Insider’s guide to Reigate
This medieval market town is bursting at the seam with independent shops, pubs and restaurants, beautiful green spaces and annual events you'll be desperate to attend.
Reigate is a historic market town in the south east of Surrey. The main town is built around a long high street that’s home to an abundance of independent businesses including a delicious choice of fashion boutiques and independent cafés, as well as few popular high-end chains such as Whistles and Jigsaw. There is a good range of impressive pubs, restaurants and bars that make the town popular on evenings and weekends too.
Despite being a town, Reigate feels more like a village thanks to its historic buildings and features like the bell tower in the middle of the high street. Reigate is surrounding by green spaces, with the town centre nestled between Priory Park and the Castle Grounds. National Trust site Reigate Hill is also just a short walk away, offering beautiful views of Surrey and you can even spot Gatwick Airport on a clear day.
The medieval town was famed for its large trade in oatmeal in the 16th century. In the mid 1800s, the town expanded further with the introduction of the London and Brighton Railway, which led to an influx of new buildings being erected. This vast expansion with the addition of a large railway station led to the Reigate being split into two towns, creating what is now known as Redhill.
There are a number of car parks across the market town varying in different sizes. There is also a limited amount of on-road parking.
Bancroft Road multi-storey car park is by far the largest of Reigate’s car parks, with over 350 spaces. Bell Street car park and Upper West Street car park are situated at opposite ends of the high street and also offer spaces, with just over 100 apiece. You may be able to find a free spot to park on the residential roads around the town, but these are few and far between.
WHERE TO EAT
Plenty of options for eating out in Reigate with a good mix of independent restaurants and quality chains like Bills, Giggling Squid and Coté Brasserie.
We were sad to see the closure of French restaurant La Barbe at the end of last year after almost 40 years in Bell Street. But the good news is that a new restaurant, Cullenders Parkside, is due to open in the same site sometime very soon. Regulars to Reigate may have been familiar with Cullenders Deli, a bit further up Bell Street, which was sold to new owners last year, but has now sadly also closed its doors.
Another newbie is Lebnani, a new Lebanese restaurant from Yalla Yalla founder Jad Youssef, which has been open only a few weeks. It’s on Church Street and offers a choice of mezze dishes plus some bigger plates.
And for pizza, Monte Forte, opened in the former Four Hops craft beer shop in West Street last October by brothers Paolo and Luca Malavasi – and by all accounts these pizzas are The Business. And even better that you can still get craft beer including local brews.
Locals have long been devoted to the New Gurkha Kitchen, at the top of the High Street, which serves up authentic Nepalese food. It gets busy though, so best to book. Carmona in Church Street is a family-run restaurant specialising in authentic Spanish and Argentine food – and another local favourite.
Fancy a drink and nibbles? It has to be the Vineking Tasting Rooms, also venue for the monthly Reigate Tribe Nights, part of the Women’s Business Club. There’s a vast range of wines here, all available by the class, and a great selection of cheese and charcuterie snacks. And FYI, the toasties are to die for!
And as well as wine, there’s a brewery – Pilgrim Brewery – in West Street, where you can get locally brewed ales and craft beer on tap. Once a month they host a music night called Nan’s Front Room. Other good venues for nights out are Urban 9 piano bar and Mishiko nightclub.
Winner of the 2018 Muddy Award for best café is Beryl and Pegs, which offers some great home cooked food. Their salt beef sandwich is legendary, and we’re big fans of veggie burger too.
For a retro vibe, head to the Vintage Tea House, where you’ll be served your hot beverages in beautifully unique china. We can recommend their slabs of carrot cake to go with a hearty sandwich. They also do afternoon teas.
WHERE TO STAY
If it’s a bed in the town centre you’re after, head to the five-star Cranleigh Hotel. Situated in an old Victorian house, this hotel is barely a couple of minutes walk from the centre of town and is also within walking distance from Reigate’s key attractions.
A little further afield is Reigate Manor Hotel, a 15 minute walk from the hustle and bustle. With four poster beds complete with luxury Hypnos mattresses and the beautiful National Trust viewpoint of Reigate Hill just a short wander away, we guarantee you will be comfortable here.
WHERE TO SHOP
One things Reigate does particularly well is its independent shopping. We love to support a local business, and there are plenty of unique shops here to keep you busy for hours!
