Stylish Weekends | July 4, 2016 | Lifestyle
Short breaks with sandy toes: Our pick of the great British seaside
From their gloriously technicolour 50s heyday to the crumbling slump of the 90s and back up to today’s nostalgia-fuelled revival: the fortunes of UK seaside resorts plunge and rise as dramatically as the roller coasters that thrill the tourists along their sea fronts.
This year, try a weekend (or longer) at one of the UK’s booming seaside resorts. Here’s our pick of the best – and how to recreate each unique style at home.
Margate suffered badly from the cheap flights boom of the 90s but a combination of the advent of the Turner Contemporary art gallery, a new high speed rail link from London and last year’s reopening of heritage fun fair Dreamland have all contributed to a remarkable art-led revival of the town.
Sandy beaches and a packed schedule of weekend events make it popular with families, art lovers and alternative culture fans.
The Reading Rooms – a luxury boutique B&B in a restored, grade II listed Georgian town house. Book well ahead – there are just three expansive rooms, all dripping stripped-back cool.
Declaring an interest here – GB Pizza is my children’s favourite restaurant in the world. Don’t let that mislead you; the crispy-based pizzas, topped with locally-sourced ingredients are no juvenile pap. Sunday Telegraph critic Zoe Williams called them ‘the best pizzas I’ve ever tasted’.
Take it home:
The painter JMW Turner loved Margate for its endless skies and sunsets over the sea. Celebrate these with the airiness of Blue Bird, one of Wedgwood’s newest ranges, inspired by floral designs from the archives.
Pop one town round the coast to historic Broadstairs for the annual Folk Week, on 5 – 12 August. Now in its 51st year, it’s no longer limited to folk (although there’s still plenty of that). Basically the entire town rocks to different beats, from Morris dancers causing mayhem in the street parade to young indie bands tearing it up late into the night.
Stunning scenery, surfing waves and smart shops and restaurants make Salcombe a refined seaside choice.
You can still munch fresh, locally-caught seafood alongside little sailing boats before taking the bracing hike to Bolt Head.
The Cottage Hotel’s enviable location just above the pretty fishing village of Hope Cove means incredible views, whatever the weather. The hotel’s own grounds lead down to the sandy beach but don’t miss the legendary cream tea.
The Crab Shed is the kind of upmarket waterside shack that you dream of finding but rarely do. Fish is fresh from the boats that pull up alongside and processed in the restaurant’s own factory next door. Serves everything from crab sandwiches to lobster thermidor.
Take it home:
The relaxed chic of Jasper Conran’s Tisbury collection. Tactile off-white porcelain is combined with pared-back wooden boards and glassware with ripples to echo the waters of Salcombe bay.
If the scenery and The Crab Shed don’t make you feel like you’re living in a film set, Salcombe Town Regatta definitely will.
It dates back 150 years and spills over well beyond the sea, with a packed schedule of family friendly events including crab shell painting, a fancy dress parade and pavement drawing. On the water, there are rowing races, a raft race and a greasy pole. 2016 dates are 31 July – 6 August 2016.
It might be a hike to get to from just about anywhere but Whitby rewards the brave who make it across the moor, whether on foot, by road, or steaming in on the picturesque North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
It’s famous for its Dracula connection and the ruined abbey is silhouetted romantically on the skyline on days when the notorious thick fog hasn’t enveloped the town. In fact, it’s a pretty little place, full of cobbles and charm, with lots of independent shops and bars.
Harbourside hotel The Marine has just four rooms – all decorated in sun-bleached tones, with a luxe feel. Three extra rooms are available up the road at sister business the Moon and Sixpence (known to Whitby locals as the Mixpence), which incidentally is our favourite cocktail bar in the town.
Rusty Shears encapsulates Whitby quirkiness. Tucked away in a side street, it’s got a window full of scientific oddities and shelves crammed with not only 30 odd and unusual teas but also 30 odd and unusual gins. A sign tells visitors it’s ‘licensed to sell amazing cakes’ and the glowing reviews littering the web would imply they’re not exaggerating.
Take it home:
Fresh clean air and the soaring gothic architecture of Whitby Abbey are the perfect counterpart to another Jasper Conran collection, his White range. Dress up or leave clean and simple and let the striking whiteness and the lines of the handles do the talking.
Goth or not, the Whitby Goth Weekend is an unmissable spectacle. The charming, salt-sprayed town is overtaken twice a year by not just goths but also punks, steampunks, bikers and all kinds of weird and wonderful subcultures we’ve never even heard of. 2016 dates are 4 – 6 November.