Reap The Rewards in the Secret Garden of England
10th August 2020
Let's face it, after the year we've had so far it's safe to say you've more than earned yourself a little R&R time...
And, if the thought of booking an extravagant escape somewhere far from home leaves you feeling more stressed out than serene, fear not! Whether your definition of luxury involves room service and fluffy robes in a swanky hotel suite or simply indulging in a spot of guilt-free retail therapy, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a slice of the good life right here in the Garden of England.
Before you start packing that overnight bag, please remember to 'Know Before You Go' and check our partner websites before visiting. Many attractions and locations now request that you pre-book and may have new requirements in place in order to keep their staff and visitors safe. Why not take a look at our guidance on how to best Respect, Protect and Enjoy our wonderful Kent attractions and landscapes? Now without further ado, it's time to ready, set, and rejuvenate.
If you're going to treat yourself, you may as well go for the very best, so it's no wonder Leeds Castle, the Loveliest Castle in the World has made our list, but did you know you can actually stay here? Whether you check into one of the beautiful holiday cottages in the grounds or the Maiden's Tower for bed and breakfast inside the walls of the castle, you can expect nothing less than sumptuous bedrooms, delicious dining and spectacular views here.
Leeds Castle is Good To Go
Champagne and sea views on Kent's coast
How wonderfully fitting that the name 'Hythe' should translate directly in Old English to mean 'haven'. Those looking for their very own haven this summer should head straight to this charming stretch of Kent's coastline and check themselves into 4-Star splendour at the Hythe Imperial Hotel. Drink in panoramic sea views whilst enjoying a glass of fizz in Kent's only Moët & Chandon Bar, before tucking into a locally-sourced dinner onsite at the AA Rosette Coast Restaurant.
Please remember to pre-book to stay from July 4th.
King or Queen of the castle
With its charming castle tower, picture-perfect gardens and vast 450-acre estate; you'll start your very own love affair with idyllic Sissinghurst Castle Gardens from the moment you arrive. Spend a day delving into the castle's diverse history and enjoying a breath of fresh air as you stroll the tranquil grounds, before refuelling with a delicious range of refreshments available from Sissinghurst's Granary Restaurant.
Sissinghurst Castle is Good To Go. Please remember to book ahead
Escaping to Hever Castle for a luxury break promises you indulgence fit for a queen at the glorious castle that was once the childhood home to Anne Boleyn. Think bedroom views overlooking a historic castle, strolls around 125 acres of luscious gardens and taking a breather at the Italian Loggia overlooking Hever Lake, which feels like a little slice of Venice. Whether you want a five-star bed and breakfast experience or your own private retreat at Medley Court with four bedrooms, Hever Castle will make you feel right at home…
Enjoy the suite life
Crisp white sheets, miniature bathroom goodies, and even a chocolate on the pillow; there are few things more luxurious than a night away from the humdrum of daily routine in a fancy hotel. If you're looking to flip the 'do not disturb' sign over for a a couple of days, look no further than Hempstead House Hotel & Spa in Sittingbourne. Nestled in the heart of the Kent Countryside, a stone's throw from a handful of beautiful villages and open farmland, this Country House Hotel offers the ultimate secret escape.
Indulge in a spot of retail therapy
When it comes to shopping, it's fair to say Kent has it covered. So whether you're looking for a feel-good outfit, the perfect accessory for your home, or a gift that'll put a smile on the face of a loved one, you'll have no trouble indulging in a spot of retail therapy here. Shop til you drop at wonderful Westwood Cross, home to over 45 stores, restaurants and entertainment venues. Alternatively, seek out the cobbled streets of Canterbury's Cathedral Quarter where you'll find an eclectic mix of independent specialist shops, bars and restaurants, providing a truly unique shopping experience.
At Westwood Cross times for individual retailers may differ at this time. Please remember to check directly on their website.
Taste the fruits of the Garden of England
Kent does not disappoint when it comes to food, boasting some of the finest restaurants and mouth-watering cuisine in the world. With a huge range of fresh, homegrown produce, eating local has never been better! Head to Macknade Fine Foods (with sites located in Faversham and in Ashford), for everything from craft beers to exotic fruit and fresh bread to local wines. Make sure you stop for a lazy brunch or lunch at the excellent on-site café, and check out the hundreds of delicious cheeses at the delicatessen. Alternatively, take a trip to Gravesend and book a table at the Three Daws where you'll enjoy a delicious menu of locally sourced produce, whilst admiring stunning riverside views!
We have to admit, while we love to indulge in a little retail therapy from time to time (ahem), the designer labels we love aren't always within reach. Luckily for us, Ashford Designer Outlet offers 85 stores of designer favourites for up to 60% less! So you can treat yourself to Jack Wills, Hugo Boss, Ted Baker and Kate Spade (to name just a few) on a practically guilt free shopping trip. Plus with so many fantastic deals to be found, you may as well throw in another treat and enjoy dinner at Comptoir Libanais or Wagamama while you're here - come on, you know you deserve it...
