British Isles

The best hotels in Kent

From sea-facing boutiques to charming gastropubs.

Albion House

Albion Place, Ramsgate, CT11 8HQ

Of the 14 comfortable rooms at this elegant hotel, 12 have sea views. The building dates to 1792 and Princess Victoria stayed here in 1835 shortly before she was crowned queen – the room that she occupied today has a king-sized bed and Regency balcony – sit and watch the sun set over the nearby harbour. The hotel’s dining room is one of Ramsgate’s best restaurants.

Albion Room

31 Eastern Esplanade, Cliftonville, Margate, CT9 2HL

For fans of The Libertines, this is the ultimate opportunity to stay in a seaside hotel owned by the boho rockers. The property’s inventive and decadently glam décor takes its design cues from the red, black and gold of the band members’ jackets. The high-concept style continues in the hotel’s Wasteland bar and Arcady Lounge in which meals are served. There’s also a recording studio here should you feel inspired to lay down some tracks of your own. 

Bell Hotel

The Quay, Sandwich, CT13 9EF

Part of the Shepherd Neame brewery chain, this hotel, overlooking the Stour River, has been welcoming guests since Tudor times. It has 37 rooms individually decorated in neutral tones with classical furnishings. The river view suites have four-poster beds and access to the wrought iron railed balcony over the hotel’s main dining room.

Canterbury Cathedral Lodge

The Precincts, Canterbury, CT1 2EH 

You could hardly wish for a finer location to overnight in Canterbury than at one of the 35 rooms in this modern hotel that is within the cathedral precincts. Guests have access to a well-stocked library, and the private Campanile Garden with stunning views of the UNESCO World Heritage site. In good weather, breakfast is served on the terrace of their Refectory restaurant. The hotel also has five en-suite rooms and a 2-bed flat in the adjacent Burgate building (no lift and no cathedral views).

Cave Hotel & Golf Resort

Brickfield Lane, Boughton, ME13 9AJ

Treat yourself to sleek, contemporary-styled rooms and a good choice of restaurants at this classy 167-acre golf resort, 3½ miles east of Faversham. The entry level Cave Rooms are nothing to sniff at with their super king-size beds, mood lighting, rainfall shower and 65-inch TVs, but to feel like a superstar upgrade to the 3000² ft Penthouse with a private wrap-around balcony. There are two restaurants, two golf courses (the 18-hole championship and the nine-hole par three), and a gym, sauna, steam room and therapy pool. 

Chilston Park Hotel

Sandway, Maidstone, ME17 2BE 

Set in 22 acres of parkland, five miles southeast of Leeds Castle, Chilston Park has 17th-century architectural features and antique furnishings. The 54 rooms range from the cosy Mews Classics in the converted coach house and stables, to the Tudor suite in the eaves of the manor house. Highlights of the hotel include its handsome Marble Lounge, a popular spot for afternoon tea and the Grand Staircase decorated with 16th-entury wood panelling.

Eastwell Manor

Eastwell Park, Boughton Lees, TN25 4HR

Pamper yourself with a relaxing spa day and a stay in either the grand manor house or nearby mews cottages at this historical property five miles north of Ashford. The handsome creeper-clad mock-Tudor manor was erected in the late 18th century, its most famous occupant being Queen Victoria’s second son, Prince Alfred, who lived here for a period towards the end of the 19th century. The hotel offers lovely surrounding gardens and countryside including a croquet lawn, golf course and heated outdoor swimming pool. 

Hotel Continental

29 Beach Walk, Whitstable, CT5 2BP 

A short walk east of Whitstable’s bustling harbour towards the beaches of Tankerton, this sea-facing hotel offers soothing, white-washed rooms. Some rooms have balconies and there’s one on the ground floor that is dog-friendly. There’s a good restaurant and bar here. The owners also let out 12 historical beachfront fisherman’s huts, a handful of modern sea-view apartments in a more central location and seven contemporary cottages overlooking harbour that are good for families of four or two couples sharing.

