“Cass? You still there? Our coach has just blown up!”
Sandy beaches, fresh sea air, the faint smell of seafood and the distinct brutalist skyline. It could only be one place that I’m referring to, couldn’t it? Well, maybe not, but unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 18 months, you’ll know that Margate is the latest seaside destination to hit up. Just 90 minutes from London, it’s easy enough to hop to for the day, or for a slightly longer break. Most famous for its feature in Only Fools & Horses (if you didn’t get the leading reference, who even are you?), the temptation of arcades and coach trips with Rodders and Del, was too much even for me. Even after all those years, it caters for a right good jolly boys outing.
Margate is most certainly an airbnb destination town and there’s an abundance of cool homes to move into for a few days. Here’s a few purse-friendly options that still pack a punch.
The Well is a “wellness residence” situated up the top of the sandy bays of Margate, directly opposite The Winter Gardens. This bohemian paradise is owned by Hannah and Adam who have gone out of their way to fill the Airbnb abode with special items sourced both locally and from their travels abroad. More like a boutique hotel, there’s a bathtub in one of the bedrooms, hi-tech appliances and all the Haeckels products you could wish for.
You can see my full review of the most relaxing residence in Margate here.
If bohemian paradise isn’t your thing, another great option is Atelier Tally’s Margate mid-century abode. Filled to the brim with Vitsoe and the biggest selection of chairs, this design blogger has created a pad filled with design history. If you’re visiting with a friend, this is an affordable option that will provide a great space to chill at after a long day of exploring Margate.
There is surprisingly quite a lot to do in this rather small town, from arcades to a grotto filled with shells, here’s what to grab your explorers hat for.
The Turner Contemporary is likely one of the main causes for the upheaval of East Londoners to the town of Margate, providing the coastal town with the basis of an art scene and a catalyst for regeneration. The gallery, designed by David Chipperfield Architects, looks out on the coast that JMW Turner immortalised in his works citing Margate’s skies as “the loveliest”. Catch a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions and events at the gallery and embrace Margate’s creative spark.
Margate is a coastal town, meaning that the beach wraps around most of the area. Margate Sands in the primary beach where most tourists hit, including to sit on the ‘Sunset Steps’ for a relaxing evening, however those in-the-know will likely head to the quieter Botany Bay or Westbrook Bay. The beaches here are pure sand which is a refreshing treat from most British Seaside resorts, so don’t forget your bucket and spade.
Main Sands, Marine Terrace, Margate CT9 1XJ
Westbrook Bay, 12 Royal Esplanade, Margate CT9 5DW
Botany Bay, Marine Dr, Broadstairs CT10 3LG
If you’ve been around here for long enough, you’ll know that I absolutely adore cheese. When I asked for recommendations on the gram, almost everyone recommended we eat at Cheesy Tiger and, my god, it did not disappoint. We tried out the Padron Peppers, the freshly-made aioli, the Mac and cheese and the legendary cheese toastie with jalapeños. Gosh, I’m dribbling just thinking about it.
Unit 7 & 8, Harbour Arm, Margate CT9 1AP
Pete’s Fish Factory
If you’re visiting the seaside, it would be a sin not to eat fish and chips on the seafront, right? The Well told us about Pete’s Fish Factory on their handy Margate guide and pre-warned us that there would always be a queue, but it would be well and truly worth it. We joined said queue with high hopes and the friendly staff made it a whole lot more bearable alongside the smells of freshly cooked fish. JJP and I shared a large cod, large chips and pea fritter for under a tenner, and felt full for the rest of the day. We both eat a lot, so that’s a good serving I can tell you.
12 The Parade, Margate CT9 1EZ
‘You wanna pizza me?’ – Yes, you’ve probably seen the neon sign before. It belongs to Pizza GB, another highly recommended food joint on the gram. Unfortunately we didn’t actually have time to eat here (read: didn’t make it before closing) so I can’t vouch for the “best pizza” claims but I can tell you it was always packed and the interior is rather nice. I don’t normally like to include places I haven’t been on these guides, but you lot told me it was pretty sweet, so I thought I’d pass the message on for those that don’t expect to get served at 10pm – yes, I’m a true late dining Londoner with no concept of things closing.
14a Marine Dr, Margate CT9 1DH
Cliffs is situated in the depths of Cliftonville, which is an interesting little area to say the least. You can see why East Londoners dig it. The airy cafe has a retro yet minimal vibe and offers food, good coffee, vinyl, a hairdressers and yoga. Yep, what a mix. I recommend sitting upstairs for a coffee with a view and some darn good monochromatic mid-century stairs.
172 Northdown Rd, Margate CT9 2QN
Echo has got the Scandi vibes down a treat with its muted and easygoing ambience. Offering a 100% plant-based menu, this is where vegans can get there kicks while lounging in one of the various cosy spaces. If you’ve come for a yoga retreat on the beach, this is certainly the place for you.
141A Northdown Rd, Margate CT9 2QY
Margate is pretty chilled for the most part, but the Harbour Arm is where it’s at for sunset. Grab a drink from the actual Harbour Arms (yes, it looks like a shack but they do take card here) and head on up to the roof of the building to watch the sun go down. Don’t be alarmed if you’re joined by a few stoners too…
Harbour Arm, Margate CT9 1AP
Oh Haeckels, how I adore thee! This gorgeous skincare and wellness brand stocks products in a variety of concept stores across the UK, so you’ve likely come across them before, but Margate is the home of Haeckels’ fragrance-infused store. This cliff-top lab brings the benefits and textures of coastal living to daily skincare and is one of only two licensed places to harvest seaweed from the English coast. Well-designed and interesting to boot.
18 Cliff Terrace, Margate, CT9 1RU
Moksha Therapies is a sweet little wellness store on the route up to The Well. Serving bath salt and crystal realness, you can probably get your hands on any kind of potion in here as well as plants, blankets and ceramics. If you’re feeling the need to be spoilt you can book in for a therapy or keep an eye out for workshops during your stay.
35 Hawley St, Margate CT9 1QA
Little Bit Margate
Let’s be honest, you need a little bit of colour in your life when visiting Margate, and Little Bit Margate has A LOT! The gift shop is located in Old Town and is surrounded by various other sweet little boutiques as mentioned above. Head here for stationery, gifts and more with a colourful kick and a joyful atmosphere.
1-3 Broad St, Margate, Kent CT9 1EW