From William of Normandy in 1066 to the eighteenth-century smugglers who made for its cliffside caves, people throughout history have flocked like gulls to this seaside town. Nowadays they come to seize generous plates of freshly caught fish and find the bubbling creative scene Hastings has cultivated. As for the town itself, that’s out to conquer some of Brighton’s glory and come out victorious.
A perfect day in Hastings
Head straight for Hastings Pier. Wander around its broad expanses and breathe in that salty sea air. Walk back along the beach for a game at Hastings Adventure Golf before venturing into the Old Town to stroll along streets lined with timber-framed medieval houses.
Hastings is a hotbed for creative talent and Hi-Store has canned it, filling its shelves with prints, books and cards created by local illustrators and artists. Stock up on enamelware from Dyke and Dean and ceramics at Butler’s Emporium, then make for Courthouse Street Yard and the neighbouring Old Town junk shops.
Climb into the carriage of the East Hill Cliff Railway and soar skyward. It’s the steepest furnicular railway in Britain, running from Rock-a-Nore at the base of the cliffs to the top of the East Hill, where Hastings Country Park unfurls and spectacular views of the town and coastline await.
Clamber up to the top floor of this grand house on the seafront to find a cosy bolthole and stunning views of the watery horizon. The aptly named Sea View has a huge, half-moon-shaped window overlooking the waves. Curl up on the sofa and gaze out to sea (or watch the locals playing bowls on the green instead). Inside, there’s plenty to catch the eye too. The stylish space is stuffed full of antiques, quirky artworks and quaint design touches. It’s an ace place to spend the weekend hiding away with friends, but if you do venture outside it’s just a short walk along the coast to cool cafés and Hastings Pier. Ellie Walker-Arnott St Leonards-on-Sea. From £120 a night.