Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour

It’s arguably the British seaside town which is closest to Belgium – and Ramsgate will soon have even more reason to lure visitors from this side of the English Channel.

A three-day extravaganza celebrating the history of Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour will be taking place in the district next summer. The Royal Harbour History Festival (RHHF) is set to welcome huge crowds between June 15 and 17, 2018.  The festival’s vision is to create a destination history event with four main aims,including to bring people into east Kent to enjoy its local history and cultural air, sea and land inheritance.

The festival has the backing of several organisations, including Visit Kent and the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships  and is the brainchild of brother and sister team James Thomas, director at Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour Hotel and Victoria Nielson, chairman RHHF.

Hunter Stummer-Schmertzing, of Thanet District Council, said: “Our coastline is central to British history and we are delighted to be supporting The Royal Harbour History Festival 2018.”

Rob Kenyon, community development officer at Thanet District Council, added: “Thanet is the fastest growing tourism destination in the UK and Ramsgate is the ideal location for those looking for rich maritime history, continental charm, first class entertainment and beautiful architecture. This festival will give visitors yet another reason to come and enjoy England’s only Royal Harbour”.


There is such a feel-good factor in Ramsgate at the moment, having just been named as one of ten Heritage Action Zones in the country by Historic England and with the opening of the Grade II-listed The Royal Victoria Pavilion just around the corner.

The Pavilion, adjacent to the harbour, has had a chequered history and fell into total disrepair but has been wonderfully restored and reopened a few months ago.

Of course, there’s no reason to wait to next summer to enjoy Ramsgate – with Christmas fast approaching there’s likely to be a surge in cross-channel trade as people from mainland Europe flock to the UK on a shopping spree. There’s rather more to Britain than shops and Ramsgate, which has seen something of a renaissance in its fortunes of late, is a good example.

For people travelling from Belgium, this small part of Kent, “the Garden of England”, is easily the most accessible part of the UK and Ramsgate, Charles Dickens’ favourite holiday, makes for a terrific short break destination. A great base to explore the area is Ramsgate, a very short drive from the port of Dover and the world’s busiest shipping lane.

A great is the Royal Harbour Hotel, owned by James Thomas and a lovely Georgian hotel with great views. From its wonderful position perched on a hill above this vibrant town, it directly overlooks the small marina/port, Britain’s only Royal Harbour.

When James, formerly of Claridge’s, the famous London hotel, took over in 1999, it had just six rooms and two bathrooms. It has multiplied in size and has a locally renowned restaurant, “Empire”, serving excellent British food.

James and his enthusiastic team, including the very welcoming David Dray, a past “Accommodation Employee of the Year” award winner, have also introduced some delightful touches, such a great collection of old-style vinyl LPs that guests can play on a record deck in the lounge. A free cheese board is served from 10pm for supper. There’s also a pleasant new family room on the ground floor. The impressive large portrait of the Queen in the hotel lounge fits in neatly with the “patriotic” feel of the surroundings.

It all makes for a very satisfying and relaxing stay. From here you can marvel at Ramgate’s panorama. The vista (you can see the French coast on a clear day) includes, of course, the Royal Harbour, setting for next year’s big jamboree.

After taking in the refreshing sea air, you’ll have worked up an appetite and a very good spot locally to sate any hunger is Delphi, a cosy Greek restaurant occupying a much-sought after position on Ramsgate’s ever lively seafront.

Named after the ancient Greek city, owner George Fellas is a property developer by trade and (having had no previous experience of running a restaurant) has made a big success here. Arriving in the UK as a “refugee” from his native Cyprus back in 1974 he moved to Ramsgate and has not looked back. The kitchen has recently been redesigned, complete with new German-made high-tech equipment which tremendously speeds up the time it takes to prepare the food.

Publié par Delphi greek restaurant sur samedi 14 octobre 2017


And, be sure, this is very tasty, traditional Greek (and Cypriot) food, including fish, meat meze and, of course, moussaka. Contrary to what many believe, Greek food is mostly stews, not grills, but there is something for all tastes here. The restaurant is named after a city which is now in ruins but developer George has built up this place very impressively.

Coastal Community Team

The importance of Ramgate’s long maritime history as a port and its fine hospitality were recognised by King George IV when he awarded the harbour Royal status – a unique accolade in mainland Britain. The monarch was particularly impressed by the harbour, the warm welcome and the hospitality he received when he set off from Ramsgate with the Royal Squadron for Hanover in 1820.

Today, visitors are assured a similarly friendly welcome. If you’re looking for a short winter break – or just to do a spot of Christmas shopping – Ramsgate makes for a great choice.

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