How to spend 48 hours in Canterbury, Kent
Canterbury is one of the most beautiful and unique cities in England. With its world-famous cathedral, iconic Westgate Towers, and the modern architectural beauty that is the Marlowe Theatre, the city is steeped in culture and history. Combine this with the musicians placed on every corner whose lyrics hang in the air and echo down cobbled streets, the general atmosphere that lives in this great city makes it a place as colourful and majestic as London, but with so much more soul. The city mixes luxury with good old-fashioned fun to produce a delicious cocktail that people will travel half way around the world to taste.
Where to stay?
If you are looking for a luxury and one of a kind stay in this magnificent city, look no further than the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge. Founded in 2001, it is the perfect spot to rest your head in Canterbury.
Situated inside the cathedral grounds, the lodge has a warm and welcoming atmosphere that allows guests to relax the moment they step through the door. The hotel has a total of 35 bedrooms, of which 29 have breath-taking views of the cathedral from their windows. The Lodge offers a full English breakfast which is served in the spacious and airy Refectory Restaurant every morning, while offering discounts of up to 20% at local luxury restaurants and pubs to cover your other meal plans. The Cathedral Lodge is homely yet sophisticated, with knowledgeable and friendly staff happy to help with any queries about the city or the Lodge itself. This hotel is as unique and welcoming as they come.
What to do?
In quite a fruitful and money saving twist the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge offers its guests free entry into the cathedral itself, meaning an afternoon leisurely wondering through this historic building, learning about its history and architecture, and discovering its secrets should be firmly on the itinerary for anyone staying here. Originally founded in 597AD the cathedral is truly living history. The cathedral has something for everyone; the religious iconography attracts many pilgrims a year, and has done so since the medieval times.
History loving tourists come for the guided tours, while others simply come to marvel at the wonder that is the cathedral. Whether you are a person of faith or not, wondering around the great structure and its grounds can be described as nothing short of spiritual. The cathedral offers guided tours (adults £5pp), free mini talks, audio tours which are available in 7 languages (£4pp), and guide books; all of which offer a comprehensive history of the building. This activity can be done either alone or as a family; the cracks and crevices will certainly keep children entertained for hours as they attempt to discover the secrets of this infamous structure. A thoughtful, stroll alone through the grounds is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Next it’s time to pop into the Falstaff Hotel for a refreshing afternoon champagne cream tea. Enjoy one of the most quintessentially British past times with a luxury twist in this 15th century oasis of dark wood, beams and chandeliers. The Tea consists of freshly baked scones, clotted cream and jam plus delicious cakes and sumptuous sandwiches with various decadent fillings. Enjoy this treat of an afternoon in the Falstaff’s lounge while reclining in one of their beautiful armchairs, or, if it’s a particularly beautiful day, you could take Tea on the terrace and enjoy the charming summer breeze while chomping on a dainty cupcake. The hotel not only offers various mouthwatering cocktails, they also host a Cocktail Masterclass for those who love learning while drinking.
Where to eat dinner?
Be sure to finish off your day of exploration in style with an evening at one of the most luxurious places to dine in the city; The Ambrette. It is sure to be a feast for all five senses. Take a look at our review of this magnificent restaurant, and rest assured that everything from the exquisite wine list to the sumptuous dessert menu has been picked with a very unique, yet luxury experience in mind. And don’t forget guests of the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge receive up to 20% discount when dining at this fine establishment.
What to do?
After waking up to the magnificent cathedral views it’s time to enjoy a little of the nature that Canterbury has to offer. Head down to The River Stour and enjoy an afternoon lazily drifting along through the water on a magical punt ride. There is truly an abundance of punting companies to choose from but if you want that added layer of comfort, the Canterbury Punting Company is the one for you. You can enjoy a blissful 45 minute boat ride in the comfort of an entirely private, hand-crafted punt. Chauffeurs will tell you as little or as much about the history of Canterbury, the surrounding buildings and countryside as you would like, and the tour can even be accompanied by a jug of Pimms (£10), a bottle of prosecco (£15) or half a bottle of champagne (£20). For that full luxury experience, don’t forget to pack a picnic to indulge in while clinking your champagne flutes! Get ready to sit back, relax, and watch the riches of nature float by to the sound of birdsong above you.
After you’ve been rocked into a true state of relaxation by the River Stour it’s time to step back onto the bustling streets of Canterbury and head down towards the unique and atmospheric bar; One Pound Lane (known locally as The Pound). Not only is the bar a destination in itself, but upstairs it also offers a thrilling escape room experience – Escape in the Towers. Both the bar and the escape rooms are built into ‘England’s largest surviving medieval gateway’ that dates all the way back to 1380 and what was Canterbury’s previous city gaol, built in 1830! As the website says, it truly is a one of a kind experience that cannot be found anywhere else. There are currently two rooms to choose from – The Crime and Punishment Lab or a WW2 themed Comms Room – with a third coming later in 2019. The Crime and Punishment Lab is a particular favourite of mine. Set in the original gaol cells of the 1800s it is completely immersive, heart thumping fun.
Once you’ve had time to catch your breath after the Escape Rooms it is time to head downstairs and either celebrate your win or commiserate defeat in The Pound Bar where you will enjoy 10% off drinks. The bar is beautifully decorated with low lighting, glass doors, and heavy brick work; it is reminiscent of enjoying cocktails in ones very own medieval fortress. The cocktails are sublime and include age-old favourites as well as some lesser known, but no less tasty drinks. The bar staff are incredibly knowledgeable and are happy to give recommendations and even rustle you up something off-menu. The Pound is about an atmospheric, all-encompassing experience that is set somewhere between the 1800s and 2019. You can enjoy the immersion even more in one of their three restored police cells. For people wanting to stay firmly in the 21st century there is also a riverside terrace that you can enjoy while watching the world go by. Whatever your preference, Kent’s No.1 rated cocktail bar on TripAdvisor will never steer you wrong, and you will end the afternoon a little hazy but extremely happy.
Where to eat dinner?
After all those tempting cocktails it’s time to turn your attention to what I’m sure will be rumbling bellies. Simply head over the road to Cafe des Amis, a sumptuous Mexican restaurant where the drinks flow decadently and the food is piled high. With the best quality ingredients, this restaurant swaddles you in a cocoon of gorgeous aromas from the second you pass through its welcoming blue doors. Amis encourages sociable eating and so many of its dishes are designed to share with loved ones. Rumoured to be Orlando Bloom’s favourite restaurant in Canterbury, this is sure to be a great and worthy send off to your spectacular 48 hours in unique, historic and beautiful Canterbury.
Image credit at the very top of the article: mpalis/Bigstock.com