Travel: Whistable is a traditional seaside gemBy Rebecca Younger
February 02, 2012
THERE aren't many coastal towns in the South East that have retained a traditional seaside feel while still moving with the times. But Whitstable, on the coast of Kent, may just have cracked it.
You may be forgiven for thinking Whitstable is just like any other seaside town in the South East - either sleepy and unentertaining or brash and filled with trashy tourist attractions.
But, partly due to a recent influx of interest from the uber-chic London set, the traditional fish and market town has managed to adapt itself for the modern visitor while carefully retaining its historic charm.
There are not that many hotels in the area but there are plenty of quaint holiday homes available on short-term lets, such as Castaway Cottage - an early Victorian three-bedroom fisherman's cottage offering self-catering holiday accommodation for up to six people.
Situated just off Harbour Street in the heart of Whitstable, where you will find dozens of quirky shops and boutiques, this three-storey cottage has been lovingly restored and tastefully decorated throughout.
Featuring work by local artists and furnishings sought from the local area, Castaway Cottage truly encapsulates the essence of this seaside town while offering the modern appliances and luxuries desired by discerning travellers.
Traditional features, such as original fireplaces in the bedrooms, washed white wooden floors and a woodburning stove in the living room are cleverly matched with contemporary decor, modern kitchens and bathrooms and WiFi.
The dining room is a stylish mix of designer pieces with locally crafted furniture and the bedrooms are spacious with plenty of storage and top quality Egyptian cotton bed linen. The kitchen meanwhile is well equipped right down to the obligatory oyster shuckers.
Less than a three minute stroll from Whitstable's restaurants, beach and the harbour, the cottage is the perfect place from which to explore all the town has to offer.
Whitstable has a wealth of independent shops including bakers, fishmongers, gift and clothes shops offering a unique shopping experience for all ages centred around Harbour Street.
You'll find many of the items adorning Castaway Cottage in these shops - check out Inspirations and Frank in Harbour Street for local artwork and other interior inspiration.
If you want to make the most of having a self catered stay then local cheese can be bought from The Cheesebox, also on Harbour Street and a few doors down, Magma Wines offers some fabulous recommendations to accompany your meals. There's also Whitstable Fish Market and Harbour Village Market at the weekends.
For a special after dinner treat head to What's Up Cupcake, where you'll find a delicious array of hand baked cupcakes - the team at Whitstable Holiday Homes, which looks after Castaway Cottage, may leave you a selection of these as a welcome to the home and believe me, you'll want to head to the shop for more.
The area is also known throughout the world for its Native Oyster, which can be purchased from the harbour market, or the original Wheeler's Oyster Bar on the High Street.
If you prefer going out for dinner then it's worth trying the Pearson's Arms, situated opposite the former Royal Native Oyster Stores. The establishment has just undergone a £100,000 face lift and a change of management team, headed up by celebrated Kent Chef, Richard Phillips, who also owns Thackeray's in Tunbridge Wells and Chapel Down in Tenterden.
Richard’s vision for The Pearson’s Arms was to create a community pub while retaining a welcome to tourists and those in search of a great night out; a place where local and seasonal fare are as much of the experience as the proud heritage of the town.
“I want this to be a real pub atmosphere, somewhere that is the hub of a great community. A pub is a community centre as much as a place to take friends and loved ones for fun and relaxation and we want to instil a real community spirit. Our ethos naturally supports local businesses and where possible we always try to use Kent produce and will apply the same thinking to our ales and drinks.” Richard said.
From my visit to the lively hub it seems his dream has been realised as the pub, which was filled with locals and tourists alike, celebrates the tradition of this seaside town while also creating a fun atmosphere to enjoy fine food.
With views out to sea, the 60-seater restaurant upstairs offers dishes using local produce, such as scallops and battered cod, as well as the speciality seafood platter, which was so popular, it had run out by the time we had sat down for our early evening meal.
Once you have finished your meal, head downstairs and if you can find space (on our visit the bar was almost full by 9pm), take a seat by the open fire and work your way through the extensive cocktails list or sample a local beer. The buzzing atmosphere in the bar perfectly rounds off a day in this traditional yet up-and-coming town.
- For more information on things to do in Whitstable, visit www.seewhitstable.com.
- For more information about Castaway Cottage and other holiday homes in Whitstable, contact Whitstable Holiday Homes on 01227 281800, email email@example.com or visit www.whitstableholidayhomes.co.uk.
- To find out more about Richard Phillips' new venture at The Pearson's Arms, visit www.pearsonsarmsbyrichardphillips.co.uk.