[Gifted Stay, Afternoon Tea & Evening Meal]
Looking for a countryside staycation, not too far outside London, with character, charm and great food? Well, I’ve found just the place, Chilston Park Hotel, a 17th-century manor house hotel filled with original features, artwork and antiques, an impressive staircase to make you think you are in an episode of Downton Abbey, all set in 22 acres of lush parkland, complete with a lake, somewhere to land your helicopter, and even cows!
This beautiful Handpicked Hotel is just over an hour’s drive away from London, close to the M20 and M25, only a 35-minute drive to the Eurotunnel if you are heading off across to Europe after your idyllic stopover, and if coming by train, you can catch a direct train from Victoria to Lenham, and the hotel is only a short taxi ride from the station.
Food is important for a weekend getaway, even more so when it is a country retreat, you generally don’t want to have to travel miles to find somewhere to eat, and at Chilston Park Hotel they have it all covered with a fabulous breakfast with a generous buffet and various hot options made-to-order, including pancakes, an outdoor dining menu to enjoy the sunshine during the day on the tables around the fountain, as well as afternoon tea, and dinner in the impressive Culpeper restaurant. There is also a great bar for when you fancy cocktails.
Romantic and traditional rooms
There are 53 bedrooms, including 7 feature rooms and three suites, at Chilston Park Hotel, each one known by a name, not a digit, for instance, I stayed in the Carousel room, and each has been designed with a unique theme in mind. There are romantic four posters, rooms with stunning views across the gardens and lake, large more modern-style bedrooms, as well as charming options in the coach house and cottage outbuildings, which offer a more homely, cottage feel with courtyard views.
While I spent the night in the newer section of the hotel, I would recommend booking a room in the main house, when I went on a tour of the hotel I was wowed by the character, original fireplaces and antique furnishings of each room and suites.
The Tudor suite is located in the eaves of the Manor
No availability on the Tudor room, ask for the next best option, the Queen Anne suite, the original master bedroom of the Grade 1 listed Manor House, complete with a canopied four-poster bed, ornate cornicing, chandelier and original fireplace, as well as a lounge area and dining room for the perfect relaxing country staycation.
My stay wasn’t quite the suite life, but my Manor House Executive room was spacious, complete with a seating area, and I did like the Carousel horse touches dotted around my room and bathroom. Other themed rooms
Chilston Park Hotel – Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea takes place in the Marble Lounge, which is elegantly decorated with crystal chandeliers, comfortable chairs, a grand fireplace, so even in winter this will be a great spot to enjoy finger sandwiches, tea and cakes, as well as direct access to the gardens, when you fancy a stroll around the gorgeous grounds.
Chilston Park Hotel offers a traditional or savoury afternoon tea, so choose from finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with homemade jam and clotted cream, and a selection of delicious cakes, or go for the savoury option with sausage rolls, sandwiches, and cheese scones and of course, both come with teapots filled with leaf tea.
For me, afternoon tea would be right without a sweet treat, and the cakes were impressive, especially the rhubarb and custard cheesecake and the lemon meringue tart, both delicious. I also enjoy both the fruit and cheese scones, but I can’t resist clotted cream so for me, traditional wins out. You can also ask for vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Located in the original dining room of the house, Culpeper’s Restaurant offers traditional and modern dishes with a focus on seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, from Caldecott Farm chicken to south coast turbot, and even classics such as hamburger and Kentish beer battered fish and chips.
The charming setting with the original elegant sash windows, decorative ceiling and fireplace, make this a dinner to remember, as do the desserts, which I can’t recommend enough. I had the crumble with homemade custard, which was delicious, while Kirsty opted for the impressive rhubarb and custard parfait.
With a 2 AA Rosette award for culinary excellence, you know you are going to be treated well, and as well as the food being amazing, the staff are super knowledgeable, happy to recommend you items off the menu, and help you when it comes to selecting a suitable wine or cocktail to make the evening more special.
What I loved the most about my overnight stay at Chilston Park Hotel in Kent had to be how relaxed I felt, I have to be honest, after eating so well, having a lovely bubble bath, and a stroll around the beautiful grounds it was hard to say goodbye. It is also perfectly placed to take in some local culture with Leeds Castle only 10 minutes away, and even the beaches of Whitstable are only 40 minutes away, so there is so much to do, with the backdrop of this country manor as your base for the perfect countryside staycation.