London's Ultimate Seaside Escape—Weekend Plans, Here You Come

As the saying goes, if you're tired of London, you’re tired of life. Pretty true, but every now and then, everyone needs to make a break for it. So, if you currently have a case of the reds, may we suggest a trip to the seaside?
To Hastings and St. Leonards-on-Sea to be exact. Discover a world of junk shops, fresh seafood, and designer duds. Oh yeah, there's vintage Chanel to be had — even by the sea.
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Café 32
Café 32 on the Norman Road is a perfect place for a pit stop. The shop boasts an excellent array of cakes (all homemade), 1950s collectibles, modern enamel kitchenalia, and a stuffed fox in the corner. While we only just managed to resist snapping up a retro compact in immaculate condition, we did go ahead and treat ourselves to a slice of gluten-free cherry bakewell cake. Word of warning: It was the size of a doorstep. We recommend sharing!

Café 32, 32-34 Norman Road, St.Leonards-on-Sea

Photo: Emily London
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Sideshow Interiors
Sideshow interiors is a treasure chest of a shop containing all of the objects and furniture we you would dearly like to kit out your flat in. Think vintage fairground lighting, 1950s sofas, and outlandishly oversize cocktail jewellery. An absolute must-visit.

Sideshow interiors, 64 Norman road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, TN38 0EJ

Photo: Courtesy of Sideshow Interiors
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Robert's Rummage
It is a great sadness that a proper junk shop is a dying breed. Robert’s Rummage is one such place, but in rude health, judging by the numbers of people who flock through the door to have a good ol' root-around. There seems to be nothing this place doesn’t sell. We walked away with a couple of ‘30s Royal Doulton sandwich plates but we could have taken so much more if we’d had room in our case.

Robert’s Rummage, 68 Hight Street, Hastings, TN34 3EW

Photo: Emily London
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The Cloudesley
When you think of B&Bs, what picture normally pops into your head? Bland interiors, scratchy linens, and greasy cooked breakfasts? Not any more. The Cloudesley erases all past dodgy B&B experiences forever with décor straight out of an interiors shoot and a most welcoming host in Shahriar Mazandi. Each room is individually decorated and filled with everything you could possibly need: a bar, a television, you get it. Not that you will need such visual distractions when there are books filling the communal living rooms — and we haven’t even got started on the breakfasts. Mazandi is famous for his omelettes and very tasty they are, too. If you have the inclination, there are two treatment rooms on the premises where you can experience a variety of treatments from reiki to reflexology and massage. We personally recommend the Swedish full-body treatment.

The Cloudesley, 7 Cloudesley Road, St.Leonards-on-Sea, TN37 6JN

Photo: Courtesy of The Cloudesley
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Gone Tomorrow
Hastings Old Town has an abundance of vintage, antique, and junk shops to pop into but Gone Tomorrow is the real jewel-in-the-crown. Stepping inside the shop, one’s eyes are immediately drawn to myriad items that are in need of closer inspection. Nineteenth-century dinner services jostle for position alongside ‘30s evening bags and store-front lettering. One can very easily lose an hour or two to this place.

Gone Tomorrow, 68 George Street, Old Town, Hastings, TN34 3EE

Photo: Emily London
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Want to slow it down? Head to St. Clements, where chef Nick Hale is a fully signed-up member of the Slow Food Trust’s Chef Alliance. All produce is locally sourced and if you’re feeling thirsty, the restaurant is next door to a fantastically cosy pub serving delicious real ales. The restaurant is verging on the bijoux but that only makes it all the more special. The atmosphere is relaxed and romantic, all at once. It’s the perfect place to arrive at after a busy day of antiquing.

St. Clements, 3 Mercatoria, St. Leonards-on-Sea, TN38 0EB

Photo: Courtesy of St. Clements
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The Wardrobe
Wherever we go, we’re always on the lookout for vintage. Seriously, even by the seaside. The Wardrobe is a haven for vintage and designer fashion. During our visit we spied a Chanel dress from the ‘90s, a super-cute Emanuel Ungaro jacket, a Sergio Rossi bag, and a pair Louis Vuitton heels. We just couldn’t leave empty-handed, so finally, we walked out of the shop with a ‘60s leopard-print trench coat. Happy days.

The Wardrobe, 64A High Street, Old Town, Hastings, TN34 1UA

Photo: Emily London
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Warp & Weft
On first impression, there is something charmingly old fashioned about Warp & Weft. The shop sells a tight edit of vintage clothes in exquisite condition (the collection of wedding dresses is breathtaking), as well as leather accessories that are all handmade in Morocco. While we were there, we fell in love with a Margaret Howell cotton summer dress but could easily have snapped up half the shop’s contents.

Warp & Weft, 68A George Street, Old Town, Hastings

Photo: Emily London
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Top Drawer
A two-minute walk from St.Leonards Warrior Square train station is Top Drawer, an antiques and retro furniture store. This two-story shop is open seven days a week and boasts an ever-changing display of items to snap up (if only one could carry a 1930s grandfather clock home to London on the train). The prices are reasonable and the proprietors genial. Well worth a mooch.

Top Drawer, 7 Kings Road, St.Leonards-on-Sea

Photo: Emily London