Stay The Night: The Cottage, St Margarets Bay, Kent

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

You can while away the hours absorbed in the Channel views at this splendid house on the cliffs outside Dover. Kate Simon did

A secluded millionaires' row on the cliffs overlooking St Margarets Bay, just outside Dover in Kent, is the setting for The Cottage.

The quaint name is an inappropriate choice for this splendid six-bedroom early 20th century detached house, spacious enough to take a party of 12, with its grand terrace offering one of the best views in Britain – across the English Channel to France.

Those views are reason enough to stay here because any visitor will be drawn constantly to admire them, from the terrace on sunny days – the large table could host breakfast, lunch and dinner, too – or, when the clouds close in, from the armchairs in the lounge positioned to look out through the large rear windows. When you can glimpse the French coast, wonder at the different lives over there, and watch the mesmeric to-ing and fro-ing of the cross-Channel ferries, it's hard to tear yourself away.

Hence, this is a much sought-after neighbourhood and has been a favourite over the decades with the great and the good – Noël Coward, Ian Fleming and Peter Ustinov all called it one of their homes. Today, the actress Miriam Margolyes is a local resident. For me, it has a more special connection: the beach below was a favourite of my mother's when she was a child growing up in nearby Deal in the 1930s, before the Second World War forced the family to evacuate to the rather less attractive Potteries. If things had been different, this could have been my childhood playground, too.

The rooms

The Cottage has comfortable high-quality furnishings in the communal areas and bedrooms and features individually chosen ornaments and art, retaining the air of someone's home rather than a holiday rental proposition. The shabby front porch, entered if you approach from the higher road, does little for first impressions, and is quite at odds with the luxurious decked terrace that focuses the rear of the property on the sea and France beyond. Similarly, the posh country-house styling of the lounge and dining room is out of kilter with the modern kitchen and bathrooms. The kitchen, with its large Rangemaster, fridge-freezer and dishwasher, looks attractive and well equipped at first sight, but you'll soon be frustrated by the lack of working areas and storage space and the absence of electrical power at the island worktop where most preparation takes place.

The food and drink

There is a shop in the village but for substantial provisions you'll need to head towards Dover or Deal. Posh eats can be found down the road at Wallett's Court Hotel (with superior Sunday lunch menu at a reasonable £19.95 for three courses), where there's also a bar and a spa. Shelly's Tea Room and the Coastguard Pub and Restaurant are other local favourites.

The extras

The games room beneath the kitchen has table football, and there's a piano to play in the dining room, plus three Freeview TVs, DVD and radio with CD player. In the garden, the lawned area is small but has some play equipment and there's a barbecue to use. Beyond the property, head down to the beach, the starting point for Channel swimmers, or take a bracing walk along those famous white cliffs. South Foreland Lighthouse is nearby, the first to use an electric light and the place where Marconi received the first international transmission from France in 1899. Local attractions include the new visitor experience, "Operation Dynamo: Rescue from Dunkirk", at Dover Castle, and you can see the armchair where Wellington died at Walmer Castle. Other activities available include golf, cycling, horse riding and sailing. Take your passport if you fancy a very manageable day trip to France. (Beware, if you get a signal on your mobile phone at the house, it will roam on to a French provider – it's really that close.)

The access

The property is accessed via steps from the roads above and below, making it no good for wheelchair users. A word of advice: arrive on the top road and cart your clobber down the 16 steps – when you leave, move the car to the lower road so you can take it all down again, 27 steps this time. Children welcome. Pets allowed.

The bill

Three-night breaks start at £925, seven-night breaks from £1,207.

The address

The Cottage, St Margarets Bay, Dover, Kent (0845 268 0788; english-country-cottages.co.uk)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?