In early December last year, I stayed at The Greenhouse Christian Centre in Poole for four nights and I had the most amazing time. Some of that was because I met profoundly with Jesus and the Holy Spirit did a lot of healing work in me, but much of that was possible because I was staying in a wonderful and anointed retreat centre with a hospitality-focused team. It's therefore my joy to share with you a review of my time at The Greenhouse Christian Centre.
The Greenhouse Christian Centre is actually located between Westbourne and Branksome but has a Poole address. It is just under two miles to Bournemouth town centre and nearly five to Poole. You can easily get a train into Bournemouth mainline station and catch a bus, or if you get off the train at Branksome it is about a 10/15 minute walk, depending on how leisurely you want to walk.
I found the location really convenient as someone who travelled by public transport, as the quaint town of Westbourne is about a ten-minute walk and there you can find coffee shops, restaurants, take-aways and shops. Or you can get to the woodland chines and access the gorgeous Bournemouth beaches by walking for about 20 minutes.
It would be easy to find my using a sat nav if you are driving and there is plenty of parking available.
The Centre Facilities
The centre is set back from the main road and you'll feel as if you are in a quiet oasis away from real life. There are some pretty gardens for you to enjoy during your stay and there are a number of benches to use, as well as a summer house and prayer huts.
There is also a lovely outdoor swimming pool that is available during the months of May to September and also a pool lounge that has a fabulous treasury of craft and art supplies that all guests can use. There are also sofas, a TV and DVD player in this room, so it is a great place to relax.
Within the centre itself there is a chapel (available 24 hours a day), quiet lounge with library, dining room, reception lobby with items for sale. and three lounge-type rooms. I thought the decor of the downstairs rooms was pleasant and modern and there are some seriously comfy sofas! The ground floor is accessible to those using a wheelchair and the main access is step and ramp-free.
I'm not sure how many bedrooms there are in the centre but not too many and as such it retains a cosy feel. You can book for an En-suite or shared bathroom room and judging by the one I stayed in they are functional with good beds. I couldn't wax lyrical about my room as it was a pretty bland compact single with an en-suite shower room.
However, I have no issue with the room as the main things I was seeking were a really comfy bed, a decent shower with power and heat, plenty of space to hang my clothes and tea/ coffee making facilities. It was a big tick against each of those things and therefore suited me fine.
If I was looking for niggles they would be that the walls and curtains were a very bland cream, the curtains were far too long and covered the radiator when closed, there was no view from the room and I'd have loved a bath sheet sized towel for comfortable showering.
If you are staying as part of a led-retreat like I was you'll get three meals a day and also two formal coffee breaks with biscuits or a cake/ sweet treat. If you book in as an individual guest you can book on a bed and breakfast or half board basis and this allows you to suit yourself for the meals you haven't booked.
During the time I stayed there was a sit-down breakfast and dinner being served and lunch was a pre-ordered packed lunch. I was a bit disappointed with this when I found out as lunch is normally advertised as being cafe style and you can choose from items such as salads, jacket potatoes and soup. Whereas the packed lunch is a sandwich, crisps or cereal bar, a piece of fruit and either water or a juice box and I thought it might be a bit boring. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the sandwiches were really tasty and by having it as a packed lunch it meant we could take it out or eat in one of the lounges, which made lunch nice and informal.
Breakfast was probably my favourite meal of the day as it is a serve-yourself buffet and you can have cereals, toast, yoghurt and fruit, alongside a cooked full English breakfast and tea/ coffee/ juice. You can also request porridge if that is your preference. There was no limit on how much you could have the staff seemed to keep an eye on the dishes to ensure there was enough for all the guests.
Dinner was a two-course meal each night and a bell is rang all around the centre to alert you that it is dinner time and then everyone goes and sits together and you are welcomed by the Duty Manager and they say grace before the food is served. In general, the food was really well cooked and presented although I'd say the portion size is geared to an older person who doesn't eat so much. The main comes out plated and then it is family service for the vegetables/ potatoes/ rice/ couscous - whatever is being served that night. You also get a homemade dessert each night and I particularly enjoyed the sticky toffee pudding with cream. You can request to change your dessert for ice cream, yoghurt or fruit if you like or that suits your diet better.
Vegetarians were catered for each night and when I booked I had to specify if I had any special requirements, so they could cater to my needs.
Led Retreat - Healing in the Kingdom
The retreat I attended was led by Dr Angela Walker from Theo Ministries and it was fabulous. There were only around 14 of us including Angela and her co-facilitators but it was such an amazing time and all of the attendees agreed on that.
We tended to start the day around 10am with a morning session that went through to lunchtime at 1pm and then we either had free time or a pre-booked prayer ministry session. Then after dinner, we'd have a session from about 7pm to 9/9/30pm. The morning was always teaching and the evening was a mix of teaching and soaking/ praying/ putting into action all the things we had learnt earlier in the day. The timings worked well for me, but it did get to about Thursday and a few of us felt as if we were full of new learning and we could have done with an evening to just relax and watch a film or have a chat.
I'll definitely attend a led-retreat at the Greenhouse again as it was such a good experience and they obviously have a lot of repeat custom, as most people on our course had been before.
You can check out the program of events on the Greenhouse website.
Telephone Number: 01202 764776
Address: 17 Burton Road, Poole, Dorset. BH13 6DT