SETTLED IN at the Hotel Continental, with the beach sunset, a cold beer and fish'n'chips, I'd be lying if I said I was happy to reveal this fabulous seaside location, but it seems the secret is out already, so here goes.

Whitstable is set to be the place for weekenders and day-trippers this summer, so try to arrange a midweek stay or at least arrive on a Friday night to see what it would be like without all the visitors. By Saturday morning, a foreign crowd arrives, mainly from Chelsea and other well- to-do London boroughs.

Whenever you stay, though, make sure you book a room at the Hotel Continental. It was opened just over a year ago by the family that owns the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company restaurant. And book early. We called a while beforehand and there was only one room left.


Hotel Continental, 29 Beach Walk, Whitstable, Kent CT5 2BP (01227-280 280, fax: 01227-280 257).

The hotel is situated at the far end of town before you reach Tankerton, a five- minute walk from the centre. Shopping is a definite plus; a colourful mix of traditional seaside fare and more fashionable, independent shops.

Transport: From London, the journey - along the M2 and then the A299 coast road - takes around one and a half hours. By train, a cheap day return from Victoria Station costs pounds 14.10 and takes 70 minutes. And by coach, a day trip on National Express from London Victoria costs pounds 10 and is two hours each way.


Rooms here are straight out of Elle Deco. Bathrooms are Tiffany blue with sparkly white tiles, all with bath and shower. The beds are huge, with crisp white cotton sheets and the rooms bright and breezy.

What to book: Room 15 is highly recommended for families. It has all the facilities of a modern flat, including a cooker and a fridge-freezer. Room one wins, however, with a gorgeous bright bathroom, a sea view and a romantic private balcony. The hotel can also book a self-catering fisherman's hut for you, without cooking facilities, but including breakfast at the hotel.


During the week, single rooms cost pounds 43, double rooms pounds 48 (pounds 84 with sea view). On Fridays and Saturdays prices increase to pounds 51.60 for a single and pounds 57.60 for a double (pounds 100.80 with a sea view) but, stay for both Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday is free. All prices include breakfast. Fishermen's huts cost from pounds 75 a night, but sadly all Saturday nights are booked up until September.