Known as the ‘Garden of England’ for its abundance of orchards and hop gardens, Kent is the closest county to continental Europe.

Bordering Essex across the entire estuary of the River Thames to the north and the French department of Pas-de-Calais across the Strait of Dover to the south-east, its distinctive oasts (hop-drying buildings) give the county a very iconic look.

Named by travel guide Lonely Planet as one of the world’s top visitor destinations, the Kent Heritage Coast is a stunning mix of natural beauty, incredible history and top-class places to eat and drink.

Kent is home to one of only three ‘Royal’ towns in the UK. Royal Tunbridge Wells was granted its official regal title in 1909 after Edward VII granted the prefix in special recognition of the town’s connections with the royal family since the Stuart dynasty.

And that’s not the county’s only royal link.

Leeds Castle is known as the ‘Ladies’ Castle’ because so many future Queens of England have resided within its protective walls. Eleanor of Castile and Margaret of France, Edward I’s two wives; Philippa of Hainault, wife of Edward III; Catherine de Valois, Henry V’s spouse; Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII, even his daughter and future queen Elizabeth all called the Kent castle home.

Even Kent’s “garden” tag is believed to have royal roots.

Henry VIII reportedly once sampled a bowl of cherries produced in Kent and was so delighted with the flavour that the county became known as the Garden of England.

Interestingly though, despite its garden moniker, Kent actually has a desert.

Located at Dungeness, the bare shingle, gravel and shell beach at the southernmost point in Kent, attracts rare breeds such as the Spoonbill.

And it’s not all royals and rare breeds – the county has been linked to rather a few famous names.

Bond author Ian Fleming had a holiday home at St Margaret’s Bay where he wrote “the spy story to end all spy stories.” The novelist loved to play golf and would frequently escape to Kent to indulge his passion on its various links.

Dame Kelly Holmes today lives in the county, as does Bob Geldof, (Faversham) Gloria Hunniford (Sevenoaks) and Miriam Margoyles (St Margaret’s-at-Cliffe).

Pocahontas is buried in Gravesend and Julius Caesar even allegedly loved Kent! (It is thought the first-ever Roman landing in Britain was around Deal. This took place around 55 and 54 AD, and the Emperor wasn't particularly impressed with the barbarians of the British isles except for the Kentish tribes! He said in De Bello Gallico v. 14: ‘Of all these (British tribes), by far the most civilised are they who dwell in Kent, which is entirely a maritime region, and who differ but little from the Gauls in their customs.’)

From romans to royals, it seems there are few county’s as adored as Kent!

5 things to do in Kent in 2024


Make off to Margate
Known for its sandy beach, the modern Turner Contemporary art gallery and Dreamland (complete with vintage rides, roller disco and great line ups!) Margate is a day tripper’s heaven. Fancy making a night of it? Selina Margate offers a Scandi-style retreat from the retro town.

Bring it to Bromley
Having been added to the Heritage at Risk register in 2009, Bromley Old Town Hall has undergone a major renovation. It once played host to the wedding of David Bowie, but is now home to Clockwise, a high-quality flexible workspace; Brama, a boutique, 4-star hotel with 22; and Dorothy & Marshall, a modern British restaurant with 60 covers located in the historic former courthouse.

Lunch in Lavender fields
Castle Farm is the UK's largest producer of lavender oil. Why not enjoy a BYO Picnic in the beautiful Ladybird Lavender field with more than 60,000 Lavender plants (10 acre field) when the farm comes into bloom this year?

Fab in Folkestone
In summer 2023, Folkestone was named by The Times as one of the top places to live by the sea in the UK. Steeped in history, Folkestone used to be a Victorian getaway. Edward VII and his mistress used to stay discreetly in the Grand Hotel on the Leas. Today we are big fans of the Lighthouse Champagne Bar!

Time for a tipple?
Kent-grown grapes are used to make some of the finest wines in the country. Chapel Down, Biddenden, Gusbourne and Squerryes are just some of the vineyards offering tours and tastings. There;s even a helter-skelter to transport visitors between floors at Simpsons near Canterbury.


Great British Life: The Saltbox Shepherd Hut Elmley Nature Reserve - credit Elmley Nature ReserveThe Saltbox Shepherd Hut Elmley Nature Reserve - credit Elmley Nature Reserve

Five ways to stay in Kent

There’s nothing quite like a good night’s sleep and, here in Kent, we take that very seriously. From counting sheep in a shepherd’s hut to snoozing under stained glass windows, you can find an overnight stay that ticks all the boxes - and isn't run of the mill either!
BYLIN|E: Words: Katy Pearson, Kent Life editor

Waking up in a castle has to be one of those bucket list goals, right? And for those history lovers and period drama obsessives, you couldn’t ask for a more fairy tale castle than Hever Castle. Though it’s not exactly home to the most fairy tale story (hello, childhood home of Anne Boleyn!) this castle offers indulgent and luxurious Tudor-style with sumptuous fabrics, rich panelled walls, beautiful roll-top baths, and crisp linens. Spend your days delving into 700 years of Hever history, taking in the magnificent moats, challenging mazes, and award-winning gardens, before heading back to your room for an evening of luxury and elegance. Fit for a Queen indeed…

By now, we’ve all heard of glamping. But, in recent years, a new camping blend has come onto the scene that we can’t wait to experience. Spend the night in the grandeur of a church and you can tick champing off the list! Along the River Great Stour in Fordwich sits the 12th century St Mary the Virgin Church, and this year you’re invited to sleep over right in the pews of the building. Tuck up in the cosy space, fit with blankets and fairy lights for ultimate comfort. Then, explore the rest of England’s smallest town with a paddle down the river, a stroll through the streets, and a visit to the pub.

If you’re looking for an awe-inspiring landscape to clear your mind and relax your body, the wide skies of Romney Marsh are the perfect antidote. Switch off and unwind in one of these bespoke shepherds’ huts complete with kitchen, Romney Marsh lanolin toiletries, and cosy Romney sheep fleeces. Roast marshmallows over the firepit, read, take strolls through the marsh, and cosy up on your very own farm staycation.

The perfect spot for a digital detox, Elmley National Nature Reserve has been a source of inspiration and tranquillity to visitors for many years, but today offers a much more luxurious experience for adventurers wanting to get away from it all. Spend the night in a plush converted shepherd’s hut, a dreamy rustic cabin, or a cosy farmhouse, and gaze at the peaceful scenery from the comfort of your bed. The nine to five grind will seem so very far away as you sleep on the only nature reserve you can stay on in the UK…

For the wild at heart, your East Kent adventures needn't stop when the sun goes down. Kent’s very own world-renowned animal conservation charity, The Aspinall Foundation, has a vision to halt the extinction and further endangerment of animals in the wild. Whether you choose a cosy, heated wooden camping pod, a staycation in the sky within a luxury tree house or a family safari tent, you’ll be sure to capture all the stunning views and amazing habitats within Aspinall's impressive Port Lympne Reserve.

Great British Life: Great British StaycationsGreat British Staycations (Image: Newsquest)

This article appeared in the Great British Staycations magazine.

You are sure to find some inspiration for your next staycation within the 172 pages of this FREE magazine.

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