In January this year, we’d headed to North Wales, to a quiet spot to work from and launch Batch No.3. With no Wifi, we launched using Huw’s phone hotspot (thank god for decent 4G connections) but that’s a story for another day. It was then that we were working out where to take photos of our next jacket and one of us said ‘Well, what about Margate’?
Neither of us had been, but we had friends who’d moved and heard about so many who’d headed east for the weekend and came back raving. Down a few Pinterest holes later, we decided we should take a trip to find out more about the town beyond Dreamland, Margate’s famous fairground.
Before we dive in, it’s worth setting some context. If you know one thing about Margate it might be it’s past life as a booming seaside resort town. True, this place had seen sunnier days, but not anymore. Only 10 years ago Margate was top of the UK’s most deprived coastal resort list, but so much has changed. 1 year after that report came out, the Turner Contemporary opened. Tracey Emin announced her studio was moving back home from London. Once derelict Georgian and Victorian houses are being transformed and renovated, there’s seriously good food and Dreamland has been redeveloped and reopened (with it’s listed wooden rollercoaster intact!)
Uh oh, gentrification I hear you wonder. That’s a fact that can’t go unspoken, but hearing locals talk about Margate pre and post Turner, it’s clear the investment has brought massive opportunity and optimism. Monocle talked about the financial restraint of London making creativity and entrepreneurship difficult, whereas Margate makes things possible. There’s a growing number of ‘DFL’s’ aka the Down From Londons who’ve left the city for a new life.
I imagine there’ll always be a divided view, but ultimately creative culture is breathing new life into seaside culture, you’ll still find all that magic but now there are even more reasons to get there.
Three trips later, there is so much we love about this place. You’re on the beach. It’s hypnotic, instantly calming and only two hours from London.
In short: they're like Aesop, but way more interesting.
Though they're only a small company, their ideas are anything but.
Haeckels are quite literally made of Margate, their core ingredient washes up on the beach everyday: Seaweed. We admire them for their quality and relentless creativity. Last year they recycled Christmas trees into candles, they built a sauna for locals and they're about to launch a pill that will massively reduce water consumption. Watching what they do is a lesson in pushing forward. They're one of the most interesting small companies in the UK.
Store. Online. Instagram.
“Huw, tell me about the best pizza you’ve ever had” - One word - "Ralphs".
Their recipe is simple - Flour + Water + Sea Salt + Margate sea air = Ralph’s Pizza. Walk into the old town and look out for the yellow doors.
We stayed at Alice's for our photoshoot, I don't think the views get better. Enormous windows look straight out to sea and there was always a slow ship moving from left to right.
It's beautiful, peaceful and 5 minutes walk from town.
Go and stay (and leave a note in the guestbook!)
Fort's was recommended to us by an old colleague Simon, the man behind Brewing with Baby. If Simon recommends coffee you know it’ll be good. They do specialty coffee and excellent sandwiches.
Angelas & Dorys
Two sites. One idea. Angelas is a small, sustainable restaurant that serves seasonal fish and vegetables. Dorys, just around the corner, is the shop that sells the raw ingredients used in Angelas, with a seafood bar that overlooks the main beach. Yum.
Visit Angelas. Visit Dorys.
A small and highly respected store in the old town specialising in good quality, ethical brands for men and women.
Breuer & Dawson
There's some great vintage in Margate but Breuer & Dawson is where it's at. You can walk into their store in the old town, or book an appointment to see their impressive archive on the pier, where you'll find seriously good food and coffee.
The Turner Contemporary
You can't go to Margate and not visit The Turner. Try to time your visit with the tide so you get a glimpse of Antony Gormley's Another Time statue in the sea.
Visit. (book ahead)
Go for a long walk from Botany Bay back into town and finish with a drink and food at Barletta, a roaming Mediterranean residency that was a top Dreamland last time we visited but it's moved to a new location since.
Check where they are now. Instagram.
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