Thinking of ‘staycationing’ this year? Try England’s south coast.

Everyone has heard of Hastings, both as a picturesque seaside resort and because the famous key Battle of Hastings took place a few miles inland at a place called Battle. But now nearby St Leonard’s-on-Sea is gaining its place on the map, with an increasing number of artists and musicians moving in and making it their home. Brighton, to the West, has long established itself as the ‘arty’ south coast town but it’s grown to the point of becoming too large for those looking to escape the hubbub.

Ironically, as tourists flocked to Greece and Spain in past decades on cheap package tours, prices in St-Leonard’s fell which attracted the arty types and the town is now on the up. Just an hour-and-a-half from London, it’s a different world and the pace slows down, making it a great place to relax.

Nonetheless it has a rich diverse architectural heritage. Designed by James Burton, a friend of John Nash who designed Brighton’s famous Royal Pavilion, in the 1820s, St-Leonard’s boasts Georgian cottages and Regency and Victorian architecture. It’s also home to the biggest Art Deco residential block of its time, Marine Court. Built in the 1937, this massive apartment complex looks like a huge ocean liner, and is a tourist attraction in its own right.

Not a culture vulture? Wander the town, browse the shops and tearooms and visit St-Leonard’s oldest pub, the Horse and Groom. Dating back to 1829, the pub has a fun horse-shaped bar and is CAMRA listed so you’ll be sure to enjoy a good pint.

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