I LOVE Kent - Apart from excellent beaches and excellent child friendly activities (read amusement arcades, beach bungee jumping and much ice cream) there are equally as many excellent independent fashion and interior stores, designers and artists, restaurants, bars and coffee shops to keep adults entertained. I ran a sustainable style workshop this week extolling the virtues of searching out independant brands and creators wherever we travel, and of course that doesn't just mean fashion, but any great local businesses.
So with some of us still on half term break this week i thought i'd give a run down of my Kent coast favourite independents, that I have managed to sneak into the itinery over my last couple of family trips despite having six kids in tow- not all my own- without them even noticing. (Thank you amusement arcades for the trade off) A British holiday destination where everyone gets what they want? If that's not a win win i don't know what is.
Margate Margaux Home in the old town has a well curated selection of lifestyle and fashion (I pick up a brilliant pair of Desmond and Dempsy- esque palm tree pyjamas) Wander around the Turner Contemporary Gallery with its floor to ceiling windows and quirky choices of exhibitions that will keep the kids entertained. Barletta has roof top views and aperol spritzes (and milkshakes) while Wildes coffee shop has a good line in retro wicker furniture, plants and brunch. Gizzi Erskine's Love Cafe has not yet opened when we visit but it's on the list for next time. Oh and the tidal pool on one end of Margate beach could compete with Bondi. TO STAY: We stay on a campsite a coastal walk away from Margate with the added bonus of onsite horse riding.
RAMSGATE. Fifteen minutes away, feeling a little like Margate's more grown up sibling, Ramsgate is full of envy inducing Regency townhouses and an arty vibe. Fave local artist turned world dominator Margo in Margate has her store here (also see her at the Turner Gallery in Margate), and one of my favourite local independant jewellery brands Loel & co has a pop up on a recent visit. The excellent traditional fish and chips and of course that beach stop the kids realising they're basically on an art trail. TO STAY Most recently we stay in a brilliant airbnb 4 story townhouse with a sideways glimpse of the sea and impeccable style creds (Ligne Roset togo sofa yes please)
DEAL More than a little refined, Deal is a revelation. We lunch at the beautiful Rose Deal - immaculately interior designed by an ex fashion stylist. Local artist Rusty Studio's portraits line the dining room (in good company alongside Tracy Emin) She has recently hit the big time - now I'm kicking myself for not getting in quick. There are seriously good vintage and antiques stores- I briefly consider ditching two of my children to fit an enormous YSL Love poster from Mileage Vintage in the car home. Elsewhere there are excellent fashion and lifestyle finds at Hoxton Store and Green and Found TO STAY: The Rose also has beautifully designed bedrooms, earmarked for a future child free weekend.
BROADSTAIRS Around the coast in between Margate and Ramsgate, Broadstairs (not to be confused with Broadchurch, which obviously I do) has a gentile vibe with tall townhouses that teeter high over the beach. ( yes we immediately look on right move and no we can't afford one). We don't manage any shopping here, but head for the food- at Flotsam and Jetsam, where the traditional takeaway fish and chips is given a michelin makeover with battered courgette flowers and crab dumplings . Afterwards the retro styled ice cream parlour Morelli's Gelato is a hit with the kids TO STAY The Yarrow Hotel is Telegraph endorsed but we also like the idea of a beach view holiday rental
WHITSTABLE Last stop on the list is Whitstable, home of The no frills Lobster Shack which never disappoints, and an excellent harbour for crabbing, oyster eating and market style stall shopping. Behind the front is a characterful old town full of independent stores and restaurants. I discover Harbour Books independent bookstore that I never want to leave, my son tests Sundae Sundae ice cream parlour (thumbs up) and we pass by a lot of very good looking charity shops that i'm not allowed to go into because i've already monopolised the trip. TO STAY The Front Rooms run by interiors stylist Julie Thorne appeals for a grown up stay.
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