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Hotel No. 42 by GuestHouse at Margate review: a dreamy seaside escape from the city

 (Toby Mitchell)
(Toby Mitchell)

People looking for a relaxing weekend out of the city can’t do much better than Margate. Dubbed ‘Shoreditch on Sea’ for its trendy, laid-back vibes, its thriving community of artists exists side-by-side with the town’s traditional seaside fare of arcades and (of course) the iconic Dreamland funfair.

Even better, it’s just as enjoyable to visit in winter as it is in summer. Margate’s excellent food scene, beautiful views and plethora of trendy art galleries all make it a place to be savoured – and Hotel No. 42 is the place to do it.

Part of the GuestHouse group of boutique hotels, No. 42 is based in a heritage building and joins its siblings in Bath and York – with a new property in Brighton also on the horizon. Opened just last year, it’s a perfect place to kick back and relax after a busy day spent sightseeing or sunbathing. Here’s what to know.

Where?

 (Toby Mitchell)
(Toby Mitchell)

As far as locations go, No. 42 has the plum spot: right on Margate’s gorgeous Westbrook Bay, which means that those lucky enough to get a sea-facing room will be treated to views of sweeping golden sands and the rolling ocean every morning.

Margate being as small as it is, this also means that the hotel is in prime position when it comes to exploring the town’s winding old streets and chic bars.

Head out in the morning to one of its many excellent coffee shops (The Cause and Big Shot were our favourites), spend the afternoon walking along the gorgeous coastal roads and soaking in the sea air (or checking out the city’s many galleries), then return in the afternoon for a warming lunch at The Old Kent Market or bakery Modern Provisions. Delicious.

Style

 (Toby Mitchell)
(Toby Mitchell)

With only 21 rooms, No. 42 is small, but perfectly formed. Spread out over four floors, the hotel’s design clearly takes inspiration from the waves rolling just outside. Think tasteful shades of cream and sandy beige, accentuated here and there with flashes of pink and brown.

The rooms themselves are a study in brick floors and pale linen, with artwork by local contributors hanging on the walls, Crosley record players on the side and recycled canvas slippers provided “to pad about in.” They are fairly small – a hazard of working to the specifications of a heritage building – so for maximum value, our recommendation would be one of the seafront-facing suites, which boast tiny balconies of their own as well as a truly cavernous bathtub in which to soak (should you be inclined).

Plus, extra points for the funky touches, such as a mini replica of the Dreamland Ferris wheel on the wall of the downstairs lounge, and the oyster shell-shaped lamp adorning the reception desk. They provide the character that makes everything sing.

Food & Drink

 (Toby Mitchell)
(Toby Mitchell)

Good news for foodies: in-house restaurant Pearly Cow makes a very eloquent argument for visiting. Blessed with huge windows that overlook the beach, the restaurant’s strength is undoubtedly its seafood offering, with which the kitchen staff work magic (though the Sunday lunches are also particularly good).

The fare here is very much focused on the flavours of the English countryside. Think baked oysters with truffle and garlic for starters (or battered with chilli and coriander, if you’re feeling adventurous), followed by sea-cured trout and lobster and crab crumpets. And for meat-lovers, there’s also plenty there: the 45-day-old steaks are drool-worthy.

In terms of drink, there’s a pleasingly large cocktail list, stuffed with more unusual flavours that deserve an hour or two to try properly. Then again, if you’re not in the mood for apple nori in your Seaside Martini or walnut bitters in your Brunswick Old Fashioned (though they’re both delicious) there’s a huge wine list to complement your meal – which costs around £150 for two with drinks.

It’s also worth noting that the hotel boasts a small rooftop terrace facing onto Westbrook Bay: though this was closed when we visited, the sofas scattered around promised long evenings watching the sun set with a drink in hand.

 (Toby Mitchell)
(Toby Mitchell)

And did we mention the snack bar? Dubbed ‘The Pantry’, it’s a wooden hut situated on the second floor that provides a rolling supply of crisps, sweets, cakes and fruit for the hungry holidaymaker to feast on at all hours – ideal for after that chilly morning swim.

Facilities

In addition to the restaurant, lounge area and upstairs bar, No. 42 has also made space for a chic underground spa and adjoining coffee shop, called Field Trip. Decked out in shades of warm wood and decorated with herbs and grasses, this is the place to go for the hotel’s signature Lessen Your Stress treatment: an hour-long back, shoulder and face massage with a facial which managed to unwind every muscle in my body in a surprisingly short space of time (£95).

But why stop there? Those wanting to destress together can also make use of the excellently-named Copper Cove: a massive copper bathtub packed full of herbal salts. Round off the soak with a glass of fizz and face mask, followed by a back, neck and shoulder massage (£285).

A word of warning to gym bunnies, though: there is no gym, so pack a pair of trainers to get in those early-morning runs along the seafront. Or maybe just kick back and order another spa treatment.

 (Toby Mitchell)
(Toby Mitchell)

Details

Room rates at low season start from £130 room-only or £170 bed and breakfast. Room rates at high season start from £165 room only or £205 bed and breakfast. Book at guesthousehotels.co.uk