Looking for restaurants in Kent and pubs in the area? Want to know places to eat in Kent? Read our review of The Rose pub and restaurant.
What is The Rose’s USP?
The genteel coastal town of Deal, on the Kent coast, has gone hip in recent years, attracting artists and second-homers from Hackney and Dalston, who can bomb down to “Dealston” in just over an hour thanks to a fast new train service from St Pancras.
Now, those design-conscious weekenders have a chic new pub with rooms to base themselves in: The Rose, a Victorian inn on the town’s high street, had fallen into serious decline but has just been given a colourful makeover by ex-Wallpaper journalist Alex Bagner and her property developer husband, Christopher Hicks.
Hicks grew up in the area and his great-grandfather owned the local brewery, and so the couple have strong links to the town, as well as their own holiday cottage nearby. They’d had their eye on the rundown pub for a while so, when the owner finally decided to sell, they snapped it up and spent a year refurbishing it, opening the doors in May 2018.
And the vibe?
What sets The Rose apart is the designers’ (Nicola Harding of Harding and Read and stylist Michelle Kelly) joyful use of colour, and their pleasing disregard for the muted tasteful tones that have become so popular in recent years.
Downstairs is a bar, restaurant and lounge full of bright vintage furniture, while upstairs are eight bedrooms, each painted in a unique bold hue, inspired by the bright beach balls and deckchairs of the local seaside, just a few steps away.
None of the rooms is huge so tea, coffee and biscuits sit outside in the hallway for guests to help themselves when the mood strikes.
Which room should I book?
Each is appealing in a distinct way but all have superbly comfortable beds and well-designed bathrooms. We stayed in turquoise-walled room three, which overlooks a pretty churchyard and comes with a pink velvet chair and vintage dressing table. If you’re a vinyl collector you’ll be as pleased to find a (tasteful pale green) record player in the room as you will to track down the nearby record store. Of the larger rooms (1, 4 and 5), room four is painted in a dramatic teal, the colour offset by a striking orange velvet headboard and a sleek free-standing bath.
What’s good to drink?
Chris Hicks dreams of serving his great grandfather’s beer, Walmer Ale, at The Rose again; designed to be drunk with food, it was the main tipple in the area before the brewery closed. Until then he serves other fine local brews from Kent including Ripple Steam Brewery Ale, Arden Pale Ale and award-winning Chapel Down wine and beer. The bar snacks are well worth ordering alongside a brew – they include cauliflower cheese croquettes and Welsh rarebit.
And to eat?
The Dealston vibe continues in the kitchen, which is headed up by chef Rachel O’Sullivan (previously of Polpo and Spuntino but most recently running the cult Towpath Cafe in East London). Rachel is originally from Australia and, although the menu is big on British comfort food, there’s a fresh Aussie feel to many of the dishes, like chicken schnitzel jazzed up with fennel slaw, and a creative veggie option of violet artichokes, white beans and dandelion and goats curd.
We started with taramasalata, radishes and toast before a hearty main of roast lamb chop (perfectly pink) with lentils, broccoli and anchovy. Most of the produce comes from local Deal businesses, including sausages from the Black Pig Butcher across the street, fish from Jenkins Fishmonger and veg from the town’s Bartlett & White greengrocer. O’Sullivan lives nearby, in Ramsgate (check out the best restaurants and bars in Ramsgate here), and the menu is also peppered with produce from her own garden.
What’s the breakfast like at The Rose, Kent?
Breakfast is particularly impressive at The Rose. There’s a relaxed vibe in the morning, with magazine and papers piled high and the menu chalked on a blackboard. Vegetarians (check out best veggie recipes here) can fill up on roast Swiss brown mushrooms, oregano, goats cheese and toast, while the Nordically inclined can opt for the Scandi breakfast plate – smoked salmon with avocado, egg, dill, whipped cream cheese and toast.
O’Sullivan is a big fan of anchovy combined with egg and the signature dish is Scotch Woodcock – scrambled egg and gentleman’s relish on sourdough (check out our guide to baking sourdough here) – while anchovy toast with soft-boiled egg is also up for grabs. Most importantly the restaurant passes the morning coffee test, with punchy Climpson & Sons coffee and properly made flat whites.
Is it family-friendly?
The Rose doesn’t have family rooms, but they can put a cot and a small bed in the larger rooms for kids up to the age of eight. Food-wise, there’s a kids menu, but on the whole space is limited, so if your kids are older than eight this is probably not an ideal choice, unless they’re old enough to have their own room.
What can I do in the local area?
Deal’s shingle beach, fronted by multi-coloured fisherman’s cottages, is five minutes’ walk from the hotel; walk to Walmer Castle at one end and visit Deal Pier on your way back.
Potter around the Georgian conservation area behind the seafront, browse indie art, vinyl, antiques and gift shops, then stop for brunch, coffee or cake at Black Douglas Coffee House, for ice cream at 1960s-style Deal Beach Parlour or for fish and chips Middle Street Fish Bar. For the likes of pan-fried skate wing with brown butter, sherry vinegar and cockles there’s French bistro Frog and Scot.
Rooms at the back of The Rose look out onto the neighbouring churchyard. It’s a pretty view, but the church currently rings its bell on the hour throughout the night. The Rose is hoping to reduce the frequency of the bell but, until then, ask for a room at the front if you’re a light sleeper.
Double rooms at The Rose start from £90, b&b (www.therosedeal.com)
Words by Laurel Ives
Interior and travel images by Seth Carnill | Food images by Helen Cathcart