely fluffy towels and steaming hot shower. Plenty of parking. Take a walk down the sea front to Boscombe. Just past the pier there is a great bar called Urban Reef. Great atmosphere!
To be able to have cocktails after hours. The bar is advertised as 24 hours for residents but you can't have cocktails, despite them being on the menu.
Stayed on 18 Feb 2018
The room was fantastic, spotlessly clean with an amazing bath/shower area. It felt luxury. The bed was comfy (if a little soft), and the room was very quiet so had a great nights sleep. Love the little touches like the room names carved in wood and the luxury toiletries. The breakfast was perfect. The staff were helpful and friendly, even posting back to us my husband's iPhone cable that he had left in the room. We ate at Brasserie Blanc which was amazing – delicious food, great service, lovely setting. We then did the 10-mile coast walk from Sandbanks ferry to Old Harry Rocks and back – great fun, especially in the blizzard! Had tea and scones at the NT cafe along the way which was lovely.
Stayed on 26 Jan 2018
The attention to detail with regard to sustainability and providing a very comfortable and happy environment. The hotel restaurant was excellent, reflecting the same quality of the locally sourced produce, which was used to create inventive and delicious meals. The location was perfect, close to the beach and town and able to walk to both without needing the car, a big bonus! Brewhouse kitchen in Bournemouth for excellent crafted beers, a wide selection of gins (all in a study guide!) and freshly cooked food.
Stayed on 19 Jan 2018
The staff, location, food, room, service and decor.
Stayed on 10 Nov 2017
The restaurant. The hotel has a peaceful ambience, yet it wasn't far from the town centre.
Stayed on 20 Oct 2017
The location was great, as were the fixtures and fittings. The coffee and the tea they served was delicious, the bed was very comfortable and the breakfast was delicious. The Neo Restaurant was absolutely fantastic, with great views of the sea.
A minibar in the room even if you go for a deluxe room.