A Twist on Oliver: A Dickensian-Themed Family Vacation in Broadstairs, Kent | Kent holidays

AOf all the TV specials and theatrical productions this time of year, one story is always guaranteed to be told – A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Fans might be excited to discover a new vacation cottage near the waterfront in Broadstairs, Kent, which recreates a setting in another favorite Dickensian novel – Oliver Twist.

“We all felt excited by the theatricality of it all, with Victorian style furniture, clocks, candles and a rocking chair.”

Fagin’s lair – which its owners claim to be the UK’s first Dickensian-themed escape – was designed as a hideout for Victorian thieves, like that of the sneaky pick-pocketing character from the book.

Big expectations? Mine were more on the middle side. I wasn’t totally convinced that a dubious literary character’s hovel was the kind of place I wanted to spend a weekend. But we were there for the kids, who aren’t huge Dickensian fans, but true pretend fans.

The author's son, Hamish, in Fagin's Den
The author’s son, Hamish, in Fagin’s Den Photography: Gemma Bowes

Located in a narrow alley a few steps from the sea, the semi-detached cottage with the flint walls certainly looked like the room. And as our eyes got used to the dark interior, we felt excited about the theatricality of it all, with Victorian-style furnishings, clocks, candles, and a rocking chair. A string of pocket handkerchiefs was strung like a garland above the stairs; framed portraits of Dickensian figures and shelves from his novels adorned the walls. Upstairs, costumes for the characters of Oliver Twist hung in the bedrooms, if we want to indulge in a role play of Nancy and Bill or dress up as Artful Dodger. The bathroom walls were lined with prints of the illustrations that accompanied the original episodes of Oliver Twist, published monthly between 1837 and 1839.

Broadstairs, Viking Bay.
Viking Bay, Broadstairs. Photograph: Malcolm Fairman / Alamy

The overall effect was perhaps more of a dramatic scene for Olivier ! than an authentic Victorian house, but it’s fun for families and Dickensian fans, who will also appreciate the location of the cottage. A two-minute walk away is Bleak House, formerly Fort House, but renamed in honor of the author, who stayed there frequently when city ​​vacation between 1837 and 1859. He wrote David Copperfield in this striking perch above the harbor. (For those who come in the warmer months, there is also a choice of beaches – the town’s own sandy loop at Viking Bay one way, and the golden sands of East Cliff and Stone Bay, kilometer in length.)

The Dickens Connection was wholeheartedly embraced by Broadstairs: walking through the town we pass through Artfuls Bed and Breakfasts, the Charles Dickens Pub and Please sir!, a sordid fast food restaurant. There are also the most graceful Dickens House Museum – former home of the woman who inspired the character of Betsey Trotwood – and the Dickensian Party, which has taken place annually in June since the 1930s.

Things have changed a lot since Dickensian days, when the main street was ‘clogged with donkey chairs’, there were ‘top notch bathing machines’ on the beach, and fishing boats and sailors. galore, according to the descriptions of his essay of devotion to the seaside resort, Our English water point.

They have also changed quite a bit since my last visit, with some cool new spots such as Table, serving dishes such as Kentish clams with dashi against a monochrome background of subway tiles and exposed brick; new bistro Broadstairs Pier on the main beach of Viking Bay and a chic fish and chips spot Flotsam and Jetsam, which next to the standards offers sweets such as Crispy crab balls and monkfish langoustines in a black squid ink paste.

Flotsam and Jetsam Broadstairs
Flotsam and Jetsam.

It’s not like all we got was porridge, but the enthusiasm with which we devoured these creamy bites was matched only by the seagulls, who pelted and pecked us as we wandered about. sand with our paper cones. Repelled by these airborne thieves, we retreated to our own thieves’ lair to finish the meal, then completed the Fagin’s Den scavenger hunt left for the guests. By following clues around the house, finding answers in pictures and recipe books, the children finally unearthed “Fagin’s hiding place” – a treasure chest containing bubble wands, crayons and chocolate coins. . And then of course they asked for more, which I guess was totally appropriate.
Accommodation was provided by Broadstairs Fisherman’s Cabin. Fagin’s Den can accommodate four people £ 90 per night, minimum two nights

More accommodation to have fun with children

The wizarding rooms, Pimlico, London

Wizards' Chambers at the Georgian House Hotel
Wizards’ Rooms at the Georgian House Hotel

In the basement bar of the seemingly ordinary Georgian House hotel near Victoria Station, the magic begins at tea time. Those who book an “enchanted afternoon tea” are treated to cakes and savory bites presented in a blackbird cage, scones topped with creme and bright candy, and a teapot that pours smoke into a pot. cauldron. Magician hats are provided. Potions making is also available: Colored liquid test tubes arrive with a recipe on how to heat up ‘troll fat’ and add Thunderhead Dragon Blood and Phoenix Tears to Baby Werewolf Fur to concoct a delicious drink.

