Location: Sparkling seaside town on the beautiful Kent coast
Perfect for: Your very own Bohemian rhapsody
Twinkling bays, sandy beaches and a vibrant cafe lifestyle set the scene for Margate, a Victorian seaside town that’s undergone a bit of a renaissance. Its history echoes, but its exciting modernist outlook and buzzing artistic spirit make Margate a welcome tonic from citylife, and The Reading Rooms is the place to stay. The ornate vintage chandeliers that hang from every landing, the distressed original paintwork on the walls and the fact that a room occupies an entire floor, make it the epitome of Bohemian sytle – it’s a first class experience you simply must try… romantic weekend breaks uk best beaches in UK
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“Darling, if you don’t stop singing Down To Margate,” Monsieur 2 scolds me, “I might have to throw you from the train.” “But you love Chas ‘n’ Dave!” I tease, knowing full well he hates the Cockney crooners, “and we are on our way down to Margate…” gay hotels uk.
“Don’t test me,” he replies with his best stern face on. I’m reasonably sure he’s joking, but as the South Eastern high-speed train we’re on is bombing along at over 180 miles-per-hour, I decide not to take my chances.
“Wow, it’s like it’s frozen in time!” Monsieur 2 observes as we leave the station. Indeed, with its amusement arcades, bingo halls and even a Wimpy bar, this part of town is certainly a flashback to the 1970s.
Things change when we turn into Hawley Square, an impressive setting lined with imposing Georgian townhouses, including our B&B, The Reading Rooms.
“Hello,” greets owner Louise, warmly, “come on upstairs!” We follow her to the third floor, admiring the ornate vintage chandeliers that hang from every landing and the distressed original paintwork on the walls. First impressions are very, very good. gay hotels uk.
Our room isn’t just on the third floor – it is the third floor – and it’s flooded with daylight from sash windows overlooking the square.
“There’s tea and coffee, and fresh milk in the flask,” informs Louise, gesturing at a chic silver tray, “but can I bring you some up now?” “Tea please!” we chorus, exchanging a look that says ‘Isn’t she lovely?’ as she leaves us to settle in.
Whilst Monsieur 2 unpacks our overnight bag into the antique white-washed wardrobe, I check out the amenities in our whopping room.
As well as a giant bed and mirror, there are contemporary touches including a quirkily shaped radio and a decent sized TV with digibox. This place is the epitome of modern bohemian style.
Returning with our tea tray, Louise enquiries whether we need anything else. “Anywhere you’d recommend for dinner?” I ask, thinking of my stomach as always, and mentally bookmarking a couple of Louise’s subsequent suggestions for further investigation.
“Fancy a little literary lounging my love?” Monsieur 2 asks. He’s spotted the selection of books, many of them covetable original Penguin Classics, and the stacks of architecture and lifestyle magazines. “Why not” I say falling back on the bed to enjoy a few chapters of Room with a View.
“We should probably think about dinner,” my beloved remarks, logging onto the free WiFi to investigate.
We settle on the GB Pizza Co., and walking through the town, very quiet at night, to the seafront we spy our names. “Look, they’ve reserved a table for us!” peeps Monsieur 2. And from a Twitter enquiry, too. Very impressive!
From the short but very appealing range of pizzas on offer I choose a pear and Gorgonzola pizza bianca – no tomato – adding some prosciutto and extra chilli, and Monsieur 2 decides on a classic Speck. We nibble on some garlic bread and chilli broad beans while we wait for the pizzas which, baked in the wood-fired oven visible in the kitchen, take only a few minutes to appear. Served on smart wooden boards they’re huge, and absolutely delicious.
For afters we choose from several flavours of Gelupo gelato on offer – our favourite is fantastic rhubarb crumble. Service from front-of-house Jackie is faultlessly warm and friendly and our bill, with a couple of bottles of Coke, only comes to about £30. We leave with huge grins on our faces!
“I can hardly think about food after that delicious dinner,” I protest as we fill our breakfast orders to leave on the stairs. Monsieur 2’s raised eyebrow suggests he doesn’t believe me.
“Soak in the tub?” Monsieur 2 calls from the bathroom.
The sound of running taps tells me it’s a rhetorical question but I’ve certainly no objections! “I think you’ll be very happy about this,” he continues, pouring in some of my favourite REN rose bath oil from the generous complimentary selection. Bliss! gay hotels uk
After a luxuriantly long bath we dry off with fluffy towels from the huge stack provided, draw the black-out blinds and slip into our super-king bed. “Mmm, lovely crisp linen covers!” Monsieur 2 sighs. They certainly are – it really feels no detail is overlooked here and we soon slip into a peaceful sleep.
“Good morning darling!” says Monsieur 2, placing a cup of freshly-brewed coffee on the bedside table. “Drink that and then let’s shower – there’s plenty of room for two, and remember we ordered breakfast for 9.00!”
Louise and her partner Liam arrive bearing trays carrying our freshly-cooked breakfasts. What a feast!
Sitting at the table by the window we tuck into creamy porridge, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for me and a perfect full English for Monsieur 2. There’s hot crispy toast and preserves, and freshly-squeezed carrot and ginger juice too – so healthy!
“That was fantastic,” I say to Monsieur 2, wiping crumbs from my chin, “now let’s go and walk it off!”
Margate’s newest attraction is the Turner Contemporary gallery on the promenade and we decide to go in to enjoy the current exhibition.
Still full from breakfast we don’t stop at the very chic cafe, but we do pause to enjoy the sea-view before winding our way through the Old Town, browsing in the many vintage and design shops, and having a quick nosey in the brilliant Mods ‘N’ Rockers’ Barbershop.
We love everything about Margate. Even the promenade walls.
Back at Hawley Square we make a small detour to see the Theatre Royal – the second oldest provincial theatre in Britain, no less – before picking up our bags from The Reading Rooms.
“I hope you enjoyed your stay?” says Louise. “Absolutely!” we beam emphatically. With its superb comfort, beautiful design, meticulous attention to detail and wonderful food, The Reading Rooms is about as perfect as a bed and breakfast gets. And better, we think, than any Margate Hotel.
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