Shepherd House, Faversham
If you’re anything like me you’ll spend the duration of your stay at a boutique hotel murmuring, “I’d love curtains/a four-seater sofa/double shower like this in my shoe box-sized rented flat in London”. This feeling became particularly acute on a recent visit to Shepherd House in the Kentish town of Faversham. Shepherd House is the work of owners Clare Weston and her husband Simon, who bought and restored an old vicarage and have thrown together their interior tastes to turn it into a swanky three-bedroom B&B.
Key city: Canterbury
Faversham is a pretty popular spot and it's no surprise: this picturesque market town combines history with a buzzing atmosphere and brilliant array of independent shops.
I stayed in the Very, Very Large Double, which has huge windows looking out over the high street, an open-plan, blush-pink bathroom, complete with roll-top bath, and a clothes rail spray painted fluorescent green. If that’s not free then don’t worry – all of the rooms are beautifully designed. I’ve done enough fabric fondling in my time to know that this is one of the best-looking B&Bs in the UK.
Breakfast is just as good. I’m talking sausage, streaky bacon and eggs from SW Doughty, a family butcher that just collected this year’s Taste of Kent award. In fact, where possible, everything is locally sourced – including coffee from Garage Coffee in Canterbury, and salmon from the Tankerton Smokeshed. All this is served in the jade-green dining room, which again makes you want to rush home and whip out the Farrow & Ball.
From £145 a night B&B. 56 Preston Street, ME13 8PG; shepherdhouse-faversham.com
Farm & Harper, Whitstable
A short drive along the coast from Faversham you’ll find Whitstable, which wins my award for most twee seaside town in Britain. Still, it’s lovely. Stop for lunch at independent restaurant Farm & Harper – it’s a relatively new addition to the high street and the owners source as much of their produce as possible from their farm. Much of chef Phil MacGregor’s flavour-packed cooking takes place in his charcoal-fired grill, like a sublime steak baguette with a side of charred gem lettuce, feta and pomegranate. You could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner here quite happily, though for a bit of variety, head over the road to Samphire, with its shabby-chic interiors and huge portions of hearty dishes like cassoulet and super-fresh local fish, plus one of the best rice puddings I’ve ever tasted. And if you’ve got money to spend, you’ll already know about The Sportsman, the iconic Michelin-starred ‘pub’ in Seasalter with its spenny-but-casual vibe.
25 High Street, Whitstable, CT5 1AP; farmandharperwhitstable.co.uk
Shepherd Neame Brewery, Faversham
This bit of the Kent coast has some great drinking spots, and for that you can – in part at least – thank the presence in Faversham of Britain’s oldest brewer, Shepherd Neame. Start with a tour of the site where beer’s been brewed for at least three centuries, then hit up some local pubs. Inside the steamed up windows of the Corner Tap you’ll find candlelit tables and a selection of chairs, which makes it very un-publike, in a good way, while a short stagger away is Furlong’s Ale House, which feels like a really old-school micropub. In Whitstable, the Twelve Taps has a big selection of beer, not to mention gin for a bit of variety.
Faversham Brewery, 17 Court Street, ME13 7AX; shepherdneame.co.uk
Whitstable Fish Market
You’re in a harbour town, so if you’re into seafood you’re very much in the right place. Better still, the fish market – housed inside one of the ubiquitous black wooden goods sheds on the seafront – is packed with seafood hauled in by the harbour’s working fleet. Needless to say you’re going to want to pick up some Whitstable oysters, but check out seasonal fish and shellfish brought in according to the market’s sustainable seafood policy – super-fresh and ready to cook, or, if you’re lucky, grilled on a barbecue on site in the summer months.
South Quay, The Harbour, CT5 1AB
Nicholas Stone Schearer / Getty
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