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Discover fine dining and art galleries on the creative coast of Kent and Sussex

Base yourself in Margate and you’ll discover how Kent and Sussex offer the perfect winter break with a stirring mixture of superb coastal scenery, high class dining, creative and classy shopping and some important history.

Sample top seafood and fine views at Margate's best restaurants and hotels

The sea can be wild at this time of year but the view of it from indoors is decidedly cosy. 

Watch the waves from the snug comfort of Angela’s, a 24-cover Michelin starred restaurant in Margate. It hardly needs saying that seafood is the theme and greatest strength. Perhaps start with mussels with cider and garlic, pick a main course such as mullet and clams and save space for a dessert of flourless chocolate cake and bisque, all exquisitely presented by head chef and co-owner Rob Cooper.

‘A seafood restaurant by the sea feels like the right place to be,’ says co-owner Lee Coad, who along with his partner Charlotte Forsdike founded the restaurant. ‘We work with local organic farms, prepare local oysters, lobsters, crab and herring from the adjacent waters and fish from Hastings.’ If Angela’s is busy the trio’s sister restaurant Dory’s is just around the corner and places an equal emphasis on what is fresh from the boats that morning. ‘The food scene in Margate is very good, as fine as any in the country,’ says Lee.

Nearby the Sands Hotel offers luxurious cashmere and cotton fixtures and fittings (pillows are filled with jasmine silk) and fine views across the bay. The hotel bar has a veranda that faces west and overlooks the water, the perfect place for an indulgence only possible in winter – that late afternoon sundowner.

Discover fine dining and art galleries on the creative coast of Kent and Sussex Discover fine dining and art galleries on the creative coast of Kent and Sussex
Discover fine dining and art galleries on the creative coast of Kent and Sussex

Visit the Turner Contemporary Gallery, get creative in Folkestone and explore Hastings Old Town

Margate’s seafront is dominated by the Turner Contemporary gallery, a homage to the painter who visited the town throughout his life and which in 2019 hosted the UK’s prestigious Turner Prize.

Its rolling series of exhibitions draws on works from 1750 to the modern era and strive to link their themes to the artist., who once remarked how 'the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe.’

Margate doesn’t have the monopoly on culture along the Kent and Sussex coasts: they are collectively known as the Creative Coast for a reason. Sadly, Kent had to take the decision to cancel all Christmas markets in 2020 but that hasn’t stopped the Christmas lights being switched on across the county and so, safety permitting, you can still shop in a festive atmosphere.

In Folkestone you can explore Creative Folkestone Hub where you’ll find the textile designer Catherine Nice where you can pick up limited edition prints and custom-made furniture. Then duck into Steep Street Coffee House for a mince pie or other savouries amid a literary setting. The café is wonderfully atmospheric and its walls are lined from floor to ceiling with poetry, coffee table hardbacks and local literature.

Discover fine dining and art galleries on the creative coast of Kent and Sussex
Discover fine dining and art galleries on the creative coast of Kent and Sussex Discover fine dining and art galleries on the creative coast of Kent and Sussex
 

In Hastings, across the county border in East Sussex meanwhile, you can work off those pies with a short bracing walk – ideal in winter when you may not wish to be outside too long – up to Hastings Castle. 

In the immediate aftermath of the Norman invasion of 1066, the Normans took advantage of the hill and erected a wooden fortress later rebuilt in stone. The ruins offer superb views over Hastings’ old town. While you're in town, a visit to Hastings Contemporary Art Gallery, an award-winning building in itself, offers a special encounter not only with its permanent collection but varied programme of exhibitions.

Wherever you explore, the views are as high quality as the food and culture. Lee Coad of Angela’s feels passionately about everything that the coastline of this corner of England has to offer. ‘I travel around the coast when on holiday and there is really nowhere like Margate – the coast is pretty and there are incredibly creative people here. There’s always lots to do.’