There’s no doubt Hastings and St Leonards have got some way to go before they reach the grandiose status they once enjoyed as a Victorian resort town, but the whole area is definitely undergoing a significant renaissance. We have a new Pier thanks to £14 million of lottery money. We have a new link road that diverts a lot of thru traffic away from the town. There are new restaurants, cafes, bars, art galleries and independent shops.
Go down to the seafront and the beaches are pristine. There are interesting walks in both directions; Bexhill is a few kilometres to the West, and the beach can be followed almost all the way (via the lovely little ‘Café By The Beach’) to the restored Art Deco De La Warr pavilion for lunch.
If you head East out of the house via the charming and historic old part of town, you’ll find Hastings Country Park – 270 hectares of sandstone cliffs, footpaths and nature trails. You can ride one of the World’s oldest and steepest funicular railways up to the park, which is essentially a seven mile extension to the South Downs. With its hilly walks, nudist beach and impressive craggy coastline views, it has a ‘Dorset-esque’ feel that will satisfy even the most determined of walkers.
Without doubt, the best thing about Hastings is the Old part of Town. Billed by Tatler as ‘The New Notting Hill’, the winding cobbled streets just off the seafront are littered with antique arcades, junk shops, vintage clothes shops, retro furniture shops and a good selection of bars and restaurants. Shops with wonderful wordplay names such as ‘Cobblers to The Old Town’ and ‘The Vinyl Countdown’ can be found here. There’s always live music playing somewhere, most notably the folk and sea shanty session at The Stag on a Tuesday evening (we’ve never seen or heard anything quite like it).
The natural beauty of the local environs combined with the fact that there always seems to be something going on means your stay here is likely to be a rewarding one. Whether it’s playing in rock pools or listening to live rock music in local pubs, Cliffhanger is a brilliant base from which to just sit and enjoy the view, or head out and explore the rich diversity and history of 1066 country. Either way it’s the perfect coastal holiday home for families or a group of friends.