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19 March 2019

finding a little luxury in folkestone

*my bed and breakfast were complimentary, all other things paid for by me*

charley and i had been trying to get a weekend in the diary to visit folkestone since well before the end of last year, so when a luxury escape smart box landed on my doorstep from the kind folks at buy-a-gift at the start of this year, i knew exactly how i was going to use it. finding a weekend that worked for us both proved to be a tad trickier however, so you can imagine my horror at discovering that the one weekend we could both actually make turned out to be the very same weekend that storm gareth was in town - i was not up for a seaside break in the middle of a hurricane, you know? but, we got very lucky somehow, and even ended up with a whole day of sunshine to explore the colourful kent coast. here are all the best bits!

afternoon tea at anna's tea room

when researching places to eat in folkestone, anna's came up highly recommended. and, truth be told, as soon as i saw how chinzy and twee the interior was, i was sold. lucky for me, charley is a cake girl, so as soon as i suggested we stop in here shortly after getting off the train - she was convinced! it wasn't super busy, and the girls working in the shop were friendly from the get-go. we ordered cold drinks, and a selection of the cafe's homemade cakes; charley opted for a cheese scone with cheddar, as well as a slice of salted caramel cheesecake (drool), while i opted for one sweet and one savoury scone - jam and cream for one, cheddar for the other. the service was slow but came with a smile, and we got to avoid the storm while indoors - a bonus. all in all, we paid no more than £20 for four serves of cake and two drinks - happy with those out-of-town prices!

you can find it here: 23 cheriton place, folkestone, ct20 2ay

an indy (old) high street

the old high street is suuuuuper colourful and suuuuuper charming, and a whole lot more interesting and independent than the new high street and colossal mall that exist in the middle of town. we found ourselves in the area of the old high street pretty frequently, mainly because of the colour, but also because of the cool shops we found amongst it. bounce vintage was one we ventured to a few times, and the lady owner was so nice and welcoming (and complimentary of my manky pink coat!), that it definitely made us feel welcomed just browsing the rails for as long as we wanted, without that pressure to buy-buy-buy (though we did). annoyingly, both days that we were in town, only a selection of the shops were open; going to have to go back in the summer to check out the rest for sure!

you can find it here: 3-7 tontine street, folkestone, ct20 1jt

the creative quarter

the creative quarter is where all the art and culture lives. what that means is that there's lots of street art, lots of quirky installations, and a few added touches of curiousness. it's an area that's been redeveloped by the culture foundation since 2002, and is the home of creativity in folkestone. my favourite pieces were the "heaven is a place where nothing ever happens" neon sign by nathan coley, the collection of gilded "fleet on foot" ships around tontine street, as well as the richard wood "holiday home" installation around the harbour. there are some tracey emin pieces dotted around the centre too, but we didn't manage to find any.. keep your eyes peeled just in case!

clifton hotel

the luxury escape gift box* from buy-a-gift had over 350 different experiences across the whole of the uk, but when it came to picking the one i wanted, for me it came down to two things: it had to be picture-perfect, and it had to have breakfast included. the clifton hotel in leas had both (the first in spades), and for an utter steal at £99 too (for the price of the gift box which includes the voucher to redeem for your experience or stay). the moment we walked into reception and saw the multi-coloured carpets, velveteen day chairs, and luxe novelty wallpaper, i was in heaven! though our room was a little dated (it's a victorian building), it was super comfortable, and i had a great night's sleep (through a hurricane battering the very old window frames). we had views of both the sea and the garden, and all we really could complain about was that the batteries in the remote needed changing; it had everything we needed (except for a fridge, actually)

breakfast the next morning could have been better - insofar as the service wasn't great because we chose the busiest time of day to eat, but the food itself was on par with what you expect from a buffet. there was some waiting around for food to be replenished, but again, it was in the last hour of service, so i suppose that is to be expected. we dined in the conservatory of the building which backs into the marco pierre white restaurant inside the hotel, so we got to sneak a peek in there too. the hotel offers vouchers for all the guests to dine there with a small discount - though, with the amount of great local eateries near the hotel (such a good location), i don't know why you would. the hotel is in easy walking distance from the old high street and the sea front, so it was the perfect base for our stay!

you can find it here: clifton gardens, the leas, ct20 23b



the clifton leas lift and walking path

we were staying a stone's throw from here, and walked past it a few times to get to the hotel, though we missed it the first day because we couldn't really see a thing from the sea foam and sea spray coming up from the ocean. the leas lift is grade two listed, and currently under repair - a shame, as we really wanted to go on it! it's maintained and operated purely by volunteers, which is really cute i think, and it looks like something right out of a wes anderson film - you can see why we wanted to visit it, no? we walked down to the beach instead via the walking path, which has some utterly stunning views on the way down. not for the feint hearted, it's steep and slippery when wet. there's a hand rail for safety, so make sure to use it if you're as clumsy as me!

the harbour arm and lighthouse

we could see the harbour arm from the hotel, and the top of the leas clif, so we wanted to make sure we headed down to see what it was like from sea level. in the summer it's apparently a riot of colour and food and drinks stalls, which we could only see the distant remnants of while the majority of it is being repaired in preparation. it seems like a pier but it's actually a reclaimed railway, that i assume would pick up travellers who came over from the mainland by sea, and then take them by rail into kent and london. the tracks are now garden beds and the platforms are lovely, redesigned walkways with access to little coffee spots and viewing points on both sides. it's really quite cute, and the walk along the "tracks" to the lighthouse was very easy, and quite charming! from the lighthouse you can see out to france in one direction (it;s only 17 miles away!), the dungeness power station in another, and to the far east, the chalky white cliffs of dover. picturesque!

the samuel peto

i do try to only eat local when i'm in a new place, but when faced with a wetherspoons inside of such a fantastic building as the samuel peto, you make an exception. the building was clearly once a church, if the stained glass windows, dark wood vestibles-turned-booths, and giant organ on the wall didn't give that away on first look, but - it was just stunning! the ceiling was painted and gilded with chandeliers and whatnot - and if that's not enough of a pull, a single measure of gin was £3, including a mixer. i went for a raspberry and elderflower jobbie, and it came in a glass the size of my head. happy days!

you can find it here: 23 rendezvous street, folkestone, ct20 1ey

honourable mentions

there was just too much random colour to fit into separate categories, but a few places we really wanted to check out and couldn't because they were closed, or because we ran out of time, were: follies, where you can get pizza and prosecco and play a game of fusball or two, all in a bright blue building with orange chairs. sounds pretty cool, no? hot salvation records was a cute little coffee shop that sells records, and sounds cool as hell. lubens is a very hip, very trendy wood fired pizzeria that had a lot of plants and a mustard yellow leather sofa we could see through the windows - need i say more? the steep street coffee house was a duo of cafes that have been altered to become one, and are essentially: a library with a coffee shop. it was packed to the hilt every time we walked past, but i would have loved to pop in for a coffee.

the smokehouse was right next door to a restaurant we tried, that i didn't love, so i don't want to mention it. what i will say, is that i wish we had gone to the smokehouse where i could have gotten the daily special of mussels or salt and pepper squid, either of which would have been better than what i ended up with. and finally, chummy's; this was right on the harbour and looked so cool and interesting, and i wish we were hungry when we found it but we just weren't. it wasn't a regular seafood stall, it was a cool seafood stall. so, these are all going on the list for the next trip, for sure!

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