The quality of bars and pubs in Poole Quay, Ashley Cross and beyond varies significantly and it’s not always easy to judge what they are like from the outside. A lot of time can be wasted going in and out of establishments, or just settling for second best. To save time, here is a list of great all-round pubs and bars that appeal inside and out. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but the ones we enjoy and hope you do too.
Pubs in Poole Quay and the Old Town
This selection of pubs and bars starts in the centre of Poole town, goes through the historic Old Town and works its way towards Poole Quay, so they are close together if you would like to visit a few in one go.
1. Brewhouse and Kitchen Brewpub, Poole Town
This ‘brewpub’ has an on-site microbrewery on show to all who visit, where unique craft beers such as ‘Stape Hill Regime’ are made. You can sample these flavours in the food served as well as in the ale and the pub runs regular brewing events where you can ‘Meet the Brewer’ and attend a ‘Tapping Party’ or even a ‘Gin Masterclass’. In good weather, there is an outdoor area where you can sit and take in the rays.
2. The Blue Boar Pub, Poole Town
This characterful pub boasts three different bars on three floors. Inside you will find a smart traditional pub setting on the ground floor, a good-sized function room on the first floor and, most intriguing of all, a cellar bar in the basement. The pub has regular music nights downstairs and there is outside seating for the summer months too.
3. The Angel Pub, Poole Old Town
A fun, young-at-heart pub that happens to be over 250-years-old and won a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2017-2018. The pub is located opposite the Guildhall in a really pleasant part of Poole Old Town and is the only pub locally to serve Ringwood Brewery beers. The Angel has one of the best outdoor seating options in the area too, with seating out the front in a pedestrianised zone beside the Guildhall and a paved pub garden out the back.
4. The Antelope Hotel, Poole Old Town
Right in the heart of the Old Town near the Quay, The Antelope Hotel has a elegant façade with stained-glass windows that refer to the ‘Hotel Lounge’ which is now a large comfortable pub. Since it sprawls back, you can reliably find somewhere to sit and at the rear sit outside in a modern beer garden. The food is surprisingly affordable and good for the price.
5. The Portsmouth Hoy Pub, Poole Quay
Although fairly unassuming from the exterior, this is the ultimate historic Poole Quay pub with abundant wood cladding and seafaring memorablia. Friendly staff serve Badger real ales and fresh local fish, with mussels being a particular favourite. The perfect choice for people visiting the area looking for a traditional English fishing pub and is dog-friendly too.
If you are interested in enjoying a fish and chips meal in Poole or Bournemouth we have put together the best local options.
6. Banana Wharf Bar & Restaurant, Poole Quay
Located on the first floor of Dolphin Quay, this restaurant and bar is often overlooked as a place to enjoy a drink. However with stunning views of Poole Harbour, a stylish bar and arguably the best outdoor terrace in Poole Town, it is well worth stopping by. The modern family restaurant has an extensive menu of global dishes and is highly recommended too.
7. Soho Bar and Kitchen, Poole Quay
This young, vibrant and spacious venue just off the Quay was formerly The Cabin and taken over by the Blue Boar in May 2019. On Fridays and Saturdays it stays open until 2am, and during the day it shows various sporting fixtures and serves breakfast, trendy street food and fish n’ chips. Out the front you can take advantage of the outdoor seating too.
Pubs in Ashley Cross and Penn Hill
This area is well-known locally for being full of lively, fun-packed pubs and bars, and sometimes it can be hard to choose which ones to visit. This list of firm favourites starts at the bottom of Ashley Cross and works its way up to Penn Hill.
8. The Bricklayers Arms, Ashley Cross
This historic pub, which dates back to 1833 and has a double façade that is a protected Local Heritage Asset, changed hands recently and was refurbished in 2019. The pub has been modernised with a fresh look that is respectful to its Victorian origins and developed by local interior designers and artists. Since the loss of nearby music venue Mr Kyps, it is also good to know that The Bricklayers hosts regular live music nights, as well as having its own bitter and showing the rugby.
