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What to do in Broadstairs, Kent

With its beaches, pubs and quirky shops, Charles Dickens’ former haunt on the Kent coast is awash with seaside charm.

By Hannah Summers
Published 28 Dec 2019, 06:00 GMT
Low tide at Stone Bay.
Low tide at Stone Bay.
Photograph by Getty Images

Why go

Sitting pretty on the ‘Kent Riviera’, Broadstairs is perhaps most famous for having inspired works by Charles Dickens, who visited regularly in the mid-19th century and is said to have spent time writing in its pubs and hotels. Amid the postcard-pretty setting, there’s plenty of fun to be had, with antique shops, arcades, cosy pubs and some of the best restaurants in the South East to explore.

Where to eat

Stark was recently awarded a Michelin star, making it one of just three in the county — but be sure to book well in advance. Elsewhere, relaxed Wyatt & Jones offers locally sourced produce; the 40-day-aged cote de boeuf with triple-cooked potatoes is unforgettable. The brunch menu, featuring crab benedict and seaweed hollandaise, is an excellent reason to head back the following day.

What to do

Head north along the coast — passing the turrets of Bleak House, where Dickens wrote David Copperfield — and you’ll find Stone Bay. Here, a gorgeous sweep of beach is lined with multicoloured beach huts, and locals sit out in the sunshine with flasks of tea and the weekend papers. For something more dramatic, hop on the bus or stroll along the coastal path to Botany Bay and take in its soaring white cliffs. 

The Charles Dickens Pub in Broadstairs.
Photograph by Alamy

Where to stay 

Over the road from Stone Bay, The Bay Tree Broadstairs is a peaceful retreat, its 10 light-filled rooms kitted out with antique furniture. It’s also home to the only complete collection of 132 pieces of Harry Potter artwork by graphic artists Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina. Unwind in the high-ceilinged snug and keep an eye out for Benjamin, the owners’ friendly dog. Doubles from £140, B&B.

We like 

The region’s micropub scene is thriving. The Chapel is a great starting point; located in the Grade II-listed former St Mary’s Chapel, it’s a cosy drinking den where beers are served in a home library-esque setting. DJs, live bands and acoustic shows are also part of the programme of events.

Published in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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