Sunday, August 09, 2009

Broadstairs Buggered By The Observer

Crikey! Tooling around Boredstares front earlier this afternoon in the blazing sunshine, it was hard to believe any of the thousands of visitors could be having a bad time. Or that anyone could contemplate moving Drunk Week to Quex Park.

However, wiffling through my copy of today's Observer I noted that one of their writers had indeed had a miserable time in the UK's second best seaside resort recently. Poor old Rachel Cooke had booked a holiday in the Dickensians' Playground, and found the entire experience less than satisfactory. Her first mistake was to check into the Albion Hotel, where she discovered:

On reception was a woman, hot and cross and sour. She did not use the word welcome, nor too many other words, come to that. She merely grabbed my credit card. The phone rang. 'Go away!' she said, furiously. When the ringing persisted, she told the person on the other end that she was 'too busy' to discuss room tariffs.

At £120 a night, this is not a cheap boarding house. But it felt cheap. It is a long time since I have heard the dull thump of scarily institutional-looking fire doors in a £120 a night establishment and even longer since I left such a place, as we did two days later, without anyone saying: 'How was your stay?' or even: 'Goodbye.'

Hmmm. Seems as though the Albion's recent facelift has done little more than push the prices up. I recall staying there a few years back, and a smaller, hotter, sweatier room you could not have wished for. Rachel goes on to berate the foodie scene in the town (and again I have to agree that a meal out in Broadstairs generally consists of a microwaved pasty accompanied by half a tin of warmed up peas).

Of course, the mistake Rachel made was going to Broadstairs and not Ramsgate. Here she could have enjoyed a Blue Flag beach (Viking Bay, as we all know, is more of a Poo Flag beach). She could have stayed in a quaint and characterful seafront hotel (Royal Harbour) overlooking our splendid harbour and marina, and dined in one of the best restaurants in Kent (Age & Sons), where the fish would have come straight from the sea via one of the finest fishmongers in the land (Eddie Gilbert)! But no. She had to go to Broadstairs! Kuh!

Click here to read what Rachel wrote in the Observer


Anonymous said...

Yeh, if she'd stayed in Ramsgate she also could have taken a pint of the local, and fresh, ale. Instead she chose to stay in the Albion, owned, tied and monopolised by Shepherd Neame, brewers of Britains' Oldest Beer!

Anonymous said...

If she had stayed in Ramsgate she would have had her credit card nicked, her car wheels removed and possibly been bitten by a pit bull so on balance I guess a microwaved pastie looks good value.

A receptionist having an off day is hardly cause for melt down , although she is right that cafe and restaurant service in Thanet is dire.

The worst I had was at Miles in Ramsgate and it was awful, rude thick staff never again.

Anonymous said...

Typical Thanet was how I read that article, The whole place is Poo

Anonymous said...

Interesting she managed to get a table on the spot at the Sportsman at Seasalter. Perhaps she waved her press card at them as that venue is booked up weeks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Broadstairs is the default setting. I'm sick of Margate and Broadstairs getting all the attention. Ramsgate has much more to offer.

I'm sick of these born and bread Thantians having a negative attitude about Ramsgate. Perhaps if they were to trying living in a differtent part of the country they'd have something to compare the area with

Anonymous said...

Why compare any of them? This perochial in fighting is SOOOO passe dahling, and what keeps Thanet from fulfilling its true potential.Every town has something to offer.
With staff levels cut to bare bones and what staff left run off their feet, is it any wonder smiles and welcomes are few and far between. If Wachel was slogging, serving better offs for minimum wages, she might be a bit humpy herself.

Anonymous said...

Surely it was the worse thing when Broadstairs and Ramsgate got lumped together with Margate under TDC in the 70s? It's good to see them pulling away again. Hopefully they can cut Margate loose before it drags them down with it.

Anonymous said...

The Observer is set to close later this year, pay it no heed, yesterdays news tomorrows chip paper.

Peter Checksfield said...

Do they still wrap chips in newspaper where you live?

Kat said...

I can imagine that she did have a shit time, but I also expect she planned to. They probably thought, "well, Will Self did it in a column so we better, it's only been a couple of years"

The next step would have been to do a phone around of all the hotels and guesthouses and wait until you get someone really awful sounding.

Then be an irritating twat and rude to the staff, as one would expect a journalist to be, not that difficult and then write up what she did.

But as for this idea of Broadstairs being shit for food. I don't know what you financial situation is Richard but I find that if you are able to stretch to £15 per head you an get a perfectly nice meal in BS.