9. Bermuda Triangle Public House, Ashley Cross
Established in 1870, many a person has been known to get lost in the Bermuda Triangle. They have a great selection of regularly updated ‘lip-smacking’ ales to choose from, and lots of enchanting little nooks inside and out. Upstairs has been recently renovated and most notably, you can truly lose yourself in a hidey-hole room found via a door behind a bookcase.
10. The Ox Hotel, Bar & Grill, Ashley Cross
This hotel was renovated relatively recently, kick-starting the arrival of many fashionable new bars and restaurants in the area. The bar itself welcomes you with its enormous roaring fire, long bar and stylish seating. There is a small outside area too for warmer days. The restaurant has recently become a Thai Brasserie, but still serves a traditional hearty Sunday lunch.
11. Maison Sax Café Bisto Bar, Ashley Cross
This superb sophisticated French restaurant recently visited by super-chef Jean Christophe Novelli raised the bar locally when it opened in 2018. Unsually for the area, it has a spacious South facing ‘Provençal inspired’ garden, offers wine tasting in its cellar and has even had its own ‘Sax APA’ brewed by our first listing, the Brewhouse and Kitchen in Poole Town.
12. Dancing Moose Bar & Cook House, Ashley Cross
This was the first of a stream of buzzing ‘Dancing Mooses’ to open up in the area, with friendly staff, regular happy hours, live music and DJ sets. The food is tasty too and they serve brunch up to 4pm every day. It is also dog-friendly if you fancy popping in during the day.
13. Le Bateau Wood Fired Kitchen & Bar, Ashley Cross
One of the original venues in Ashley Cross, Le Bateau is a family run business that opened in 1998. It is also can be full of life at night with a happy hour every day, a busy bar and live music. If you are feeling peckish, they serve sourdough pizzas cooked in their wood-fired oven.
14. Camden Bar, Ashley Cross
This chilled-out indie music bar has a friendly vibe and is run by two local guys, Paul and Phil. They have a great selection of modern bottled beers and gins which you can enjoy surrounded by walls filled with rock legends and the work of local artists. They serve decent food, coffee and cake too for daytime visits.
15. The Cow Pub, Ashley Cross
This charming pub is situated right next to Parkstone Station so is a perfect stop-off if you are getting off a train. It is one of the larger, more traditional pubs in the area that has been modernised accordingly. Because of its size, you can more often than not find a table and in the evening there is plenty of room to dance the night away. In the summer you can sit on the roof terrace and there is a function room that can be hired out too. Unusually for the area, it has a small car park on-site as well as the station car park out front.
16. The Grasshopper Pub-Restaurant, Parkstone
This enormous but comfortable 19th Century pub was one of Hall and Woodhouse’s first and has bags of character to show for it. It has recently been renovated and the pub side has taps at some of the booth tables so you can even serve yourself. It has a very relaxed, and for its size, intimate atmosphere and when the weather is good you can enjoy your drink outside. There is extensive parking alongside the establishment and the well-run restaurant can easily accomodate large bookings.
17. Jenkins and Sons, Penn Hill
A relatively recent addition to Penn Hill, Jenkins and Sons main focus is on the quality of its food and drink, and doesn’t disappoint. The façade of the building is a distinctive 1920s butchers and fishmongers and inside they serve craft beers, spirits and wood-fired food. There is a lovely warm ambience to the place which has a long traditional bar with very knowledgable staff, passionate about the ales they serve.
18. Penn Central & The Attic Gin & Prosecco Lounge, Penn Hill
Housed in the premises of an old bank, Penn Central has the feel of a refined wine bar, serving food upstairs in The Attic which has been recently refurbished. Back downstairs you can watch the big sports fixtures and then party the night away later on.
