Travel: Postcard from Dorset

Christchurch, Dorset

Rhiane Kirkby and her family take a trip to Christchurch for some seaside fun

As we pulled into the Captain’s Club Hotel’s car park I began to curl my toes in anticipation of the ‘welcome’ we were about to receive. The impeccably decorated and immaculately clean reception area also did little to put me at ease!

Don’t get me wrong, the hotel – situated between Bournemouth and the New Forest – and its staff were warm and friendly, perhaps (in my opinion) just not that suited to a relaxing break away with a very mobile and inquisitive toddler. My fears were compounded on entering our ‘holiday home’ – as my little boy liked to call it. A junior suite – complete with shiny white tiles, cream carpets, an array of breakable ornaments, oh and floor to ceiling windows – just perfect for little hand prints!

Thankfully I couldn’t have been more wrong. The reception staff were beyond helpful – eagerly offering to help with an excessive amount of luggage and personally escorting us to our room. The catering team, although obviously not used to small children and hard-to-assemble high chairs, couldn’t have been more appreciative of a cute smile. And the cleaners happily wiped those grubby handprints from our windows without a grumble or a sigh.

Captain's Club Hotel

Our suite was equally suited to our toddler’s needs with plenty of space to run around in, a separate bedroom to house the cot and a fully equipped kitchen complete with Nespresso machine for that early morning caffeine injection – for us, not him obviously! We ordered room service so we could have a relaxing meal with our toddler safely tucked up in bed and I have to say this was the highlight of our stay – amazing food, beautifully presented and most importantly – still piping hot. There is a babysitting service available though if you’d rather dine in the restaurant or – heaven forbid – venture into the real world!

It’s hard to find fault with the hotel, but it’s the location which really sets it apart. Perfectly positioned on the banks of the River Stour in Christchurch, it certainly makes the most of its outlook with riverside views from every room. The constant stream of activity – swans, ducks, boats and canoes – is perfect for keeping a toddler amused, as are the wide selection of family-friendly and award-winning beaches within easy reach.

Our personal favourite was Avon Beach in Mudeford, which catered for all our needs – sand, pebbles and a playground, excellent fish and chips and The Noisy Lobster – a licensed beachside cafe which stands head and shoulders above the rest. The wild ponies of the New Forest weren’t hard to find and even though we were keen to leave ‘normal’ life behind and explore the great outdoors, we did find a clean and relatively quiet soft play cafe – complete with excellent coffee and delicious cakes!

Enjoying some time on the beach
Enjoying some time on the beach

Thankfully my initial fears and berating of my husband for – and I quote – “booking a totally inappropriate hotel” were completely unfounded. I hate to admit it, but it was actually a pretty perfect choice – somewhere we could reminisce about life before children, whilst still being able to cater for their every need.

Prices for rooms start from £160 per night for a large state room – includes breakfast. Visit