Pocket guide to Kent

Carmen McCormack Profile Image

Carmen McCormack

Guest Expert

5 min read

Historic houses, stunning gardens, bountiful vineyards and a ribboning coast dotted with colourful towns and bucket-and-spade beaches make for a perfect English escape. Kent is also known as the Garden of England, thanks to a particularly mild microclimate and an abundance of fruit orchards and hop gardens. This extends to its fertile farmland and thriving ocean that feed superb independent eateries with locally grown produce and sublime seafood. There’s more: bustling markets and artisan bakeries, wine tasting tours and contemporary art galleries, cliff top walks and nature reserves. All this to discover just over an hour from the capital. Of course, it’s best to make a weekend of it, so explore our special places to stay in Kent and start planning your trip to the south east.

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Kent , Scotney Castle, Gusbourne, Margate, Sandwich, Botany Bay , Whitstable

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Walks in Kent  - Scotney Castle Parkland Trail walk. Come for a gentle two-mile stroll along the Parkland Trail (well signposted) to find out about the fascinating history and ancient secrets of this heritage estate near Tunbridge Wells. Cared for by the National Trust, this romantic 14th-century moated castle is now an atmospheric ruin and grand Victorian country mansion. The grounds have delicious gardens, expansive views and myriad routes through beautiful woods and parkland. Dogs are welcome too.  For more rambles through woods, along the coast and in town, take a look at a few of our favourite strolls in Kent

Wine tasting experiences at Gusbourne

Thanks to the county’s exceptionally mild microclimate, Kent is giving France a run for its money when it comes to viticulture. Established in 2004, Gusbourne works in harmony with the land and encourages biodiversity by championing a sustainable approach to vineyard management. Given that they’re the only three-time winner of the IWSC English Wine Producer of the Year, they must be onto something. Come for tours, tastings of still or sparkling flights, or sign up for a masterclass which includes a three-course lunch.

For more sparkling days out sampling the delights of English vineyards, discover some of the best wine tasting experiences in Kent


Three Sisters Sevenoaks

Talented chef, Tom Duffill, worked in acclaimed restaurants in London, including a stint as head chef at Michelin-starred Arbutus before a lockdown project between him and his wife, Becky, quickly flourished into Dining at Home and Supper Club at Chart Farm. Working to shorten the gap between farm and table, championing local suppliers and producers, and focusing on seasonality is their winning formula. Pick up an oven-ready feast plus cocktails, freshly baked breads, treats and provisions for an at-home Saturday night meal, or come to the farm for a sublime Friday night supper club.

Taste the difference at some of our favourite pubs, inns and restaurants specially sniffed out for foodies in Kent.


Buoy and Oyster

Husband and wife duo, Simon and Nadine, worked together in luxury hospitality across Europe before falling in love with an old building with sea views in Margate (Nadine’s home town) and transforming it into this friendly family seafood restaurant. Celebrating local ingredients and just-caught fish, come to tuck into expertly prepared seafood platters, crafted cocktails or pick up piping hot fish and chips from their beachfront takeaway ‘Beach Buoys’ and soak up a spectacular sunset. 

A 2024 foodie destination, Margate invites you to tuck in. Explore our favourite independent places to eat and drink, from sublime seafood eateries to an artisan bakery, coastal wine bars to an Italian cantina.




Historic seaside Margate has a glorious, wide, silky-sand beach, enough iconic landmarks to shake a stick at, and a decidedly arty vibe thanks to a plethora of galleries and Tracey Emin’s school for aspiring artists. Among our favourite things to do in Margate are a visit to the Turner Contemporary Gallery, where many of his celebrated seascapes and sunsets were painted, or a browse around The Margate Bookshop. 


A mile and a half as the crow flies from the magnificent east Kent coast, Sandwich is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the UK, rammed with half-timbered buildings teetering down narrow lanes. Discover the Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre, cradle of Roman Britain, learn more about the town’s history at the Guildhall Museum, visit a tropical ‘secret’ Gertrude Jeckyll garden and go bird-spotting at the superb Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory Trust.

