30m outdoor pool at The Nici with trees behind

The Nici

The lowdown

The freshly refurbished Nici hotel sits above Bournemouth’s West Cliff beach and is already attracting a cool staycation crowd to its stylish rooms, buzzy restaurant and bar, huge outdoor pool and brand new spa.

With a retro-futuristic feel, and a strong Miami aesthetic, the 80-bedroom 5-star hotel brings a tropical, glamorous, and carefree vibe to Bournemouth’s beach front. Think cool cabanas, lazy lunches, and Ibiza pool vibes.

Easy to get to by car or train – the hotel’s just a few minutes from the town centre, and a short cab ride from Bournemouth station, with valet parking at the hotel. Nearby attractions include The New Forest and of course Dorset’s many lovely beaches along the South West coast. Recently named ‘Best Seaside Hotel of the Year’, The Nici sits on Bournemouth’s West Cliff, just along the coast from Sandbanks and Poole Harbour.

Following a multi-million-pound investment, this Edwardian seaside hotel has been reborn as a beach-chic boutique spa hotel. It’s a destination in its own right, welcoming guests of all ages, and is popular with couples and families alike. With its spacious layout, fabulous facilities, and killer location, The Nici’s a great choice for a summer staycation or winter spa break, and everything in between.

The hotel has a friendly, laid-back atmosphere and strong holiday vibes. And, on a summer’s day would give Saint Tropez or Santa Monica a run for their stylish sunny money.

The impressive heated 30m pool is open to residents and Nici club members only. Its beautiful turquoise waters are flanked by properly comfy loungers and a backdrop of trees that makes you feel that you’re somewhere (even) more exotic than Bournemouth UK.

The Nici excels at relaxation and has plenty of terrace tables, sofas and loungers for carefree dining, coffees, and cocktails. Plus, a couple of sunken fire pits where you can sit and enjoy a drink after the sun goes down.

For active types, there’s an activity centre for all your paddleboard, kayaking and boogieboarding needs. And of course, a ten-mile stretch of coastline and golden sandy beach just a short walk down the zig-zag path, which can be accessed directly from the hotel.

But you don’t have to leave the hotel if it’s a beach you’re after as The Nici has its own, albeit smaller playa, accessorised with cabanas, alongside the pool.

Style-wise think palms, confident colour palette and the occasional flamingo. The whole place has a sense of playfulness. It’s a spa hotel for good times and sea views, pina coladas in pineapples and for reclining under candy-striped sunbrellas by the heated pool. The 5-star Nici puts Bournemouth on the luxury hotel map and continues the time-honoured tradition of escaping to the British seaside for feel-good fun. It also reminds us that you don’t need to go abroad to have a good time, and there’s no Speedy Boarding or jet lag required.

Families

The Nici actively welcomes families, while retaining a sophisticated grown-up feel. There are various accommodation options (see below) and it’s perfect for multigenerational groups as there’s something for everyone. And the hotel has a small but well-equipped kids’ activity room to help you maintain your sunny disposition if you’re enjoying a family break and the weather takes a turn for the British. Plus, a thirteen-seater in-house cinema showing films for all, with several daily screenings.

Spavellous for

The cool crowd, lovers, fun-seekers, influencers (the pool is crying out to be Instagrammed), pool people, dogs, friends, families, babymooners, me-time hankerers, multi-generation groups, hen parties, car-free holidaymakers, silver surfers, and anyone looking for stylish seaside fun.

Spa info

We were lucky enough to visit the new Nici Spa the day after it opened. The spa continues the hotel’s stylish décor and is centred around a pick-ceilinged indoor pool with art deco accents.

The mosaiced pool is long enough for length swimmers at 18m and has a constant 1.2m depth. There are wide steps into the pool, with a handrail, and there’s a shallow plateau at one end for splashers. I was lucky enough to have the pool all to myself at 7am when I visited on a Monday.

Other wet spa facilities include a pool-side sauna, steam room and shower at one end, and a stand-alone hydrotherapy pool at the other. The spa space has an air of tranquillity, which I think it’s fair to assume, dissipates somewhat during family swim times, but otherwise is a calm and comfortable place to relax.

Although you have to go downstairs from Reception to reach the new pool, it’s built into a slope so still enjoys natural light through the spa’s wide slit windows. Again, everything is new and pristine, which makes the experience feel extra special.

There are ten cushioned day-bed loungers poolside of the type you’d associate more with a boujee relaxation room than a hotel pool. And the beds have of coral-print curtains for pretty privacy and perfectly positioned bolster cushions for your reading or scrolling comfort.

