HOWLING winds and black skies greet us as we step off the train.
We pause to enjoy our first sighting of the sea but a raging wind pushes us on our way – and soon we’re climbing up Broadstairs’ Eastern Esplanade, where our boutique hotel rests atop chalk cliffs towering over the Channel.
Broadstairs overlooking the English Channel[/caption]
Inside the Bay Tree hotel we find owners Robert and Alistair serving cocktails to a gaggle of guests.
The décor is subtly tasteful in this refurbished Victorian home on the Kent coast, just a year on from a £1million renovation.
Antique furniture and mirrors can be found around every corner, while Harry Potter artworks line the walls. Continuing with the Potter vibe, each of the ten rooms is named after different British trees that can be fashioned into wands.
Ours is Maple, at the top of the hotel with stunning views. The bed is so comfy you want to sink into it and sleep for days.
Hotels line the resort’s chalk cliffs offering stunning views over the Channel[/caption]
But you haven’t reckoned with the hotel’s restaurant – where Volodymyr Slobodyan uses local ingredients to conjure up modern twists on traditional dishes.
I devoured the gnocchi and artichoke velouté, while my partner sampled Kent catch with some delicate sea bream and succulent king scallops.
It was all washed down with delightfully light wine from the Barnsole Vineyard between Canterbury and Ramsgate.
Next morning, after the deepest of sleeps, we were woken by the sounds of the waves and wind.
We then tucked into a full English before heading off on our adventures – soon passing Bleak House, where Charles Dickens spent his summers and wrote his novel David Copperfield.
Our clifftop boutique hotel, the Bay Tree[/caption]
A 30-minute bus ride took us to Margate, a seaside stalwart that has won the heart of many a visitor as it seesaws gently on the brink of gentrification.
The expanse of beach here, which has inspired artists from 19th-century seacapes master William Turner to today’s Tracey Emin, is well worth a ramble.
So too, is the quiet old town, where antique shops and ice-cream parlours clamour for your attention.
After a visit to the beachside Turner Contemporary gallery and a tasty pint of micro-brewed cider in the Harbour Arms, we returned to our adopted home of Broadstairs – as live music sang out from a number of the town’s boozers.
MOST READ IN TRAVEL
Our final day began with a gentle three-mile stroll to Botany Bay beach, via four other picturesque bays, peaceful country roads and a gaze at North Foreland Lighthouse – surrounded by mile after mile of cauliflower fields.
Reluctant to leave quite yet, we allowed our hunger to guide us once more – this time to ice-cream parlour Morelli’s – where for over a century the whole community has come together over gelatos.
Stuffed with sumptious sundaes, and with sand in our shoes, we snoozed on the train back to London – where even a stint on the rush-hour Tube could not rob us of our feeling of seaside peace.
GETTING THERE: The fast train from London’s St Pancras International station takes 1hr 22 minutes with South Eastern, from £38.30 return.
STAYING THERE: A night’s B&B at the Bay Tree hotel is from £70 per person, based on two sharing. See more details at baytreebroadstairs.co.uk.