In my former life I worked for Redseven in Brighton. They provide hen and stag packages in the UK and abroad. As they’re launching a new Margate package MD Ian Lucas sent me there, in a freelance capacity, to check out some hot spots.
I stayed at The Sands Hotel, a lovely 4 star property in the centre of town and right on the beach. Looking left from my balcony I could see the big wheel of Dreamland and to the right was the Turner Contemporary gallery and the harbour arm. My car stayed firmly put in the car park for four days as I explored, shopped and ate and drank to my heart’s content.
“The opening of the Turner Contemporary Gallery in 2011 put Margate on the map as an arty farty destination.”
“Artist Tracey Emin grew up in Margate and her edgy and unique style seems to have set the tone for the area.”
Shops in the old town consist of boutiquey-style affairs; quirky collections curated by former actors who have escaped the rat-race of London and are living the dream by the sea. You’ll also find vintage shops and galleries, perfect for ‘mooching’. Fort Road Yard is a snooper’s paradise that sells everything from street art to old funfair paraphernalia. At the back of Fort Road Yard I stumbled upon Miranda Dunn, Fortune Teller & Clairvoyant. She read my cards in her little red shed and it was very insightful indeed!
Top tip – The Moroccan tent at The Crescent Victoria is great for afternoon tea. Why not book Miranda Dunn to join you there for some mystic tea leaf readings?
If yoga’s your thing head up Northdown Road to Cliffs, an uber-cool coffee house/record shop/yoga studio. Treat yourself afterwards to quiche at Batchelors, a non-pretentious, unassuming café whose décor has remained untouched since the 1960s. Trust me, their quiche is to die for.
It was closed when I went but I hear another great place for lunch in the summer is The Bus Café, a kitchen and café within a 1980s red double decker bus.
“Dreamland, the old-fashioned amusement park that dates back to the 1800s, recently underwent a £25m revamp and re-opened in 2015.”
When it comes to glamming up and heading out it would be rude not to conduct a mini pub-crawl in order to experience the best of Margate’s quirky independent bars. My favourite was Fez, an Aladdin’s cave of a watering hole. A place where you can sit at an old fashioned pinball table, choose from 60 gins, make friends with the locals, get yourself involved with an impromptu ukulele jam and order pies in from Gary down the road. If pies in paper bags aren’t your thing then Buoy & Oyster is a great choice for cocktails and posh nosh, or perhaps reserve a table at The Ambrette, an award-winning anglo-Indian fine dining restaurant (apparently a favourite of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge).
Margate’s an ‘easy’ place to go for a hen do. It’s small so everything’s on your doorstep and it’s cool. Shoreditch by the sea vibes. You can chill, mooch, explore and immerse yourself in culture. You’ll leave vowing to return, I promise.
By Helen Ruff
Sands Hotel www.sandshotelmargate.co.uk
Turner Contemporary www.turnercontemporary.org
Fortune Teller www.macalevy-magic.co.uk
The Bus Café www.thebuscafe.co.uk
Buoy & Oyster www.buoyandoyster.com
The Ambrette www.theambrette.co.uk
The Crescent Victoria www.crescentvictoria.co.uk