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Pocket Guide: Whitstable

Travelling to Whitstable

Whitstable is a real breath of fresh air. There’s a real nostalgic feel here of a life that was much simpler. And it can really blow the cobweb’s of modern life’s complexities away.

Whitstable is where you can stand eating fresh shellfish on the pebble beach with its wooden groynes. It’s where you can browse through the boutiques and galleries that grace its refreshingly old-fashioned main street. And it’s where you can simply admire the sea salt-flecked weatherboard houses that line quiet backstreets.

Thankfully there is a wonderful choice of hotels in Whitstable that allow you to recharge your batteries and spring-clean your mind as often as it needs it.

The seaside town of Whitstable is located in north Kent. It’s almost literally a stone’s throw from its shingle beach to the historic charms of Canterbury. And, like Canterbury, pilgrims have been coming to stay in Whitstable’s hotels since time immemorial.

It’s not salvation that Whitstable’s pilgrims seek, however. They come for its oysters. These maritime delicacies have been harvested here since Roman times, and the town’s clutch of fantastic fish restaurants mean modern oyster pilgrims are not limited to just these gifts from the ocean’s larder.

It’s certainly not only oysters that keeps the hotels of Whitstable busy, though. Its traditional charms are complemented by a strong arts culture, and backed by a rich maritime history. Galleries line its main street, interspersed between vintage clothes emporia, craft and gift shops, delicatessens and fashion boutiques. Follow those winding lanes and narrow alleys a little further and you’ll arrive at the working harbour, which has played host to diving, shipbuilding and fishing since 1831.

But, perhaps, one of Whitstable’s greatest charms is the simple fact that it has one of the very few beaches in England with a pub on it. And, that in itself, is reason enough to make a pilgrimage and pay your respects!

Choosing your hotel in Whitstable

With Canterbury itself just two miles away, you can choose a hotel in Canterbury or opt to stay amid the ample charms of Whitstable itself.

Those looking to make the most of Whitstable beach can stay in a hotel with sea views, or there are hotels set in the wonderful traditional lanes and streets that are lined with weatherboard houses and quirky shops.

Golf lovers will find hotels just a short drive from Seasalter Golf Club, and wherever you stay in Whitstable you are never too far from an oyster!

Whitstable hotels tend to be 3 or 4 star, so if you are looking for budget accommodation your best bet is to base yourself in Canterbury, where there is a good choice of bed and breakfasts, hostels and guesthouses. Indeed, a good budget option is to stay in accommodation provided by the University of Kent, which may well suit families looking for a little more space than hotel rooms offer.

To really get the feel for Kent there are also some Canterbury hotels that offer the chance to stay in converted oast houses. Wake up and smell the hops!

When to book your hotel in Whitstable

If you are looking to truly celebrate Whitstable’s oysters you should book your hotel in July when the Oyster Festival takes place. Amid the events and fayres, oysters and other delicacies from the sea can be enjoyed at the local restaurants and pubs or taken home from the fresh fish market at the harbour. Hotels in Whitstable will be booked in advance for this popular time of the year so it’s best to plan ahead.

Things to see and do from your Whitstable hotel

Aside from sampling the oysters and dining at the exquisite restaurants, there’s plenty to do in Whitstable.

Ask at your hotel in Whitstable for details of what’s on at the Playhouse Theatre; there’s usually a wide range of plays, music and comedy to enjoy. Staying on the cultural side of things, Whitstable Museum and Gallery gives you the chance to dive into the maritime history of the town. And Whitstable Castle and Gardens has been home to local merchants and dignitaries since 1790 – it remains a landmark attraction.

Whitstable is full of the simpler pleasures of life too. Duncan Down Village Green is perfect for a picnic amid the wildlife and the unspoilt beach comes into its own at sunset. Clowes Wood is a wooded area between Canterbury and Whitstable whose tracks and trails are ideal for strolling or cycling.

Stroll to the atmospheric harbour where you’ll find fishing, restaurants, fresh shellfish sales and barge trips. Keep your eyes peeled, too, for the historic Whitstable oyster yawl which can be seen just east of the Neptune pub.

Also on your doorstep will be the delights of the cathedral city of Canterbury. The Unesco World Heritage–listed cathedral dominates the narrow medieval alleyways, riverside gardens and ancient city walls. But it is also a vibrant bustling place that is far from stuck in the past.

Save money on your Whitstable hotel

If you’re flying within or to the UK you can save money on your flight and your Whitstable hotel by booking both with Expedia.