We fancied a little UK break for a few nights and after a bit of research we came across Margate as an option and it really did not disappoint. About 2 hours from us in Brighton – it actually felt quite similar. A very bohemian, arty heart with udons of independent cafes, shops and restaurants however with the distinct advantage of a beautiful beach and an amazing art gallery. The weather was even kind to us and the sun shone for most of the time we were there. A big bonus for a UK break – especially in March!
If you still aren’t sure whether Margate is for you – here are 10 reasons why you should book a trip now:
Lots of stylish Air bnb options
We stayed here which was fabulous. It was just a couple minutes walk to the Turner Gallery, quirky shops and cafes but also in a really quiet little cul de sac. It had been carefully decorated and the owners had made the best use of the space filling it with carefully selected furniture, prints and books.
The beautiful sandy beach
It was empty most of the time we were there (which was in March it has to be said). It had been so long since we had visited a sandy beach and I forgot how great it felt to feel those little grains beneath my feet.
The Turner Gallery which is breathtaking
I loved the architecture of the building itself with sharp modern lines and big windows where you can watch the undulating waves or the sun coming down over the horizon. The exhibition was called A place that exists only in moonlight by Katie Paterson & JMW Turner which was fantastic. My boy loved it too!
The Open Market
With a few different cafes, restaurants and shops inside it makes a great stop before/after a trip to the Turner Gallery as it is only a few minutes away. You can get a good meal for under £10 and had we not had the babes in tow we would have gone back for a few night caps as I imagine the atmosphere after the sun goes down would be quite buzzy. We enjoyed a fab pizza from Mamma Mia at 5pm instead!
Antiques for days
There are lots of antique shops including the sizeable Fort Road yard (just a few metres from where we were staying), Paraphernalia and Scott Furniture which is just down the road from the Shell Grotto. They are all worth a look and overall I would say the prices looked reasonable with lots of interesting pieces to choose from.
The quirky Shell grotto
That is right – a grotto filled with 4 million decorative shells on the walls. Discovered in 1825 they still have no idea why it exists or who put it there. A beautiful little mystery.
Lots of independent cafes & restaurants
You really are spoilt for choice in Margate for independent food and drink places. We managed to go to the following: Mamma Mia (as mentioned above) for tasty authentic pizza, the Store Room (twice) and had the Kimchi cheese toasty of dreams, Bottega Caruso – well we didn’t quite manage to eat in the restaurant but they kindly gave us the most amazing take away pasta which I still dream about, and Mar Mar cafe for a fabulous coffee and an outstanding slice of cake! Other places we had heard were good but we didn’t get a chance to visit this time around were: Cliffs – a cool record shop/cafe/yoga studio, Radio – another fab looking cafe and Melt for fabulous ice cream.
We picked up a delightful crisp rose (the first of the year) from here and I can tell you it was tricky picking just one. It looks like a carefully curated wine selection. Again we were with babes so we didn’t stop to sample a glass which would have been lovely I am sure.
There are so many wonderful shops – it feels like every corner you turn in the old town you stumble across a new one. As with the whole of Margate they are largely within easy walking distance of each other which is great. We didn’t manage to visit them all but we did go into: the Turner Gallery shop which is small but perfectly formed; Artisan and Adventures – globally sourced crafts; Moksha Therapies for a fab selection of plants and natural beauty products; Albion stores – a cool contemporary fashion boutique; Mor – handpicked homeware, stationary and vintage pieces; KG Winters – delicious fruit and veg and carefully selected homeware and Mar Mar – lovely plants and trinkets. I only really scratched the surface though. There were lots of other shops which looked fab but we ran out of time including WerkHaus , Haeckels Natural Skincare, Madam Popoff Vintage and Peony Vintage.
As I mentioned we visited in March and unfortunately the main park was shut but we absolutely want to go back – perhaps even this summer. The art deco building is stunning and the rides look like great fun. Check out their website for all the latest things on. If you have children I thoroughly recommend the Octopus Garden if the weather is a bit off. It was amazing. We had the place to ourselves and it was huge. Dylan had the time of his life in the different play areas – a mini beach, a fancy dress section, a library, a fish and chip shop, a make up area and a traditional soft play area too. We managed to sit down and enjoy a hot cup of decent coffee. Happiness all around!