Cool Places - The best places to stay in the UK

The Best Places to Stay in the UK

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Kent's coast is a revelation. The blue flag beaches of Thanet, the wild pebbly expanses of the estuary, speckled with nature reserves and winding creeks, and the traditional holiday resorts of the east coast all offer their own different versions of a peculiarly British charm. Feast on fresh local oysters in the arty seaside town of Whitstable or parade along the prom in once-grand Herne Bay. Spend a weekend checking out the hip independent stores, kooky cafés and funky galleries – including the flagship Turner Contemporary – in Margate, or an afternoon building sandcastles on genteel Broadstairs’ golden strand. Sip a glass of something cold while watching the boats at the Ramsgate marina, or take a wild coastal walk from Folkestone’s old cobbled harbour. The Kentish coast really is your oyster (insert Whistable pun here…).

Inland – and not too far inland, in fact, as it's actually walkable on a lovely country path from Whitstable – is Canterbury, with its venerable cathedral and pretty historic core. It's a great city break destination for anyone looking to unwind, with plenty of hotels, restaurants and cosy old pubs to fill a relaxed couple of days. Outside the towns, throughout the rural Weald, the county is peppered with historic castles – from the iconic clifftop Dover Castle, looming above the Channel, to pretty Hever, where Anne Boleyn was born. Many of these have glorious gardens – with its equable climate and good soil Kent certainly lives up to its “Garden of England” nickname. Gardens feature throughout the county, offering everything from shimmering bluebell woods to elegant formal landscaping, many of them managed today by the National Trust. The North Downs, specified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, provide excellent walking opportunities, with a number of terrific country gastropubs and village inns where you can stop off and chill out. The county’s vineyards, too, are well worth visiting – Chapel Down is perhaps the best-known, with its excellent sparkling wines and whites – while Britain’s oldest brewery, Shepherd Neame, still creates their hoppy brews today in the creekside town of Faversham.

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