Hotel du Vin

Crescent Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 2LY

This Grade II-listed mansion, which hosted the future Queen Victoria on her visits to the spa town, was one of the first in the classy Hotel du Vin chain. Original features such as the grand staircase and antique lift have been retained but when it comes to the 34 guest rooms they are decorated in contemporary style, all with high quality linens and towels. To the rear the overlooks lush Calverley Park, laid out in 1825 as part of the private Calverley Estate, a project overseen by the eminent Victorian architect Decimus Burton.

House of Agnes

71 St Dunstans Street, Canterbury, CT2 8BN

A few minutes’ walk from Canterbury West train station, the House of Agnes bills itself as a B&B but it’s more like a small boutique hotel, with its individually themed rooms, with decorative features evoking global destinations such as a Marrakesh, Paris and Tokyo. Some of the rooms overlook a tranquil walled garden, the largest in the city. The main building dates to the 15th century and was referred to as the House of Agnes Wickfield in Charles Dickens’ novel David Copperfield.

Hythe Imperial Hotel

Princes Parade, Hythe, CT21 6AE

Originally built by the South Eastern Railway and opened in 1880, the independently owned Hythe Imperial has both sea-and garden-facing rooms. All rooms are pleasantly furnished with the best being the deluxe and suites, each with unique décor and super comfy beds. Facilities include a heated indoor swimming pool, spa, gym and neighbouring 18-hole links golf course. 

One Warwick Park

1 Warwick Park, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 5TA

On the doorstep of The Pantiles, this appealing hotel with contemporary rooms occupies what was once a brewery and the neighbouring schoolhouse. The 39 bedrooms are decorated in neutral tones with king or super king-sized beds, walnut furniture and other custom-made furnishings. Bathrooms feature monsoon rain showers, standalone baths and Temple Spa toiletries. They also have an equally smartly decorated four-bedroom house for rent, if you prefer to self-cater, which is dog-friendly.

Port Lympne Hotel

Aldington Road, Lympne, CT21 4LR

There are levels of accommodation to suit most budgets at this reserve that is home to over 900 animals ranging from hulking black rhinos and towering giraffes to herds of antelope and all kinds of apes and monkeys. At the top level are luxuriously decorated private lodges that come with their own chefs to make you breakfast and picture windows out of which you have a ringside seat on the activities of lions, tigers or wolves. There are quirky accommodations such as high spec wigwams at the Leopards Creek compound which also has compact cubs and cabins, or the Bubble which has transparent walls and ceilings for enveloping views of the surrounding nature. The Pinewood glamping pods and shepherds’ huts offer the most affordable overnight stays, while the four-star Port Lympe Hotel occupies the original Herbert-Baker designed mansion with its extraordinary interior decoration and beautiful surrounding gardens.

Royal Harbour Hotel

10 Nelson Cr, Ramsgate, CT11 9JF

As its name indicates, the Royal Harbour has a prime elevated location overlooking the yachts bobbing in Ramsgate’s chic marina. Rooms range from a cosy single with a partial view of the rear garden to suites with teak four-poster beds and private balconies. Breakfast is served to guests at the harbourside restaurant Little Ships, a five-minute walk from the hotel.

Royal Hotel

Beach Street, Deal, CT14 6JD

With historical connections to Lord Nelson and his mistress Lady Hamilton, who often met here, this hotel overlooks Deal’s shingle beach and modern pier. Creaking and sloping floors add to the Georgian charm of the building with the guest rooms sporting contemporary décor in cream and neutral tones. The largest rooms have sea-facing balconies and rolltop bathtubs.

Spa Hotel

Langton Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8XJ

Set in 14 acres of grounds on the edge of town, this 18th-century mansion offers some of Tunbridge’s most luxurious and elegantly decorated rooms. The 70 bedrooms range from cosy singles to the indulgent suites which come with unique furnishings including antique four-poster beds, leather Chesterfield sofas or marble tiled bathrooms. As you’d expect from the hotel’s name, there’s a spa for beauty treatments as well as a steam room, saunas, gym, 10m pool and tennis courts.