Bars by Poole Harbour and Poole Bay
In an area famous for its stunning coastal scenery, you are bound to want to know which pubs and bars have the best views and are close to the beach. Here are our recommended pubs and bars, starting in Poole Harbour and working around to the beaches within Poole Bay.
19. South Deep Café, Parkstone Marina
Hidden away in the marina, this is a gem worth knowing about. A stone’s throw from Whitecliff park and a short walk through the marina gates you’ll find Soth Deep Café on your right. In the summer months they have a covered outdoor bar where you can happily enjoy a pint by the reeds looking out over the harbour.
20. Sandbanks Hotel, Sandbanks
In the summer months the Sandbanks Hotel opens up their outdoor bar, which is as close to the glorious blue-flagged Sandbanks Beach as you can get. Enjoy fantastic Mediterranean-esque views across Poole Bay in the sunshine and whilst taking in the chilled holiday beach vibe.
21. Haven Hotel, Sandbanks
This hotel right next door to the chain ferry has the exceptional Pavillion bar with breathtaking views over to Studland beach, Old Harry Rocks, into Poole Harbour and across Poole Bay. It would be easy to think you are on board a boat yourself as you watch the boats dart to and fro, carefully avoiding the chain ferry going back and forth. The walls are all glass so everyone gets a view and the lantern roof ensures the room is flooded with light. Not to be missed.
22. Boatyard Café, Sandbanks Yacht Club
This sophisticated new café opened in early 2019 and is a great position for watching the hustle and bustle of the yacht club and harbour. With seating in a stylish nautical setting inside and out, it is the ideal place to relax after watersports or a walk on the beach with your dog (also welcome).
23. Jazz Café, Sandbanks
Known locally as ‘Jazzy’s’, the Jazz Café is a popular venue with a vibrant atmosphere. You can relax right next to Sandbanks Beach surrounded by wooden floors, a beech bar counter and a quirky mix of antique grandfather clocks and nautical prints. Live jazz is played every Sunday afternoon and regularly on Friday nights too. The food is very good and at the weekend it is filled with dog walkers and those and having brunch before hitting the beach.
24. Harbour Heights Hotel, Sandbanks
With absolutely stunning allevated views across Poole Harbour towards the Isle of Purbeck and to Poole Bay through pine trees , you could be excused for thinking you are in the Italian Lakes. However, you are instead enjoying a summer drink on the Harbour Heights Hotel terrace, which offers totally unique vistas of the area. Well worth climbing the hill from Sandbanks for.
25. The Canford Pub, Canford Cliffs
Situated between the Canford Cliffs shopping parade and Canford Cliffs Beach are two super gastro pubs, the first being The Canford. The food is top-notch and they have a large garden to enjoy during the summer months too. You can stay overnight as mentioned in our article about top bed and breakfasts in Bournemouth. It is opposite a chine footpath leading down to the beach and also a treasure island themed playground. You can read more in our article about the great playgrounds and play areas locally.
26. The Cliff Pub, Canford Cliffs
The second pub is The Cliff and is nestled in another corner close-by with a good-sized car park and terraced outdoor seating area. Inside the pub has a warm, comfortable atmosphere also serves excellent food. Both are very popular all year round and serve as an excellent base to start or finish a trip to the glorious award-winning beaches.
27. Branksome Beach Terrace Bar, Branksome Chine
The final entry is the marvellous terrace bar at Branksome Beach, which from its top floor position has magnificent views across to Bournemouth, Hengistbury Head and the Isle of Wight in the East and Sandbanks, Studland and Old Harry Rocks in the West. The unusual building, at the end of Branksome Chine and on the beach, was the UK’s first solarium in the 1930s. The restaurant beneath is also a delight, with wonderful beach views come rain or shine. There is ample parking but it can get busy in the summer months as it is very popular.
That’s the end of our list, thank you for reading. Do you know of any bars or pubs in Poole Quay, Ashley Cross, Poole Harbour or around Poole Bay we have missed or information we could add? Feel free to get in touch and let us know.