Margate is a typical English seaside town – bustling in summer, quiet in winter. Margate is also one of the world’s top ten must-see destinations. Don’t believe me? Ask The Guardian.
For that reason, we decided to spend last weekend in Margate to ‘get away from it all’. ‘It all’ being three, torturous, post Christmas days back at work.
So if you’re planning a beach holiday during these chilly months, my round-up below might make you choose Margate over Mauritius. The sensible option in these tough economic times.
1. Eat dinner at The Ambrette
The Ambrette shouldn’t be judged by its cover. Its country pub exterior, no frills interior and ridiculously reasonable pricing paves the way for beautiful Michelin rated Indian food. Basically, it’s the Cinnamon Kitchen without the fuss.
For £40 a head we ate like kings, enjoying dishes that ranged from scallops, soft shell crab, sea-bream kedgeree and chocolate samosas, to complimentary spicy potato balls, orange granita with popping candy and an aromatic mushroom soup. That, and two bottles of very palatable house white.
The food was inventive and interesting. Each mouthful started with one flavour and ended with another – something that is only accomplished by a very clever chef.
2. Visit the Turner Contemporary Gallery
Overlooking the sea, this gallery is part of a major regeneration project for Margate, inspired by JMW Turner. Its mirrored exterior reflects the colours of the day, appearing particularly dramatic in winter. Inside it’s full of clean, white rooms, filled with artwork that for us, was selected and painted by American figurative artist Alex Katz.
3. Grab a sandwich at The Greedy Cow
Pastrami sandwiches, pulled pork buns, soups and cakes make up this cafe in the heart of the Old Town (the pretty part of Margate). The friendly staff, quick service and fresh food make The Greedy Cow a perfect place for a quick lunch.
4. Drink tea with The Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter tea rooms are like an eccentric version of my grandparents house. The wallpaper, ceilings and carpets are highly patterned, there are black and white photographs all over the walls and trinkets sit on top of every piece of furniture.
The Mad Hatter himself greets every customer, suited and booted in a top hat, braces and well fitted flared trousers. He also makes the delicious cakes, which for us was a light, moist, jam and cream packed Victoria Sponge.
5. Visit the Shell Lady
Ann Carrington’s Shell Lady sits at the end of The Harbour Arm (a 19th century stone pier) overlooking the sea. It’s worth saying hello to her whilst you walk along the stretch of sandy beach. After all, she is the only shell lady to endure the winter – the other twelve, delicate figures prefer to wait until the warm summer months.