Margate’s heyday was back in the Victorian times, when flying was just a dream and the Dover cliffs was as exotic as it got. Like many British Seaside towns, Margate has fallen into disrepair, but therein lies the opportunity. The creatives and property developers of London have been talking about the potential for years. Drawn to the sea and affordable spaces, many have moved to Margate looking for a comfortable, more spacious life to start a family. Margate finally has a enough to pull you in, whether it’s just for the weekend or a permanent fix.
I was pleased to visit the British seaside town in winter – it’s calm, quiet and serene. I’ve heard the summer nights can get wild and the locals like to party.
Margate is accessible from Kings Cross (90 minutes) and London Victoria (2 hours).
Smugglers Cottage – Interior design award winning and a steal at £100 a night. Perfectly located in the pretty old town and comfortably equip to sleep four people. The walls are bare plaster, the floors unvarnished concrete but it still feels cosy and warm. Finished off with thoughtful details and vintage danish furniture.
The Reading Rooms – A beautiful townhouse bed and breakfast. Recommended a few times and clearly an industry favourite. It’s of the same ilk as the cottage above, however, it’s double the price at £200 per night.
MarMar Margate – Just opened, this beautiful cafe / shop / work space is owned by a lovely couple who visited from London and (like many) fell in love with the sea, space and pro life balance that Margate offers. This place has big plans to open a bar downstairs and a recording studio out the back. We sat for hours reading all the independent magazines that we had been intending to read for months. Mr Diago, the resident pup, was the icing on the cake for me.
Cliffs – This isn’t just another record shop on Northdown Road. Cliffs is a record shop, brunch spot and yoga studio, oh and it holds a salon called Sterling. It’s a vast double floor space, flooded with light from the huge sky light. Records line the off pink plaster unfinished walls the decor completed with vintage danish furniture. We had four soy flat whites in mix match 70’s crockery. The avocado and poached eggs on sourdough was legitimately the best I’ve ever had, along with the insanely low price – £5.50! We stayed for hours listening to the nostalgic music from the duke box. I wish there was a space like this in London.
Margate Radio Cafe – A glass front cafe with sea views, we were so cosy and warm snuggled in the velvet rocking chairs. We enjoyed an avocado and lemon cake slice listening to smooth jazz music. The staff were lovely and eager to hear our opinions of their up and coming area.
Roost – Also located on the sea front, right next door to Radio Margate Cafe and Haeckles shop. Their speciality is chicken, hense the name, to which we requested. They have many options for veggies too, I had the falafel burger. This place brought so much nostalgia from the 70’s sound track to the banana split pudding with squirty cream. You can’t really go wrong with sea views and squirty cream, can you?
Forts – Brunch served in a vintage diner. Again, located on the seafront, we didn’t eat here but we walked past a few times and noted for next time.
Hantverk and Found – A tiny four cover eatery with emerald green tiles and high ceilings. Hantverk menu has the Best of British seaside with a Japanese influence. We had the sourdough with Japanese style oysters, which were huge. The razor clam, which was tiny but tasty. And the mussels, clam and crab ramen bowl with kimchi, it was authentically original. Book ahead, it was fully booked and very busy in this sleepy town.
Manning’s Sea Food Stall – It serves what it says on the sign. Conveniently located on the sea front next to the Turner Contemporary.
The grain grocer – I had read this grocery store and cafe was great for brunch. But the kind lady at Hantverk explained the cafe was closed for the season and suggested Cliffs instead.
Turner Contemporary – It’s about time there was an accessible acclaimed sea front art gallery. It’s everything a travelling creative could want and free entry.
Dreamland – The famous retro theme park was unfortunately closed for the season. Yet another reason to come back in the summer.
Botany Bay – I loved the calm, white and chalky landscapes, we walked around the beaches to the next bay. The wind chill was harsh and after a few hours we yerned for the indoors.
Joss Bay – We were able to walk around from Botany Bay because of the low tide. Equally dramatically beautiful as Botany Bay but we didn’t spend much time on the beach, it was too cold.
Walpole Bay Tidal Pool – Bleak, desolate and perfect for minimal photos. We saw two frill seeking nutters jump in at the deep end, literally. There was a lot of screaming.
Getting around – We saw lots of people cycling around the coast, which we would have considered if it wasn’t for the ice wind. Borrow a bike from old Kent Market in the warmer months.
Broadstairs – I was impressed with how clean and well kept all the beaches were in Margate. Broadstairs had the softest sand and the largest beach with access to toilets and restaurants.
J Cosmo – All up-and-coming areas needs a quality provisions store. You can find brands such as Pike Brothers for your American heritage and Norlender for your Norwegian knitwear. All styled perfectly with vintage army surplus and a seasonless colour palette.
Haeckels – Margate’s answer to Aesop meets Le mer. The simplicity and beauty of this store is like no other I’ve seen in England. The products come from the seaweed and algae renowned for the anti ageing and inflammatory properties. I’m on the waiting list for the hair growth serum that will hopefully launch this year. Fingers crossed.
Breuer and Dawson – Mostly menswear international vintage clothing.
Paraphernalia – Vintage homewares.
ETC – A femine slant on the vintage scene.
Simply Danish – Simply, selling vintage danish furnitures.
The Old Iceworks, Bath Place – Warehouse with stores inside such as;
Scott’s furniture Mart
Upholstery by Ian Bayley
Note, It’s worth checking the opening times for all of these, they all widely differ.