London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
From Broadstairs to Botany Bay, to Kingsgate art in Margate, to oysters and best restaurant in Whitstable and White cliffs of Dover, Kent coast is ideal for long week-ends or London day-trippers.
Botany Bay must be our favourite gem: Portugal looking like white cliffs and chalk stacks meet the Viking Coast Trail. Lovely sand and walks, when the tide is out; plus great for fossils and exploring rock pools; mind the high tide though, the ends of the beach are cut off!
Broadstairs has a quaint old town, sandy beach and links to Charles Dickens. After quieter beaches, there is a choise between a short inland detour or rocky beach walking below at low tide. One can also cycle Broadstairs to Botany Bay, a brief 15 minutes, or take on the lovely 32 mile bike circular route on the Isle of Thanet : Romans, Saints and Saxons landed here, artists and writers -the Regional Cycle network 15 is filled with dramatic coast scenery and a wealth of historical gems.
Kingsgate Castle is nowadays a private estate and there is no coastal path around it, however Kingsgate beach is lovely to soak in the former castle sights on one side, and a natural chalk arch at the other end. On the way to Kingsgate beach, we walked past and speculated about Neptune’s Tower, the ruin of a folly built by Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, in the 18th Century. It is one of several follies surrounding his Broadstairs home of Kingsgate Castle – built primarily for decoration, but today a rather flat structure, with North Foreland Golf Course sitting behind.
We have tested Botany Bay Hotel restaurant for Sunday lunch: the coast views are uninterupted, British contemporary menu with a twist and easy with the kids. And whilst in Dover, we tried Marco Pierre White Chophouse, some great cocktails and generous kids burgers.
But food wise, a trip to Kent coast wouldn’t be complete without Whitstable oysters: half a dozen/ a dozen and glass of bubbles to wash them down.
Whitstable’s famous native oysters are at their best from September through to April and oyster shacks and seafood stalls are dotted around the town and the historic harbour. Whitstable Oyster Company gets us raving for the best seafront setting, charming decor and finest food on our trip!
For rainy days, we can not recommend enough Turner Contemporary Margate. Larry Achiampong’s exhibitions were brilliantly immersive: the children complely absorbed by The Gaming Room; me in the Wayfinder movie, Rellic Traveller project and Turner as we know and love, curated by Larry – food for soul and reflection.
One may easily spend 3-4 hours absorbing it all, belonging and displacement come and go together; class and economic exclusion are re-assesed; cultural heritage and the meaning of home come into light. And as striking and metaphoric, there is an Antony Gormley: Another Time in the sea, beside Turner Contemporary – one of a series of one hundred, solid cast-iron figures exploring the experience of being human.
The White Cliffs of Dover are part of the National Trust and I also reckon one of the best outings on Kent coast: the path through fields of barley and rolling green hills along the way are fabulous, with backdrops, majestic cliffs and the sea. We reckon best to explore in walking shoes or trainers, the cliffs reach a height of 350 metres and the pristine white face is a geological wonder: skeletons of tiny algae from millions of years ago.
We stayed at Honeywood Lodge with Bloom Stays and we all loved the indoor pool on rainy mornings plus the kids are still raving about the games room. It’s also a great base to explore best of Kent coast: 10 minutes drive to Whitstable, 10 minutes to Canterbury, 30 minutes to Margate and 35 minutes to National Trust White Cliffs of Dover.
3 spacious bedrooms and loads of peace and greenery around, birds and rabbits, Honeywood Lodge with Bloom Stays can accomodate beautifully 2 families or 1 family with 2 kids and 1 couple.
The kids are already asking to go back for a weekend, more paddle games and sand play by the beach, so keep an eye as we’ll be writing some more about Broadstairs to Botany Bay, Margate and Dover.
For more seaside inspiraton within 2 hours of London, check out our Days out near Chichester article: East Head National Trust has our vote for the best sand dunes, beach huts and saltmarshes. Less patience and/ or time to drive? Check our list of 26 best day trips from London within an hour drive.
Disclaimer: Many thanks to Bloom Stays for the complimentary Kentish bubbles and breakfasts, a lovely local treat!