What’s the rhythm of Kent we hear you ask? Coast and countryside, city streets and village views, festivals and family fun, and food and drink, fresh from the sea or fresh from the land.
We like our contemporary coastline with a side of historic castles, and our lazy beach breaks paired with vibrant city escapes. It’s all here and we can’t wait to share it with you.
Oh, and before we forget, Lonely Planet named our very own Kent’s Heritage Coast among the best places in the world to visit! As the only UK destination to make it to the 2022 list, we’d say that’s reason enough to take a leap and visit Kent, wouldn’t you?
You'll no doubt have heard of Canterbury in East Kent for its historic Cathedral (the oldest in the country, don’t you know), its winding cobbled streets, independent shops and river tours, but this region is also known for its coastline, including the iconic Whitstable, with its mazy streets, glorious sunsets and beach hut-lined bays. Coast and city, it’s the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. You remember we mentioned that seamless blend of heritage and contemporary culture? Between clifftop castles and creative seaside towns, the East Kent coastline has it in spades.
In White Cliffs Country, those iconic White Cliffs of Dover are topped by Dover Castle, a fortress that’s been at the forefront of history for centuries – the tunnels alone have plenty of tales to tell – while just along the coast the town of Deal boasts café culture, galleries and a buzzing foodie scene.
While The Isle of Thanet at the very tip of Kent mixes nostalgic family beach breaks on blue flag awarded beaches in beautiful Broadstairs, with riviera-style dining in Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour and the buzz of Margate, home of the iconic Dreamland, and the cutting-edge Turner Contemporary gallery, named after the artist who immortalised the area’s sunset skies. What's more Cliftonville in Margate has been declared one of the top ten coolest neighbourhoods in the world to visit by TimeOut, with its cafes, record shops and conscious independents all earning it the highest ranking UK destination on the list!
If you like your weekend getaway served with a slice of street food, we recommend heading to Folkestone, where the Creative Quarter’s exciting arts scene rests alongside the Folkestone Harbour Arm, a hub of live music and delicious local food. Take the Folkestone Artworks trail, soak up those sea views and while away an evening sipping cocktails and tucking into everything from Greek and Italian to the freshest vegan dishes. While quiet strolls and peaceful wanders can be found in nearby Dungeness, a haven for wildlife, the home of local favourite Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, and star of many an Instagram post (seriously, take a look at our profile).
East Kent’s accommodation is no less varied. Alongside quirky coastal cottages, you’ll find contemporary properties worthy of a place on Grand Designs, not to mention your holiday wish-list. Discover seaside hotels with Champagne bars, lodges overlooking cathedrals and treehouses to send you on safari…
Our next stop is no less varied. Blue flag-awarded beaches? Check. A lively festival calendar? Check. Historic docks that boast heritage ships and buzzing night life? Check. Easy train links straight from London? Check. Welcome to North Kent, home to a wealth of heritage, jam-packed with family-friendly days out, and the backdrop to a vibrant cultural scene.
We’ll start with the heritage, shall we? This region is packed with history and culture, in part due to the area’s rich maritime and military heritage, which can be discovered at the Historic Dockyard Chatham and the Royal Engineers Museum, and in part due to its appeal to literati like Charles Dickens himself. Gravesend and Rochester are packed with call backs to his many famed works. Here you’ll find museums dedicated to Dickens set within buildings featured in his novels, alongside pubs the iconic author frequented.
For foodie afternoons head to Chatham Maritime Marina and take the Copper Rivet tour and learn about the creation of their gin and vodka from grain to glass, or stop in at their Pumproom restaurant for fine dining and cocktails. Beer aficionados should head straight to Faversham for a tour of nearby Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewer, before wandering Faversham’s cobbled streets and picking up the freshest produce at nearby Macknade.
For family fun, head to the Isle of Sheppey, home to two blue flag beaches and perfect nostalgic seaside days out. While Gravesend’s Shorne Woods Country Park offers picnic perfection a play area and plenty of green space to keep little ones busy.
We mentioned that festivals calendar, right? From Faversham’s hop festival, to Rochester’s Dickens festival set in the shadow of the fairytale Rochester Cathedral, North Kent’s events rolls on throughout the year, from foodie fests and live music to arty celebrations. There’s even a taste of the historic, with The Historic Dockyard Chatham’s swinging Festival of the 40s.
And once you’ve spent your days swimming, sipping and celebrating, the accommodation is waiting. From the chance to stay in a shepherd’s hut within a National Nature Reserve, to IG-worthy holiday cottages in the grounds of the Belmont Estate (a truly gorgeous manor house worthy of a visit), North Kent’s places to stay will leave you refreshed, revived and raring to go for the next day’s adventure.
This area is known as a rural paradise. And in true contrasting Kent-style the area’s landscape is made up of traditional orchards and hop gardens alongside the more recently grown swathes of vineyards. Yep, vineyards in Kent. We’ll get the boasting out of the way first – Kent’s Wine Garden of England is the largest area of vineyards of any UK county, and you’ll find plenty of them here within the regions of Ashford and Maidstone. Gusbourne, Chapel Down, Biddenden, Balfour Winery…we could go on, but instead we’ll encourage you to come and see them for yourself, soak up the views and sip on some of that award-winning wine.
When we say this area has a vast number of manor houses and castles, we mean it. From Winston Churchill’s beloved home Chartwell in Sevenoaks, and the nearby romantic Penshurst Place, to the tumble down folly in the grounds of Scotney Castle, the Motte and Bailey fortress of Tonbridge Castle, and the vast collections that stretch across Chiddingstone Castle, it’s safe to say these gorgeous West Kent properties promise beautiful gardens, intriguing artifacts and key pieces of history. But here’s the twist, did you know you can actually stay the night in some of these icons?
After years of hosting the most-Gatsby-esque parties during the era of former owner Lady Baillie, Leeds Castle knows a thing or two about entertaining guests. Stay the night within the castle gates at the Maiden’s Tower, sleep under striped canvas on a Knight’s Glamping, or pitch up for a friends retreat at the opulent Battel Hall. Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, is no less impressive. With 5* bedrooms located within two of the castle’s wings (now how’s that for posh?), it’s safe to say this is as close as you can get to the royal treatment!
Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, Ashford, Tonbridge and Malling…every one of these areas has pretty villages and cobbled streets for you to explore. We could never name them all, but we will give you some highlights. Less than an hour from London West Malling promises incredible dining (we recommend booking ahead for The Swan), while Yalding just outside of Maidstone offers glimpses of those oh so Kentish oast houses and riverside wanders. Historic Cinque Port Tenterden is a must for the Kent and East Sussex heritage railway alone, while the Spa Valley Railway in Tunbridge Wells is the perfect way to explore nearby Groombridge and its enchanting manor. While West Kent’s villages offer IG-worthy views and independent shops, Tunbridge Wells is the perfect spot for boutique shopping and a little R&R, while the newly extended Ashford Designer Outlet is home to more than 65 designer brands for up to 60% less! Oh yes.
So we’ve shared the quieter, slower paced parts of West Kent, it’s time to up the tempo for a little action and adventure. Whether you choose e-bike tours between those vineyards we mentioned with UK Electric Bike Centre, swinging through the trees at Bedgebury GoApe, or wild swimming in the lake of the beautiful Bewl Water, West Kent’s pace can go from relaxed garden wanders to mountain biking through forests in no time.
Whether you’re looking to change the pace up or slow it down, it doesn’t matter, it’s here in Kent. Family getaways, weekend escapes and week-long breaks, it’s time to find your pace and start planning your Kent getaway.