What's the deal with Deal? Smaller than Whitstable and not as much of a hipster honeypot (for now) as Margate, the Kent town somehow manages to combine the best of both towns. Higgledy-piggledy Georgian houses, great food and a thriving creative community make for a special seaside spot. It’s still a bit of a hidden gem, too – so get there sharpish before everyone else does.
A perfect day in Deal
Kick things off with a stomp around Deal Castle. The fort, built by trigger-happy Henry VIII as part of a chain of coastal defences, is amazingly well preserved. Learn about the historic graffiti hidden on the castle’s soft lead roof
Deal’s contemporary art scene is buzzing, largely thanks to Linden Hall Studio. The airy, two-floor gallery space just 500 yards from the High Street hosts visiting artists and masterclasses – from etchings to sculptures, there’s something to catch everyone’s eye.
For sparklingly fresh seafood with a great view of the seafront, stop by 81 Beach Street – get the salt and chilli squid with sriracha mayo, or crab on charred sourdough. Or if you’re hankering after proper chips and golden-crisp batter, queue up at the Middle Street Fish Bar.
You could easily lose an afternoon in Taylor-Jones and Son, a gorgeous gallery-slash-boutique. Shop for everything from handmade leather bags to limited-edition prints – if you bring treats, local celebrity Delilah the sheepdog might show you around. Deal Farmers’ Market is a must on the first Saturday of each month: load up on locally picked fruit and freshly baked cakes.
There’s no nicer spot for a stroll than Deal beach itself – it’s quiet, pristine and dotted with wooden fishing boats. Speaking of which, dangle a line off the end of the 1950s concrete pier and you might just luck out.
Like a little piece of Bordeaux dropped into Deal, Le Pinardier sells impeccably sourced bottles with a side of joie de vivre. Buy one to take away, or enjoy your tipple of choice at the long table with charcuterie and a baguette – you can always sleep it off on the way home.
Recently renovated hotel The Rose is a moody, romantic hideaway in the heart of Deal, a couple of roads back from the beach. Enter the dark-hued, 200-year-old building to find wood panelling, open fires and verdant palms. Understated mid-century furniture sits alongside brightly painted and antique pieces. Settle down in the restaurant for seasonal comfort food, before slipping past a heavy red curtain and padding up softly lit stairs to one of eight richly decorated rooms. Don’t visit for slick service or reliable wifi, instead steep yourself in The Rose’s vintage flair and warm, welcoming charm. From £100 a night including breakfast.