Guide to Winter in Margate
In all honesty, I have been putting this off. Sharing all my favourite places in Margate is such a mammoth task (because there are so many good places) that I’ve decided to split it into a Winter and Summer edition. Expect part two next year. I moved to Margate nearly 18 months ago, and love this southern seaside town in Kent. I grew up by the sea, albeit a lot further north, but there’s something about it that felt like home to me in my first couple of visits.
Margate has been hailed in many newspapers as a hipster paradise. I think it’s important to know that, like lots of seaside towns which had a demise in the late 80s and 90s, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows (or hipsters). However, the community here is one of the friendliest I have ever encountered - strike up a conversation with someone and you’ll probably still be sat talking to them an hour later
Food & Drink
Three words. REALLY GREAT PIZZA. Do I need to say anymore?! Find them here.
Co-owner Simona is from Foglianise, a small village in Benevento Province, an hour away from Naples in Campania, Italy. You’ll find her and husband Harry inside the Old Kent Market (it’s the big red building near the Turner museum) home cooking all their food, bringing the best from Foglianise and Campania to Kent. Website here.
If you’re heading up to Northdown Road, to Urchin or Cliffs, then also pop in to Batchelors, whose decor remains untouched since the 60s. Their quiche was brought straight to me in the maternity ward after I had June, and their Mexican Hearts are my favourite sweet treat. A hearty selection of sweet and savoury food, all made on site.
Buoy & Oyster
This is fancy dinner territory, or a posh lunch (my favourite thing). May I recommend their Buoy Bowl for your main course and the Margate Mess for dessert. I’m drooling at my keyboard just thinking about it! In addition to mouth-watering food, their staff are very knowledgeable and friendly. Book here.
The Bottle Shop
This is a really nice spot to sit outside and watch the infamous Margate sunsets. Whilst this drinking hole has an extensive selection of beers and ales, it also serves good quality cocktails - their Sage Pisco Sours are yummy. Visit their website here.
Not that I’ve been out after dark a lot since I had June, but Fez is a small but fun bar that I used to frequent, open until 11pm. They have an amazing selection of over 60 gins, and often have sing-a-longs or other musical fun on a Sunday. Find it here.
The Bus Cafe
Opened in October, this seafood bistro ‘endeavours to be sustainable, serving delicious, ethically sourced seafood alongside simple, seasonal vegetable-based dishes’. They have a great value lunchtime offer during the week, however I would book to avoid disappointment on a weekend. Book here.
When was the last time you ate on a double-decker bus, and I don’t mean a Pret sandwich on the 55?! I’m talking tables and seats on the top deck. Great for breakfast and lunch, the homemade cake is worth a pit stop too. Find it here.
If wine is more your thing, head to Urchin Wines on Northdown Road for a marvellous selection of wines, with a small deli and exhibition space too. It’s a little bit further away from the main town (although in Margate nothing is too far from anything else), but I promise you the wine is well worth the extra walk.
The Greedy Cow
Another great breakfast pit stop, I highly recommend their Turkish Eggs. If you were going to have a breakfast dessert their hot chocolate is well worth the calories. Find them here.
A tiny bolthole on the Harbour Arm, literally the greatest cheese toasties of my life, and the wine is cracking too. Call here to book a table.
Proper Coffee House
I walked past this coffee shop for a year as I don’t drink coffee, what a fool I was! Inside the most delicious homemade cakes were waiting for me, which can all be served with a pot of tea. I can’t get their banana bread out of my head. I recommend having it toasted, with lots of butter. Add them to your itinery here.
There’s lots of shopping to be had in Margate’s Old Town, however here are my stand out gems that are not to be missed.
The best-looking shop in Margate, filled with even better-looking treats. Inside you’ll find Tatty Devine, Ban.do, Kitsch Kitchen and lots more colourful and fun goodies. Get colourful here.
Founded in 2012, ‘hand harvested Seaweed forms the base ingredient’ of Haeckels’ skin care range. All of their products are produced in Margate, and they are committed to protecting the Jurassic coastline on which Margate sits. If you have time for a massage in their treatment room, do it. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. If you'd like a bit of Margate in your bathroom cabinet, shop online here.
Artisans & Adventurers
A cosy shop for small artisan enterprises around the globe. Their mission is to source and design products that bring joy across the entire production process, from maker to new owner. You're bound to find a beautiful hand woven basket to take home in here.
Fort Road Yard
In the market for a vintage fairground ride? Buy one here.
If you’re looking for something nice to take home, and let’s face it, you are, then this interior/flower/plant shop sells some lovely things for your home. You can also shop online here.
Madam Popoff Vintage
I never manage to walk out of here empty-handed. Owner Deborah Ellis is a vintage expert, and with lots of well-priced stock, you’ll be sure to uncover a treasure or two for your wardrobe here. Keep your eyes peeled as you might even find the odd Ossie Clark or Jean Varon piece too. If you can't wait until you get to Margate, you can shop online here.
A very lovely lifestyle and gift store, go on - you deserve it!
Tom Thumb Theatre
This family-run theatre was originally built in Victorian times as a coach house. In 1984, it was renovated to become one of the smallest theatres in the world. 2017 has seen new owners and an exciting itinerary of events. The bar upstairs is a really nice place to cosy up in the colder months. View their Instagram for the most up-to-date listings or visit their website here.
Not to be confused with the Tate, this sea-facing gallery was named after the painter who famously said Margate has ‘the loveliest skies in the whole of Europe’. Check their website for the latest exhibitions here.
Walpole Bay Hotel
Step into a bygone era in this 100 year old hotel. I’d highly recommend their cream tea, and I’ve heard their full afternoon tea is even better. Make sure you visit the toilets for the wallpaper (trust me on this one) and the museum upstairs. And always take the lift. Visit thier website here.
Remember a fairground is for life, not just for the summer. Whilst not open all the time through the winter months, Dreamland puts on seasonal events. December sees their Frosted Fairground, complete with it's own Ice Rink and a Father Christmas Grotto Experience. The Octopus Garden, is a really fun play zone ( children under 8) and is open all year round. Complete listings can be found here.
Since I wrote this a few days ago Margate has seen the opening of a brilliant new hairdressers, Meraki, the Margate Mercury Hub, Cyril’s Sandwich Shop, The Kentish Pantry, and Radio Margate. It’s the small town that never sleeps, if you’re in doubt, hop of the train and come and explore.
If you're looking for accommodation I can highly recommend this Airbnb for single or double occupancy, Fran's granola bars are famous in my family (she also has 4 rooms, so do ask if you need more than one). Sweet Dreams is perfect for a small group (I stayed here for my 30th birthday) and if there's a bigger group Hawley House should be able to accommodate you all.