A Weekend in Margate
A WEEKEND IN MARGATE
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT:
- For the retro & independent shops
- To witness the most beautiful sunsets
- Go and relive your youth at Dreamlands
- Enjoy lazing on the beach in the sunshine
Back in May, my husband Steve and I stayed in Margate for two nights. I had wanted to visit Margate for ages and really should have done it back when we lived in London, as Margate is less than an hour and a half from central London. From Manchester, it was quite a bit further but we broke up the journey by visiting friends in Whitstable for two days prior. Whistable is a cute seaside town with rows of multi-coloured cottages, a gorgeous sea front and a quaint main street filled with boutiques and a very stylish old-fashioned fish & chip shop.
Margate is less than 20minutes on the train or a short drive from Whitstable and the train station is literally on the sea front! We were staying at the Sands Hotel which was renovated in 2011 and is a pretty blue building that is rather grand inside with a great location right on the seafront and near the Old Town. We had a sea view room and it was surprisingly spacious with an entrance corridor, bed in the middle with a lounge chair and dressing table area and a large bathroom with bath and walk-in shower off the corridor. The windows opened right out and we could see the sea right from our room.
Margate is becoming increasingly popular and ‘trendy’ of late and the mixture of cool East London style independent shops, craft breweries and cool restaurants mixed with the still affordable house prices is a clear reason why. Coupled with the fact it has a picturesque seafront and with the fast commute to London, it’s easy to see why lots of Londoners are choosing to relocate or buy property here.
Before arriving and because of all of the above, I expected Margate to be quite ‘finished’ and have a more boutique seaside feel to the town, more like Brighton. I was surprised that next to the cool winding streets filled with trendy shops and cafes, there are roads with boarded up windows with a completely different feel to them. It’s almost like Margate has two parts to the town – the new Margate and the old Margate and they’re yet to meet. This is is in some ways confusing but it’s also rather enthralling and there is a bit of a thrill in that you don’t really know what you’re going to find next.
Amongst our exploring, we found some absolute foodie gems and I thought I’d list them here for an easy to save guide –
GB Pizza – Delicious sourdough pizzas with a really thin base so not too heavy- I ate one of the specials which was roast lamb with wild garlic and pesto and it was very tasty. The décor is extremely stylish and Instagram-friendly – an on-trend pink and green colour palette with metro tiles and palm trees. Pizza and palm trees, what’s not to love!
Cheesy Tiger – You really don’t want to miss this place. The BEST cheese toastie we’ve ever eaten, and my husband likes cheese. A lot. A cool laid-back spot with great sea views on the Harbour Arm and a refreshingly crisp prosecco served in a nice big glass. Lovely service too.
Melt Gelato Parlour – Absolutely delicious ice cream with a generous scoop and a good range of flavours. On a hot day, it’s nice to sit in the window seats and eat your ice cream and make use of the cooling air conditioning.
The Ambrette – Indian but not as you know it. This is more of a special occasion meal but with indian influences and the food was delicious with very generous portions for such a fine dining restaurant. We enjoyed a delicious dinner here so look out for the review coming soon.
Cliffs – The perfect mix of music and coffee where you can enjoy your cappuccino in a retro cup and saucer whilst picking out some records to buy. It has a really laid back feel to it and we didn’t sample one but the cakes and homemade sausage rolls looked very edible.
The Bus Cafe – sit in or outside this old fashioned red bus at a lovely secluded spot down on the sea front where we enjoyed a pretty much perfect cup of tea which came in a nice big teapot and sat and watched the world go by for an hour.
The Bottle Shop - I am not a huge beer drinker so it was great to visit The Bottle Shop and have a delicious homemade Rhubarb Spritz whilst Steve took full advantage of the beer menu. Their own glasses were perfect for both and we liked them so much we bought two to take home!
Other than eating and drinking (well, we were on holiday), we spent our time wandering the streets of Margate exploring. We were there on a Monday and unfortunately most of the retro shops are closed so keep that in mind when planning a visit. Fortunately we managed to check most of them out on the Sunday and our particular favourite was Hunkydory 24. Cliftonville seemed like a very up and coming area and there are already some cool craft ale bars, wine shops and of course Cliffs above to check out there.
One of the most popular attractions in Margate, Dreamland, was very upsettingly shut when we visited as the renovation was being finished and we were gutted not to experience it. It’s old-fashioned amusement park rides, retro funfair games and lots of cool kitsch vibes are definitely up my street.
The Turner Gallery was also closed but we got chance to check out the gift shop and bought a Tracey Emin card to keep to remind us of the wonderful neon sign in Margate.
I left Margate not only wanting to return to get chance to visit Dreamland but I also felt like in a few months it would be a little different again and there would be more exploring to do. A forgotten seaside town it might once have been but Margate is definitely on the map again.
Dotty Dishes was a guest of Visit Thanet for one night at The Sands. We paid for the second night and all our meals and drinks apart from at The Ambrette.
For more information visit www.visitthanet.co.uk