Published On: Sun, Nov 19th, 2023
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I visited one of the UK’s best seaside towns – it’s overrated and full of Londoners | Travel News | Travel

The town of Margate has been a popular staycation spot with Britons over the years thanks to its sandy beach and seaside attractions.

However, over the years, the town has been flooded with Londoners causing house prices to spiral.

Once the epitome of a traditional UK seaside town, it’s now become a gentrified hotspot for hipsters and DFLs and has even been cited as “England’s coolest seaside town” by some.

Earlier this year, Margate was rated by the Telegraph as one of the UK’s best seaside towns with a score of 69 out of 100.

Margate was reportedly recognised for its emerging art scene and the restoration of Dreamland.

While it’s filled with quirky bars and independent boutiques, I couldn’t help but feel I was back in Camden when I visited there last year.

With the likes of Pete Doherty and Tracey Emin having lived in Margate, I was initially excited to see why this “shabby chic” seaside town had become the go-to spot for celebrities and Londoners.

Stepping off the train, I was immediately confronted by rubbish on the pavements and a grittiness I hadn’t expected.

The first site I saw was Dreamland – an amusement park and entertainment venue that’s one of the oldest surviving amusement parks in the UK. Some of the events at Dreamland include roller skating, art exhibits, live music and food stalls.

I was desperate to go in and see what Dreamland was like, however, there was a ticketed event that day so we were not allowed to enter. Outdoor rides and amusements will return in 2024 with classic and vintage rides including gallopers, the “rock ‘n’ roller” and a helter-skelter.

As we headed to The Turner Contemporary Gallery, we came across The Old Kent Market which was bustling with people and delectable treats.

The Old Kent Market is located on the site of the old Parade Cinema and has been restored to showcase some of the local area’s incredible pop-ups. BB’s Cafe and Bar, located in a bright red bus, served us a delicious burger and chips while at Gina’s Old Kent Bakery we enjoyed a sticky bun and a latte. The Old Kent Market was by far my favourite aspect of Margate. It really showcased some of the area’s local produce and had a buzzing, fun atmosphere.

At The Turner Contemporary Gallery, we enjoyed a new exhibition and came across the Etsy Kent Market. The market aims to support local makers and allow visitors to shop for truly unique gifts that they wouldn’t find elsewhere. Handmade jewellery, fun badges, quirky cards, artwork and trinkets made the perfect Christmas stocking fillers.

After shopping around the Etsy Kent Market, we headed into Margate’s Old Town and visited some of the vintage shops.

While it was fun to explore, some of the garments on offer were extortionate considering their condition and were clearly aimed at wealthy Londoners visiting the town on weekends. Trendy clothing boutiques, shoe shops and gift stores offered much the same – average-quality items at over-inflated prices.

Many of the shops we visited were crawling with Londoners and shop owners name-dropping celebrities they had encountered in the area which immediately made me feel unwelcome.

Walking back towards Dreamland and the arcade, we were accosted by drunken men who had clearly spent the day drinking in a local pub. The experience was intimidating and left a bad taste in my mouth as we headed back towards the beach.

However, there was one highlight I encountered on the way to the train station. I was blown away by the sun setting over the beach. The sea was completely still, reflecting the stunning sky above. The moment was a good end to a slightly lacklustre day.

While I didn’t have the best experience in Margate the town’s beach, art gallery and market are definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.

Just be prepared for DFLs and a town that’s, in my opinion, more shabby than chic.

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