No, it’s not named after the battle (though it does have a ruined Norman castle and a shitty mural depicting the Bayeux Tapestry in an underpass). Hastings is one of those formerly faded seaside towns which struggled in the ’80 and ’90s as us fickle Brits headed off to Ibiza and Faliraki, but is now enjoying a hipster revival. Low property prices, a thriving art scene, big houses on the seafront and some cute, kitsch shopping areas (Old Town) all mean the place is now buzzing with great vintage stores, delicious cafes and decent pubs.
She Bangs The Drum – Stone Roses
Pigeon on toast
The Pelican Diner
But it’s not all hipster beards and pricey grub, you know. This is an old-school seaside town – rock shops, amusements, carnival rides and crazy golf hold sway beside the cooler vibes emanating from the coffee shops and antique stores. Throw in a working fishing port and you have three strands of culture colliding on the edge of Sussex, giving Hastings a fun, funky, lived-in charm all of its own.
The ‘new’ town is a chain-store high street with a great old Odeon and plenty of pound shops; if you need a New Look fix, get over there. Otherwise it’s the Old Town and surrounds all the way. Just don’t blame us if you come back with bags full of vintage clothes (that ’50s baseball jacket almost fitted) and some glorious mini golf memories.
Ooh, a bit special, this one. Lovely pub, a hop and a skip from the seafront, with a great selection of ciders. Gorgeous interior and tons of history (a former landlord was a steward on the Titanic). The food is at another level. We ate pigeon on toast, triple-cooked chips and ham and eggs and it was to die for. Recommended.
Vibey, cute little bar with a nice atmosphere in the heart of Old Town. The pizzas are bloody great and they do some amazing cocktails, too.
The Pelican Diner
Lush food in an American stylee, served in a whitewashed, clapperboard building on the seafront. Very busy – it’s got a great rep – but the staff were harassed and a little bit offish when we went. We forgave them as it was a bank holiday, and the food was excellent. Especially the Lumberjack Breakfast.
Neptune Fish & Chips
Well, it’s the seaside. It has to be done. The Neptune is right on the seafront and you usually see a queue outside – it’s that good. Get down there early doors for delicious battered cod and chips.
Gorgeous old hardware store now selling soap, candles, face cream, clothes, rugs, cushions… it’s a beautiful place to stand in, while sniffing fir-scented candles and trying to decide whether you need a soap from Germany with a dog on the wrapper, or some expensive French hand cream (I went for the latter).
Tucked up an alleyway in the Old Town, this is a tiny burrow of a place, stuffed to the rafters with Mexicana – Day of the Dead bunting, dolls, religious icons, postcards, lucky charms… it’s a kitsch lover’s delight.
Wow & Flutter
This place was the best. Hidden away in the newer part of town, it’s so worth the walk up from the beachfront. Run by a couple of music fanatics, it sells amazing second-hand vinyl, comics and books and brews coffee, too. Highly recommended for the chat alone.
What we did:
Wandered around the Old Town and admired the kitschy souvenir shops and rock emporiums (the sweet, not the musical genre). Clambered along the pebbly beach to look at the fishing fleet while avoiding the seagulls swooping in for their fishy offcuts. Admired a whippet called Shadow. Meant to go up to the castle but didn’t as we ran out of time. Usual story.
The Stone Roses: She Bangs The Drum
Wow & Flutter played this loudly twice. I sang along and thought about what a great record it was and how I loved dancing to it when I was a student. I need to get it on iPlayer.
What we bought:
Squeeze’s first album, Squeeze, on pink vinyl for £6. Button badges that say ‘I love reading’ and ‘Northern Soul’. The most amazing French hand cream - Hyalomiel, which is pricey but SO worth it. Easter eggs (yes, it was Easter).
House Of The Dead / Crazy golf?:
This is the seaside. Of course there’s crazy golf! Three courses in fact (pirate, adventure and classic). £7. Get there early before it gets rammed.
And HOTD was broken in the amusement arcade. FFS.