Folkestone has been making waves in the national press recently – with one magazine even suggesting it could be usurping Brighton as the UK’s coastal property hotspot.
Interest has been growing following the launch of Sir Roger De Haan’s multi-million-pound Shoreline Crescent development on the seafront.
Over the past few days, column inches in national publications such as The Times and The Spectator have been filled with reviews of their visit to the east Kent coast.
The latter suggests that with lower house prices, a faster train journey to London, and being located right next to Eurotunnel, Folkestone could become a bigger draw for house-hunters than Brighton.
But how do the two locations compare? KentOnline’s Ian Carter and Phil Hayes look at the main attractions that Brighton and Folkestone have to offer…
Average house price - Brighton
According to Rightmove you’ll be forking out £534,285 on average for a property in Brighton. Meanwhile, the average rent paid is £2,028 per month, says home.co.uk.
Average house price - Folkestone
It’s a lot cheaper in Folkestone with prices at £336,334 on average. It costs less to rent, too, at an average of £1,284.
Best restaurant - Brighton
Brighton is a city made for eating and drinking the day away. Burnt Orange in the Lanes takes its inspiration from the Mediterranean and is a hugely popular draw.
Best restaurant - Folkestone
Everyone’s heard of Rocksalt at the harbour but Marley’s is a must-try. Its breakfasts are incredible and such is its popularity that the queue on Mother’s Day snaked all the way down the Old High Street. We couldn’t get in - even having arrived 20 minutes before it opened.
Best pub - Brighton
You could go to a different pub every day in Brighton for nearly three years – many have tried – and you still wouldn't have made it to the end of the list. How to choose one from 900? How about the Hole in the Wall – tucked away and impossible to stumble across by chance, but mere moments from the seafront.
Best pub - Folkestone
It’s worth taking on the steep climb up the Old High Street from the harbour to visit The Pullman. It has a good selection of draught beers on offer and a pub garden too. If you’re intent on sticking close to the seafront on a windy day then The Harbour Inn is a good spot for a cosy pint.
Best fish and chips - Brighton
If you aren't tempted by the vegan-only chippie No Catch on the seafront, Bardsley's in Baker Street remains the one to beat.
Best fish and chips - Folkestone
You’ll get massive portions for a fair price from The Seafarer in Cheriton. Meanwhile, at the harbour you have Sandy’s, which was voted the best fish and chip shop in Kent by our readers last month.
Best beach - Brighton
Brighton is blessed with many things but sand is not one of them. Despite the pebbles, it can be shoulder-to-shoulder in the summer months on the stretch of beach between the Palace and West Pier. Those in the know often head further east to the far end of Hove, where parking is easier and you can fuel up at Fatboy Slim's Big Beach cafe.
Best beach - Folkestone
Folkestone has a clear advantage over Brighton here, with the town’s Sunny Sands recently ranked one of the best beaches in Europe to reach by rail. Meanwhile, if you’re taking your family to the popular coastal park at the foot of The Leas, then you’re just a stone’s throw away from the pebbles of Mermaid Beach, which comes with the terrific Mermaid Cafe too. A less busy option would be to take the route past the Martello Tower at the top of East Cliff and down to The Warren.
Tourist hotspot - Brighton
Brighton Council hoped its “vertical viewing platform” the i360 would be a big draw. But it was quickly dubbed the iSore by locals, while visitors found the attraction of going up and down a metal pole easy to resist. So the Palace Pier and Pavilion still reign supreme.
Tourist hotspot - Folkestone
The town’s regenerated harbour arm has become one of Kent’s premier tourist attractions, with millions of people – many from London – visiting every year. New pop-up restaurants and bars are opening there all the time. Plus you can also play mini-golf on the beach. Just get there early before the car park fills up!
Best venue - Brighton
Brighton is spoiled for choice for music venues, whether it's punk upstairs at the Albert, mainstream acts at the Centre or anything in between. Brighton Dome - scene of ABBA's Eurovision triumph - is hard to beat though.
Best venue - Folkestone
Hmm, perhaps Brighton has got us on this one. While you can see local bands performing live at many of Folkestone’s pubs, in terms of venues we don’t have that much to offer beyond the Quarterhouse in Tontine Street (dubbed ‘The Cheesegrater’ by some). Punk legends Buzzcocks will be performing there later this month.
Best nightclub - Brighton
Coalition on the seafront is popular with Albion players, hen parties and just about everyone in between.
Best nightclub - Folkestone
Brighton definitely trumps us in this category – as Folkestone only has one nightclub left (RIP The Priz). Though if sticky dance floors, cheesy music and cheap drinks sound up your street, then The Party Bar is the club for you. Though even punters admit that these days it’s a bit of a “weird crowd” in there.
Best shops - Brighton
Brighton's bustling North Laine remains vibrant despite town centres across the country struggling and is like Folkestone's Old High Street spread over a wider area. Head to Snooper's Paradise - a gigantic indoor flea market - and you never know what you might find.
Best shops - Folkestone
With Debenhams long gone and shops and cafes shutting on a worryingly regular basis, there’s no doubt Folkestone’s high street has seen better days. But the Old High Street, which links the town centre with the harbour, is thriving with independent shops and restaurants – though some people will insist it’s never been the same since the “rock shop” shut.
Football team - Brighton
Brighton have had their ups and downs. For years they played at the ramshackle 6,000-capacity Withdean athletics stadium following a brief and bizarre spell playing at Gillingham's Priestfield ground. They are now very much in the ascendancy though. Next season they will play in Europe for the first time and Seagulls fans are in the unusual position of seeing their club linked with big names rather than fending off approaches from other clubs. If you could get your hands on a season ticket – which you can't – prices start from £565. Folkestone fans may find themselves more at home at Brighton's second team Whitehawk FC, who play in the Isthmian Premier division.
Football team - Folkestone
Attendance numbers have been rising at Folkestone Invicta in recent years, no doubt partly due to DfLs looking for a local team to watch at 3pm on a Saturday. The club definitely punches above its weight when it comes to its “footy scran”, with the burgers on offer being rated among the top five in the country. A season ticket will set you back £196.
Cost of commuting - Brighton
Brighton to Victoria takes one hour, five minutes. Add a couple of minutes if you decide to take a Thameslink train into London Bridge or Blackfriars instead. An annual season ticket, including Travelcard, is £5,168 with various flexi options.
Cost of commuting - Folkestone
You may get to London quicker from Folkestone (in 53 minutes on HS1) but it will also cost you far more. With a Travelcard, you’ll be looking at £8,628 for an annual season ticket. Yikes!
Best school - Brighton
Private schools include Roedean and Brighton College – named Independent School of the Decade – while Cardinal Newman and Hove Park secondary schools are both rated ‘Good’.
Best school - Folkestone
The grammar school system is unfair but many who live here are desperate for their children to take advantage of it. With the boys’ and girls’ grammars in Folkestone both rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, it’s not hard to see why.
So, do we have a winner?
While Folkestone is definitely on the up, it’s still some way off becoming a destination to rival Brighton. When it comes to nightlife, for example, the city trounces the town. As would its football team.
But while there won’t be many hen-dos or Premier League players heading to Folkestone in the near future, there is little doubt that the surge in house-hunters will continue.
It might not match-up to Brighton just yet, but you can see why people are snapping up properties in Folkestone now – before they get priced out.