Short stay: Bay Tree Hotel, Broadstairs, Kent, UK

Perched on an elevated position on the Eastern Esplanade in Broadstairs, the Bay Tree Hotel overlooks the white cliffs of Stone Bay and Golden Beach and offers stunning views.

The name comes from the bay tree blossoming in the back garden which is perhaps the oldest and largest specimen in Kent. After a lengthy £1 million renovation, this red-brick 10-room boutique hotel, built as a family home in 1896, is in perfect condition. The delicate renovation makes the most of the home’s Victorian heritage features.

Sash windows, Minton floor tiles and fireplaces are back to their elegant best.


Co-owners Alistair and Robert, fleeing London, greet us and check our temperature as these are still COVID times. Alastair takes our luggage and leads us to our room on the second floor.

the room

Number 10, called Alder, is a double-sided room. One tall panoramic window looking north across Stone Bay towards Botany Bay. Bay window looks south towards Viking Bay in the shape of a crescent and the heart of Broadstairs. Local interior designer Susie Nina Alistair and Robert helped the makeover with suggestions for antique furniture and a light palate of soft furnishings.

The design makes the most of the original features of the large house. The eaves have a box holder and rail while the secret cabinet is large enough to conceal another case. A Moroccan-style lampshade casts a gentle shadow over the double bed and wall-mounted TV. Warm peach walls deepen into the light shade of clay as daylight evaporates.

the bathroom

Light pouring in from a pine dormer window above the shower falls on an elegant damp room. Scandinavian colors emanate from the light wood floors and elegant stainless steel plumbing.

Bay Tree cosmetics full-size, with soothing honey and mango scents are custom creations. The blue towels are luxuriously thick.


The 10-room boutique restaurant offers an impressively varied menu. The chef makes the most of locally sourced scampi, whitebait and calamari among five starter options.

More favorites are codfish and Kentish pie along with other seasonal and vegetarian options. At the front of the house, an outdoor seating area provides an ideal location for afternoon tea or an early evening drink.


A five-minute stroll down the slopes leads to Broadstairs, a quaint seaside town with fisherman’s cottages, quaint pubs, and winding roads originally designed for two- and four-legged traffic.

The stores are independent, quirky and small. If you really need national chains, you’ll find them out of town at Westwood Cross.

The love of Charles Dickens Broadstairs. The Dickens Museum chronicles his time by the sea, particularly writing parts of Bleak House. Hopefully 2022 will see the return of the annual Dickens Festival which is usually hosted in June.

Among the range of cafes and restaurants on Broadstairs is the unique Morelli ice cream parlour. Pink banquettes and Lloyd Loom chairs capture the essence of a 1950s gelato shop.

Below is the Viking Trail, a 32-mile trail for cyclists that reveals the best of Thanet: a gorgeous coastline and scenic inland trails too. Walkers can handle shorter themed trails like the 4-mile trek from Dickens House to Margate’s Turner Countryside that takes the white cliffs of Botany Bay.

Make time to visit, and admission is free, to the Spitfire and Hurricane Museum in Manston.

Other nice touches

The Library Bar is comfortable and inviting, and small enough for exclusive use by groups of friends. Ring the bell if you need a higher fill of local beer, liqueurs, and wine.

Kentish breakfasts with homemade bacon, black pudding, and sausage are taken very seriously. There are even options for scrambled eggs, “mushy or dry?” asks the waitresses. Homemade hash browns of slightly crunchy fries are a distinguishing feature.

the cost

Room rates start from £65 in low season including breakfast (if booked directly or via the hotel website).

the best thing

The corridors and stairs are lined with an impressive array of Harry Potter artwork, although as Robert explains, “We’re not a Harry Potter hotel, it’s just fun shows.”

In total there are 132 pieces by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima who created the scene for the movies. Subtly, the theme extends with each of the ten rooms named after British trees that provide the right wood to create a magic wand. Perhaps the most charming of the rooms is the English Oak with a balcony overlooking the sea and a separate bathroom. Simply magical.

Final verdict

Location, location, location. The Bay Tree Hotel’s hike offers one of Broadstairs’ best views across sandy beaches, vertical land and the ocean. It all stems from an elegant and inspiring interior that makes the most of the ambient light.

Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by The Bay Tree Hotel and Visit Thanet.

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