Brighton is a buzzing seaside town in Sussex within easy commuting distance of London. It has been popular for a long time with those who can’t quite face the thought of city life 24/7. But Brighton is getting full up, house prices are stratospheric and we need a new place where those tired of London life can get some sea air. Brighton used to be a place to de-stress and relax, but it’s a buzzing, energetic city that thrums with life now – just like London, in fact. Head for Hove if you want a quieter life….or…maybe there’s another place by the sea that begins with the letter B?
It’s a place called Broadstairs on the east Kent coast. Size wise, it is much, much, smaller than Brighton. A population of around 25,000 compared to the much busier Brighton which has over 280,000 souls.
So, despite the obvious massive size difference, there are some similarities we can’t overlook. It has some cracking grand Victorian and Edwardian architecture, including Bleak House, the gaff where Charles Dickens the novelist used to vacation. It is said that he wrote bits of David Copperfield whilst gazing out at the sea from Bleak House. So, if you are a tortured creative type, looking for a place that inspires great artistic and literary endeavour, looking out over Broadstair’s Viking Bay could be just the ticket.
Other similarities to Brighton include a wonderful beach. There is no pier at Broadstairs, but to compensate there are more beaches (seven!) and there is a promenade to strut your stuff up and down the seafront. You can surf at Joss Bay in Broadstairs, in fact, it is considered Kent’s best surfing beach. So if you are a board-hound who just can’t get enough wave action, head in the direction of Broadstairs and its gorgeous beaches.
Places close to the ocean often have an ever-present energy and you really feel this in Broadstairs. The contrast of the wild coastline and cliffs, sat alongside this genteel and refined resort town, takes some getting used to. It’s a pleasing juxtaposition that offers an ongoing tension – perhaps that’s what the artists and culture vultures in the area feed off? Seriously, if you are considering a new place out of London that offers bracing sea air, surfing, swimming, lots of art (Margate is just down the road and it’s got the Turner Contemporary for chrissakes!), Broadstairs is it. Why not hop on a fast train and come down? For cab or other vehicle, private hire taxis Broadstairs has operators to help you explore the area. The towns of Ramsgate and Margate are situated either side of Broadstairs along the coast and both are worth a look. For private hire Broadstairs has a car firm which covers the local area and beyond. Get them to take you to Ramsgate for its interesting maritime heritage and Margate for its faded kiss-me-quick campness, which has recently undergone a hipster transformation. Margate is now fondly referred to as Shoreditch-on- Sea in certain circles…
Another really pleasing aspect of Broadstairs is the quirky, independent shops along the seafront. This isn’t a neutered High Street packed with soulless chains, there’s some personality and individuality here. Yes, there are three major supermarkets too, and a big shopping complex not too far away, but at the beating heart of the town lies something unique.
We all like eating and sleeping, don’t we? And when we go to the seaside, we plan on doing an awful lot of it, don’t we? Well, the good news is that Broadstairs has tons of fab places to eat from fresh seafood to wicked Knickerbocker Glories from Morelli’s, the fare on plates here is simply mouthwatering.
The accommodation is top notch too, with a wide range of choice on offer for all tastes and budgets. Whether it’s a grand cliff-top hotel you seek, a traditional B&B with full English or a cosy fisherman’s cottage tucked away somewhere, you’ll find something that puts a smile on your face.
Obviously, Broadstairs isn’t the new Brighton. There are similarities, but Broadstairs is a unique town with its own very distinctive identity. But as more and more people discover the charm of Broadstairs, it is likely to evolve and develop over time. If you are looking for a coastal escape, a place far from the noise and chaos of London, why not take some time in Broadstairs? It’s not Brighton, it’s even better…