With 350 miles of beautiful coastline to show off, acres of rolling landscapes to enjoy, centuries of history to unlock, and plenty of fresh local produce to serve up, it’s simply in our nature to throw open the doors and share everything we love about our glorious Garden of England.
From foodie welcomes and page-turning historical stories, to some of the most spectacular countryside just beyond the garden gate, these Kent gems are naturally some of the best destinations around. Be inspired by Canterbury’s cobbled streets and centuries’ old tales, taste Gusbourne’s exquisite wines amongst rolling vines, travel from Roman rule to World War II with English Heritage, get ready to celebrate in style in Tonbridge & Malling. Spy far-reaching views in Dover, Deal and Sandwich, be wildly curious about Kent Wildlife Trust’s rewilding projects, taste the best of Kent in Sevenoaks, and experience culture with a side of cocktails in Tunbridge Wells. Whichever path you take, it’s safe to say Kent is the natural choice for a getaway.
From pizza parties and culinary celebrations, care of some of the country’s best chefs at Gusbourne, to the brand-new Tonbridge Music Weekend and Walled Garden Festival in Tonbridge, here in Kent, we’re gearing up to celebrate and you’re invited. While Tonbridge Castle will be taken over by the likes of Feeder and Bjorn Again this autumn, Tunbridge Wells will be relaxing into a summer of Jazz on the Pantiles and foodie treats at Pub in the Park and the Pantiles Food Festival. So, take a look, mark those calendars and prepare to celebrate, glass of Gusbourne Brut Reserve in hand, of course.
Oh, we’ve got a lot of stories here in Kent. Heard of the murder of an Archbishop…by a king?? That was right here in Canterbury Cathedral. The arrival and departure of Romans in Britain? That was at Richborough Roman Fort. Tunnels built into cliffs, fortresses and the discovery of a 3,500 year old Bronze Age boat? That’s in Dover. Curious to know more? Allow us to take you through the ages on Canterbury’s cobbled streets, share the marvel that is Dover Castle perched high on the White Cliffs of Dover, visit the beautiful 700-year old Ightham Mote manor house near Tonbridge, or hear about Walmer Castle’s incredible residents who have ranged from the Duke of Wellington (yes, his boots are still there), to the Queen Mother, on an epic journey into Kent’s past.
With two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and nine blue flag beaches, not to mention that long-held title as the Garden of England, it really shouldn’t be a surprise when we say we love our green space and natural landscapes in Kent. From the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which stretches to those iconic White Cliffs, and the intriguing 17 Green Flag award-winning Samphire Hoe, to the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which takes in the countryside and villages of Tunbridge Wells, these landscapes are rich in wildlife and numerous important habitats, not to mention great views. In Sevenoaks the routes are made for walking, with the Darent Valley Path and Greensand Way offering some of the most spectacular panoramas. Kent Wildlife Trust’s groundbreaking Wilder Blean project is working to boost biodiversity and restore the natural ecosystem of The Blean through the reintroduction of European Bison, while a visit to the Sevenoaks, Tyland Barn and Romney Marsh Nature Reserves offer the chance to see thousands of nationally important species in their natural habitats.
Fresh from our market garden, here in Kent, we are proud of our local producers and foodie heritage, and judging by their menus, our restaurants are pretty proud of it too. Places like Canterbury’s The Pig at Bridge Place, which have a 25-mile menu (talk about reducing your carbon footprint), or the One Michelin Star Fordwich Arms with their dedication to showcasing the best of Kent’s ingredients. Or how about The Warren, Royal Tunbridge Wells’ farm-to-table restaurant with its commitment to sustainable produce?
We could go on, but instead we’ll tell you about the producers (we have plenty of those too). Solley's has some of the most exceptional ice-cream in Kent and, being the largest independent ice-cream maker in the south east, it's hardly surprising that they know a thing or two about their craft! Stop off at the farm, sampling for yourself the delicious, locally sourced produce from this family run business. Of course, there’s Gusbourne, a vineyard in the heart of the countryside that produces some of the most exceptional, award-winning wines with grapes grown in their very own vineyard (see for yourself on the tour). So that’s the food and wine, but Kent is also known for its hop growing, and hops make…beer. In Sevenoaks, Westerham Brewery and Larkins Brewery are craft favourites, particularly as Larkins only brews from the hops they grow on the farm – pretty special indeed.
We couldn’t show you all of that and not offer you a bed for the night, could we? And what a range of places to stay we have. View-finders need only look to Greenhill Glamping with its pretty shepherds huts and show-stopping views of the Alkham Valley, while luxe stay seekers should prepare to be pampered at The Spa Hotel and Hotel du Vin in Tunbridge Wells. Remember when we mentioned the Michelin Starred Fordwich Arms? That delectable food can be rounded off with a stay in their cosy rooms, while the elegant The Beacon in Tunbridge Wells is another glamorous getaway that packs a serious foodie reputation.
While Luna Domes in the Sevenoaks countryside offer the chance to reconnect with nature in sumptuous Geodesic Domes, presenting plenty of opportunities for star gazing and sunset views. Fancy tucking in for the night in a 17th century farmhouse? The rooms at Updown in Deal offer just that, plus a library, games room, and outstanding food in their restaurant for a quality stay all round. And over in Tonbridge Orchard Pods, set on a working cherry farm (oh, just think of the blossom in springtime), provide a slice of that Kentish Garden of England lifestyle from your very own glamping pod overlooking views of the North Downs.
From the luxurious to the downright intriguing (a stay in a castle, anyone?), take a look at our round ups of some of Kent’s best places to rest your head.