The changing room is spacious, with a couple of private changing cubicles and plenty of fluffy white towels. Robes are also available in the spa and in bedrooms for anyone staying at the hotel. There are plenty of lockers too and the spa space has luxe and designer touches throughout, from the burnished gold shower hardware and Malin + Goetz shower products to the GHD dryers and straighteners in the changing area.

The Nici Spa has eight treatment rooms, including one double. They are calming, subdued spaces off long corridors, with a neutral colour palette that contrasts with the vibrant décor of the main hotel.

There’s also a lovely Relaxation Room with luxurious daybeds, separated by curtains. Each bed has its own table and light. This low-lit haven definitely lives up to its name and is the perfect place to enjoy post-treatment calm or a nap. And there’s plenty of iced lemon-infused water and herbal tea to keep you hydrated, and you can top up your 5/7/infinity a day with an impressive selection of healthy dried fruit snacks.

For gym bunnies there’s a well-equipped gym, also found in the spa area. Head there for state-of-the-art Technogym equipment, personal training, or to the studio space next door for yoga and pilates.

The indoor pool’s open Monday-Friday: 6am – 9pm and Saturday and Sunday: 7am – 8pm.

Children can use the indoor pool between 9am – 10am & 4pm – 5pm.

Treatment highlights

The new spa offers luxurious facials, massages and holistic body treatments incorporating wider wellness elements like sound therapy alongside traditional techniques.

The Nici’s partnered with two award-winning spa brands, OTO CBD and Oskia, both offering luxurious treatments with their quality products. OTO’s CBD-oriented treatments use fragrant aromatherapy oils infused with CBD to work trans-dermally, i.e. the products are absorbed through the skin, and are designed to take relaxation to the next level. Various studies have indicated that CBD may be able to help reduce anxiety, inflammation, and muscular discomfort and, in some cases, alleviate chronic pain. As someone who’s no stranger to shoulder tension I’m interested in anything that might help to address tight muscles, so I opted to experience the Nici x OTO signature massage, which combines massage, sound therapy and OTO’s CBD-infused oil.

Before the treatment started, my therapist, Hazel, presented me with three different oils, to see which of the scents I was particularly drawn to. The third one was a clear winner for me, apparently the ‘balance’ oil containing relaxing chamomile and lavender. I was happy with that – who doesn’t need a bit of extra balance.

The oil smelled fresh and spa-like, and there was no hint of any of the earthiness you might expect from a product containing hemp. Hazel explained that the oil was infused with approximately 25mg of CBD, and then layered with the other products for optimum effect. She advised that I’d also be given a CBD seltzer to drink after the treatment to top up the dose.

The treatment room was dimly lit and the perfect temperature which, combined with the sound of singing bowls and breaking waves, created a cocooning ambiance before the treatment had even started.

I began the treatment lying face-down on the wide, warm, and comfortable massage bed, under a crisp white cotton sheet and blanket. The therapist began with a foot-cleansing ritual with hot towels. She then started to massage my tight shoulders and neck with firm, sweeping movements that happily felt like they were really doing something. I’d highlighted shoulder tension in my pre-treatment consultation and was pleased that the massage felt as firm as I’d requested. (I think that massages can sometimes be a bit like shop-bought curry, dialled-down for a mass-market audience. Happily, this was not the case at The Nici).

Once the therapist had addressed the tension held in the back of my body, I turned over for the same muscle-easing magic to be worked on my front, starting at my feet.

Again, pressure was perfect, and I loved that the treatment included a good hand and foot massage as they’re often left out, or at least glossed over, in massages. By this point I was feeling very blissed-out, helped by the soothing soundtrack, and possibly the CBD too.

Continuing to address my tight shoulder area, the therapist spent a good amount of time stretching and soothing the muscles in my neck and massaging my jawline and face. Again, this felt like it was really hitting the spot. The treatment finished with a warm cloth cleanse to the face to remove any residual oil, a nice touch.

I was instructed to take my time getting up and make my way to the relaxation room, where Hazel gave me an elderflower and juniper seltzer to top up the CBD to the optimum ‘dose’. The team explained that the longer-term benefit of CBD is achieved through regular use, and recommended OTO’s CBD drops or oil at a daily dose of 40-60mg.

I definitely felt relaxed after the treatment, so much so that I could easily have had a cheeky power nap had I not arranged to meet my spa buddy outside by the sunny pool. My shoulders felt like they’d dropped significantly, and I felt properly chilled out. Whether this was due to the quality massage, the immersive sound therapy, or the CBD oil I can’t be sure, maybe a combination of all three? Whatever the reason, I felt great, and I slept like a baby that night.

