Travel writer and There We Go blogger Katie Gregory spent a weekend in Deal, Kent, with her family. If you fancy a visit to this seaside town that’s just over an hour from London by train, here are eight things to do while you’re there…
1. Have a full English breakfast at The Royal Hotel
We stayed at The Royal Hotel on Friday night and loved its centre-of-everything location. It’s right on Deal’s pretty pebble beach, next to Deal Pier, and a five-minute walk gets you to the Saturday market and all the lovely little shops along the High Street. Built in the early 18th century, the naval-themed hotel has 18 rooms including family rooms that sleep up to three kids. We ate dinner in The Boathouse bar – which had a really good kids’ menu – but it was the breakfast on Saturday morning that stole the show though. The kids chose American pancakes with pecans and caramelised bananas, and we had an amazing Full English that set us up for a day of exploring – all served up with a sea view.
2. Go for a windy walk along Deal Pier
Built in the 1950s, Deal’s imposing concrete pier is the best place to go for great views of the seafront. Along its length there are sheltered bay-type seating areas that would make a scenic spot for fish and chips or an ice-cream stop-off. Glass-sided Deal Pier Kitchen on the pier head looked like a great option for brunch, but we were still stuffed from our Full English at The Royal – so we settled for a paddle in the sea instead.
3. Browse for bargains at Deal’s Saturday market
Deal was really quiet when we arrived on the Friday, but on Saturday morning the whole place came to life – particularly in the area around the market. It’s at the junction between the High Street and Union Road, surrounded by lots of independent shops. We picked up a coffee from Hope and Lane on the way, then went and had a rummage. I came away with a pair of vintage Levi’s and the kids snapped up some amazing Swedish buns from a stall called Bygga Bo. It’s worth joining the queue for this one.
4. Play a round of adventure golf in Walmer
A ten-minute walk down the coast from Deal lands you in Walmer, and more importantly Roman Landings Adventure Golf. This miniature golf course was brilliant fun – the course took us about an hour to complete and the kids loved the section where you have to pull yourself across a pond on a raft. There’s a café selling ice creams and snacks, and a big paddling pool here too. It was closed when we visited, and reopens for the summer from Whitsun half-term. It’s free, and there are changing rooms and toilets.
5. Climb to the top of Dover Castle’s Great Tower
If you’re keen to explore a little further afield, Dover is a 20-minute drive from Deal and there’s lots to see here beyond the famous White Cliffs. We had a look round Dover Marina Curve, an outdoor area that was redeveloped in 2021 with lots of food stalls open in the warmer months. Most were closed on the wet and rainy day we popped by, so we moved on to Dover Castle – which you can see on the top of the cliffs when you’re down in the marina. This was a really interesting visit for the kids, particularly for the history-loving 10-year-old, although I’d advise spending the whole day here as it’s spread across a large space with lots of walking between buildings. We arrived after 2pm and by the time we’d got our bearings and walked from the car park to The Underground Hospital, which the kids were desperate to see, we’d missed the last tour of the day by about 30 seconds and weren’t allowed in. Luckily we did manage to see the WWI fire command post and climbed to the top of the Great Tower, which gives you excellent views out to sea.
6. Let them run wild at Betteshanger park
Betteshanger Park is a vast green space built on the site of a colliery spoil tip, and it’s worth the ten-minute drive from Deal’s seafront. It has loads of cycle paths – including a 3km tarmac track that’s great for families, and 10km of single-track trails for mountain biking – so you can bring your bikes or hire them here. You can book family-friendly activities like geocaching and orienteering, and our kids absolutely loved learning how to build dens and light fires at the Wild Ones forest school. We had lunch at The Lamp Room, which has lots of outside seating that directly overlooks the big outdoor playground – so you can sit and have a drink or a bite to eat while they play.
7. Go for a slap-up meal at Updown Farm
One of our favourite discoveries in Kent was Updown Farm, which is close to Betteshanger Park. Set in seven acres of land, this luxurious 17th-century farmhouse has guest rooms as well as a conservatory restaurant that manages to be both upmarket and relaxed, and very family-friendly. All rustic brick walls, trailing vines and rose bushes, it has a pergola roof that fills the space with light in the daytime and is warmed by the glow of patio heaters at night. When we visited in March, the seasonal menu included a creamy crab bruschetta and soft agnolotti – a tortellini-type pasta – with game ragu, morels and wild garlic to start. We tried all three of the mains and argued over whose was most delicious – the bourride with hake, clams and mussels, the aubergine gratin, or the lamb and lamb’s liver with artichokes and gnocchi. Everything’s cooked over wood in the open kitchen, and you can hear the sizzle of the grills as you eat. The waitress offered a simple cheese pasta dish for my daughter, who didn’t fancy anything on the menu, and later brought over colouring pens and stickers to keep the kids busy while we enjoyed what was one of our all-time favourite meals. They even offer a car service for guests, so you don’t have to worry about driving home.
8. Spend at night at Rogue’s Cottage
If you’re looking for a cottage stay in Deal, we loved Rogue’s Cottage – an impossibly pretty Grade II listed Georgian terrace house tucked down a narrow street just off the seafront. The beach is a stone’s throw away in one direction, and the High Street and train station are close by in the other – but it’s the house itself that you’ll want to spend time in. Our kids loved the twin attic room decked out in patterned wallpaper, and we loved the huge inglenook fireplace and wood burner as well as the freestanding copper bath. The whole place was impeccably clean, the kitchen was equipped with all the essentials, and little touches – like a jar full of Tunnock’s tea cakes and a decanter of brandy by the fire – made this a really special stay. Keepers Cottages have lots more characterful properties in Kent, but we’d make a special trip just to come back to this one.
This press trip and the activities above were organised and paid for by Visit Kent in return for an honest review of our experience in Deal.
Looking for ideas for a child-free break instead? Head over to There We Go for eight ideas for a weekend visit to Deal.