Insider Guide: Deal
Voted one of best places to live earlier this year by The Sunday Times, complete with beach, fine food and shopping, Deal is proving to be a worthy contender as one of the coolest beach towns in Kent
Here is the lowdown on how to make the most out of your trip to Deal be it travelling with little ones, shopping and cocktails trip with the girls or a gourmet break with Mr Muddy.
Technically closer to France than London, it should come as no surprise that there is a deli in Deal selling a mouth-watering selection of French cheeses, olives, cold meats, freshly baked breads and quiches etc… No Name Shop is on the High Street, a five-minute stroll from the beach, plus it also has a sister restaurant in Sandwich with an attached bistro should you be sticking around for a couple of days and wish to do a bit of beach hopping.
Alternatively, head to Pop Up Café further down the High Street, known for its speciality coffee and freshly baked sourdough bread. Their Salad bowl gets my vote every time – roasted squash with coriander, harissa, crunchy slaw, lentil and aubergine salad, avocado with tahini dressing, hummus dukkah and sourdough bread (£8.50). They also get bonus points for providing kiddie-friendly cheese, jam or ham sandwiches at £3.50 a pop. Keep an eye out for their popular Supper Clubs in the evening with a selection of meze dishes that have been made from freshly picked and locally sourced ingredients.
If the sunny weather is not delivering, go to Slow Food Café where the food is based upon the slow-food gastronomic principles offering fresh food from ethical, and where possible, local suppliers. Expect to find interesting and tasty sandwiches such as Roasted thyme tomato sandwich with sliced avocado and smoked cheddar cheese as well as nutritious and yummy salads and soups.
If the desire is to push the boat (and waistline) out, then book a table at Frog&Scot, a French bistro situated in the heart of Deal. Head chef David Gadd comes from local Michelin Star ‘The Sportsman’ in Seasalter so you know that you are in verrrrry safe hands. Run by a Frog (Benoit Dezecot) and a Scot (Benoit’s partner Sarah Ross), you can expect to feast on rock oysters, seared scallops and baked halibut served with asparagus veloute so maybe leave the ankle-biters behind for this one.
Deal has no shortage in fine-food options as there is also VictalsandCo, positioned down a pretty, little passageway off the High Street, which has a small and frequently changing menu, and is well-known for its popular ‘Raid the Larder’ held on Sunday evenings where dishes are often made up on the spot.
The new arrival in Deal that is getting a lot of media attention – and rightfully so! Is The Rose (check out their beautiful Instagram @therosedeal). A boutique hotel with eight individually decorated bedrooms, with the additional benefit of a super-duper restaurant and bar downstairs. And don’t expect your standard hotel Breakfast fayre in the morning as the Rose kitchen offers a twist on British- and comfort-food classics, so you’ll find off-beat yet yummy options such a duck eggs and anchovy soldiers and roast mushrooms, thyme and goats curd on toast on the menu.
If you really need a room with an uninterrupted view of the sea, then go to the Royal Hotel where some rooms have private balconies and roll-top baths overlooking the waves down below. They look after those travelling with younger ones, and there are family rooms with bunk beds that can fit up to two adults and three children.
There are plenty of self-catering options in the town if you want to live, breathe and eat like a local. One goodie is Admiral’s Rest, a vintage boutique holiday cottage positioned two-minute walk from the seafront, with two bedrooms plus plenty of helpful kids’ stuff on tap including toys, games, high chair, travel cot and plastic cutlery.
There’s nothing like a bit of bracing sea-air to blow out the cobwebs from any over-indulgence the night before and there are many walks in and around Deal that you should factor into your trip.
One particularly lovely trail is from Deal to Walmer, six miles of a gentle coastal walk suitable for all ages and abilities, taking in beaches and castles along the way. You can download the walks from the Discovering Britain website with helpful historical titbits so you can wow your friends and family with your intimate knowledge of Deal’s part in numerous invasions from Julius Caesar’s Roman legions to Napoleon’s warships as well as First World War bombers to Hitler’s planned invasion in 1940.
Also don’t forget to just potter around Middle Street and the Conservation Area which is at the heart of Deal. Instagram-tastic, you can expect to find Georgian terraced town houses in a multitude of pastel colours on winding narrow streets running up to the seafront. Simply wander around the lanes soaking up the history of this town.
Be sure to start or end your night at The Lane – a cocktail bar-cum-restaurant-cum- café-cum brunch spot-cum afternoon tea destination – you get the picture. The Lane caters for all tastes and doesn’t kill the vibe either by spreading itself too thinly. Recommended new cocktails include Breakfast Martini (gin, triple sec, lemon juice & marmalade jam) and with regular live music and DJs spots, you might need one or two of those to keep your dancing shoes going.
For a more sedate yet equally enjoyable affair, head to Le Pinardier, meaning ‘wine shop’ in French and owned by Frog & Scot. And it does just that but is also a wine bar, music venue and art gallery so you shall leave with your cultural palate, as well as your tastebuds, fully refreshed. Cheese plates, charcuterie and pate with baguettes are served to accompany your wine if you fancy that kind of night.