We love That Qwerky Place, at the Dorking end of the high street, where you’ll find a wonderful collection of unusual curiosities, vintage furniture, artwork and vinyl. At the other end of the high street, next to Café Rouge is The Reigate Pop-Up, opened by a group of local creatives who have joined forces to spread theier creative love. There’s also The Lemon Tree for gifts, and Nantucket.
For women’s wear there’s a fabulous dress agency called Re.Work.It selling a mixture of high end high street and designer gear. There’s also lovely independents Gerrards and Quattro Rish, plus the usual high street suspects like White Stuff, Mint Velvet, Crew and Whistles.
For something more home focused, head to Reigate Lighting Company. This independent shop does exactly what is says on the tin, offering beautifully unique and stylish lighting to serve every taste. We love an artisan bulb as a subtle style addition to any room.
The market town is famed for its high quality school options, such as Reigate St Mary’s. This independent day school welcomes little ones aged 2-11 years and is set on 15 acres of parkland in the heart of Reigate. It’s a co-ed and non-selective school and there are 350 children in total, with most years having two form entry. The school is made up of three main buildings and has a thriving sports scene. There are three kids’ sized rugby pitches that become two cricket pitches in the summer, as well as another sporting pitch. There are also two multi-purpose courts.
Reigate St Mary’s is the little sister of Reigate Grammar School, which caters for 11-18 year olds. The Independent School Inspectorate (ISI) rated the school ‘exceptional’, which is high praise indeed. More than three-quarters of Year 6 pupils from Reigate St Mary’s go on to Reigate Grammar School having been offered their place whilst still in Year 5.
PLACES TO VISIT
Priory Park is the perfect place to burn off some steam, be that on a leisurely walk around the pond, an intense game of tennis in one of the eight courts, or your little ones making the most of the huge park. It’s also a great place to picnic in the summer and go for a run all year round.
National Trust’s Reigate Hill is stretch of the North Downs that is perfect for a family dog walk with its vast grasslands and quiet shady woods. Halfway from the car park to the main viewpoint is Reigate Fort, which in addition to being steeped in history is home to rare wild flowers and insects such as the vibrant Adonis Blue butterfly.
There’s a plush Everyman cinema in Reigate, where you can take in your fave new release film or classic while reclining on luxurious sofa seating and sipping a cocktail! And just a short drive away in Redhill, there’s the Harlequin Theatre, which is also has a cinema. Check the latest billing announcements and book in to see a film screening, play or stand up comedy show.
HAVE A DRINK
FUN FOR KIDS
In addition to luscious Priory Park and Reigate Hill, get your green space fix with National Trust’s Gatton Park, just a short drive from Reigate. Around 600 acres in size, there is more than enough space to wander and explore the beautiful grounds. The National Trust part of the park is open daily for everyone to explore, but the 260 acres managed by The Gatton Trust is only open through specific events and open days.
For the history buffs or the inquisitively minded, look no further than Reigate Caves. They are only open five days per year so keep an eye on the calendar, but the wait is worth it. A tour of the caves, which are actually sand mines, will offer you a fascinating insight into what lies beneath Reigate and the history behind the tunnels.
Run Reigate is a relatively new annual event that takes over the town one Sunday every September with a half marathon, 10k, 5k, and kid’s race. This feel-good event is fun for all the family, regardless of whether or not you are running or know someone who is. There is live music, a food and drink festival and an event village.
The Luna Cinema outdoor screening comes to Priory Park every summer for multiple screenings of both new and old classics. Grease and Harry Potter are just two of the showings in recent years, so keep your eye on their billing announcements and get your camping chairs, blankets and snacks at the ready!
New for 2020 is Beer Bop A Lula Festival, which comes to Reigate in July. This beer and music festival will feature live music, an abundance of beers to sample, children’s entertainers and street food galore over a three-day weekend of festivities. July 17-19 – pop it in the diary!
Reigate has been home to so many household names it’s hard to believe! Film actress Mia Farrow was a resident of the town while she was married to Andre Previn, and survival expert Ray Mears and David Walliams attended Reigate Grammar School.
England cricketers Jason Roy and Pat Pocock live in the town, in addition to their fellow sports stars Tom and Max Chilton, who were racing drivers. Norman Cook – more commonly known as Fatboy Slim – was also raised in Reigate. No biggie!