A Grand 19th century resort, looking a little tired in recent decades, the seaside town of Margate has had something of a revival – It is now a trendy destination for Londoners looking for art, antiques and a large dose of British holiday-town charm. With its golden main sands and clear blue sea, cool café culture, independent retro shops and fantastic restaurants, Margate is a weekend away with a difference.
JMW Turner loved Margate’s stunning skyscapes and the internationally acclaimed Turner Contemporary opened in April 2011, home to historic and modern works of art.
Visitors are also attracted by the recent revival of Dreamland, ‘The UK’s original Pleasure Park’ complete with historic rides and a new venue for festivals and events.
Margate’s Old Town is the place to enjoy a coffee and explore the many antique and retro shops. The harbour arm is the place for a drink, while looking back at the town across the sea.
Going to Margate for the weekend? Here are our recommendations….
WHERE TO STAY
Originally a hotel at the end of the 19th Century, the building was bought by Nick Conington in 2011 where he spent two years lovingly restoring it to its former glory.
The Sands Hotel boasts impressive sea views, something they have used as the inspiration for their twenty beautiful bedrooms, each with its own individually designed bathroom.
Where possible, natural materials have been used throughout the décor and the attention to detail is truly impressive. This is a hotel with incredibly high standards, silk pocket-sprung mattresses and Egyptian cotton linen in every room. It also boasts a great contemporary restaurant, opening for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner and a super chic roof terrace for the exclusive use of its residents.
If you’re going to stay in Margate, you’re going to stay here!
Go To: sandshotelmargate.co.uk
WHERE TO EAT
Launched in 2010 by Dev Biswal, The Ambrette is a true fine dining restaurant. The flavours reflect its creator’s ability to combine French and South East Asian cuisine with faultless technical prowess.
Championing locally sourced produce, including foraged seafood and local game and fusing these with more exotic ingredients, The Ambrette boasts an impressive menu, where diners are treated to pallet teasers and tasters throughout the meal.
We especially enjoyed the wood pigeon breast, and the idea of smoking it with cloves gave this superbly cooked and presented dish a surprising twist.
Their menu is truly seasonal and they offer some fantastic sharing dishes. The lobster sharer in the warmer months looks an absolute treat and something that I will be coming back for.
Go To: theambrette.co.uk/margate
Nestled in the heart of the old town in a converted former butchers shop, Mullins Brassiere serves modern European cuisine with a hint of Caribbean influence.
This is intimate, relaxed brassiere dining in a contemporary setting where dishes created by Bajan, Antonio Forde, are lovingly assembled. The subtle alchemy of a European cooking style and Caribbean spice works wonderfully.
Few coastal menus would be without scallops, but mine were not only fresh and cooked perfectly, but Cajun spiced and served with a butternut squash puree and pickled Christophene (Chayote) beautifully complementing their tender, plump flesh.
The menu is seasonal and evolving and with themed nights and events, not to mention the extensive rum list! If you’re only in town for a day this has to be one of your stops.
Go To: mullinsbrasserie.co.uk
The Old Post Office
Sited in, where other than The Old Post Office, this is one of the most recent additions to Margate’s culinary adventure.
Apart from a pair of tasteful pieces of topiary flanking the front door, you would be forgiven for thinking this was still the post office. And it is true that the façade is little changed.
Far from the case inside…. Less sorting office, more grand European café. The bar is faced with carved black marble and gilded cherubs adorn the walls. The seriously impressive fireplace looks like it has come out of the palace of Versailles, hardly surprising, as it is a copy of one there! Sarah Barrett tells me, that it was commissioned 40 years ago for a private residence but was never delivered.
The Old Post Office has a delicatessen on one side, open for a light lunch, sandwiches or a slice of cake. The main restaurant offers a set lunch, an a-la-carte and a sumptuous taster menu.
Brilliant, modern, British fine dining. This is somewhere to be spoilt. Head Chef Tristan Fitt is young, fantastically talented and a technical master of his craft. From an open kitchen, his team work without fuss or pretence. Dishes are superbly balanced, beautifully presented and the process ever apparent in the product. It takes a lot to impress me, but the execution of these plates was staggering.
The Old Post Office Margate is truly special and is set to become a destination restaurant. It could comfortably hold it’s own next to some of the bigger names in the capital.
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Inspiration/ImageCredits: sandshotelmargate.co.uk, theambrette.co.uk/margate, theoldpostofficemargate.co.uk, mullinsbrasserie.co.uk
Featured Image: instagram.com/sandshotelmargate