Lucy Self spends the night at Albion House Hotel in the Kentish coastal town of Ramsgate.
Of all hotel window views, not much beats the sun rising over the sea. Particularly if combined with the sound of squalling sea gulls and smell of salt when you throw open said window. History would suggest Queen Victoria shared the same opinion, frequenting various seaside spots throughout her long life, including a visit to the East Kent coastal town of Ramsgate.
And where did dear old Queen Vic stay? At Albion House. Then a town house owned by people fancy enough to entertain royalty and now a gorgeous boutique hotel. That fact, allowing me to envision one of England’s longest-reigning monarchs sharing the same vantage point, not the mention the same stairwell, was a welcome addition of history for this buff.
Not that our 24 hours stay needed anything extra to recommend them. From the stunning Regency façade overlooking the Royal Harbour to the blue and white edged sweeping central staircase, Albion House racks up ‘reasons to book’ rather quickly.
The interior is a faultless mix of original features (old shutters, cornicing, lofty ceilings and black and white checkerboard floors) and carefully selected contemporary touches (frosted globe pendant lights, plush upholstered seats and gleaming marble bathrooms). Rooms are simple in an expensive way, all contrasting fabrics and crisp edges with the odd antique thrown in. Both The Town Bar and main restaurant are a class act. Particularly the bar which, with its wall of framed etchings, parquet floor and tall potted plants, reminded me so much of the past, I could almost see elegantly-attired gentry sipping an ‘East Cliff Sours’ in the corner.
If you do book a stay at Albion House (which you should), make a note to leave mealtimes to them. Dinner on the Friday night delivered in both taste and buzz, with the waitresses holding up their end of the service bargain nicely.
We had a piece of hot smoked salmon to start served as a Niçoise which was salty, crunchy and generally delicious. And a tartare of sea bass with a tiny boiled quails egg on top. Then some properly rosy rounds of beef with tiny puffs of crunchy potato doused in a mustardy sauce and a rack of lamb served an even deeper shade of blush. This sat on a perfect oblong of paper-thin layers of dauphinoise with a puddle of meat-rich gravy. Finally a tidy tart bursting with late summer fruit and a heaped plate of local cheese. Breakfast the next day offered the usual buffet fare with option of hot eggs and toast, but in a way that hovered happily above standard.
As we checked out, the efficient young chap behind the bar asked in a slightly worried tone if we were planning on going back to London without taking a walk along the coast. As I assured him that I’d been planning our route from Ramsgate, through Broadstairs and on to Margate, since I first clapped eyes on the sea view from our bedroom window, I wondered if Queen Victoria had done the same thing many years before…
Albion House Hotel – Albion Pl, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 8HQ
Words by Lucy Self