Westbourne has evolved into its present form probably because it is just out of walking distance from the town centre for most residents of the south-western side of town. Westbourne now styles itself as an ‘Urban Village’. It’s the urban equivalent of a large village (in terms of variety of shops and restaurants) or small market town, where you would go to do your weekly ‘shop’, have a meal, post a parcel, take your library books back, fill your prescription etc.
you do want to walk to it from downtown, the road route is busy with traffic, but you can walk
up the Central Gardens a mile or so until Prince Of Wales Road crosses it, then walk up the hill
and through the railway bridge/ Wessex Way motorway underpass, turning left up into the large
car park behind the shops - there is an alley by the public toilets leading onto the main shopping
parade near NatWest. There are a couple of footpath variants to this route, via various snickets
up from the Gardens, but they are not really shortcuts. (If driving, the route via Prince Of
Wales Road also takes you in the back way, to two municipal car parks. The 3rd is off Alumhurst
Rd, behind The Libertine restaurant.)
Poole Road, looking west past the Baptist church where local residents go to vote, left, and what used to be the Grand Cinema [a favourite of director Ken Russell] and then a bingo hall [closed 2018], right. The road becomes a one-way system beyond the traffic lights, with traffic flow clockwise. This is the start of Westbourne when you approach along the main road / bus route from downtown Bournemouth.
The fact that a crescent links the two ends of the main commercial block on Poole Rd has allowed a clockwise one-way system to be set up, to reduce traffic jams this narrower more northerly arm is prone to. (Poole Rd is otherwise the main road east-west, so the one-way system creates a traffic bypass for westbound vehicles.)
Its amenities are thus spread around a loop shaped like a letter D lying on its right-hand side, with the curved side on the bottom. The surrounding area is residentially zoned, so businesses are confined to the loop. You can do a reconnaissance walk around the loop in 15 minutes, if you don’t get sidetracked by attractions en route.
There must now be nearly 40 cafes, brasseries, bars etc. Westbourne has been promoting itself as ‘Foodie Heaven’ for the variety of possibilities there – Greek, Italian, Indian, Turkish, American-style, vegetarian etc., with an annual summer 'foodfest' type promo event backed by a local radio station. Looking at these in terms of being potential working environments for checking emails, networking with colleagues and peers, etc, there must be a score of possibilities.
In terms of places to sit and work, there are a growing number of cafes and bistros, many with outdoor seating, often out back, which is quieter. [Note - Zoukini's is now called Amala].
has over 250 businesses, including at least three dozen eateries. Be aware that with so many
rival establishments, there is a regular 'churn', and online guides like Google Maps and Wikipedia
as well as printed guidebooks are likely to be out of date. (Badger & Bumble, the Doghouse
Café next to M&S and Fratelli La Bufala are all gone, with The
Unlike its country equivalents, Westbourne doesn’t have a village green or market square as its centre, but it does have an arcade through its middle, dating back to Victorian times. This has a mix of shops, plus a café, a relatively new Turkish restaurant [Someretto, also open eves], and a boutique 19-seat basement mini-cinema [Lavish Life’s ironically named Bournemouth Colosseum].
It has an ornate glass roof, recently  restored after it became leaky. If you look up near the entrance you will see its upper works are guarded by a carved owl, there to scare away pigeons from nesting or perching there.
“Westbourne has some of Bournemouth's
most upmarket fashionable shops and restaurants gathered round a fine Victorian arcade.”
-The Rough Guide To Dorset
The advantage of the Arcade is the outside
seating year-round in all weathers, where you can watch the world go by etc. At the moment there
is The Terrace Cafe for that [daytime only], and the Turkish restaurant Someretto is also open
for breakfast and lunch.
Left: Meals inside and outside at the Terrace cafe in the Arcade
Across the side road, in the former Methodist church [the main part of which is now a Tesco Express], is Plates & Co, an upstairs dining room which has an outside seating area dubbed ‘The Vicars Garden’ below, on the side road, with a "Latin Garden" in summer.
Just farther E on Poole Rd, next to what used to be the Grand Cinema, is The Taj Mahal (Bournemouth's original Indian restaurant). Behind it, in Westbourne Close, is The Terrace cafe. Next is the Village Bistro, a new cafe [closed mid-afternoons]. Opposite the Westcliff Baptist church is The Westbourne pub, a long-established local, a recently-refurbished sports bar with a large area of picnic-bench seating stretching around the corner outside (note that the junction is always busy traffic-wise).
Far left: Westbourne Pub
Turning south, the side road [Alum Chine Rd] beyond the bus stop leads to Westbourne Library [closed Weds], which has a few easy chairs for reading newspapers etc., a bookable meeting room and a row of computers. On the S side of the crescent is the local post office and beyond, an award-winning fish’n chip shop [Chez Fred, now refurbished], a vegan restaurant [Amala, previously Zoukinis, with a semi-covered outside seating area down the side alley].
Across the road are Ginjam's
[cocktail bar with continental food] and Indi’s [Indian restaurant]. (The
other Indian restaurant, Indian Moment and the similarly named Chinese one, Tasty Moment, are
both takeaways.) Just beyond the Arcade’s southerly exit is a boutique tearoom [Dot
Teas]. Continuing along that side of the road is Spanish Taste tapas
restaurant (where Cafe Fresco Juice Bar used to be, with outdoor seating front and side) and
Foodtopia cafe. Just opened in 2019 is Truly's fine dining
restaurant [eves only]. Farther along is Café Rouge French-style café-bistro, just
refurbished. Next to Costa Coffee is Cotea [cafe].
On the southerly side of the
Seamoor Rd crescent are Westbourne Tandoori and Camden (a new
lounge bar, where Eau de Vie stood). Just next to it, in the former Hogshead pub premises on
the corner with Alumhurst Rd, is The Libertine, an upmarket restaurant [pictured
below]. The latter has what it calls ‘snugs and cosy corners’ inside plus a heated
outside dining area. (Meetdraw once booked the whole place for one of their getogethers of programmers
Right: The Libertine