Cool Places - The best places to stay in the UK

The Best Places to Stay in the UK

Kent

Just a hop away from the capital, and within a croissant’s throw of the continent, the southeastern county of Kent offers a fabulous choice of day-trip destinations and holiday hotspots. The coast, oddly and unjustly under-rated when compared to better-known beach destinations further south, is full of happy surprises, from the arty energy in Margate to the wild shores around Folkestone, site of the highly rated art Triennial. Luckily, given the vagaries of the British weather, there are plenty of things to do that don’t depend on sunshine and blue skies. The laid-back cathedral town of Canterbury is well worth a couple of anyone's days, while the region’s many castles, gardens, vineyards and orchards make fantastic family outings. Easy transport connections make getting there and getting around all very straightforward, while a wealth of gastropubs, country inns, B&Bs and hotels will tempt you to linger longer than you may have planned. 

History

For pilgrims, missionaries and conquerors alike, Kent has for millennia been both Britain's primary conduit from the continent and first line of defence against invasion. It was on these shores that Caesar landed in 55 BC, and where, in 597 AD St Augustine arrived on his mission to bring Christianity back to England. In the twelfth century Thomas à Beckett was assassinated in Canterbury Cathedral, turning it into one of the biggest pilgrimage centres in Christendom – pilgrims came in their millions from all over Europe to trudge along Kent's green country paths to arrive at his holy shrine, as described in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the seminal poem of medieval England. Henry VIII, whose Dissolution scarred the religious institutions here as badly as it did elsewhere, built Chatham Dockyard, which was to become the base of the Royal Navy; from these mighty shipyards Britain, for centuries, really did rule the waves. The Battle of Britain was fought in the skies above Kent's rural hop gardens and Wealden market towns, while the Dunkerque evacuation was planned from bunkers beneath mighty Dover Castle, visible from miles away at sea. In addition the region has long been associated with seaside resorts like Margate and Broadstairs, which flourished from the eighteenth century onwards and reached their peak in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – only to be hit by a serious slump following the arrival of cheap foreign travel in the 1970s. Today, however, it's the county's resorts that are infusing Kent with a new energy, bringing visitors back to its glorious beaches and pretty countryside once more.

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Kent

A fabulous choice of day-trip destinations and holiday hotspots.
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