St Leonards has been on the up – when it started life as the first planned seaside town in the 19th century with its dreamy Victorian architecture – then down with the decline of the English seaside resort. Now it’s on the up again, rivalling its neighbour Hastings.
Although it’s a town of its own, you could be forgiven for thinking that St Leonards was a part of Hastings. The two places, although once separate, now merge together. You barely notice it happening as you walk along the coast. It would be a mistake to go to Hastings and not spend some time in St Leonards too. When we went to Hastings, we stayed in St Leonards and couldn’t resist a walk around. Even though I wouldn’t recommend spending a day there – a couple of hours is enough – it’s definitely worth having a walk around. Also, St Leonards owes its architecture to the same person who built many of the houses in Regents Park in London – and it shows. If you’re into that style of building, make sure you head to Warrior Square and have a look at all the fantastic white stucco buildings.
Like Hastings, I was massively surprised by the range of independent shops in St Leonards. I really didn’t expect it. Both the London Road and Norman Road sections of the town are full of quirky independent shops. You can spend some serious time mooching about in them. Just like in Hastings, there are mainly a lot of vintage clothing shops and lifestyle shops. A good example would be Xanadu on Norman Road. However, my favourite shop, also on Norman Road, is the imaginatively named Shop. I could have bought most of their jugs to take home with me. Not a sentence I think I’ll write very often but they were so pretty *insert heart eyed emoji*. Some of the furniture was incredibly pretty too. Bramwell Cole also deserves a special mention as well.
But the mainstay of St Leonards really seems to be all the different antique shops. There’s Skylon interiors selling 60s style pieces, Hastings Antique Centre which has three floors full of treasures, and Patrick Robbins which seems to have a big selection of rugs.
If I ever manage to have my own flat, I think St Leonards will be one of the first places I head to. I’ll be filling my basket with some antique and unusual furniture pieces. I think I might have to get a bit better at DIY between now and then though. I imagine that bits would need doing up before I’d let them free on an interior Pinterest board.
I’ll stop now before I end up sounding like I should be on Bargain Hunt.
Eating & Drinking
Again, there are a huge amount of options in St Leonards for both eating and drinking. One of the first places we saw, thanks for their fantastic mural was the Love Cafe. They have a big range of breakfasts, including pancakes and a good range of vegan and vegetarian food too. There’s work from local artists on display too. My favourite thing is that they also run a market on a Thursday where anyone can book a pitch – but the poster states that everything sold must be legal. I’d like to know what happened at Love Cafe market for someone to have to state it so categorically.
There are plenty of other coffee shops to pick from if you need a break from that windy sea air. One other pick would be the Little Larder. Another good choice for breakfast would be Poffleys Coffee, with its friendly staff and cheap prices.
For proper eating, you can head to St Clements, a restaurant with a lot of fish choice. There’s also Cafe Relax, an Armenian restaurant which we didn’t get a chance to try while we were in St Leonards. Something to try next time we’re back I think.