From its beautiful beach, Banksy’s recent mural, and being the setting of Sam Mendes’ Oscar-nominated Empire of Light, Margate has everything associated with a seaside town. Shells, caves, culture and even a crab museum make this the perfect mix of old-world charm with a 21st century vibe.

The Turner Contemporary ( has been a contributing factor in the town’s regeneration. Named after the 19th century painter J W Turner, who went to school and visited Margate often, since it opened in 2011, it has been a place for artistic exploration and discovery.

It wouldn’t be a seaside town without a theme park and Dreamland ( is thought to be the oldest-surviving amusement park in Britain, dating back to the 19th century. It’s also become the go-to for music events and 2023 looks like another exciting year for artists and their fans!

READ MORE: How the Kent town of Margate features in the Empire of Light film

Some of the town’s hidden gems include one of the smallest theatres in the world. Tom Thumb Theatre ( is a family-run arts hub set inside a converted Victorian coach house. The charm of velvet seats, flocked wallpaper and a beautiful bar add to the ambience.

Young or old, Hornby has been part of the lives of many and a famous fixture in Margate since 1964. The Hornby Visitor Centre Museum ( on Westwood Industrial Estate allows visitors to experience interactive displays, pick up a treat in the shop or unwind in the Just The Ticket Café.

With lots to see and do, Margate is not just for day-trippers…it’s perfect for those wanting to escape the city rat race and live life by the sea.

Great British Life: Make it your next stop! The Bus Cafe in Margate (c) The Bus CafeMake it your next stop! The Bus Cafe in Margate (c) The Bus Cafe


Make The Bus Café ( your next stop! This quirky double decker is the perfect way to enjoy breakfast while taking in the views of Margate seafront. The converted 1980 Bristol VR has been converted into an award-winning kitchen and café serving anything from crumpet sliders to sourdough sarnies, as well as veggie and vegan options. Fresh and locally sourced food from various farms across Thanet and Kent are used where possible including eggs from Woodlands Farm, fruit and vegetables from Nash Farm in Margate and new baker, Modern Boulongerie in Ramsgate. What’s not to love?

Angela’s ( is a small seafood restaurant serving local seafood, alongside simple, seasonable vegetable-based dishes. Just around the corner is Dory’s, its little sister, and is a seafood bar overlooking Margate’s main sands. Working directly with growers, fishermen and suppliers to make the most of the produce but minimising the impact on the environment, too.

Located in the old town, Mullins Brasserie ( offers modern European cuisine with a hint of the Caribbean. With Caribbean flavours and techniques, the menu has a selection of innovative dishes which are elegantly presented and tasty, too!

Great British Life: Margaux offers European womenswear and accessories (c) MargauxMargaux offers European womenswear and accessories (c) Margaux


Curating a unique edit of European womenswear and accessories, Margaux ( is situated in Hawley Street and offers many sustainable brands using recycled fabrics, organic cotton and specially developed fabrics to help save the environment. The result is brands aligning perfectly together to create a beautiful collection of pieces which can be mixed within your existing wardrobe.

Another independent shop is The Margate Bookshop ( Located in the heart of the Old Town in a beautiful Georgian building, there’s a selection of new and second-hand books along with book launches, book clubs, as above all, an inclusive and welcoming environment.

With a passion for showcasing great design, Papillon Interiors ( is a family-run business with more than 50 years’ experience in the interiors industry. From lighting to a sustainable collection, the Fort Hill-based shop has all your home.

Great British Life: Shell Grotto in Margate raises more questions than answers (c) Shell GrottoShell Grotto in Margate raises more questions than answers (c) Shell Grotto


There are more questions than answers... Discovered by chance in 1835, the subterranean Shell Grotto’s ( curving chalk walls are studded with 4.6 million shells. They create a magical mosaic of strange patterns and symbols.

Was this a place of worship? A setting for secret meetings or an extravagant folly? It’s not known who built this amazing place, or why, but since the first paying customers descended the chalk stairway in 1838, debate has raged about the Grotto’s origins.

For every expert who believes it to be an ancient temple, there’s someone else convinced it was the meeting place for a secret sect; for every ardent pagan, there’s a Regency folly-monger ready to spoil their fun.

At first glance the Grotto’s design only adds to the confusion, with humble cockles, whelks, mussels and oysters creating a swirling profusion of patterns and symbols. A storehouse for the imagination, there are any number of interpretations; trees of life, phalluses, gods, goddesses and something that looks very like an altar, to name but a few.

However, there’s only one fact about the Grotto which is indisputable: it is a unique work of art that should be valued and preserved, whatever its age or origins.

Great British Life: A sea view from one of the rooms at Fort Road Hotel, Margate (c) Ed ReeveA sea view from one of the rooms at Fort Road Hotel, Margate (c) Ed Reeve


Located on Margate’s iconic seafront, Fort Road Hotel ( provides a unique experience rooted in design, art, architecture and food. The 14 bedrooms offer a variety of sizes and styles with many rooms having direct sea views and every room has a high-quality bed made from natural fibres, handmade linen curtains and a selection of vintage artworks. The top floor is an addition to the original building and offers a guest-only roof terrace offering 360-degree panoramic views of the vast Margate seascape, surrounding town and beyond.

Luxury is also on offer at The Reading Rooms (, a Grade II listed Georgian town house in Hawley Square. Built in the 1770s, there are two spacious guest rooms, each covering an entire floor and with views overlooking the tree-lined Georgian square.

Over at The George and Heart House, in King Street, ( there’s six rooms and heritage suite all individually designed each with its own special character reflecting the overall essence of the house. Guests can enjoy Reggie’s Bar and the Zen Den is available for yoga or meditation.


Post office: Sites are located at 94-96 High Street, Margate and also Holly Lane Post Office and Stores at 372 Northdown Road, Cliftonville, Margate.

Healthcare: GP surgeries include The Limes Medical Centre, Northdown Surgery and Bethesda Medical Centre. The nearest accident and emergency hospital is Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital. Visit for more health information.

Schools: Primary schools include Cliftonville Primary and Pre-School, rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, as well as Holy Trinity and St John’s Church of England School. Chartfield School at nearby Westgate, is an independent primary school and for secondary education there is Hartsdown Academy which is rated “good” by Ofsted.

Transport: Served by Southeaster trains, Margate train station is located in Station Approach and connects to London in just over two hours. Bus routes connect Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, and the villages, and The Loop connects the towns in a continuous cycle every seven minutes, operating seven days a week.