Hotel review: The Albion cottage, Deal, Kent

This Kent seaside cottage has a 'terrific sense of space' and every bedroom faces the sea, says Sally Shalam

This week's destination sounds like that modern midwinter favourite, a pub with rooms but is, in fact, its springtime usurper, a cottage by the sea.

The Albion is in the coastal resort of Deal, a few miles north-east of Dover. According to the blurb, it is regularly used as a location for photo shoots. Well, it takes more than cotton ticking and a pebble collection to make a memorable weekend, but the postcard I've been sent of the property shows what appears to be the perfect seaside house. Time for its close-up.

The Shalam family descends on Friday evening weighed down with cheese, wine and supermarket pizzas. All six of us swarm excitedly through the cottage, a white, bow-front Georgian building which was once a public house.

The cottage is far larger than it appears from outside. There are staircases off both the sitting room and the kitchen. One leads to the main bedroom and bathroom (which has a balcony, how neat). The steep kitchen staircase leads to a smaller bathroom beneath the eaves, then up a half-landing we finally reach bedrooms two and three. There's a terrific sense of space and privacy, and every bedroom faces the sea.

"It's very nostalgic here," says my sister-in-law. She's spotted little plastic sailor key rings suspended from the bathroom light. "I'm sure I used to collect those."

Nostalgic, but not predictable. It doesn't shout "seaside" with ceramic fish lightpulls and dried starfish, but rather evokes a sense of holidays past with old annuals, postcards stuck on walls and a guitar leaning against the sitting-room wall. White paper lanterns are strung across a beam, there are fresh flowers, and silk ones poking out from an old green Thermos. "It's not sterile like most holiday cottages, it's as though someone lives here," says my brother.

In the unfitted kitchen - painted shelves loaded with tins of tea and spice jars, cheery blue and white tiles jazzing up the chimney breast - an enamel-topped table bears a wooden orange box filled with organic rations from a local supplier. There is a variety pack of cereals on the sideboard, and dry-cured local bacon, butter, milk and chocolate in the fridge.

We wake to the sound of the sea (and traffic, unfortunately - the road passes right outside). It feels like the first day of the summer holidays. No one lurks in bed (my mattress isn't the greatest, though no one else has any complaints), instead we hit the beach.

Sun streams in through the windows when we return to make breakfast. "I think I've seen this kitchen in a Boden catalogue," says my sister-in-law, prompting a spate of prancing about asking, "What's your favourite sandwich filling? Film star? Colour?"

Wishing we'd brought our bikes, we explore the town, then buy fish and chips, gamble two-pence pieces in an amusement arcade and sip tea in an ice-cream parlour. The only thing The Albion doesn't have is a garden, but that's enough sea air for one day, thank you - everyone's shattered.

"Great pub," says my brother with a grin, returning with a takeaway later that night. He's slipped into The Ship at the end of the road for a swift pint of Shepherd Neame en route to the curry house.

We're charmed by The Albion - and by Deal. When we close the door for the last time on Sunday and say goodbye, the youngest promptly bursts into tears.

Good Deal? The town's cool - but the astronomical parking charges are not.

• 167 Beach Street, Deal (01437 562058, dealholidayhome.co.uk). Sleeps six. From £625 per week, three-night weekend break from £385.

sally.shalam@theguardian.com

Contributor

Sally Shalam

The GuardianTramp

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