The Nici x OTO CBD treatment costs £115 for a 60-minute treatment (there’s a £10 supplement at weekends).

Spa days are available, with several packages that include use of the spa from £150.

Outdoor pool use is reserved for guests staying at the hotel and Nici club members.

rooms

The 5-star Nici has 84 bright and breezy rooms, including 16 suites, accommodating singles, couples, and families. Bathrooms are bright and beautiful and stocked with Malin + Goetz shower products. Many of the rooms have sea views and some have balconies too. All rooms have air con.

I stayed in room 228, a sea view suite on the second floor, with great views and a palm print sofa and free-standing bath at the end of the bed. This high-ceilinged, light-filled room was lovely and spacious, and had a small balcony that was perfect for enjoying a sundown drink from the well-stocked mini bar. Immaculately painted in brilliant white, décor featured botanical prints, pops of emerald green and a flat-screened TV that morphed into a Pissaro painting.

There was also a console table/desk, and a window table with a couple of tropical print tub chairs, plus a drinks trolley with fabulous kitsch pineapple cocktail set. The super king bed was one of the comfiest, and highest, I’ve ever slept in, with an extra deep mattress, feather topper and choice of pillows. The fact that everything is new, added to the luxurious feel. And I loved that the lighting was not only spot on (no pun intended) but you don’t need an IQ of 1000+ to work out how to use it. Wardrobe lighting was also a classy touch and made sneaking out for my 7am spa visit easy, leaving my spa buddy to sleep.

For maximum spa vibes book a Poolside Garden Suite with a terrace and seating area plus your own jacuzzi.

Or, for longer stays, the hotel’s new Courtyard Rooms come as self-contained one-or two-bedroom cottages, complete with a living room, kitchenette, and full use of the hotel facilities, including the spa.

Rooms from £230 per room, per night.

Accessible rooms are available, and some rooms have walk-in showers.

Dogs can stay in the garden suites, for an additional £30. They’re also allowed on the terrace and in the piano lounge by the bar, but the restaurant and pool are off-limits, so she’ll have to save her doggy paddle for the sea.

wining & dining

South Beach is The Nici’s vibrant restaurant, bar and terrace that looks out over the pool. Offering relaxed, all-day dining, it’s a light, glass-fronted space. Its décor is bursting with botanical prints and gilt accessories with added bold art and a vintage pinball machine. Staff are friendly, eager to please and dapper in their chic logoed uniforms.

South Beach has different zones, depending on your drinking and dining penchant, and you there are plenty of well-spaced tables inside and out. The restaurant serves everything from smashed avocado toast and full English breakfasts through to coffees, cocktails, and Big Nic burgers.

I enjoyed perfectly seared scallops in a melt-in-the-mouth herb butter, and fresh lemon sole with seasonal greens and skinny fries. The food was well cooked, flavoursome, and unhurried, and we appreciated not being given a restricted time slot. Following dinner, we relocated a sofa in the lounge to enjoy one of the house cocktails, a delectable mango caipirinha, and coffee.

Drinks are also served poolside, so there’s no need to leave your lounger to enjoy that pina colada or virgin mojito.

And watch this space as rumour has it that a second, rooftop restaurant is already being planned, promising more sea views and sushi.

why so spavellous?

The Nici’s a fresh, fun and stylish all-rounder in a fabulous seaside location. It’s a great place for a spa break or staycation, or somewhere just to come to recharge. And there aren’t any other 5-star UK coastal hotels where you can enjoy a top-class spa and 30m outdoor pool, let alone everything else that the hotel offers.

It has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a romantic night away, somewhere to celebrate a family birthday, or you just fancy a solo escape by the sea. The food’s good, staff are friendly and helpful and the spa’s a lovely space offering imaginative and luxurious treatments.

spavellous tips

Book now while everything’s new and immaculate.

All rooms are lovely, but we think it’s worth paying extra for a sea view, funds permitting.

Sign up to the Nici’s newsletter with seasonal offers.

spa-goers say

‘Finally! About time Bournemouth had a luxury spa – I love it!’

‘The spa’s a lovely seaside sanctuary’

‘Felt like we were abroad’

‘Really like the spa and how everything looks – and smells – new’

WEBSITE

aDDRESS

The Nici, West Hill Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5EJ.

sAT NAV

BH2 5EJ
Phot credit: The Nici
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