The Southeast edition
The great British seaside may seem a world-away from the hustle and bustle of London, but in fact it’s a lot nearer than you think. In less than 2 hours by train you can have sand between your toes and the sea breeze in your hair.
We’ve teamed up with Trainline so you don’t need to look any further for your perfect transport and hotel combination. Get ready to pick your favourite, and be sure to book your trains in advance for extra savings.
Book in advance with Trainline and save an average 43% versus booking your train on the day.
1. Beach break in Margate
Margate is one of England’s most beautiful beach-side towns, and has recently undergone a revival to restore it to its former glory. Everything from the scenic Victorian promenades to the seafront mansions and vintage tea shops have enjoyed a wealth of regeneration, making it a perfect beach break.
London St Pancreas Int. – Margate Station
1 Hour 25 Minutes
It’s not all about the fish and chips and white sandy beaches; if the weather is being typically British, there’s plenty more to see in Margate. The world-class Turner Contemporary Gallery is right on the seafront and features a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions from all over the world.
A hidden treasure in Margate is a subterranean shell grotto; discovered by a small boy in 1835, the age and use of the grotto is still largely unknown. The mysterious series of passageways leading to a rotunda are completely covered in shell mosaics, and the overall effect is both eerie and awe-inspiring.
Top beach hotel Pick: The Sands
A gorgeous boutique hotel overlooking Margate’s beachfront, The Sands is ideal for a weekend getaway and a spot of seaside glamour. Each of the bedrooms are luxuriously fitted, with every effort made to use only natural materials such as silk sprung mattresses, Egyptian cotton bed linen and duvets filled with pure jasmine silk.
Opt for a superior sea view room – as well as being light and airy, your own private balcony and comfortable outdoor seating area are perfect for taking in the waves.
Dining at The Sands is a sophisticated affair, with fresh and seasonal ingredients and al-fresco dining when the weather permits! Bay Restaurant holds two AA Rosettes, but the best part is the live jazz band that plays on Thursday evenings, setting the ambiance for a relaxed weekend ahead.
2. Cheeky getaway in Ramsgate
Further down the coast from Margate and a little more charming, Ramsgate is the only Royal Harbour in Britain and its busy port atmosphere gives it a bustling, energetic vibe. In a shabby-chic way, Ramsgate is also regenerating, Lonely Planet describes it as “one celebrity chef away from being described as ‘up and coming.”
Ramsgate Main Sands is a golden sandy beach surrounded by white chalk cliffs and protected by environmental sanctions, keeping the waters clear and the beach clean.
London St Pancras Intl – Ramsgate Station
1 Hour 11 Minutes
Top beach hotel pick: Albion House
A house that has seen royalty, politicians, actors and wealthy merchants pass through its doors for centuries, Albion House sits in pride of place on top of the East Cliff overlooking the Royal Harbour.
The hotel is a delicate balance of chic and carefully preserved historical features, reimagined rather than retro. Indulge in activities such as Afternoon Tea, which features homemade fudges, cookies, brownies, macarons, honeycomb and of course freshly baked scones and clotted cream.
The rooms and suites vary in size but the Super King is somewhere between a standard room and a suite, with gorgeous French windows leading out to a regency balcony. The room is nicknamed the ‘Little Victoria room’ after the young Princess Victoria recuperated in this room in 1835.
3. Beach weekend in Folkestone
With the Highspeed line you can get from London St Pancras Intl to Folkestone in under an hour!
Since the ferry port closed in Folkestone in 2000, the city has undergone a transformation and its proximity to golden beaches, the Romney marshes and Kent’s glorious countryside make it the perfect destination for a short break from London.
Cobbled streets, hipster cafes and an array of galleries and boutiques make the town feel quaint and unique, with its Creative Quarter building a name for itself amongst designer-makers and specialist retailers.
London St Pancras Intl – Folkestone Central
Top beach hotel pick: The Relish
An oasis of calm set inside a Georgian mansion house, The Relish is a contemporary retreat boasting Hypnos beds, invigorating high pressured showers, crispy white bed linen and large fluffy towels.
The friendly staff and offerings of free tea and home-made cake have made the hotel a favourite of previous guests, along with the beautiful surroundings and proximity to the town.
The Relish overlooks an attractive private parkland and an outdoor terrace is the perfect spot to soak up a few rays whilst enjoying a glass of wine, or watching the kids play in the four-acre park.
