While we can’t get out and about right now, we can plan and we can dream. We can think about where we might visit when life eventually returns to normal, and I for one know that I will be making the most of every moment strolling on a beach, browsing a pretty shop or enjoying a meal in a buzzy restaurant. That’s why we are continuing to share our guides to towns and cities that are packed full of independent businesses, who also greatly need our support right now. Today, we are heading to the coastal town of Deal in Kent, where blogger Clementine May shares her favourite spots.
I have been visiting the coastal town of Deal in East Kent since I was a little girl. Whether it is a brisk walk along the pier, a wander around the antique shops or fish and chips on the beach; there is always so much to discover and see in this genteel town. Here are some of my favourite things to do…
There are numerous small independent stores opening to the north of the high street. I love wandering around this part of town discovering new antique shops and coffee houses. The Hoxton Store was one of the first to open in this end of town, it is beautifully curated and the owner often travels across the channel to France and further afield to find bespoke pieces. The front of the store is dedicated to ceramics, vintage style prints and timeless functional household products. The back room houses a unique range of clothing; mostly french brands, and depending on the seasons you can find a selection of boldly printed kaftans and pretty floral summer dresses or utilitarian artist worker jackets and cords. I find it almost impossible to visit this store and not leave without something.
This recently opened store is the vision of locals Emma and Rob. Barkened sells handcrafted products for people and dogs. Items range from leather bags and raincoats to dog treats and collars. Championing sustainable craftsmanship every item tells a story and there are some really lovely brands including the eco rainwear company Insane in the Rain and Organic skincare range Evolve Beauty. Their own Barkened brand features leather goods which are handcrafted using traditional methods from their workshop in Deal. With a nicely curated selection of stationary and magazines this store is the perfect place to find a gift for yourself (or your canine friend!).
Deal’s promenade stretches from Sandwich Bay all the way along to Walmer and Kingsdown. If you have the time then this is a lovely walk or bike ride. The route is around three miles long and passes pretty views of fishing boats and beach huts. Hut 55 is a converted beach hut selling coffee and a selection of delicious cakes. In the Summer months you can also hire bikes from here to explore the rest of the coastline. This is an especially lovely location to enjoy a cup of coffee when the sun is shining; watch the passers-by on the promenade or take your coffee down to the water’s edge to skim stones.
The Rose Deal
The Rose Deal is beautiful boutique hotel in the centre of town. Recently refurbished with eight lovely rooms, cocktail bar and restaurant. Bought by the former Design Editor of Wallpaper* Magazine and her husband (whose family used to own the original pub) it comes as no surprise that the style and attention to detail throughout is impeccable. Each room is decorated with its own individual character featuring Victorian and mid-century furniture and a confident use of bold colour. The restaurant and bar serves Modern British food with Kent ales and wines while the seasonal cocktail menu boasts ingredients foraged around the local area.
Union Street Market
Every Saturday morning Union Street car park is transformed into a bric a brac haven for Deal’s weekly market. There is always an impressive array of vintage finds, beautiful fresh flowers, fruit, vegetables stalls and so much more including coffee by Real Deal Roasters. Get there early to ensure you sample some of the amazing Swedish baked goods by Bygga Bo; the semlor and Cinnamon buns are delicious and are always worth the trip! If you are on the look-out for fresh produce then stroll down the high street to the No Name Deli, Filberts, The Black Pig butchers and Jenkins & Son fishmongers; all selling locally sourced food.
Will and Yates
Established by Jane Will (Interiors Stylist) and Caroline Yates (Artist) this homeware store is always top of my list to visit. There is a wonderfully calm atmosphere as soon as you walk through the door with simple and stylish homewares sitting alongside the work of contemporary local artists (including paintings by co-owner Yates). There are ceramics from local potteries, garden and outdoor furniture, hemp storage baskets and linen throws. If you are a local or visiting Deal for a few days then look out for their seasonal sale evenings and exhibition launches.
Dunlin and Diver
A little further up the high street (and just opposite the Town Hall) is Dunlin & Diver, another independent store championing the arts and crafts of local Kent makers and designers. There are printed scarfs, berets and leather bags alongside wooden spoons, bowls and chopping boards. They also have a wide selection of works from local artists; everything from beautiful seascapes and posters to textiles and glassware.
Just back from the seafront is arguably one of the prettiest roads in Kent. Middle Street is a picturesque road lined with quaint Georgian cottages. If you look carefully you will spot little cobbled lanes leading off the main street to mews houses and courtyard gardens. There are so many photogenic pastel coloured cottages with the pretty coloured front doors. It is also home to a very good fish and chip shop which is only a stone’s throw from the beach so if the weather is fine you can enjoy a takeaway chip butty and a mug of tea looking out to sea.
Taylor Jones & Son
Just across the road from Dunlin and Diver is the contemporary art gallery Taylor Jones & Sons. This gallery is a great advocate for the lively arts scene in Deal; representing a number of local artists (and those from further afield as well). Co-owned by wildlife photographer Richard Taylor Jones there are always impressive seascapes and bold contemporary paintings adorning the walls and I love to flick through the prints and photographs to seek out local artists painting familiar scenes.
Mileage vintage home and tea station
To the far north of the high street you will find Mileage. Selling a vast selection of interiors from beautiful lights to reconditioned, painted furniture and brightly coloured cushions this store is packed full of delights. Some are more quirky than others but there is definitely something for everyone in this vintage emporium. The ever popular cafe; Tea Station is located at the back of the store serving tea, coffee and home-made cakes in a relaxed and social atmosphere.
Le Petit Brocante
Le Petit Brocante is a treasure trove stocking antique furnishings, textiles and leather handbags. Upstairs is a beautiful collection of pre-loved handbags, coats and mirrors while downstairs there is an eclectic mix of pretty vintage furniture, lamp shards and paintings. I particularly love the selection of mid century mirrors and repurposed lamps.
Deal Pier and Front
To blow away the cobwebs head for the pebbled beach and a walk along the pier. I have a bit of a soft spot for this pier, it is not as elegant as Brighton or Eastbourne but I love it’s 1950’s brutalist architecture and it offers great views across to the Goodwin Sands and France. Located at the end of the pier is the Deal Pier Kitchen (housed in the RIBA awarding winning contemporary addition to the 50’s structure) this cafe boasts a 360 degrees sea view and a delicious brunch menu (the waffles are our favourite!)