Broadstairs is now more accessible than ever, being served by frequent High Speed Javelin trains that take just 79 minutes from London's St. Pancras station.
By car it's nearly all motorway and dual carriageway from London and the M25.
Built in 1801 and home of Charles Dickens, Bleak House Broadstairs is rich in historic and cultural interest. Guests can enjoy the hotel's private gardens or reach the sandy Viking Bay, which is 5 minutes walk away.
Dickens was fond of Broadstairs, a seaside resort on the Isle of Thanet - an area no longer separated from the mainland as it once was, but still quite distinctive. When he first came to stay here in 1837 he was only 25 years old, and finishing The Pickwick Papers. He continued coming regularly until 1851, and wrote parts of many of his early novels here, including Nicholas Nickleby, Barnaby Rudge, Dombey & Son and David Copperfield. On his first visit, he stayed in the High Street, but, as John Forster said, "The residence he desired most there, Fort House, stood prominently at the top of a breezy hill on the road to Kingsgate". The owners were later to rechristen it Bleak House, not because it looks bleak, but because it was the inspiration for John Jarndyce's home in the novel of that title. Note, however, that Dickens relocates it to the vicinity of St Alban's, in Hertfordshire, so robbing it of its distinctive setting. But this setting does provide the viewpoint of a short article of 1851, "Our English Watering-Place," which begins:
"In the Autumn time of the year, when the great metropolis is so much hotter, so much noisier, so much more dusty or so much more water-carted, so much more crowded, so much more disturbing and distracting in all respects, than it usually is, a quiet sea beach becomes indeed a blessed spot. Half awake and half asleep, this idle morning in our sunny window on the edge of a chalk-cliff in the old fashioned watering-place to which we are a faithful resorter, we feel a lazy inclination to sketch its picture."
Yet even when he wrote this, Broadstairs was losing its appeal for him. It was becoming too crowded and noisy. In particular, the street musicians bothered him. When he holidayed on the south coast in 1852, he chose Dover instead, and then, in 1855, Folkestone. Dickens took his final farewell of Broadstairs with a one week stay in 1859. The house was greatly extended in 1901, and so looks rather different now from the way it would have looked then - though the rooms Dickens stayed in have been preserved.