We ended our recent vacation in Paris with a trip to England. Our main goal was to cross the Chunnel in both directions with a pet dog, so we earmarked only a week for the jaunt — not long enough, really, to do more than burrow into a cozy hotel in Kent and take a couple of day trips.
We chose Royal Tunbridge Wells as our base of operations and, specifically, the dog-friendly Hotel du Vin. As Mount Pleasant House, it had been a favorite vacation spot of the Duchess of Kent and her daughter, Princess (eventually Queen) Victoria. Now it’s a hotel and restaurant, and it’s very pleasant indeed — pet dogs are welcome everywhere but the restaurant (meaning, specifically, that Chloe was welcome in the cheery tea parlor and across the hall in the profoundly cozy bar, and the staff smiled benignly as we walked with her from one to the other and up the stairs to our room). We alternated eating with walks through the large park behind the hotel (the former grounds of the house) and through the streets of this elegant spa town.
Chloe was also welcome at Hall’s Bookshop, a wonderful used book store. She could not come in to Juliets Cafe with us, but the weather was just mild enough for a handful of sidewalk tables. Warmed by Chloe in my lap and a steady supply of hot tea, I was able to give the superb food (the window packed with desserts will stop you in your tracks, but they also offer great soups, stews, and salads) the attention it deserves.
Our other recommendation from this quick trip is Knole House, only a short drive away and one of the greatest of England’s stately homes. The house itself is not dog-friendly, but the grounds are, and they go on forever. Dogs are required to be leashed, and for good reason — Knole has been a deer park since God was young, and you wouldn’t want to tangle with the herd (“descendants of those hunted by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I”). Guided walks are offered, and the park’s page has links to four self-guided walks. If we’d had just one more day, and boots to handle fall/winter muck, I would certainly have taken us all on the walk from Knole to Ightham Mote and back (especially since your leashed pup can join you on the patio of the Mote Restaurant). I didn’t see any warnings on the National Trust’s page for Knole about deer ticks, but better safe than sorry: Dose your pup with Frontline Plus, and check her and yourselves carefully for any stowaways.