However, though the food may be nice, the service is generally shocking to anyone who had actually set foot in a metropolis. The food at Philleas Fogg can be good but some of the most sullen of the staff wouldn't be out of place giving change in an amusement arcade or working in KFC in Westwood.

Consequently, I often end up in the excellent Prezzo. I begrudge going there as it's a chain but the staff are motivated, articulate, multi-lingual. Possibly because they are not just lazy, spoilt english kids who got the job because their dad drinks with someone or other. I think that if we could attract more eastern european workers here the standard of service would go up noticably.

But if you aren't feeling so rich or it is daytime, you can't beat the sausage rolls from Rook's or, if you want real class pop into St Peters for the best fish and chips and service around followed by a deep fried mars bar.

chris wells said...

My response to the Observer - wonder if they will print it!

Dear Editor,

Bugger Rachel – Whitstable can have her!

Reading Rachel Cooke’s piece in the Observer last week was enough to almost ruin any Sunday lunch. Her assertions, followed by the relatively ignorant comments that followed, cry out for correction, not because they represent her experience, but because many are simply not true.

Most galling is the misleading headline. Reading the article makes it clear that Rachel actually liked Broadstairs; but did not like her hotel. And, clearly, found it far too difficult to walk a couple of hundred yards either side of her hotel to find just those things she claims do not exist. However, the sub editor, presumably, could not resist the allure of alliteration, and thus damns the whole town with casual disdain.

Coffee? 100 yards left; 100 yards right; or 100 yards straight up the high street. Sea food restaurants, serving fresh fish? 200 yards right; 200 yards left. And as for the commenter who decries the lack of wet fish shops in the area, why Rachel only had to look out of her hotel straight across the street. Or go and sample dressed crab on the jetty. Ice cream? Award winners to the left and to the right: good enough for Harrods if you fancy trying some in the safety of the metropolis.

Not good enough? Try Ramsgate only 10 minutes away; Sandwich only 20.

There is no mention of the excellent Dickens House Museum; nor Crampton Tower;nor the Heritage and historic walks to guide you through the town – or even the international award winning, and monarch approved, St Peters Village Tour.

And, this week, I write from a town heaving with the joys of folk music and dance, ringing from every hostelry, café and cranny, as Folk Week struts its stuff.

Perhaps, Rachel, if you found the hotel not too your taste, you could have talked to the management, not dissed an entire town on the basis of an uninformed flying visit. You could come back, and try again with some guidance on where to go and whom to approach; or perhaps, simply you feel more comfortable with Whitstable, the BBC second home heaven, often known locally as Islington by the sea.

So, stick that in your word processor and lump it, I must go, a morris man is pressing a handkerchief in my hand, and when I am done, excellent coffee and fish await those who know where to go, and don’t fear a few yards walk.

Regards, wish you were here…… or perhaps not….

Chris Wells
Parish and District Councillor, Viking Ward, Broadstairs, Kent – the hidden jewel in the crown of East Kent

Peter Checksfield said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Checksfield said...

Don't you think it's a bit OTT requesting that the Editor buggers her? Surely just a good telling off would suffice?

chris wells said...


Merely an echo of the tone of their article, not your website!

Peter Checksfield said...

Ooooh! ; )

Eastcliff Richard said...

In all fairness, and much as I dislike praising anything that's come from a Tory pen, I think Cllr Wells has done a pretty good job of defending his town there!

Anonymous said...

She managed to fire off at the wrong target , a grumpy typically charmless Thanetian.

Shame she did not point out the third world nature of the remaining public toilets open, which are revolting and a disgrace to any town that wants to lure tourists and is actually something the council could do tackle to improve the towns image.

Come to think of it with the Observer closing soon maybe Racheal might be looking for a new career?

Anonymous said...

Well said Chris wells, spot on, still re the soon to be close observer the phrase never let the facts get in the way etc... Get back to Whitstable Rachel where btw all the real locals loathe your lot with a passion. On that subject Whistable has two or three interesting roads near the sea-front were all the Jeremy's and Fi Fi's live, the rest is right royal dump.

Anonymous said...

Anything that can keep rich,hoity old hacks away from Thanet is ok by me.

Anonymous said...

I think you have summed up the Thanet attitude to much needed visitors quite well there 1207. No wonder the place is a hovel.

Anonymous said...

Much needed visitors are likely to price us all out of eating at a decent restaurant, buying or renting a resonably priced house and trying to find ANYWHERE to eat on a Sunday lunchtime.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Frank Thorley will always be there to cater for your taste at a reasonable price.

And if Frank's cremated chook and chips are beyond your means there are plenty of Shergar burger vans around for you to graze at.

Anonymous said...

Obviously some stuck up bint who hasn't had any cock in a while.