Afterwards, the young sages can retreat to one of the wizard’s enchanted chambers, accessed by a library and a candlelit staircase, with Gothic decor that would make Harry Potter feel right at home – a full bed. canopy with red velvet curtains, cauldrons, tapestries and trunks.
Potion experiment £ 12 or £ 15 for the alcoholic version, wizarding afternoon tea £45 adult, £29 child. ‘Assistant’ rooms for four from £290 B&B, georgianhousehotel.co.uk

Wizards and Hobbits, North Yorkshire
The newest among the fantastic story and fairy tale inspired accommodation in North Shire is the Dorm Room Cottage, based on the Gryffindor dormitory in the Harry Potter films, and sleeping six in single four-poster beds. Groundkeepers Cottage, which also sleeps six, is reminiscent of Hagrid’s hut and has a huge copper tub for cleaning up forest mud (or boar fur), while Shire House is a Hobbity cottage for four with a round green door and a grass roof.
All of £ 250 a night, Northshire.co.uk

Looking Glass Cottage, Brighton
Cozy more than a rabbit hole, this colorfully decorated 16th century cottage near Brighton seafront and Lanes has an Alice in Wonderland theme. Flamingo wallpaper hangs upside down in one bedroom, the wall of another is dotted with mirrors, the living room is lined with a playing card print, and the teapots are labeled “drink me.” », For the best-appreciated snacks on the sunny south-facing terrace.
8 beds FROM £ 203 one night or £ 890 one week, Coolstays.com

Ice cream hotel, Bournemouth
A £ 2m renovation of the ibis Styles Bournemouth hotel gave it a retro ice cream theme, with a choice of pastel-colored rooms in ‘mint choc chip’, ‘tutti frutti’ or ‘very berry’. The rugs look like swirls of sundaes, the walls feature designs of hundreds and thousands and once the Pavlovian response kicks in, there’s a 1950s-style ice cream station downstairs to sate the cravings.
Family rooms for 4 people from £ 120 one night B&B, double from £ 81, all.accor.com

UFO pod, close up Narberth, Pembrokeshire
Wales has had its fair share of UFO sightings over the decades, but it might be the first one you can sleep in. Called the ‘intergalactic glamping pod’, Spodnic has a classic flying saucer shape, flexible legs, and a space age interior with a metal ladder to a bubble dome-shaped cockpit in the roof. You’ll be able to don space helmets, play a retro game of Space Invaders, take a dip in the hot tub, and use a bathroom hidden inside a Tardis.
From £ 430 for two nights for four people (two adults, two children), melinmabes.com

Fire engine cabin, Cumbria
Little ones who are thrilled by fire engines and firefighters will love the Red Rescue Retreat in the southern hills of Blencathra Mountain in the northern Lake District. Inside the converted fire truck in bright red, a ladder leads to a fire pole, the children’s beds are shaped like fire trucks, with wheels. Firefighter costumes are provided, and there is a real hose to play with.
Four beds from £ 476 one week, gîtes.co.uk

The Officers’ Hideout, Herefordshire
With a bathroom in an air raid shelter, a real military safari tent to sleep in and a military trunk filled with camouflage gear and games, warrior families have everything they need to play hostilities in this Isolated forest camp near the Wye Valley. It is the only glamping site on a huge 3,000 acre estate, so an invasion is unlikely, but a large wooden shelter for alfresco dining is disguised with camouflage netting, and almost every detail of it. pots and pans to furniture, is really ex-military. (Not the hot tub though.) Nearby are castles and cider orchards for you to visit, but you might prefer to do this for a soldiers game and bring water guns for practice shooting at targets hidden in the woods.
From £ 184 for four, qualiteunearthed.co.uk

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