From trendy Margate to seaside Deal and old-school Broadstairs, Kent is awash with charming towns and villages to explore

Botany Bay, Broadstairs

Framed by dramatic towering white cliffs and mesmerising chalk stacks, Botany Bay is picture-perfect. Arrive along the cliff tops from Palm Bay beach for superb coastal views, hunt for fossils, dip in the rock pools, swim if you’re hardy. It can get crowded, especially on a sunny day in high summer, but it has a special kind of magic on a quiet autumn or winter day when you get the place almost to yourself.         

For more bucket-and-spade action, teetering cliffs and refreshing sea breezes explore more of our favourite beaches in Kent.


Lower Ladysden

A family-run farm and award-winning farm shop near Marden in the heart of the fertile Kent countryside. With fresh fruit and vegetables to pick yourself in season and a shop stocked with everyday essentials, treats, jams and juices, you’ll find plenty of inspiration for homemade meals. It’s a lively sort of place, locals hire it out for events and celebrations, school children visit the farm, and you’ll find recipe ideas on their website. 

Harbour Market Whitstable

Lining the pretty, working harbour and dock in picturesque Whitstable, a quirky fishing town dotted with pastel-hued beach huts on the northeast coast, this lively, community based, open-air market is run by two artisan traders. Showcasing a smorgasbord of local, hand-crafted goods and fine art plus tempting food stalls serving a range of cuisines, you won’t leave empty handed. Sample the fried fish, it’s a local delicacy, and you can’t get fresher than this. Wander down to the quayside with your spoils where seafaring types are busy working on boats.

If your idea of travel is to eat your way around the area, then check out the rest of our must-visit farm shops and markets in Kent.


The George & Heart

Bang in the centre of colourful, coastal Margate, this ancient coaching inn refurbished with huge personality, is a three-minute walk to the sea. The feel is very relaxed, staff are incredibly friendly and the idea is that guests feel like one big family. Breakfast is continental, the bar serves local craft beers and fine wines and the seasonal and ever-evolving menus play homage to superb local produce. You’re opposite Love Lane and King Street, two of the main lanes in town, filled with cool shops and cafés.

For more charming coastal places to stay, browse our special seabreeze cottages, inns and hotels in Kent.

Stable West

An immaculate stable retreat surrounded by secure gardens and the well-established Heppington vineyard. You get logs for the wood burner, wine from the estate, fresh flowers for the table, and heaps of country-house space. Relax in the lofty sitting room, chop and stir in a big fresh kitchen then snooze in the airy sunroom. Dogs will love the biscuit treats and miles of Kentish countryside to scamper. Humans will love splashing in the rose-scented pool and knocking balls around the court. Historic Canterbury is up the road and you can stroll across fields to local pubs.

Kingshill Farmhouse

This beautiful old house sits on a unique family-owned Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey. Look after yourselves or upgrade to be cosseted incredibly thoughtfully from breakfast to a relaxed or formal supper and housekeeping in between. The team is dedicated, friendly and efficient. Bedrooms have underfloor heating, walk-in showers, deep window sills, pretty fabrics and vintage finds. Light a roaring fire for wintery nights, settle with a whisky in the snug or in the library full of books and games. You have 3,300 acres of nature reserve to explore and your own shell beach with sheltered swimming at high tide. Yoga and massages can be arranged.

We hope our Pocket Guide has given you a small taste of the abundant Garden of England. If we’ve piqued your interest, take a look at our other places to stay and start planning your trip to the glorious south east.

Our featured places to stay in Kent

The George & Heart

Margate, Kent

  • From £95 p/n
  • Inn
  • 8 rooms for 2 - 4

Stable West

Canterbury, Kent

  • From £150 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 3 rooms for 5

Kingshill Farmhouse

Sheerness, Kent

  • From £770 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 6 rooms for 12

Explore all our special places to stay in Kent >

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Carmen McCormack

Guest Expert

Carmen is a freelance writer specialising in travel. She once lived in a bus in north Wales, skipped off to study in Barcelona, and now calls Bristol home. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she can be found reading (a lot), lake swimming (a little), and pottering on the allotment with husband and two kiddos. She’s currently dreaming about cold cerveza and torta in Mexico.

View more articles by this author

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