A Valentine's date with a difference in Kent
PUBLISHED: 22:34 23 January 2013 | UPDATED: 22:38 20 February 2013
Our county is blessed with some really diverse places to stay, places that offer Valentine lovebirds a romantic break that's truly unique. Here are eight to try
A Valentines date with a difference in Kent
Our county is blessed with some really diverse places to stay, places that offer Valentine lovebirds a romantic break thats truly unique. Here are eight to try
Fishing for compliments
A fishermans hut might not at first sound like a place associated with a romantic night, but these ones in Whitstable are a little bit different.
Formerly used for storing cockle farmers clutter, the huts have been renovated over the last few years to a standard equivalent to that in the nearby owner, Hotel Continental.
With their look and feel, theres an authenticity there that you dont necessarily get with a hotel room or a holiday cottage, says hotel manager, Jamie Robb. But the beauty of the huts is that youre still getting the same standard of accommodation as the nearby hotel and the use of its facilities.
Whats more, youre also getting one of the best locations in Whitstable. The huts are metres from the beach and offer views over the neat ranks of yachts, around the bay to the Isle of Sheppey, and across the water to the stalking remains of Second World War sea forts, still waiting for an invasion that has never come, adds Jamie.
Whitstable Fishermans Huts
29 Beach Walk
Whitstable CT5 2BP
01227 280280 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A Gypsys life for two
A few years ago, Lorraine Beaney and her husband, himself a Romany Gypsy, had the opportunity to buy a former Gypsy wagon.
I think there has always been something romantic about the idea of living in a gypsy wagon. Its cosy, intimate, the two of you together in such a small space. And unlike a modern caravan, the sense of history that is imbued within these gypsy wagons also lends a degree of authenticity to the experience. To me they are very romantic places to stay and I hope that others feel that too, says Lorraine.
We thought it would be a great idea to buy one. It would give the kids an understanding of their dads heritage and we also hoped that, with a little tlc, the wagon could be spruced up and rented out.
And thats just what they did. The wagon now offers guests the opportunity to experience what life was like for a Gypsy on the road, albeit an experience significantly more comfortable, something attributable to Lorraine and her husbands high standard renovation of the caravan.
Its lovely inside, your own little home, complete with wood-burning stove and a three-quarter size pull-out bed to snuggle up together in. We also have a well-equipped chalet behind the wagon for your own private use, to dine and shower.
I know Im biased, but I love it in the caravan, and there have been more than a few occasions when my husband and I have chosen to stay in the wagon rather than our home. Its just such a unique and wonderful place to stay.
Deepdene, Belsey Lane
Ewell Minnis CT15 7DY
07855 095466 or email@example.com
How many places in this country do you get to stay in a luxury cottage and get a private safari thrown in too?
Come and stay with us here and thats exactly what you get! says Sam Lloyd, Accommodation and Hospitality Manager at Port Lympne. On arrival in the early evening our guests embark on a private safari. Our bush taxis will stop en route so guests will have plenty of opportunities to get some great photos of the wildlife. Your ranger will pass on interesting facts and amusing stories about the animals you pass including rhinos, elephants and giraffes.
Following the safari, which lasts around an hour and a half, the bush taxi takes guests to the lodge, which has recently been converted to a high standard. Once there, guests can relax in the garden (which boasts views of the English Channel) or unwind in the cottages cosy snug, before a personal chef prepares an authentic African meal for your supper.
The following day guests then embark on a second safari back to reception, after which the day is theirs to spend as they wish, with the option to explore the wild animal park at their leisure. We think its a great package for people to enjoy. And although its not necessarily the cheapest break, it does provide a truly memorable time says Sam.
14, 15, 16, 17 Feb: Love Birds deal: 30 per cent discounts on stays at Livingstone Cottage
Livingstone Cottage & Safari
Port Lympne Wild Animal Park
Hythe CT21 4PD
0844 842 4647
Peace and quiet
If you really want to get away from it all and spend some quality time together in a tranquil setting, then how about a monastery? It probably doesnt get much more tranquil than that!
The Friars (Aylesbury Priory), is an ancient religious house of the Order of Carmelites, which dates back to the 13th century.
Today, the medieval priory houses an 80-bedroom guesthouse set within acres of beautiful grounds. The guesthouse can sleep up to 100 and visitors are welcome to stay from a day up to two weeks.
We might be a monastery but we welcome people regardless of faith and all kinds of different people, both atheists and those who follow a specific religion, have come here and taken something from the experience, says Lee Bennett, Marketing and PR manager at Aylesbury Priory.
Despite its wonderful setting, it would be fair to say that the accommodation here is relatively basic. Its quite old fashioned, but I think this is in keeping with the wider setting, says Lee.
Were not that big on mod-cons but accommodation in the guesthouse is comfortable. We have a range of single, double, twin and family rooms available, although only a few with en-suite facilities. There is also a communal lounge where visitors can meet, relax and obtain hot drinks.
For Lee, its the atmosphere at the priory, rather than the accommodation that is the main reason people come to stay here.