Spoil yourself with an above par escape
With so many sensational courses to play, a golf break in Kent is the perfect way to make the most of a visit to our county's glorious greens. Keen golfers should pack up their clubs and head straight to White Cliffs Country, where you'll find no fewer than three coastal championship links courses to play on. In fact, the golfing's so good in this neck of the woods, that the UK’s only major golfing tournament The 149th Open will be hosted here next summer! Travel in-land a little to Boughton-under-Blean and you'll discover a golfing destination like no other. With its tranquil modern décor and exclusive facilities, Cave Hotel & Golf Resort is unashamedly unique, and undeniably lavish.
Cave Hotel & Golf Resort is Good To Go.
Raise a glass in the Wine Garden of England
Yes, Kent may be known for its hops and oysters, but with the Downs chalky soil and Southern England climate, our county is prime wine making territory. Linking together seven of Kent's top vineyards, The Wine Garden of England partnership celebrates a range of world-class wines and the award-winning producers behind them. Visit idyllic Simpsons Wine Estate positioned on the sunny, sheltered slopes of the North Downs and you're sure to get a warm welcome and set those taste buds off with a tour and tasting.
Go searching for vintage treasures
Feeling thrifty? Kent is bursting with a whole host of antique and vintage stores just beckoning to be explored! Head to marvellous Margate Old Town and spend an afternoon pacing the winding streets, where you'll find a plethora of vintage hotspots waiting for you on every corner. Pause for a photo by pretty-in-pink Peony Vintage, before popping next door and raiding the rails at Handsome Freaks. Over in West Kent charming Cranbrook is a must-visit for any antique enthusiasts. When visiting, make a beeline for Waterloo House Tearooms & Antiques; a total treasure trove, which even offers a wide selection of refreshments to enjoy once you’ve worked up an appetite!
More tea vicar?
Indulge in the most quintessential of British customs when you enjoy a delicious Afternoon Tea as part of your escape from the everyday in the Garden of England. With family and food at the heart of all they do, tuck into sumptuous scones whilst sipping on hand-blended teas at Marie's Tearoom set in Gravesend’s charming heritage quarter. Alternatively, add a little sparkle to a tea for two and include a glass of prosecco in your booking at the Weald of Kent Golf Course & Hotel near Maidstone. This beautifully maintained 18 hole parkland golf course and hotel is set amongst rolling countryside, and with its far reaching views, it offers the perfect retreat from the ordinary!
Escape to the Spa
If you want more from the every day, escape with an elegant retreat in the charming spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. Stretch your legs, as The Royal Wells Hotel boasts spectacular views from its hilltop location on Mount Ephraim, a short walk away from the bustling town centre. Incorporating the latest facilities and contemporary style, while retaining its Victorian elegance and period features, there is no better place to spend a day. When it comes to dining, a passion for food shines through in the bar and restaurant menus created by the Royal Wells Hotel’s head chef and his dedicated team, offering a selection of delicious dishes using the finest locally sourced produce wherever possible
Go wild for the view
If you think luxury and the wilderness don’t go together, prepare to think again! Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve's incredible overnight accommodation sits inside their wildlife park, getting you close to the animal action while you relax in style. Escape to their lodges where your neighbours will include rhinos, zebras and giraffes, or for a dream-worthy retreat, The Bubble offers panoramic views and a bubble bath under the stars. It's no ordinary staycation...
Get the perfect eight hours
The world today is very busy, we always have somewhere to be and someone to see. Sometimes we need to really need to feel the benefit of eight hours of glorious sleep. If you’re looking for luxury close to the coast, then Hythe Imperial Seaside Hotel is your perfect stop. The Hythe Imperial has stood at the heart of the beautiful seaside town for hundreds of years. Bask in the sea views and embrace the coastal air all from within a hotel full of Victorian Splendour!
Discover your creative side
Indulge in some culture and embrace your creative side in Folkestone’s creative quarter, where every day is different. Discover new artists and inventors changing the scene, from Ali Hodgkinson to Dominic Pillai. Or indulge your tastebuds, whether you fancy seafood, Spanish or burgers Folkestone has some amazing hidden gems. Maybe retail therapy is what you need, shop in independent retailers that celebrate individuality, diversity and design.
A sparkling afternoon
Nothing says reward like a glass of the finest English sparkling wine, especially when you’re enjoying your glass in the vineyard itself! Head to Gusbourne vineyards in rural Appledore for a self-guided or hosted tour with wine tastings and your choice of a casual tasting lunch or three-course fine dining, for however you like to celebrate. For an extra special tour, join Gusbourne at one of their most exciting times and experience their harvest on the 20th and 27th September where you can see the grape pickers in action.