A Stay in Deal on The Kent Coast

A trip to deal has been on my mind for many years and if anyone watched Liar, the TV drama which was filmed there and seen the sweeping coastline, lined with candy coloured period buildings, then they’ll know why.

The last time I visited deal was when our first child was a year old. we had gone away for a week to stay in a cottage and we weren’t sleeping that well, as anyone who has had a one year old will understand, and so one morning, I left my husband in bed to catch up on his sleep and myself and George drove to the coastal town in search of some breakfast.

We found the perfect cafe, at the end of the pier, frequented solely by fishermen, other than the two of us, who were tucked heartily into a full cooked English breakfast as rain misted up the windows inside and the waves crashed around us. As the skies cleared, with George into his pushchair, we went off exploring the streets. I remember being utterly charmed by the beautiful Georgian architecture and winding streets, as well as the High Street, which was very traditional, lined with hardware shops and grocers, selling fresh and seasonal produce, and I made a mental note to return and spend more time there one day.

That one day took 25 years but, when we finally arrived back in Deal last September, little had changed, other than the Deal Pier Kitchen is now a rather smart restaurant serving, breakfast & lunch and dinner two nights a week and the High Street has now been gentrified and has some lovely and interesting independent stores lining it. It was otherwise just as I remembered it with the Georgian architecture beautifully preserved thanks to the area around Middle Street, off the main road lining the beach, becoming a conservation area in the mid 1960’s. Pretty Georgian houses stretch seawards towards the coastline and are interspersed with little pubs and a fantastic fish and chip shop where queues form on a regular basis to taste the freshly caught and battered catch of the day.

We had chosen to stay at an Air BNB which was in one of the houses in the conservation area. It was perfect for it’s location and amenities and leant itself ideally for early morning swims every day of our stay, so close to the beach. The owner of this delightful Georgian house also has a really lovely independent store on The High Street, Barkened, selling homewares, gifts and a great selection of clothes. One evening we sat with a bottle of wine and some delicious nibbles from one of the towns many delicatessens, and we were still close enough to run back home for an extra layer as the the sun dropped below the pier.

If you prefer to stay in a hotel and have your food prepared for you, I can highly recommend The Rose on The High Street. There has been much press written about the restoration and renovation of this old pub into what is now a beautiful boutique hotel, and the press coverage doesn’t disappoint. Although we didn’t get to view the rooms above, we did eat at their restaurant, which was fantastic, and with just the right buzzy informal atmosphere that you want while on holiday by the coast, but smart enough to feel as though you could be dining in London.

Dining options in Deal are still pretty informal and limited a little to mainly pub food but other than The Rose, there was another fantastic restaurant opposite, Frog & Scot and a very atmospheric wine bar, La Pinardier with a wide selection of excellent wines and options of either a cheese selection or charcuterie board to go with your drinks. There is also often live music. Check the calendar of events before booking.

If you’re preference is for craft beer, then there are also some great options in Deal. The Just reproach bar has a wide selection of beers and gins. These aren’t smart gentrified bars but they are full of atmosphere & people with character. One of them, Smugglers Records, doubles as a vinyl shop, so if you don’t mind sitting with your pint whilst people browse the selection of vinyl, then you might find yourself having some very interesting conversations. We loved them and went along a few times during our stay.

If your idea of shopping heaven is for homewares and bric a brac then you’ll love the range of independent shops in Deal. Most of them are along High Street in the main part of town.

One of my favourites was Will & Yates which is part interior and lifestyle shop and part gallery. Owned by Jane Will an interiors stylist and Caroline Yates an artist, the shop stocks lots of rustic antiques and hand made interior items, natural skincare by Margaret Haeckles with works of art hung around the walls. It’s all beautifully displayed in a double fronted store.

A few doors away is Dunlin & Diver which is stocked with homewares, gifts and accessories and lovely hand made soaps.

Mileage Vintage is an emporium of retro and vintage furniture, lighting and prints and has a tearoom in the back for contemplating potential purchases.

Hoxton Store was once located in London until the owner moved to Deal and moved her business with her. The stock includes bright and colourful patterned homewares and clothes and accessories.

On Saturday mornings there’s a weekly market, which unfortunately we didn’t get to as we didn’t arrive until late afternoon but apparently it’s the place to go for bric a brac, Swedish bakes by Bygga Bo and epicurean cheeses etc.

If you walk out of town towards Walmer, you’ll find yourself at Deal Castle and opposite you’ll find the loveliest shop housed in the old captains stable building, in the grounds of Deal castle gardens. The Green and Found is a magical mix of antiques and vintage, hand made homewares, skin products made in Barcelona especially for the shop which smell divine, candles and plants. It’s all so beautifully curated and the displays are endlessly changing with the seasons and around the style of stock that’s been sourced. It really is a must visit destination if you’re in the area.

If you are feeling peckish after all this shopping walk along the coastal path parallel to the beach, just opposite Deal castle and you’ll find Hut55 which serves fresh coffee and home made cakes which you can eat whilst lounging on one of their red and white striped deckchairs or bean bags on the beach and if the sun is out and you fancy a cycle, they offer a bike hire service too.

Continue along the coastal path to Walmer and you’ll find 60 _Strand, an antique shop run by dealer Lou, which is an Aladdins cave of beautiful decorative antiques, art and furniture.

Further along this coastal path, which is a lovely walk, with the far stretching shingle beach, scattered with Fishermans wooden huts and flanked by stunning Victorian villas, you’ll come to Kingsdown, where you’ll find The Zetland Arms. This lovely pub, is approached down an unmade road lined with pretty cottages and is nestled directly amongst the shingles and pebbles on the beach. The menu serves up the fresh catch catch of the day amongst other fine food or you can find a seat on one of the wooden benches outside and sip a sundowner, whilst looking at the boats sailing across the bay. A beautiful spot to end your day in Deal.

If you prefer to be off the beaten track, then this part of the Kent coast is a perfect spot to stay and there’s a lovely holiday let right on the beach here at Kingsdown. The Victory can be booked through Air bnb & is ideal for getting away from the madding crowd, for beach walks, swimming in the open sea and with a great pub next door. What more could you ask for?

{All words & photography by Karen Barlow except the last 3 images which are from the Victory’s own images on Air BnB & the images of The Rose which are from their own Website}

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