What’s so good about Westbourne?
Affluent Westbourne is a cosmopolitan little town with a ‘villagey’ feel just outside Bournemouth; a fabulous place for shopping or eating, preferably both.
While we appreciate the occasional big boys – M&S Food, Café Rouge and the usual ubiquitous coffee chains – we love the fact that most of Westbourne’s shops and eateries are local, individual enterprises, where you can find something different; a novelty nowadays!
Westbourne is a melting pot of people; there are young students (a result of the several international language schools) and well-to-do elderly residents, young families and local office workers from nearby LV=, who give the town a pleasant buzz. And the town is compact enough to easily walk around; an ornate, Grade II-listed Victorian shopping arcade links the two main roads - Poole Road and Seamoor Road – in a ‘D’ shape.
There’s not much you can’t buy in Westbourne – from Manolos and fine art to speciality cheese, guitars and charity shop bargains. But there are far too many shops and restaurants to mention them all, so we’ve picked a few of our favourites to give you a flavour of what’s on offer...
My personal favourite is Attico, incorporating the Rán Gallery. A treasure trove of unusual, quality gifts - think Steiff Bears, pre-loved Ladybird and Noddy books and ride-on unicorns for children – and one-off antiques, Sid Dickens wood blocks, kimonos, candles, original Jean Cocteau posters and everything in between. Go there at once!
Attico is at the Seamoor Road end of the arcade; heading through it towards Poole Rd, you will find further marvellous shopping opportunities – gift and card shops, cafés, try Mint Tea Boutique for gorgeous clothes and accessories or No.19 by Lonah. And the Don Strike Music Shop, which has been going since the 1920s, is also in the arcade, as are Courtenay’s Fine Art and Renoufs Pantry - the shop version of the popular cheese and wine restaurant on Poole Road. Be warned, there are over 200 different cheese options!
On the Poole Road end of the arcade there is an eclectic mix - Westbourne Bookshop, art at Gallery 65, Almond & Co - ‘providing plastic-free produce and sustainable alternatives to everyday items’, posh interiors shop Individual Interior Design and numerous charity shops, where you can always find a steal. Also here, fantastic pet shop The Pet Shop Guys, where you can buy all manner of goodies for your fluffy friend.
And on Seamoor Road there’s ROSE The Store, which describes itself as ‘an independent lifestyle store.’ There are high-end clothes shops here too, including Lonah, and pre-loved designer boutiques – think Chanel, Prada and the like. For posh kids' clothes there is Les Enfants Boutique. Tempting interiors stores House of Lights (very sparkly) and So. Furniture (selling quality brands like Fatboy, Flos and Vitra) are your go-tos for an interiors update.
Little Perth opened on Seamoor Road recently, selling flowers, speciality coffee, cake and homeware. Owner Rohanna Roberts, who opened her first shop in nearby Southbourne in March, said: “I felt like Westbourne was very similar in the way that they support independents, and have that community feel. It has the same vibe. Here at Little Perth, we’re all about community.”
Cafes are dotted around Westbourne at regular intervals – most notable of these are Eighty-Three, offering wonderful freshly-made food and the best chai latte in town, Coffee Saloon for incredible coffee and Chocol8, a coffee shop with scrumptious cakes and chocolates. Dot Teas is also popular with locals, as is Moka Pot and Delish Deli; great for brunch, afternoon tea and bespoke hampers of decadent deli goodies.
Fancy Japanese? Try Art Sushi - Kamil, the owner and chef, has been a finalist in the World Sushi Cup in Japan. Outstanding Indian cuisine? Go to Indi’s. My personal favourite, Renoufs (because I am 50% cheese and 50% wine) is not just a meal, more of a fun experience, with wine ‘flights’ and build-your-own deli boards. For quality fish and chips, Chez Fred is the place. Italian Gossip is your go-to for cicchetti, the Italian equivalent of tapas. And Westbourne Grill House serves fabulous steak with a modern twist. Dane & Port caters for the plant-based, organic and gluten-free among you.
Pubs and bars
We love gin and wine bar Ginjams, which also does amazing fondue and sharing boards, and The Lazy Fox for incredible burgers and speciality cocktails – sample the Bakewell Donut or the Porn Star Bathtub, served in a tiny bathtub. If real ale’s your thing, head to All Hail Ale, a simple pub with occasional live music or The Porterhouse, a no-nonsense local taking beer very seriously. Camden Bar and Kitchen is the place for late-night drinking and fun, or there's Circo Lounge.
Hair and beauty
Skinmaze Beauty Salon and Aphrodite offer all kinds of fancy treatments, from massage to microdermabrasion, using all kinds of fancy products such as CACI, Dermalogica and YonKa. Need a hair makeover? Head to Francesco Group. Or a make-up tutorial? Dfma Make Up Academy will sort you out. There are various places for ‘tweakments’ in Westbourne – CA Aesthetics Clinic is highly rated.
If you’re exhausted from shopping and need some time out, the sea is just a stone’s throw away; head through the pretty, wooded Alumhurst Chine down to the beach via the tropical gardens.
Or how about a film? Claiming to be the UK’s smallest cinema with just 25 seats, Bournemouth Colosseum Cinema has just re-opened, showing both the latest releases and golden oldies in its basement. Settle into the leather sofas and enjoy, then head upstairs to the cosy Jazz and Blues music bar.
If Westbourne’s good enough for the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson (who wrote The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde there), British boxer Steve Bendall and Harry Redknapp, who lives down the road (Westbourne is famously where he ran over his wife’s foot), then it's more than good enough for us!
By Emily McGregor, Local News and Lifestyle Reporter