Accommodation in Kent
The following places to stay have been chosen for their unique character, location, hospitality and for generally standing out from the crowd. With a handful of exceptions, they are neither the most expensive of places, nor are they part of a large chain.
Good local accommodation booking sites offering superior self-catering rental properties across Kent include:
Bloom Stays – A Kent-based agency run by a duo who have been in the property rental business for years and have exceptionally high standards for what gets on their books. These include some unique places to stay such as the Coastguard Lookout at Dungeness, converted barns with cathedral-like wooden beams and luxe shepherds’ huts.
The Beach Studios – With a background in the magazine, photography and design industries, the couple running this agency can be counted on to find you a truly gorgeous place to stay. Among their specialisms are beachside properties in Kent.
Keepers Cottages – Family-run, Walmer-based agency representing a wide-range of quality rentals in the Deal, Thanet and Canterbury areas. They have a good selection of pet-friendly accommodation and places with sea views.
Also check out the handful of historic properties managed in Kent by the Landmark Trust including the Grade 1-listed The Grange in Ramsgate, the home of celebrated Victorian architect Augustus Pugin; Grade II-listed Dairy at Cobham Hall, Cobham; and Prospect Tower at Belmont Park near Faversham.
Where to base yourself in Kent
Canterbury & surrounds
Nestled near the North Downs and bisected by the River Stour, Canterbury is a city with a great many tales to tell. The 250ft tower of the cathedral, the mother church of the Church of England, can be spied for miles around, over the treeline, rooftops and the city’s partially intact Norman castle wall. This stone beacon has been guiding pilgrims and visitors to ‘Britain’s Rome’ for centuries.
North Kent: Gravesend to Faversham
The motorways and high-speed train lines that slice through north Kent tempt many to breeze through with barely a backwards glance: this often maligned quarter of the county is noticeably more urban and industrial around the Medway. But slow your pace and you’ll soon notice the mud flats and salt marshes of the river estuaries, the beaches along the coast and the ancient woodlands and farmlands of the North Downs. Many north Kent towns have millennia-long histories and royal associations.
There’s a legacy of strategic military defences, including Norman and medieval castles, Napoleonic forts and historic naval dockyards.
Thanet, Sandwich & Deal
Thanet’s coastline of low chalk cliffs is fringed with some of Kent’s most beautiful sandy beaches: walking or cycling along the Viking Coastal Trail is a wonderful way to discover them. The reviving sea water and fresh air here has been attracting vacationing Londoners since the late 18th century when towns such as Margate and Broadstairs began to develop into the popular resorts they are today.
Southeast Coastal Kent
This region is home to the iconic White Cliffs that run from Kingsdown in the east to Capel-le-Ferne and the Warren in the west, with the most famous section protected by the National Trust close to Dover. Dotted west along or near the coast are a series of smaller, but no less appealing, towns and villages, starting off with Sandgate where H G Wells had a home.
Kent Weald & Downs
Kent’s gently rolling, verdant countryside is the playground for an abundance of superb Slow Travel experiences. Much of the pleasure of travel here is that, for walkers, there are no great elevations or rocky traverses to conquer: 823ft Betsom’s Hill near Westerham in west Kent is county’s highest point. Still, the panoramic views from the crests of the North Downs are frequently splendid.
Transport in Kent
Kent has a decent network of bus and trains routes and with some careful planning and patience it’s possible to reach – within reasonably close walking range – many of its major sites by public transport. If you’re not up for long walks, then for the most rural locations a car will certainly be handy.
National Express runs coaches to about 20 Kent locations, mostly in the east of the county, from London’s Victoria Coach Station. These include Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone, Margate, Ramsgate and Whitstable. For drivers, the fastest roads into the county are the A2/M2, M20 and M26, all of which branch off from the M25.
Southeastern is Kent’s main train company. Their high-speed services from London St Pancras run along three routes: to Ebbsfleet (near Gravesend), Ashford, and onwards to Folkestone and Dover; the same stations to Ashford and then via Canterbury West to Ramsgate and Margate; and along the north Kent coast to Gravesend, Rochester, Faversham, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate.
The best way to plan a Slow travel route around Kent is to use Kent Connected, an online service providing comparisons for travel by different methods – public transport, car, cycling or walking – between any two points in the county.