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A Weekend at Cabu By The Sea

A Weekend at Cabu By The Sea
When I stumbled across Cabu By The Sea online I was looking for somewhere for a weekend away for my girlfriend’s birthday. I wanted it to be something a little bit different but not too far afield as she was heavily pregnant.
From the website it was hard to make out whether it was a sort of hip, small, independent Centre Parcs for adults or a try before you buy type of gig for their timber cabins that were seemingly available to purchase as well as stay in.
Either way it grabbed my attention and I booked in, hoping that my stay wouldn’t involve a hard sales pitch.
The site is situated in St. Mary’s Bay on the Kent coast. Not an area that I knew well, but a quick Google search informed me that it was (thankfully) fairly accessible from London. The train from St Pancras to Sandling (?) was only an hour with a quick change at Ashford.
Upon arriving at Sandling station; which is quite charming but appears to be in the middle nowhere; there were business cards for a local taxi company. We called and within quarter of an hour we were making the twenty minute or so final leg of the journey.
There was a brief moment of concern when the driver, who’d lived in the vicinity for his whole life (maybe 65 years or so) informed us that he’d never heard of Cabu By The Sea and his sat nav lead us only to an austere black metal gate along a non descript coastal road between two small towns. After further investigation this did indeed turn out to be the entrance that we were looking for.
It was so unassuming that we’d presumed it lead to an industrial unit or refuse centre rather than a vacation spot.
I’m still not sure whether it is a cool, intentionally minimal touch or it was the final piece before opening and they’d run out of steam. Either way, thankfully things became more welcoming once inside.
The site has an interesting history, it was originally part of an old coastguard station and then a camp for children from Notting Hill to visit for annual holidays away from the Big Smoke.
The twelve sleek, Skandi-style cabins now occupy the positions of the former buildings within the camp. The caretaker’s cottage remains on site, presumably with a similar usage.
Alongside the cabins there is a shop/reception/lounge. Here it is immediately obvious what type of feel they are aiming for, there are no buckets and spades to use on the adjoining beach or sticks of rock.
Instead there are local organic meats and cheeses alongside Monmouth coffee beans and eco conscious toiletries. To be honest it was right up my street as a wannabe hipster well into his 30’s, but may not have been as appealing to the primary school kids for whom the site was previously aimed.
There is also an outdoor pool and hot tub which looked as fresh, clean and appealing as the cabins. Truth is we weren’t bold enough to brave either in the not so balmy fourteen degrees and strong coastal winds which greeted us, but I’d have been in there in a flash in more clement conditions (honest).

There are three sizes of cabin available - studios for a maximum of two people and one beds for up to four and two beds for up to six. All have a similar style which straddles cosy and chic; timber clad with floor to ceiling glass, cast iron wood burners and outside decks. Some are dog friendly.
We opted for the mid-range one bed and it far exceeded my expectations. There was definitely an architect-designed feel to it and it was both light and airy, yet cosy. It managed to pack a lot into a relatively small space - full size Loaf sofa, pouffe and coffee table complete with carefully curated books in the lounge, a large walk-in shower (with previously mentioned eco-friendly toiletries) in the bathroom and a generous and comfortable bed.
The kitchenette was compact in a recess by the front door, but offered an ample range of kit to make a sandwich or some breakfast. Again all of it was bang on trend and my hipster senses were again tingling as I realised it included such additions as a coffee dripper (ideal for those Monmouth beans) and a cocktail shaker.
The cabins seem to be based somewhat upon those which have become synonymous with nearby Dungeness, the former home of Derek Jarman. The environment is also similar, an unusual mix of pebbles, shingle and wildflowers.
Despite it being tempting to remain holed up in the warm embrace of Skandi sleekness yet cosiness, we ventured out to a few different nearby spots.
A few miles inland is the brilliant Port Lymphe Wildlife Park. It is a sort of zoo meets safari park that has conservation at its core, with rhino and tigers amongst many animals that you can see up close amid rolling countryside. Well worth a visit.
The nearest town is Dymchuch, a small traditional seaside town with an amusement arcade, a small high street and a couple of pubs. We had some decent pub grub at The City of London, a strange name under the circumstances but a nice option only a ten minute walk from the site via a pathway on the sea wall.
We also borrowed bikes (no extra charge) and cycled the few miles along the seafront in the opposite direction to the aforementioned Dungeness. As you can imagine, with my heavily laden partner we weren’t breaking any land speed records but the flat, level coastal route was easy enough.
If you haven’t visited Dungeness before then it’s a must. A somewhat eerie fishing settlement in the shadow of a power plant where all of the buildings are constructed of dark timber and the fauna is almost otherworldly, somewhere between beach and desert. It’s certainly a unique place.
Other nearby places of interest include Rye, Camber Sands and Folkstone. There’s certainly plenty to do in this corner of the country, although some would be easier by car. That was enough exploring for us though, the sofa and wood burner was calling.
To see more about Cabu By The Sea click here


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