Kent continues to up its game, attracting some of the very best names in hospitality, plus some exciting innovators, to our towns and villages. Here’s what we can look forward to…

Great British Life: A room with a view at No 42 GuestHouse, MargateA room with a view at No 42 GuestHouse, Margate

Celebrating in Margate

It’s no wonder local and visitors alike love Margate – from its arts scene to its restaurants there’s always something new going on, all with the sea and those wide Turneresque skies as a back drop.

Coming to the town this month is the all-new hotel No.42 by GuestHouse, Margate – with the appropriately named group bearing the surname of the three Brothers Guest - Tom, Tristan and James - behind it. Despite only having set up their boutique hotel group in 2021, they’ve already opened successfully in Bath and York, with a GuestHouse set to open in Brighton in 2024. Now they’re bringing their formidable hospitality skills, both in terms of accommodation and food, to Kent. When I catch up with James Guest, he tells me, ‘We look for locations that have a celebratory feel, and certainly Margate has that in buckets and spades!’

The 21 family- (and dog-) friendly rooms of No. 42 are full of quirky touches, with murals on the walls and classic record players in the rooms – guests can borrow vinyl to play from a curated selection of albums.

Locals as well as guests can look forward to making the most of the food and drink options in the hotel, with The Rooftop Bar serving cocktails, sunsets, snacks, and tunes. ‘It’s set to be the largest rooftop in Margate with an unparalleled 360-degree view of the sea, with Dreamland to the left and the Turner Contemporary to the right,’ says James. Also on-site is Field Trip, where wellness treatment rooms sit close to a breakfast and lunch space, offering a deliciously healthy menu - think burrata with avocado, slow-roast tomato and basil pesto and a chickpea and a portobello smash burger with chipotle ketchup.


Pearly Cow, Margate

For more substantial fare away from the hotel, Pearly Cow (‘we wanted a fun name that reflected seafood – think pearls in oysters and meat’, says James) is also opening its doors, just next door to No 42, on Marine Drive. Margate’s Pearly Cow will be the second outpost for the restaurant-group side of the brothers’ business, following a successful launch of Pearly Cow in York back in the spring. ‘The restaurants are absolutely key to our success,’ says James, ‘We need them to keep locals and those in the wider area coming back to us time and time again, and we’re confident that’s what we’ll do.’ With grilled meat and shellfish served over ice key parts of the menu, other signature Pearly Cow dishes include salt-cod tacos, locally-sourced oysters, and salt-aged-and-hung steaks, plus a bespoke dish for Pearly Cow, Margate: a lobster roll made using butter-poached shellfish and served in a homemade brioche roll with a lemon mayonnaise, celery, and shallots. ‘Local provenance is really important to us,’ says James’ ‘Our oysters are from Whitstable, for instance, and we’ll be buying from as close to the restaurant as possible whenever we can.’

Setting-wise, the in-house design team have managed to link the aesthetic between every branch of Pearly Cow, to ensure brand cohesion, while at the same time making the most of Margate’s seaside appeal and keeping the room’s original Victorian columns at its centre. The mood is relaxed and fun ‘Which defines our ethos,’ says James. ‘For us, it’s about creating a sense of occasion, but in a very unintimidating way. Our visitors know they can just unwind with us, while at the same time enjoying the very highest standards in food and service, in a stylish atmosphere.’

Great British Life: All systems go for the Tudor Peacock team - creating an intimate wine hub in the historic heart of beautiful Chilham. From left Christian Magg, Greg Taylor, Nick Mogford and Jeanine Mogford Credit: Kadiya QasemAll systems go for the Tudor Peacock team - creating an intimate wine hub in the historic heart of beautiful Chilham. From left Christian Magg, Greg Taylor, Nick Mogford and Jeanine Mogford Credit: Kadiya Qasem

Heard it on the Grapevine

Businessman Greg Taylor may originally hail from Colorado, but he’s well and truly lost his heart to Kent – and to the picture-perfect village of Chilham in particular. ‘In a nutshell, it’s the community here that makes the place so special,’ he enthuses. ‘After we’d visited a friend here and fallen for the village’s beauty, my husband Christian and I bought a place almost in the castle walls just before lockdown. Now I have trouble getting Christian back to London, where we also have a base, because he loves it so much! If you lean out of our cottage door, you can almost shake hands with your neighbours, so it’s little wonder we’ve all ended up a close group – everyone knows us and our dog, Mabel – and that’s something really special that you just don’t get in the city.’

