Fort Road Hotel, Margate, hotel review
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A 14-room hotel in a former 1820s boarding house, the location has been refurbished all mid-century modern, with thoughtfully chosen art and sleek furnishings throughout.
These aren’t just any artworks, either. The hotel’s large collection is from hotel co-owner and local artist Tom Gidley. On display in the restaurant are paintings by Nicolas Deshayes, Tracey Emin, Tom Gidley, Sophie Von Hellerman, Tim Noble, Anne Ryan, Cherelle Sappleton and Mercedes Workman.
The rooms are exquisite: wood-panelled dressing tables and plush bedding is guaranteed, with no detail overlooked, down to the Haeckel’s toiletries and Hay kettles and coffee pots in each room. The kitchen, too, has become a new hotspot since opening in 2022, with the food and drink living up to the hype, from the generous breakfast with fresh orange juice or Bloody Mary to the dinner time killer classics like sole meuniere or tartiflette. Downstairs, the bar is spacious and unselfconsciously cool: the kind of place that would be packed to the rafters were it back in London, but remains breezy and relaxed here. This instant Margate icon is the ideal accommodation for those looking for a spot of sea air and a bustling weekend break.
Why it’s great
You won’t find a better located hotel in the town of Margate, sitting as this does on the Fort Road (naturally), immediately opposite the gallery which opens from 10am, so you can jump from breakfast straight into the art. Take a right turn out of the hotel and you’re on Cliff Terrace leading up to Walpole Bay and a charming oval and bandstand.
Upon arrival at Fort Road Hotel, you’re met with a cheery welcome from the team at the restaurant bar (which doubles as the reception) who guide you to your room, offering you a booking at the restaurant for breakfast between the very leisurely hours of 8am and 2pm. Finally, a hotel that recognises holiday hours! That’s what we call brunch.
The weather cannot be guaranteed, but should you want to stroll along the beach or up the road to some of Margate’s grungy yet welcoming bars, the spot couldn’t be better. We visted Off Licence, who make a mean martini, and whose hospitality was confident and friendly, but not over-the-top. The bartender offered film recommendations and a chance to chat, but also knew – crucially – when to leave us to our evening.
What’s the food like?
Currently helmed by Chef Daisy Cecil – who spent four years at The River Cafe before moving to Margate – the restaurant is sleek and light filled, offering a seasonal menu of unfussy classics. Think pork chop with mustard and parsley sauce, or salt cod brandade with radicchio. The portions are generous and the wine list is well chosen, expanding out to eastern Europe and Georgia as well as Old World classic options.
The restaurant occassionally hosts pop-ups. When we visited, Aleksandar Taralezhkov of Balkan pop up Dolma Bar was in the kitchen, throwing out eclectic plates of interest such as lamb manti, labne and cheesy pide-style flatbreads. A highlight was the kimchi, sczechuan and pork stuffed cabbage leaves (don’t ask us about the Balkan connection, poetic license we think…) which came in a pool of red and orange sauces and left the mouth with a pleasing tingly sensation.
Breakfast, served in the same restaurant as dinner, was stand-out, served on the signature embossed plates. The wonderful bread from Wild Bread Bakehouse is a highlight, used in bacon baguettes the size of your head served with homemade brown sauce, or in soldiers to accompany boiled eggs with anchovy butter.
Lip-smacking stuff, but it was the hot smoked trout and eggs that really captured our hearts. Offering all the saltiness of a good kipper, this was proper fish of the highest order and the kind of meal that keeps your belly nice and warm throughout the morning. Until it’s time for a spot of fish and chips of course. You can take your time languishing over the weekend’s papers and topping up with as much coffee, juice and sparkling water as your heart desires.
What’s in the rooms?
The rooms are spacious, light, and frankly, serene. Each offers bright white 400 thread count sheets on European King or Super King beds, a Hay kettle and coffee pot with Assembly ground coffee and Earl Grey tea to enjoy. Fresh milk and deliciously salty but sweet homemade cookies (straight from the oven) welcome you to your room along with brochure of things to do in Margate. The bigger suites offer spacious bathrooms with roll top bathtubs and powerful showers, and all are kitted out with stunning tiles, and bath and shower products by Margate’s own Haeckles to enjoy during your stay. Our room featured a gorgeous window seat, super soft bed with umpteen pillows, a large desk – and, side tables offering many a novel to snuggle up with in front of the bay windows… with a sea view to boot. Bringing a dog? A limited number of four-legged friends are welcome on arrangement.
You can basically leap out of your bed into the Turner Contemporary, offering exhibitions, a shop and a cafe selling exceptional pastries and drinks from Curve coffee. For shopping fans, there’s an abundance of boutiques nearby, including Albion stores, Werkhouse Margate and as many book shops as your heart desires. Up on Northdown Road, you’ll find second hand furniture stores and a cracking new wine bar Sète, offering generous bar food such as pâté en croûte and anchovy egg mayonnaise. For those with cars, the beautiful Botany Bay is a 9-minute drive away (or 50 minutes on foot if you feel like a challenge…) and offers a dramatic cliff formation and a chance to swim in a more rugged setting than Margate’s own beachfront. In summer months, old-school arcades at Dreamland are a lot of fun, and the cinema opens up too, for rainy days.
What’s not so great?
Fort Road Hotel is small, and it’s slap bang in the middle of Margate’s town centre. This means it’s easy to visit without a car, and centrally located; but it might not suit a large group or family hoping for a quiet and relaxing seaside holiday. The stress of small children or animals damaging expensive artworks is not a pleasant thought either. The restaurant is a big pull, but the hotel does not offer room service, so if that’s something that is a deal-breaker for you, it’s worth noting. It’s also a must to book in for breakfast, as the restaurant opens to the public for brunch and you might find you do not have a table if you don’t.
What’s the damage?
Rooms start from £140 per night including the photogenic breakfast. Find out more about Fort Road Hotel from their website here.