A weekend in Margate
A couple of weekends ago, I decided to whisk Oliver to the Kent coastline for a surprise weekend away, as it had been a while since we’d last spent some time together out of London. Having heard lots of references about how Margate was the ‘new Brighton’, being home to a number of contemporary art galleries and independent restaurants, it didn’t take me long to book us a pair of train tickets.
I can’t say that my hotel of choice, The Reading Rooms, didn’t have a serious impact on my decision to choose Margate either. Functioning more as a spot offering ‘rooms with breakfast,’ The Reading Rooms is a gorgeous original townhouse, located on Hawley Square, in the heart of Margate and only a two-minute walk from the Old Town. Consisting of three bedrooms (each stretching across an entire floor), The Reading Rooms is really a place for couples looking for a romantic space to escape, as they don’t accommodate kids, or allow extra beds in the bedrooms. There are no communal spaces in the house, and there is little interaction with the staff and owners: instead, you’re really given privacy as a couple to enjoy one another’s company in a beautiful space.
I had a good snoop on their informative website (complete with lots of food, drink, and culture recommendations) before settling on Room 3, at the top of the house. Offering scenic views over the city, this bedroom has lots of natural light and an overall shabby chic design: distressed walls, a vintage chandelier and white wardrobe, and rustic king-sized French bed all add to the room’s character. The bathroom is almost as big, featuring him-and-her sinks, a walk-in shower, and a freestanding bathtub with Ren bath products.
Breakfast is another of The Reading Rooms’ charms. Guests fill in a menu the night before, and breakfast is brought up on a tray to your bedroom at your time of choosing. The spread is very generous, (if you’re hungry you’re really free to choose whatever you like from the menu), featuring home baked bread with various jams and spreads, fresh fruit, porridge with your choice of toppings, and freshly cooked dishes too. I went for the vegetarian breakfast (complete with buttery mushrooms and a delicious, cheesy vegetable fritter), whilst Oliver went for scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toasted sourdough. We finished this off with fresh berry smoothies and lots of hot tea.
After breakfast, we set out to explore the town at a leisurely pace. As mentioned, The Reading Rooms is located a short walk from Margate’s Old Town, which is really the best part of the city, as it houses all of the cute boutique stores and coffee shops. We stopped for coffee at Storeroom by Curve Roasters, a bright, industrial space that serves a good-looking brunch menu, as well as a range of home baked cakes (many of which were vegan or gluten free). The staff are also super friendly, and the coffee is all roasted in-house.
Next, we bundled into a taxi and headed to Botany Bay (taxis in the area are pretty cheap, and much more efficient to get around the coast than by foot). The bay is famous for its jagged white cliffs and beaches, and we whiled away several hours in the sunshine walking along the coastal path.
By four in the afternoon, we were both quite hungry, and decided to venture into nearby Broadstairs for a snoop before dinner time, which is another seaside town set along the coast. We had a dinner reservation for the early evening, and thought we’d have a quick bite to eat in the meantime. However, despite it being a buzzing Saturday afternoon, we were disappointed to find that most of the coffee shops in town were already closed, and most pub kitchens also weren’t serving food. By this time, I was quite hangry, and we miraculously stumbled into a pub serving chips. Chips by the seaside…it doesn’t really get much more British than that, does it?
Dinner was at Wyatt & Jones, which came highly recommended from multiple sources. With a seasonal menu focussing on seafood, and a relaxed, casual atmosphere, we instantly knew that we were going to have a good meal here. We started off with warm sourdough and whipped seaweed butter (this was insanely tasty), and shared a whole Dover sole for mains, garnished with lots of lemon juice and capers, and served with charred broccoli: everything was fresh and delicious.
We headed back to Margate for an early night watching movies in bed, before yet another impressive breakfast spread the next morning. Just before leaving town, we also popped into The Greedy Cow (also located in the Old Town) for coffee, before heading home.
Margate is only an hour and a half train ride from London and has lots to offer if you’re planning on escaping there for a weekend. Whilst I wouldn’t quite call it the ‘new Brighton’, (it’s not quite as jolly or hipster as Brighton) there’s definitely lots going on to keep you occupied if you’re a fan of culture, food, and the British seaside.