The Bay Tree Broadstairs

12 Eastern Esplanade, Broadstairs, CT10 1DR

Owners Alistair Dixon and Robert Stone have restored their small sea-facing hotel to its Victorian glory days, retaining or copying original woodwork and joinery features. There are ten nicely decorated rooms, all named after British trees and the location overlooking Stone Bay couldn’t be better. The library bar has Harry Potter-themed decorative touches, including artworks by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima creators of the graphic world of the Potter movies. The owner’s dog, a Bedlington called Ptolemy, is friendly and there are some dog-friendly rooms here, too.

The Falstaff

16–18 Addington Street, Ramsgate, CT11 9JJ

Along one of Ramsgate’s most characterful streets, lined with eclectic shops, this gastropub offers eight boutique-style rooms and two self-catering apartments. Particularly jolly is Room 2 featuring buttercup yellow painted walls and artworks by local painter and printmaker Margo McDaid, whose gallery is also along Addington Street. Room 8 at the back, which opens on to the pub’s flower-filled courtyard garden, is dog-friendly.

The Falstaff

8–12 St Dunstans Street, Canterbury, CT2 8AF

Incorporating a 15th-century coaching inn, this boutique hotel is steps from the city’s historic Westgate and the gardens along the Stour River. It offers five categories of quality rooms with bespoke furnishing and luxury patterned fabrics, sited in three different buildings around a central courtyard. Rates include breakfast which is served in their stylish restaurant and cocktail bar. It’s less than a five-minute walk from Canterbury West Station.

The Mount Edgcumbe

The Common, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8BX

A 10-minute walk from the train station, surrounded by the leafy Common, this is a fun gastropub with six boutique-style rooms. There’s plenty of quirky decorative touches such as colourful bird and animal print cushions that give a modern edge to a building that dates back to 1738 when it was also a lodging house for visitors to the spa town. Going back even further, the bar incorporates a 6th-century sandstone cave now used as a snug with comfy leather sofas.

The Pig – at Bridge Place

Bourne Park Road, Bridge, CT4 5BH

Seventeenth century Bridge Place has had a colourful history, including a stint as a live music venue and nightclub in the 1960s and 70s that hosted such rock legends as the Kinks, Pink Floyd and Led Zepellin. The Pig hotel group have transformed the property, playing up its heritage and boho rock ’n’ roll elements, and adding an excellent restaurant and a superb walled kitchen garden that is a joy to admire and open to non-guests. Choose between plush and stylish rooms with king-sized beds in the main house, the coach house, the lodge or the ‘hop pickers’ huts’ perched on stilts over a water meadow and reached by a boardwalk.

The Rose

91 High Street, Deal, CT14 6ED

Vivid colours, retro furniture and wonderfully comfortable beds make spending a night above this superb gastropub a delight. Even the smallest room offers a king-sized bed and delicious Wes Anderson-style aesthetics with its mingling of pale-blue graphic wallpaper, mustard headboard and duvet cover, lipstick pink satin decorative pillowcases and stack of vintage James Bond paperbacks next to the loo. Room 4 is one for a romantic break with its free-standing rolltop bathtub as well as a shower and a vinyl LP player.

The View

30–32 Clifton Road, Folkestone, CT20 2EF

Despite its recent revival Folkestone lacks any extra special, contemporary design, full-service hotels. The current pick of the bunch is The View which scores for its prime location overlooking the Leas Coastal Park, the reasonable decoration (nothing too fancy though) in its three categories of rooms, and – from some rooms – Channel views. The cocktail bar and restaurant are pleasant places to linger and you can view some canvases by local artist Shane Record.

Walpole Bay Hotel

Fifth Ave, Margate, CT9 2JJ

Opened in 1914, this charmingly anachronistic hotel is the last remaining of several grand hotels that once marked out Cliftonville as Margate’s most des-res address. Each of the 41 rooms are different, with the décor generally on the old-fashioned side and in keeping with the Walpole’s vintage ambiance. Afternoon tea enjoyed on the flower-filled terrace of this retro gem is a must, as is exploring the hotel’s public areas which constitute an eccentric museum of antique items, ranging from 80-million-year-old fossils found on nearby beaches to a collection of formal hats. Best of all is the ‘Napery’: a gallery of over 100 art works created by guests on the hotel’s white linen napkins. Framed pieces, including ones by celebrities such as the photographer Martin Parr.

More information

For more information, check out Simon Richmond’s guide: