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Treat the one you love with a visit to the county of Kent, quite rightly referred to as 'The Garden of England'. The county is pretty as a picture, with chocolate-box cottages, oast houses and historic half-timbered cottages scattered through scenic villages, surrounded by romantic gardens full of blooms, scorched hop fields and apple orchards. This would all sound perhaps too much of a cliché, were it not true. The villages of Kent, especially around the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, really are out of a storybook, with few regions matching the prettiness of this county. Even the historic houses and castles are whimsical and mysterious, making this county the perfect place for days out for couples in Kent.
Whether you are coming for Valentine's Day, a romantic weekend or an impromptu mid-week break, we have a wonderful selection of romantic cottages in Sussex to make your stay even more special. Just click on the button below to see our properties or read on to find some of the loveliest places to visit across the county.
Over 900 years of history will greet you at this fairytale moated castle situated in the heart of Kent. Drive through winding country lanes to reach the castle, then zoom up the drive to reach the magnificent fortress, where you can tour the myriad elegant rooms and discover the castle's fascinating past. The castle has been a Norman stronghold, the private property of six of England's medieval queens, and a palace used by none other than Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. It was also an early 20th-century retreat for the influential and famous, so you'll be in good company!
Once you've learned about the interesting historical figures who have dominated the castle, take a stroll around the glorious grounds and parkland - the castle makes a particularly stunning backdrop at sunset. Wander hand in hand around the Princess Alexandra Gardens with its colourful carpet of daffodils, narcissi and anemones or take a stroll around the Culpeper Garden, originally the site of the castle's kitchen garden. Hop aboard the Black Swan Ferry around the lake, sign up for some falconry or see the sights from a Segway - there's so much to see and do at this most beautiful of fortresses. It isn’t known as ‘the loveliest castle in the world’ for nothing!
Brownie points: Punting on the moat. Sail gently through the ancient arches in an elegant wooden punt, the castle a formidable shadow in the background.
Stay nearby: Quarterdeck Cottage, Biddenden (11 miles)
Medieval half-timbered houses and crooked cottages lining cobbled streets, a magnificent cathedral and a huge contemporary glass theatre all sit within the city walls of this cosmopolitan city. You can easily get lost in the romantic lanes in the centre, where smart pavement cafes and independent shops will tempt you in with their wares. Take a stroll around Westgate Gardens, particularly pretty in springtime when swathes of tulips come out in full bloom. On sunny days, spend an afternoon watching the punters on the tranquil River Stour or walk along the riverbanks, stopping for a mouthwatering cream tea in one of the city's excellent tearooms.
You can't go to Canterbury without taking a tour of the city, visiting Canterbury Cathedral and taking in the centuries of history within its town walls. Book the famous interactive tour through Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, meeting costumed characters and pilgrims as you wind your way through the city and uncover its medieval misadventures. When you can walk no more, pop into one of the bistros in the centre for something lovely to eat before catching a show at the Marlowe Theatre, known for its excellent theatre, opera and ballet. Stroll hand in hand back to the car along the lit-up riverbank, lined by gorgeous houses - the perfect end to a perfect day.
Brownie points: If you can catch a show at The Marlowe, try to book a Glyndebourne Tour opera or a Matthew Bourne ballet - two of the best.
Stay nearby: 3 The Stables, Ashford (15 miles)
There’s no prettier place for a romantic walk than amongst the pine trees of Bedgebury Pinetum. The UK’s largest pinetum - with over 12,000 trees and the most complete collection of coniferous trees anywhere in the world - is the perfect place to spend a few hours winding your way through the selection of tracks and trails at your leisure. If you're looking to really impress, go at Christmas time when the trees are (hopefully) capped with snow and the trails are lit up with twinkling festive lights. If pumping up the adrenaline is more your thing, whizz around on a hired mountain bike or explore the area on horseback.
Choose the trail that is best for you - there are various excellent choices, including the forest walking trail, the seasonal trail and the pinetum trail, where you can discover the hidden secrets of the Pinetum. When you have worked up an appetite, settle down with a slice of sticky cake and a hot chocolate at Bedgebury Café in the grounds. Curl up inside on cold winter days or sit back on the outside terrace during the warm summer months. The views are outstanding, and they may just tempt you to work off those calories with another quick walk!
Brownie points: Drive into the quaint village of Goudhurst for a stroll along the village high street. Walk down from the church to the village pond - easily one of the prettiest villages in the area.
Stay nearby: Cart Lodge - Goudhurst, Goudhurst
While you can, of course, see the glorious sights of Kent from a car, you’ll be sure to impress the love of your life if you book a trip on the vintage steam locomotives of the Kent and East Sussex Railway. Hop on at the Cinque Ports market town of Tenterden (definitively worth a wander beforehand) and wind your way through the Kent countryside at a leisurely pace, with nothing but the gentle sounds of the country and the sounds of steam to disturb you.
The highlight has to be pulling up beside the impossibly pretty National Trust Bodiam Castle, where you can hop off, stroll the ruins and grounds and enjoy a Champagne picnic under the sun. If it’s cold, settle back for an afternoon tea with warm scones and lashings of clotted cream on the return trip home. Just make sure you book!
Brownie points: If you are booking this for a special occasion, buy a gift card as a thoughtful treat. You can choose from various activities, including driving the locomotive or having a romantic dinner for two aboard the Wealden Pullman.
Stay nearby: Little Puddingcake, Rolvenden
Bear with us on this. While a jaunt around a dockyard may not be the first thing that springs to mind in your top ten of romantic days out, this historic dockyard is much more interesting than it sounds! With over 400 years of maritime heritage to ponder, you can climb aboard the Victorian naval ship HMS Gannet, check out the WWII destroyer and view a submarine to boot. Join the now-retired Master Shipwright as he relives his role as the Valiant's carpenter on the 35-minute walk which tells the story of a true dockyard worker, or take the shorter 15-minute tour on the HMS Ocelot, the last Royal Navy warship built at Chatham.
Stay for lunch at the Mess Deck - they have some fabulous doorstep sandwiches or share some of the Cheesy Chips Ahoy! Of course, the traditional Fish and Ships is always a crowd-pleaser and the Admiral's Burger is a maritime treat. Those exploring in the afternoon should treat themselves to a cream tea which not only has a fruit scone, strawberry jam and clotted cream, but also a chocolate-dipped strawberry and optional small bottle of prosecco to up the romance stakes.
Brownie points: If you're a fan of Call the Midwife, book one of the official location tours and explore where all the baby drama happened!
Stay nearby: Ascot, Rochester (1 mile)
There are historic houses and then there are romantic historic houses. Chartwell is definitely the latter. Home of Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine, this National Trust property near Westerham with its permanent resident marmalade cat called Jock, boasts beautiful views across the Weald of Kent as well as its own glorious gardens. While the house is now closed, there's still lots to do both inside and outside. View Churchill's artwork in the studio in the orchard and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of a 20th-century flower garden blooming all year round.
If you have a canine third wheel with you, explore over 80 acres of woodland and farmland belonging to the Chartwell estate, including Mariner's Hill or the trails out to neighbouring National Trust properties Toys Hill and Emmetts Garden. When you get back, shake off the mud and head to the outside area of the Landemare Café where you can all share something tasty, dropped crumbs optional.
Brownie points: The shop at Chartwell is one of the largest of the National Trust so it's just the place for a special treat - peruse the gifts and buy a bottle of 4711, one of Churchill's favourite colognes, or a bottle of his favourite Pol Roger Champagne.
Stay nearby: Apartment 15, Tunbridge Wells (15 miles) - 1 canine third wheel welcome
Home to the romantic poet and author Vita Sackville West and her husband Harold Nicolson, Sissinghurst Castle Garden, situated in the Weald of Kent, is one of the most famous gardens in England, and designated Grade I on Historic England's register of historic parks and gardens. Stroll through the pretty old-fashioned climbers and shrub roses - Vita's favourites - and discover some of the 180 acres of woodland. Green-fingered romantics will love the Recreating Delos project which will re-imagine an area of the garden that was never completed by Vita and Harold.
As with many National Trust properties, there is a gift shop to peruse, as well as a restaurant using fresh ingredients from the vegetable garden. The Old Dairy is the perfect spot to grab a quick cup of coffee and treat yourself to some of the plants on sale which have been propagated on-site by the Sissinghurst Garden Team.
Brownie points: Drive over to Cranbrook, just a couple of miles from Sissinghurst, to visit the magnificent windmill which dominates the area - this Grade I-listed smock mill is the perfect place to end the day.
Stay nearby: The Secret Hideaway, Benenden (4 miles)
This is one of those houses that only comes to life when you are there in person. Known to stop traffic (drive slowly on your approach!), you couldn’t get a prettier Kentish scene if you tried. A half-timbered house built in the late 15th or early 16th century, it has been cared for since 1947 by the National Trust. The house was home to the famous Victorian actress Dame Ellen Terry, with the garden remaining a romantic and tranquil retreat - its formal rose garden and old wildflower bed are a delight. This really is an English country garden at its best.
Walk around the museum which pays homage to the life and career of the actress, showcasing over 9,500 artefacts from her personal and professional life - be sure to view the recently conserved robes from the actress' role as Portia in 'The Merchant of Venice' in the Lyceum room. Also find out why she became an unexpected international celebrity and how the trust commemorates its LGBTQ heritage.
Brownie points: Book one of the brilliant open-air performances in the summer at the Barn Theatre. From opera to theatre, this makes a fabulous day out even more special.
Stay nearby: Little Hamilton, Brookland (14 miles)
Romantic days out have never been so good! Why not make it into a whole weekend with a stay at one of our romantic cottages? Stay in a cute annexe squirrelled away on a working farm, a traditional Kent country cottage with roses around the door, or a contemporary apartment with breathtaking sea views across to France. Whatever your style, we've got the property for you. Have a leaf through our cottages to find your next romantic escape.