28th April 2017
The Royal Harbour Hotel and The Empire Room Restaurant in Ramsgate, Kent
The Royal Harbour Hotel
Ramsgate in Kent is second only to London for its Georgian houses. There are over four hundred of these beautiful houses many of which have been designated Grade 2 listed buildings due to their architectural value. Listed buildings are restricted regarding changes made to the structure of the building. Nelson Crescent is a whole row of listed Georgian buildings and in the middle of this crescent, overlooking Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour is the Royal Harbour Hotel
The hotel is the creation of London hotelier James Thomas who discovered Ramsgate and its potential due to an enforced layover during a sailing trip to France. He bought the building that was then occupied by Shirley’s B&B and turned it into the unique hotel it is today. Occupying two adjoining houses and a third house fifty metres along the street it offers twenty-seven bedrooms interspersed with snug sitting rooms. Individuals travelling for business enjoy the home from home comforts and families love the top floor of the third building that offers an adjoining double room and a twin room.
James is a collector of books, pictures and furniture and has furnished and decorated the interior with items from these collections. He certainly has a good idea and the result is a very relaxing ambience. My bedroom was delightful and looked out over the harbour – a stunning and constantly changing view. The ‘curator’ of this amazing place is David, the manager, who makes his guests feel very welcome and nothing is too much trouble. A local man David has managed the hotel for seven years.
Breakfast is served in the hotel restaurant – a light, airy room that faces the harbour. The buffet featured all my favourites – a good selection of fresh fruits including some juicy local strawberries and refreshing fresh pineapple as well as smoked salmon. A cooked breakfast was also available. I combined the smoked salmon with some scrambled eggs courtesy of a free range hen. I loved the quaintness of the hotel and appreciated the fact it offered two things not always available these days – free parking outside and free WiFi.
In 2014 James embarked on a new project, The Empire Room Restaurant on the lower floor of the hotel and accessed by a flight of stone steps behind some Grade 2 listed railings.
The Empire Room Restaurant
The restaurant is the domain of Craig Mather a local chef who took over in July 2016. He is very keen on using local produce and plans to host a series of events to Meet the Producers. The theme of this restaurant is the British Empire and this is reflected in the rich red décor. Framed covers of the British Empire magazine, a 1970s publication – also collected by James. Guests in the hotel can, if they wish, have a restaurant meal upstairs in the hotel dining room but the change of scenery made it feel like a special occasion for me.
The restaurant offers two menus for dinner, a set menu with choices and an a la carte menu. Both menus are changed regularly to reflect seasonal produce. I chose the set menu as it featured skate, a fish I have never tried before. My starter was a delicious combination of crispy local asparagus, soft boiled egg (nice and runny inside), prosciutto and parsley yoghurt.
My grilled local skate wing was accompanied by new potatoes, sprouting broccoli and caper, parsley and golden raisin butter. The skate was beautifully cooked and melted in my mouth. I finished with banana cake in a caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. Elegant, home cooking and a pleasure to eat.
I have been travelling the world for over twenty years so I have stayed in hundreds of hotels and eaten in as many restaurants but my experience in Ramsgate was definitely one of the most enjoyable – treat yourself, you will love it.