Kent really does have everything – it’s no wonder the conquerors wanted to settle here. With its historic towns, wild coastline and flourishing countryside, the Garden of England is a truly magnificent spectacle all year round, whether it’s looking over the rolling Weald countryside, peppered with orchards and oast houses, or taking in the sea air at Whitstable, strolling its unspoilt high street lined with independent shops and tucking into world-famous oysters.
For foodies, Kent certainly has its place on the map, with a high concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants and pubs, from the unpretentious Sportsman at Seasalter to the old-fashioned grandeur of Reads Restaurant with Rooms. Well known for the Shepherd Neame brewery in Faversham, Kent has plenty of quality pubs with their historic charm preserved and award-winning ales to keep any enthusiast happy. For wine drinkers, the low Weald is the place to be with the superb Chapel Down and Biddenden vineyards on the doorstep.
After all that eating, there’s plenty on offer in terms of outdoor pursuits, from a leisurely ramble around the numerous areas of outstanding natural beauty, wildlife reserves and heritage properties, such as Sissinghurst and Hever Castle, to more energetic activities like cycling the Viking coastal trail, kite surfing in Margate or playing 18 holes on one of the country’s best golf courses – Royal St George’s Golf Club in Sandwich. It’s not just the Vikings who took a liking to Kent; the county has been the backdrop for many great literary masterpieces such as Dickens’ David Copperfield and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, as wells as inspiration for artists such as Tracey Emin and JMW Turner – now celebrated in the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate.
When looking for somewhere to rest your head after all that excitement the possibilities are endless, but it’s the quaint B&Bs that shine through. From a wind-swept captain’s house on the Kentish coastline to a three-storey former fire station, there’s a style to suit everyone, whether it’s shabby-chic vintage or cutting edge contemporary. By far one of England’s loveliest and most varied counties, it’s easy to become addicted to exploring the nooks and crannies of this cultural hotspot.
A gracious and calming restaurant with rooms in a Georgian manor, run with commitment. Excellent restaurant, large elegant bedrooms with Savoir beds, surrounded by tranquil gardens.
Impressive Lutyens mansion in town centre with rooms/cottages for guests in the wonderful garden. Private and secluded stay, ideal for groups of friends or grown-up families.
Old Jacobean manor house in country setting. Views over sweeping landscape towards white cliffs. Rustic bedrooms, spa, restaurant.
Nr Cranbrook, Kent
Luxurious, intimate and atmospheric National Trust owned b&b, at the gates of Sissinghurst Castle and in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Lovingly restored, and magical.
Large bathrooms and bedrooms, elegantly furnished, in this gorgeous Georgian townhouse by the seaside, close to the sights, makes for a romantic weekend escape.
Nr Maidstone, Kent
Grand Edwardian country house b&b, with beautiful interiors, gardens and views over the Weald. A great rural escape, especially in summer, with pool, tennis, croquet.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Beautiful sandstone mansion overlooking Calverley Park. Stylish contemporary bedrooms and suites typical of the Du Vin brand.
Stylish conversion of historic buildings in the the heart of Canterbury, spitting distance from the Cathedral. Good mix of ancient wooden beams and sleek contemporary designs. Great dining and drinking options with Michael Caines restaurant and well equipped bedrooms across the board.
Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Former royal butler and Aussie Harold Brown’s devotion to Victoriana and service below stairs make this captivating Victoriana themed B&B in the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells. An experience, with great stories from Harold included.
Charming b+b for seclusion, unspoilt rolling countryside views and thoughtful comforts. Ideal for a quick rural escape, with good local walking and country pubs.
Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Boutique getaway retreat for hardworking urbanites, an hour from London by train. Chic interiors, good cooking and rooms that open out onto little decks.
Modern, retro styled B+B for the design savvy in a former fire station in the heart of Canterbury - appealing, lively and original, with just two rooms. Book both for a foursome.