Sleepover: Harbour Heights

A night in Poole
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The Independent Travel

The location

The location

The exclusive Sandbanks area of Poole, Dorset. Among pines trees and expensive holiday flats on a hill overlooking Europe's biggest natural harbour, in a property hot spot.

The USP

Sandbanks has become a seaside choice for millionaires and celebrities. They've got restaurants, bars and yacht clubs but, until now, not a matching hotel. Here it is. Oh and the view. It's as good a gawk as the south coast can offer; your coffee will go cold as you stare at miles of sea, harbour, islands, trees and boats. The hotel is an unexciting whitewashed 1920s building with 38 bedrooms, but £4.5m has been spent on the inside.

The comfort factor

Avoids country-house stuffiness or boutique minimalism with simple, good-quality design. It's light and casual, and staff are easy and unobtrusive. Rooms are dominated by that view but are average size. Book a room with a balcony.

The bathroom

Jacuzzi-style bath, twin basins and a power shower strong enough to blast your toupee into the next room.

The food and drink

Harbar Brasserie forms a view-worshipping arena. The nosh is "contemporary international": ie big white plates with pretty and tasty little dollops. Book a table by the window or edge of terrace. Eating on the patio with flaming torches and cool blue lighting will be summer epiphany. A three-course dinner costs about £35.

The people

Last-minute city escapees sporting goatee beards, short skirts and Porsches, mixed with local millionaires.

The area

Britain's best beach is five minutes' walk and Poole Harbour is probably our best watersports venue. A sister hotel, The Haven, a mile away, has pools, spa and tennis. Day trips include Brownsea Island and shopping in Bournemouth.

The access

Good, though the garden and surrounding walks are steep.

The damage

B&b in a double from £110 per person.

The address

Harbour Heights, Haven Road, Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset BH13 7LW (01202 707272; www.fjbhotels.co.uk).

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