For speciality gin and vodka (plus some tonic of course), head to Bloody Mary’s on the High Street for a pre-dinner drink or nightcap. Chapel Down Bacchus Gin and Chardonnay Vodka have just been stocked so you really should support local producers by having a cocktail with one of these key ingredients…Ahem.
And if you are looking for somewhere for Mr. Muddy to prop up the bar while you go ‘window shopping’, then consider The Just Reproach, a quaint-looking micropub, with a wide range of local beer, cider and wine, a stone, or should I say pebble’s, throw from the beach.
Do not miss the Hoxton Store which opened in Deal in December 2014 as Alison Whalley decided to set up shop having previously owned and run Hoxton Boutique in London’s East End for over 12 years. Hoxton’s loss is Deal’s gigantic gain as you can browse a wide range of fabulous home wear items, including Moorish rugs and brightly-coloured velvet cushions, plus they are also specialists in Vintage style lighting and components so you can create your own unique lighting arrangements.
Mileage, a vintage emporium, is also a must-do for browsing as it contains a treasure-trove of items that you really didn’t think you needed until you clocked eyes on it in this dusty showroom full of electric pieces. There is a tea-room out back with homemade cakes if you need somewhere to sit and ponder on where you would actually put those cinema chairs and disco ball once you have lugged them the whole way home.
Bespoke jewellery designers Rees and Rees are a father and daughter collaboration with over 25 years’ experience based in Deal. With a wide mix of services including beautifully crafted jewellery, special commissions, workshops and featured artists, Rees and Rees also offer luxury experience weekends where you and your beloved can design and make your own wedding bands under the guidance and supervision of an experienced jeweller.
Not technically shopping but this boutique spa salon is also worth a look:
The first Éminence Green Spa in the UK, Brooklyn Green Spa is passionate about design and self-care and prides itself on using on natural and organic products and Beauty Without Cruelty make-up and nail varnishes. After a gruelling day of lying on the beach, surely you deserve its Coco-lucious Scrub & Wrap- a full body exfoliation using raw cane sugar and rich virgin coconut oil is followed by an antioxidant, nourishing wrap containing cocoa! AND then a full body massage. UM – yes please!
The beauty of a coastal town for a day-trip or longer break with your crew is that you have an interrupted two-mile beach playground on your doorstop with free swimming option too if you are lucky with the weather. Pack their scooters and bikes too as the beach promenade is the perfect turf for them to scoot up and down, plus of course the afore-mentioned castles to bring out their Knight and Princess.
Or you can walk on up to Walmer Paddling Pool, a traditional paddling pool, set on the Walmer Green surrounded by lawns and next to the beach. The pool has qualified lifeguards, a refreshment kiosk serving hot and cold snacks all day, changing rooms facilities, and deck chairs for hire. Plus there is a putting green, a play area with large children’s games and a bouncy castle.
Make sure you don’t miss an ice-cream from Solley’s, an ice cream parlour situated on a farm, a five-minute drive outside Deal, where you can slurp on freshly-made ice cream straight from their Guernsey cows’ produce while your kids enjoy tractor rides around the farm or let off some steam in the children’s play area. Plus there are plenty of marked trails to explore across its fields and surrounding countryside and camp site should you really not want to go home.
Nothing deserves the ‘quirky’ title more than Teresa Hair Fashions on the High Street where time has literally stood still and now deserves to be the backdrop in a cult-retro film or music video. Imagine a line of raspberry-pink vintage electric perm machines with matching chairs and you are just about there.
Deal Timeball Tower is a quirky museum, located on the seafront, dedicated to signalling and timekeeping and you can climb all the way to the top for fantastic views across the town and sea. During the summer season (1 April – 30 September) the ball drops hourly from 9am to 5pm.
Housed in an old industrial building on the site of a former market garden, the Deal Maritime and Local History Museum is a wonderful place to acquaint yourself with the local history of the town. Open from 1st April to 31st October, find out smuggling stories from the past, a re-creation of a World War One trench and Tender Too, a “little ship,” in the centre of a display about Deal and Dunkirk.
How about mixing up some culture with a bit of retail pleasure. If that floats your boat, then make sure you go to Taylor Jones & Son. Husband and wife team, Sonja and Richard Taylor-Jones, opened this wondrous store in Deal in June 2013 and have since put together a cutting-edge space where you can browse recognized artists such as Ned Kelly and Richard Friend as well as snap up prints, artefacts and curiosities for yourself.
Technically a bar & bistro but since it regularly has live music, but CinCin can tick your cultural box too. They are about to host their first ever silent disco at CinCin called Silent Disco Diva and you can choose whether to dance to a retro playlist going back to the 70’s or from the noughties to the present day. All the best of funk, disco, new wave and prog will be taken to task. Kate Bush vs Beyonce, Bee Gees vs Black Eyed Peas, Stevie Wonder vs Shaggy. You get the idea…
For them hipsters among you, you will feel right at home at The Bohemian on the seafront. Like stepping into someone’s cozy yet crazy sitting room with lots of random clutter floating around, you can while away the hours quite happily here. Sit with the papers and a coffee in its sun-filled terrace out back, become fully acquainted with The Gin Corner in the bar or get down with its vinyl nights held throughout the year.
P.S: consider visiting from Wednesday to Sunday only as many of the restaurants and shops (even in the height of Summer) are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.