4. Getaway to Broadstairs
Broadstairs is a smaller town than its neighbouring Margate and Ramsgate, and was a favourite of Charles Dickens who often holidayed there in the 1850s and 60s. Every year the town celebrates Dicken’s week in full costume, and the Dickens House Museum is filled with fascinating Dickens memorabilia.
The town has a wealth of beachfront cafes and restaurants, plus 1950s style ice cream parlours and chic boutique shops. If you want to learn to surf, head over to neighbouring Joss Bay or for smaller waves, stick to the town’s main beach, Viking Bay, where the Kent Surf School can assist you.
London St Pancras Intl – Broadstairs
1 Hour 17 Minutes
Top beach hotel pick: The Royal Albion
An elegant seaside hotel, The Royal Albion is directly on the beach front, enjoying views over the surrounding bay and out to sea. The outdoor terrace is the perfect place to sit and have a drink, bathe in sun rays, and make the most of the view.
The hotel features 21 spacious bedrooms either facing the sea or the town, and some featuring private balconies or sun terraces. All the rooms are designed to make your stay a memorable one, with the colours mirroring the tones of the sea and sky outside your window.
At the hotel restaurant, you can enjoy fresh seafood platters, pan-fried prawns, fried whitebait, fresh crab or even treats such as a cheeky baked Camembert.
5. Foodies weekend in Whitstable
Whitstable’s main claim to fame is its oysters. Whether you get them from the harbour-side fish markets or in any of the surrounding restaurants and pubs, Whitstable’s oysters are part of the town’s character and every July the town celebrates the Oyster Festival.
Whitstable beach is a pebble beach, with a promenade along the coast so that long walks towards Tankerton, can take in the views without risking injury on the stones. There’s also a chance you will catch views of Whitstable’s skyline from ‘The Street’, a stretch of shingle that only reveals itself at low tide.
Whether it’s culture you’re looking for, or simply to spend a weekend incognito amongst cobbled lanes and coastal paths, Whitstable tends to win over all its guests.
London St Pancras Intl- Whitstable
1 Hour 11 Minutes
Top beach hotel pick: Marine Hotel
The Marine Hotel is a red-brick and white-panelled seafront hotel. The rooms feature large sea-view windows, Victorian fireplaces, and a palette of nudes and greys creating an ambiance of utter relaxation.
The restaurant features brunch favourites such as smashed avocado, griddled asparagus, seared scallops and of course oysters! For dinner picture cod and chips, half-pound burgers topped with bacon and cheese or slow braised ham hock.
6. Beach walks in Hastings
Hastings’ summer pier has just undergone a £14 million renovation, and alongside this there’s a new cookery school and film festival as well as artisan shops, and farmer’s markets. Hastings is a seaside town that has become cool.
The shopping is linked by Twittens (lanes) with boutique clothes shops, flower shops, specialist cheese shops, and of course chic restaurants.
London St Pancras Intl – Hastings
1 Hour 23 Minutes
Top beach hotel pick: The White House
The White House is a beautiful house on a hill overlooking Hastings town and the surrounding sea. Set in beautifully landscaped gardens, this elegant hotel is within easy walking distance of the town and there’s even an outdoor swimming pool to make the most of the sunny days.
Each of the rooms are individually designed and colour coded according to the décor theme. Huge bay windows, free-standing baths, plush upholstery, and Victorian fireplaces are some of the main features, alongside conventional amenities such as tea and coffee making facilities, wine cooler, and complimentary toiletries.
7. White cliffs and beaches in Dover
Of all the seaside resorts that saw some decay in the later years of the twentieth century, Dover probably suffered the most. But for those who can look beyond the shabby there is plenty of chic to be had.
The iconic white cliffs that so many consider a symbol of home are just a short walk away, there’s a sprawling 2000-year-old castle strategically placed on a hill above Dover and of course the nearby Dover Harbour, Shakespeare Beach and, a little further along, Lyddon Spout.
London St Pancras Intl – Dover Priory
1 Hour 5 Minutes
Top beach hotel pick: The White Cliffs
St Margaret's at Cliffe
The White Cliffs hotel is a beautiful, white, clap-board style 16th century inn. Think country hotel with oak four-poster beds, floral wall paper and crisp cotton linen.
The kitchen prides itself on fresh, coastal, Kentish food, all using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Whether you choose to eat in the restaurant or on a bar stool in the pub, enjoying food at The White Cliffs hotel is as much a part of the experience as the surrounding scenery.
Why not take a wildlife tour and explore the white cliffs country with a guide, or even take a stroll to St Margaret’s Bay and get stuck into the rockpools and do some fossil hunting? The nature surrounding Dover is really out of this world.