This is a place of tranquillity and community. There is a real sense when you step into the priory that the outside world doesnt matter too much anymore, that you have an opportunity to spend real time with yourself or, if youre coming here with a loved one, the person you are with. And we think that is probably unique, the unique-selling-point of the place, if you will.
Aylesford ME20 7BX
01622 717272 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Key to the Castle
Why not make your loved one King or Queen for a night with a stay at Dover Castle? Seen as the 'key to England' (no surprise, given its position as the nation's front door), for many centuries it was long believed that if you cracked the lock here then the country was yours - something no foreign power has ever managed to do.
Standing imperiously on top of the famous white cliffs, Dover Castle has been occupied since at least Roman times and is the undisputed master of reinvention.
We have a few places where people can stay in the castle but one of the most popular is Peverells tower says Carrie Pedersen, English Heritage National Holiday Cottages Manager.
The tower was added by Henry III in the 13th century as an extra buttress of defence. At one time a prison, today it sleeps two in liberating comfort. It has spectacular views - you can see France on a clear day.
Along with the five-star accommodation, Carrie thinks one of the reasons people come and stay at the castle is what happens when everyone else goes home.
When the gates are locked and the staff and the tourists have gone, then its just you in the castle, giving you the run of the entire grounds. It really gives the experience of what it felt like to live in a castle, albeit with a lot more comfort. I think this is what makes a stay here so unique.
Dover CT16 1HU
0870 333 1187 or email@example.com
Imagine the two of you in your own treetop hideaway, elevated from the rest of the world, secluded among the leaves and branches like two little love monkeys.
The hideaway is the brainchild of Chris Whalley, who thought a treehouse would be a perfect addition to the other properties that his business, Kent Cottage Holidays, offer to the public.
I designed and built the hideaway myself. I think Id always fancied making one since I was a child and thought theres no reason why adults shouldnt be able to enjoy a treehouse too.
The finished property is around six metres high and situated among willows, conifers and a variety of fruit trees. Essentially, the treehouse consists of two hexagonal pods joined together, sitting upon two tree trunk pedestals.
According to Chris, the hideaway differs from what he believes most people think of when they hear the word treehouse. This is far from a typical treehouse, which tend to be quite basic. Along with underfloor heating, a bedroom, lounge, kitchen area and separate bathroom, it also has a 60-inch cinema screen TV with surround sound, satellite TV, wireless internet and an IPod docking station. There is also a decked veranda area outside amongst the tree tops, where guests can sit out of an evening and relax.
Kent Cottage Holidays
7 Bridewell Park
Whitstable CT5 1TP
There has always been something romantic about a night on the ocean; the vast expanse of the sky above, the undulation of the waves gently lapping the hull, the feeling of being detached from the rest of the country.
While not exactly out at sea, the Sovereign B&B, which is located in the Medway Bridge Marina near Rochester, offers a little something of that sense of romance.
This floating hotel (or flotel!) is run by husband and wife team Sue and Bob Forkner, who renovated this former German Rhine Cruiser a few years ago.
The boat had arrived at the Marina in 1991 from the Thames, where it had been operating as a party boat says Sue. It was left to decay until Bob and I came across it with an idea about turning it into a really unusual B&B.
Today, the Sovereign boasts six cabins to let, each renovated to a high standard and almost all of which have en-suite facilities. Guests also have access to the boats lounges, where they can relax while looking out onto the waters of the Medway.
Despite the extensive renovation, Sue and Bob have been keen to ensure that The Sovereign still feels very much like the cruiser it once was.
Weve kept a lot of the original features of the boat explains Sue. And I think thats part of the reason why people enjoy coming here. Yes, you get to enjoy a stay in a high-quality B&B, but you also get a real sense of what it feels like to be on a boat with so much history and heritage.
I think I can confidently say that there is nothing quite like The Sovereign in Kent.
The Sovereign B&B
29 Medway Bridge Marina
Borstal ME1 3HS
01634 400474 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Light of my life
If you would rather just gaze at the sea than be on it, then East Cottage at South Foreland makes an excellent place for a romantic getaway.
This former lighthouse keeper's cottage stands in one of the most dramatic and well-known locations in England. Attached to South Foreland Lighthouse and positioned on top of the White Cliffs of Dover, it has far-reaching views across the English Channel.
Along with its stunning setting, South Foreland also has an interesting history. This was the place that Michael Faraday undertook a great deal of his work into electric light in the early 1860s, and also the building where Marconi received the world's first ship-to-shore radio transmission in December 1898.
Built in 1843 as part of the improvements to the upper lighthouse, the cottage has recently been refurbished by the National Trust to a luxurious standard. But, as good as the accommodation is, according to Virginia Portman, Property Operations Manager at National Trust, this only really explains half of the cottages appeal.
The building boasts wonderful views of the English Channel, the countryside around here is blessed with some fantastic walks, and South Forelands isolation means that people can really get away from things up here. In short, its perfect for couples who want some time away together, freed from the distractions of everyday life.
East Cottage at South Foreland Lighthouse
Parking is available at the White Cliffs of Dover Visitor Centre (Langdon Cliffs, Upper Road, Dover CT16 1HJ), then take a stunning two-mile clifftop walk, or park at St Margarets village then walk through South Foreland valley to the lighthouse (one mile).