12 quirky getaways in Kent

Knight's Glamping at Leeds Castle

Knight's Glamping at Leeds Castle - Credit: Archant

Ever fancied staying in a castle, going on safari or sleeping next to the sea? You can do all that without packing your passport, right here in Kent

11 1 Coastguard Lookout, Dungeness

It’s one of the most spectacularly located holiday properties in the country and this former coastguard radar monitoring station in Dungeness is as stylish as it is unique. Just steps away from the waves and with the vastness of the area’s wild beach as its dramatic backdrop, it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Coastguard Lookout was converted by renowned interiors firm Johnson Naylor and while it retains its utilitarian 1950’s charm, it now boasts underfloor heating, stone floors, Wifi and a log burner.

The entire property is open plan with no doors. There’s a reception area and kitchen on the ground floor, a family bedroom and bathroom on the first floor, a sitting room with gallery views of the sea on the second floor and a further bedroom and balcony at the top of the tower.

It offers the perfect combination of seclusion, views, a beach setting and a high-spec interior.


2 Pinewood camping pods, Port Lympne

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If waking up to the sound of lions roaring is something you’ve dreamed of but an African safari is out of the question, Port Lympne Reserve has the answer.

One of the UK’s largest wild animal parks, it’s had a glamping site with safari tents for several years, but this season the Aspinall Foundation has launched something a little bit different.

Situated in a wooded glade directly opposite the big cat enclosures and aimed at families wanting a budget break, its new Pinewood camping pods are open for business.

Putting the fun back into camping, the 10 pods are designed with comfort in mind and are fully insulated with a private deck. Inside the pods have two single beds, a double futon and plenty of storage.

With barbecue areas and a unique view of the park’s cheetahs, tigers and lions, they offer all the fun of sleeping in the wild without the need to pitch a tent. The breaks also include the opportunity to explore Port Lympne to your heart’s desire. www.aspinallfoundation.org

3 Peverell’s Tower, Dover Castle

It may sound a little creepy but staying in Dover Castle’s old prison tower is far from it. Despite its 13th-century walls, the tower has been converted into a luxurious holiday cottage just for two.

Beautifully furnished and equipped with everything you could need, the property has stunning views across the Channel and, on a clear day, over to France.

A roof terrace, accessed by a steep spiral staircase, is the real highlight of this place. From here you have a superb view of the castle and you can watch the visitors walking through the 800-year-old arch below. And fans of history can explore the grounds of this great British fortress out of hours, away from the crowds. www.english-heritage.org.uk

4 Little Halden Farm’s hopper’s huts, near Tenterden

Before mechanised farming, thousands of people travelled to the Wealden hop fields of Kent each summer. The hop picking season was labour intensive and whole families left their homes, mostly in London, to get some fresh air and earn much-needed cash as hop pickers.

Many of the farms provided simple accommodation for them but few survive today. So when the owners of Little Halden Farm near Tenterden decided to turn the farm that had been in their family for five generations into a glamping site, it was only a matter of time before their run-down old hopper’s huts were given a new lease of life. The four quirky little huts each have a double bed, futon, wood-burning stove, gas stove for cooking, while the obligatory camp fire outside is the perfect place to enjoy the peaceful setting of this beautiful rural farm.


5 Margate Retro Rooms

With the return of Dreamland this summer and the numerous vintage shops that have sprung up in Margate’s old town, it’s no surprise that someone has had the bright idea of opening a couple of retro holiday apartments in the popular seaside town.

Thanks to the fact the owners run not one but two vintage furniture stores nearby, the properties have been furnished with original mid-century furniture – with everything down to 1950’s crockery and original vintage wallpaper.

And if that wasn’t quirky enough, the flats also have jukeboxes and old arcade machines. Step through the doors, turn your phones off and let these little time machines transport you to another century.


6 Hever Castle B&B

If you watched Wolf Hall recently and developed a taste for all things Tudor, then there can be no more fascinating place to stay than in the bed and breakfast accommodation at Hever Castle.

