Whether it’s your first trip together or it’s a special anniversary, head just a little way southeast of London and you’ll discover ancient castles, moated manors, impossibly perfect gardens and villages to drool over. The county of Kent acquired the nickname of the Garden of England due to its rural history as a provider of fruit, flowers and hops. The result is a landscape that has everything you need set the scene for love. Grab a bunch of roses and head to any of these spots that Visit Kent recommends for a dreamy dalliance…
1. Find a wife where Henry VIII did
The Boleyn family home of Hever Castle surely played its part as the backdrop of Henry VIII’s early romance with Anne Boleyn, one of the greatest love affairs in history. See Anne’s bedroom, take a boat on the lake, even book into a room in the castle’s Astor Suite and spend the night.
2. Gaze out from a windswept clifftop
Blue skies, a glittering sea, green grass, fresh air, and just the 2 of you on top of the world – or the top of the White Cliffs of Dover, at least. Choose a prime spot atop England’s famous cliffs, settle down with a picnic, and show the French how true romance is done (you can see France across the Channel on a clear day). No need to hurry back to town – spend a night or 2 at nearby Walletts Court Country House Hotel & Spa, with its own cosy tipi for 2.
3. Share fresh oysters and local beer
Whitstable is known for its oysters and maritime history. Sup a local ale at the Old Neptune pub that sits right on the beach and admire how the building has stood up to many a storm with its wonky window frames and sloping floor. Then pack up a blanket, stock up on nibbles from Wheelers Oyster Bar and head to the broad expanse of shingle beach ‘til sunset.
4. Soak up Turner’s views
One of Britain’s most striking beaches, Botany Bay is recognised for its tall chalk stacks and stretching sandy shores that Turner captured on canvas. Let your heart get swept away and then head to trendy Margate, where you can watch the famous Turner sunsets from the Turner Contemporary or with a glass of champagne from the terrace of the stylish Sands Hotel.
5. Expect great things where Dickens was inspired
Elmley Nature Reserve inspired Charles Dickens when he wrote Great Expectations, but today it offers a much more luxurious experience for lovers wanting to get away from it all. You can now spend the night in the middle of the reserve in a luxuriously converted old shepherd’s hut, and gaze out at the peaceful scenery from the comfort of your bed.
6. Wake up from a dream at this fairytale castle
Country house, romantic garden, 14th-century moated castle – what more could you ask for? The fairytale Scotney Castle is a delight and has acres of woodland to explore, complete with a secluded picnic area. It’s one of those castles that has to be seen to be believed.
7. Fall for the ‘Loveliest castle in the world’
Lovers are powerless to resist the romantic allure of Leeds Castle. Surrounded by its own reflections in the moat, it really is a vision. The interior is an art deco dream and will make you yearn to play Lord and Lady of the manor. There are numerous accommodation options on site, including glamping in luxurious medieval-style tents and rooms in the beautiful Maiden’s Tower. What’s more, overnight guests can even enjoy a private candlelit punt on the river in the evening. Swoon… Discover more at www.visitkent.co.uk and watch their video.