When my mum was younger, she went on a school trip to Hastings to see the fishermen’s huts – I’m sure there was much more to the school trip than this, but that’s the part she seemed to remember the most.
She had been back to Hastings several times since, including once or twice with my Dad – after all, they only live a little way along the coast from this seaside town. I don’t remember exactly when mum first mentioned we should go away for the weekend to Hastings together, but I was glad to spend time together and explore somewhere I hadn’t been before.
We decided instead of opting for a hotel that we would give Airbnb a spin. Neither of us has used it before, and so it was a bit of a novelty. Mum found this quirky little flat that even has it’s own Instagram account, and booked us for two nights.
Arriving on a grey but mild afternoon, we lugged our suitcases up the narrow staircase, and into the flat. Abandoning them as we walked through the door, we excitedly looked around to see our “home” for the next couple of days.
The “host” had really thought of everything – and both her and the flat were super accommodating. She popped by to show us around officially and then left us to make ourselves at home. It’s always a bit weird staying in someone else’s place, but we did settle pretty nicely into it.
OH HI, SEAVIEWS! This was the view from the living room window and it was ~stunning~. Although we didn’t have the brightest of sunshine when we were there, you still had loads of light in the room and the sky was clear enough to see the sea and at the right angle, down into the old town.
Speaking of which, once we had settled in we decided to stroll down the hill into the old town to check it out. As it was later in the day on a Friday, most of the shops were closed. Nevermind, we would go back the next day to check them out.
Instead, we just took it all in (stopping off at the Instagram-worthy Hanushka Coffee House, below for tea and a panini), and managed to walk for MILES trying to find a restaurant the Airbnb host had recommended for dinner.
We did find it in the end, but it wasn’t what we expected (or fancied), so walked some more miles back towards the apartment, stopping at a hotel for a drink on the way and then at a delicious Italian street food place called Rustico Italiano. You know the food is too good when you forget to take a picture of it because you’re too busy scoffing it. Highly recommended if you like your Italian food authentic and tasty af.
By the time we got back to the apartment after dinner, we were both ~knackered~ from all the walking. There’s also something to be said about the “sea air” making you sleepy. So it was an early night for us, as I crawled into the sofa bed with a good book before nodding off.
On Saturday, we once again made our way into the old town – this time stopping for a spot of breakfast at the Land of Green Ginger. Yorkshire tea, followed by scrambled eggs and a Speldhurst sausage was just what we needed to start another busy day of walking around Hastings! I could not fault the food or service we received in this cafe, I think it was the highlight.
Sufficiently full and ready to do a bit of shopping, we took to George Street, a narrow street of independent shops in the old town. I have to admit, I was a little bit disappointed with the shops, as I expected more of a Brighton Laines vibe that I got. Most of the shops were a bit too ~hippy~ or ~antiquey~ for my interests.
However, we did stumble across a “curiosities” shop which was full of some pretty weird shit including a zombie head, creepy dolls in cages and a hilarious 1930’s poetry book that my mum couldn’t resist buying.
After some mooching of the shops, it was time to hunt down some cake. We stopped at Petit Fi, where they serve giant slabs of cake with a pot of tea to boot. Sadly my Vicky sponge was a bit dry, but mum was very fond of her coffee and walnut cake. We sat on a table outside for some time people (and dog) watching while tucking into the treats.
As it doesn’t take much time to explore the old town shops, we also paid a visit to the Jerwood Gallery. Sadly, it was mostly full of modern art that neither of us really ~get~, but there was a small Quentin Blake exhibition to look at. It cost £15 for two of us (one adult, one senior) and in all honesty…not really worth it. Killed all of about 30 minutes because most of the pieces were just perspex looking squares in different colours.
To stretch our legs that bit more, we decided to walk from the old town to the new town to look in the “usual” high street shops. Ngl, Hastings high street is not my favourite place to be. It’s a pretty big contrast to the old town. Only really worth the visit to this part of Hastings for the restaurants, tbh.
Speaking of which, after an overpriced cocktail at Walkers and a debate about Brexit, we headed to Shish, a Turkish BBQ and meze restaurant that we’d spotted opposite the Italian we had been to the night before.
Just a tip – don’t order mezze and then mains. TOO MUCH FOOD. I was barely able to touch the delicious lamb dish I’d ordered because I was so full of pitta, falafel and borek that I was fit to burst.
…And just like that, our trip was over! After falling into a food coma that night, on Sunday morning it was time to hitch a taxi to the station and head home.
So what was my overall impression of Hastings?
I was genuinely really impressed with the food (dry cake aside). Living in Basingstoke I don’t often get to visit independent restaurants, so that was a nice novelty. The old town is quaint and sweet, but it’s a shame the shops were a bit samey and didn’t offer the variety I was hoping for.