Coastal escapes and seaside cottages in Kent


The garden of England has some beautiful stretches of coast sprinkled with beach towns and quaint villages. From arty Margate to genteel Whitstable and trendy Deal to creative Folkstone, each has their own flavour. Come for sea-sculpted cliffs, epic sunsets, vast history, and splendid Victorian architecture. From certain points, you’re so close to France that, on a clear day, you can see the outline of the continent. Kent can also lay claim to a unique family-owned Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey. It’s a real slice of wilderness surrounded by Thames estuary waters that are a haven for birds and wildlife, and you can stay in the heart of its 3,300 acres. For more inspiration, take a peek at our other charming coastal places to stay in Kent.

The Cook’s Cottage

Come for sea air and independent shops, great places to eat and a myriad of galleries from this quirky cottage with a sunny walled garden. You’re just a 30-second wander to the seafront for a blast of fresh air – from here the sunsets are fabulous, and it’s dog-friendly all year round too. Head to the Whitstable Fish Market on the harbour for fresh, sustainable fish and oysters. Bring everything back to the kitchen, a super little space with handmade wooden worktops, a big range cooker, Smeg fridge and every pot and pan you could want, including a lobster pot. The garden with home cinema screen, chiminea, hammock and outdoor kitchen is a delight in summer. Bedrooms are characterful and cosseting. There are coastal walks, bird sanctuaries and water sports to try.

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49 The Marina

This cheerful apartment with its own private entrance, on the ground floor of a Victorian seafront home, is a wonderfully unspoilt place for a bucket-and-spade holiday. Inside, there’s lots of space, and you’re just a hop, skip and jump away from the shingle beach of seaside-jolly Deal. Pack your stuff, cross the road and spend the day having watery fun. The local fish and chip shop will deliver straight to the beach! Otherwise walk ten minutes to the high street for pubs and shops, and the pier where you’ll find gourmet food. Stow wetsuits, bodyboards and sandy gear in the covered garden, fire up the barbecue and sleep like logs after all that fresh sea air.

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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. It’s fun to sit out here and people watch on a sunny day or stroll five minutes to the famous Turner Contemporary and look out for Antony Gormley’s Another Time Statue staring out to sea.

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The Relish

Expect super comfy interiors and a sense of generosity from your charming hosts in this 1850s townhouse retreat.  You’re just one street back from Folkestone’s cliff-top front for big sea views. Steps lead down to smart gardens, the Leas Cliff Promenade, a Victorian walk gazing over the English Channel to France, and a plethora of waterside restaurants. On sunny days, head to the aptly named Sunny Sands, a beautiful, flat sandy beach with calm shallow waters. Perfect for all ages to fly a kite, build a sand castle, eat fish and chips or a homemade ice cream. Return for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant and Hypnos beds upstairs. Eat breakfast on the terrace in summer.

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Kingshill Farmhouse

Elmley is unique: 3,300 acres of saltmarsh and mudflats, wilderness and beauty – the only family-owned National Nature Reserve in the UK. And you get to stay in this sublime house with miles of nature trails to wander and your own shell beach with sheltered swimming at high tide. If you’re very quiet you may even be joined by a seal. Discover grazing cattle and sheep, wildflowers in spring, owls, hare, birds of prey and waders, butterflies and dragonflies. Book a wildlife tour if you want to know more. Just an hour from London but a world away from city living. If you don’t want to lift a finger, upgrade to be cosseted incredibly thoughtfully from breakfast to a relaxed or formal supper and housekeeping in between.

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Heron House

Good restaurants, beach walks, a grand welcome for dogs: that’s Whitstable. Perfectly placed between the high street and the sea, this spruced up house is easy walking distance to both and perfect for a group of friends or two families. Wander through the trendy coastal town that has it all: shops, galleries, restaurants, pubs, chips, beach huts by the sea, and a proper coffee shop in Tankerton called JoJo’s. A plate of oysters in the parlour at Wheeler’s Bar is not to be missed. Back at base, find a table topped with candles and a basket of nice things in the bright kitchen/diner, and doors to a pretty courtyard with a garden room for dreaming on a daybed. Bedrooms on the upper floors are neat as a pin. The station is a ten-minute walk if you fancy ditching the car.

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