Keen to give back to the community – and also wise enough to spot an opportunity when he saw it – Greg and Christian have joined forces with friends Nick and Jeanine Mogford and a group of other local investors to purchase the medieval Tudor Peacock, a Wealden Hall House in the village square, last used as gift shop. The plan? To turn it into a wine bar, shop and wine-tasting venue for Kent vineyards, including those that are members of The Wine Garden of England group. ‘Having a Chilham base will be a good complement to the Tattinger Domaine Evremond vineyard, which aims to produce premium sparkling wine just down the road at Selling Court Farm,’ he say. ‘It’s part of the Wine Garden of England group, with other vineyards including everyone from Balfour to Westwell, plus other smaller producers such as nearby Chartham Vineyard – the very best of what Kent has to offer.’

At the moment, London and Kent-based architects Holloway Studio are converting the grade-2 listed building, revealing and preserving original features from crown posts to ancient beams as they go. ‘It has to be sensitively done, so that visitors can appreciate this amazing building for years to come,’ says Greg. The plan should see an intimate wine bar on the ground floor, with a double-height, vaulted room upstairs offering wine tastings and bespoke curated events. ‘If people want to stay, we’ve got the excellent Woolpack Inn hotel nearby, and we’ll be encouraging parking just a short five-minute walk away at Taylors Hill.

‘We’re confident that the Tudor Peacock will bring something truly special – and Kentish – to the village, complementing what’s already here – our pubs and of course wonderful Chilham Castle, which opens its gardens twice a week until the end of September - and breathing new life into an ancient building that was otherwise standing empty.’

The Tudor Peacock opens this September – for details see

Others venues to look out for

Great British Life: Poached Pear & Walnut Salad, Endive, Clawson with Blue Stilton and Merlot Vinegar at Marco Pierre White's restaurant at the Clifton Hotel, Folkestone. Credit Marco Pierre White Restaurants/John BlackwellPoached Pear & Walnut Salad, Endive, Clawson with Blue Stilton and Merlot Vinegar at Marco Pierre White's restaurant at the Clifton Hotel, Folkestone. Credit Marco Pierre White Restaurants/John Blackwell

Foodie Folkestone

Folkestone’s Harbour Arm is welcoming several new eateries this summer, including Brewing Brothers Beachside. Housed in sea containers, it’s a Tap Room and restaurant, where seasonal lamb, fish and pizzas are served straight from its wood-fired oven. Elsewhere in town, look out for the well-priced summer menu from Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar & Grill at The Clifton Hotel - £24.95 for three courses including egg mayonnaise, Mackerel Fillet Pané à L’Anglaise and Cambridge Burned Cream.

The Gallivant at Littlestone

If you’ve ever ventured over the border to Rye, you might have appreciated the laid-back stylishness of the gorgeous Gallivant, close to Camber Sands. Now some of that charm is heading our way, with the group having taken over the former Romney Bay Hotel. This distinctive building – almost on Littlestone beach – dates from 1929, when it was built by architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the man behind the tourist village of Portmeirion in North Wales, as a seaside bolthole for Margaret Bray, a single mother of three, ahead of her time in terms of both her pioneering spirit and her eye for design. With its exterior covered in pale brown sandstone paint, it was nicknamed ‘the mustard pot’ by the Bray family and past guests over the decades are said to have included Noel Coward and members of the Astor family. Come next spring when the revamped space reopens its doors, the rest of us will have the chance to add our names to that roll call. If the Gallivant at Camber is anything to go by, expect the in-house restaurant to offer a menu of imaginative, seasonal dishes that make the most of locally-caught fish, served in elegantly relaxed surroundings that make the most of the seaside setting.

A Pig for Groombridge

Given that the Pig at Bridge has just won best spot for Casual Dining in the Taste of Kent Awards (see our social pages this issue), no wonder we’re excited at the news that a sister hotel, based at beautiful Groombridge Place just outside Tunbridge Wells (familiar not just to locals, but to anyone who loved the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice, in which the mellow old house starred as the Bennet family home) will open in 2025. Plenty of time to start building up an appetite…