STROLLING along the sand in West Mersea, Essex you’d be hard pressed to miss the colourful beach huts lining the seafront.
Come rain or shine, you’re likely to find the pastel coloured wooden structures will be packed out with locals and tourists alike, swigging tea from Cath Kidston cups as they take in the view.
And while most of the huts will be filled to the rafters with striped deckchairs, canvas windbreakers and the occasional string of bunting there are two that hide an unexpected secret.
Standing out from their chintz-heavy siblings are The Little Beach Houses Mersea, the beach’s most stylish sheds owned by London-based business woman Kate Frankl.
Glancing at the interior of the lilac and blue huts, they could easily be mistaken for a posh London apartment, which was exactly what Kate, 38, had in mind.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous she says: “Everyone else has followed the same quaint style that is typical of British beach huts.
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“I wanted to give mine more of a contemporary flair and an air of luxury.
“I had done a few beach huts days myself, renting those out and they were all decorated in that same sort of style.
“Truthfully I wanted them to resemble what I might have in my own home back in London.
“At the end of the day it’s a shed you’re decorating rather than a whole house – you don’t need to be an architect to create something quite special.”
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The two huts can fit up to eight people each, and you can choose between a baby-blue or lilac one.
Each hut is fully equipped with a kitchen-ette, as well as sun loungers and beach furniture from Harrods, naturally.
They also come with beach toys, board games, dog bowls and treats, as well as original artworks by Margate’s Margo McDaid, and Dave Buonaguidi from Hackney, East London.
But while Kate has created exactly the sort of space she loves to be in, she rarely gets to spend time there herself as she rents them out to the public – and they have proven extremely popular.
Mum-of-two Kate says: “I bought one of the huts in June 2021 and advertised on Instagram and we were sold out in ten days.
“We bought our second six months later after we had done the first season and it had been such a success.
“I rarely get to use it myself, we are far too booked up – there’s just no room in the diary and when there is people are scrambling to secure a date.
“My two huts now get booked up around a year in advance.
“We open our bookings for the following year on September 1st and we will get about 100 bookings then.
“Bizarrely there will be a frenzy every year straight after Christmas in early January and we’re normally completely fully booked by mid-march.”
The pastel beach huts, of which similar ones now have an asking price of £80,000, fetch a day-rate of £105 to hire during peak season, lowering to £65 in winter.
And while guests are not permitted to sleep in the beach huts they offer almost everything except a bed.
Each of them comes with its own reserved parking, as well as access to the toilet and shower block at West Mersea Holiday Park.
Don’t worry about refreshments either – there are facilities to make tea, coffee and hot chocolate inside, or you can head to the nearby seaside cafe which serves tea and cake.
And what was once known as Essex’s best-kept secret is quickly becoming a go-to destination after Kate’s beach huts were given the Instagram treatment.
“Mersea is absolutely beautiful – it was a secret but I’m not sure it’s a secret anymore,” Kate says.
“The beach used to be fairly quiet and private but I imagine that is set to change.
“During COVID Instagrammers were all over the beach huts – most of them have been here doing a shoot and so there are pictures of my huts all over Instagram.
“There’s a lot of competition with beach hut rentals but we offer something quite unique.
“We actually recommend other huts if people can’t use our own, we just want to bring more business to Mersea.”
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Bookings for The Little Beach Houses Mersea open on September 1st – click here to secure your place.
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