Located in the Astor Wing, the medieval-style block built at the back of the castle by its previous owner William Waldorf Astor as guest accommodation, the bedrooms are classically designed with feature windows and incredible views.

Several bedrooms have been added recently thanks to the newly converted Ann Boleyn Wing, an Edwardian addition attached to the main castle.

This charming and romantic bed and breakfast allows visitors to feel like the lords and ladies of the manor as they explore the grounds after hours and enjoy the Astor Wing’s communal lounge and billiards room.


7 The Boat House at Hollingbourne

With a unique lakeside setting, The Boat House at Hollingbourne is perfect for a peaceful escape. Once part of the wider Leeds Castle estate, the cottage was built around the turn of the 18th century and its neighbouring lake is the flooded quarry where the Kentish ragstone used to build the castle was found.

Originally used to store boats and equipment, this enchanting waterfront property was bought and restored by its current owners 10 years ago.

With two bedrooms and a sofa bed in the living room, making it perfect for families, there are two deck areas outside connected by a walkway, perfect for taking in the tranquillity and views over the water.


The Potting Shed, Benenden

For lovers of gardening, this little gem of a holiday cottage is a dream come true. The Potting Shed is a small Kent barn once used as a potting shed by plant collector, ornithologist and artist Collingwood ‘Cherry’ Ingram and converted in 2012 into a charming one-bedroom holiday let.

Nestled in a peaceful and lush garden down a private track behind the church in this pretty Wealden village, it’s a truly romantic getaway.

Continuing in Ingram’s tradition, the owners even make sure the place is always filled with jars of home-grown fresh flowers.


9 Fisherman’s Huts, Whitstable

If you have strolled along the beach at Whitstable you can’t have failed to notice the striking black and green fisherman’s huts along Sea Wall.

Thought to be more than 130 years old, the old store sheds passed out of the hands of professional fishermen in the 1940s and were mainly taken on by local yacht owners and their families who used them at weekends.

Gradually they fell into disrepair and the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company began buying them in the 1980s and set about restoring them to make holiday properties. Just steps away from the beach but also in the heart of the town, they are the perfect family retreats for lovers of the sea, the superb shopping in Whitstable and of course the famous local oysters.


10 The Grange, Ramsgate

If you’re looking for something altogether more grand and imposing, then Ramsgate’s The Grange, which sleeps up to eight people, is a Victorian Gothic fantasy brought to life.

Designed and built by architect Augustus Pugin in 1843, the Grade I listed building was rescued from demolition in 1997 by the Landmark Trust and opened as a holiday let in 2006.

The restoration work has returned most of the house to the way it would have been when Pugin himself lived there, with intricate, colourful interiors and wood panelling. It even has its own chapel and tower, which is unsurprising for a house built by a man who designed churches and cathedrals for a living.


11 The Beach Sun Retreat, Dymchurch

Particularly popular with groups of friends celebrating a special occasion, The Beach Sun Retreat is a beachfront holiday property that can guarantee sunshine at any time of year.

The high-spec home not only features a cinema room, Jacuzzi, full DJ equipment and three boutique hotel-style bedrooms, it also has a rather unusual ‘real sunlight’ room. Fitted with the latest sun simulators, which are completely safe and filter out the harmful UVA light, the room can get up to 30 degrees.

But that’s not all; the room is multi-sensory with the sound of lapping waves and a soft sea breeze all available at the touch of a button so, come rain or shine, the Beach Sun Retreat is exactly what its name suggests.


12 Glamping at Leeds Castle

There can be nothing more exciting than a night spent in the kind of canvas pavilion used by knights of yore, particularly for families with young children.

The Knights Glamping site at Leeds Castle offers eight brightly coloured tents based on a medieval design to form a tiny village on the castle’s one-acre vineyard.

Each with their own four-poster bed, camp beds for little ones, a wood-burning stove and an outdoor deck with seating and a great deal of privacy, the experience is quite unlike any other.

If you want to immerse yourself further in history, you’re free to enjoy the gardens and grounds of Leeds Castle as you please during your stay and you can even book a place on an exciting Segway tour.


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