Pet Friendly Kent
With beaches galore and miles of countryside walks, Kent has always been a haven for dog owners. With the nation’s love growing evermore strong for our canine friends, the county is now awash with a plethora of pet-friendly venues, ready to welcome guests with open paws.
According to pet charity PDSA, 27% of UK adults own a dog, with an estimated number of 10.2 million pet dogs nationwide. Since 2013, an extra 4.5 million dogs have trotted their way into the lives of Brits and now, a plethora of pet-friendly places across the country have popped up to welcome our four-legged friends through their doors. Once upon a time, not so long ago, it was mainly pubs, and only some at that, that allowed dogs. Today, pooches are celebrated at coffee shops, restaurants, holiday lets and even hotels – proof that we simply hate being away from our canine pals and that no staycation is complete without them. Ever one to be ahead of the trend, Kent is no exception to pet-mania, and with our beautiful beachside walks and serene countryside strolls the county is a paradise for our pooches.
The Isle of Thanet is one of Kent’s most popular places for dog-walkers, especially tourists holidaying with city-dwelling dogs who are craving a run on the beach. Margate is slowly becoming the most dog-friendly seaside town in the UK and perhaps the most dog friendly boutique stay is The Dog House. On arrival, your furry friends will be gifted their very own selection of hypoallergenic treats, created by canine master chef Ruby Ruffs Doggy Deli. With premium memory foam beds that respond to your dog’s body heat and pressure, they will have the most comfortable sleep to prepare them ahead of a day’s exploring. In the morning, they can enjoy a choice between succulent sausage and bacon or selection of fine raw or dry foods. Just 500 metres down the road, enjoy all the fun of the vast dog-friendly beaches Margate has to offer. With plenty of pet-friendly coffee shops, cafés and restaurants, including The Greedy Cow Café and the Margate Coffee Shed, there are plenty of opportunities to refuel. Dog-sitting services are available upon request at extra cost at The Dog House, so parents of fur-babies can enjoy a meal out in town with a glass of wine or two.
Pontins meets Palm Springs at Club Jupiter in Birchington, who welcome one well behaved dog under 10kg to their stylish pad. A renovated BK Bluebird caravan fuelled by a love for achievable travel and mindful interiors, as well as retro design, if you love Instagramming your pooch then look no further. Club Jupiter’s 70’s style wallpaper with funky bold prints, a smattering of rattan furniture, cow print headboards and light-up heart-shaped mirrors will make the perfect photo backdrop for your fluffy angel’s pics. Just a stone’s throw away from Club Jupter lies the sandy stretch of Minnis Bay, a total haven for dogs that love to run, sniff and go for a swim. After exercising on the bay, visit The Minnis Bay Bar & Brasserie, a relaxed, stylish location that offers truly outstanding views, great food, an extensive drinks list and of course a friendly service that welcomes dogs. Serving classic British cuisine with a contemporary twist, the coastal location means that seafood is a speciality here – including a famously good battered fish, chips and peas.
Another beach delightful for dogs is Sandwich Bay, a quiet rural beach about two miles from the historic Cinque Port town of the same name. After exploring Sandwich’s quaint streets with your pooch, or letting them go for a refreshing swim at this tranquil bay which has calm waters in most weathers, return to your very own pet-friendly farmhouse to really live out this idyllic Kentish retreat together. Poplar Farmhouse, available through Keeper’s Cottages, is a beautiful Victorian detached house that has been lovingly renovated by the owners. Many period features have been retained along with high ceilings, stunning picture windows, decorative fireplaces and wooden floors. The interior is a wonderful combination of traditional and modern with lovely colour accents and original artwork in many of the rooms. The house is spacious and comfortable, sleeping eight with four bedrooms, and includes a large garden – perfect for children and dogs to play.
Another Keeper’s Cottages gem comes in the form of Victory at Cliffe. Situated majestically on a raised plot looking straight out to sea over Oldstairs Bay and Kingsdown Beach, Victory at Cliffe is a beautiful holiday home sleeping up to six guests in three spacious double bedrooms. This colonial-style property has recently been renovated to a very high standard with a beautiful new Neptune kitchen, a modern walk-in shower room, as well as a fantastic new laundry/boot room off the kitchen which is ideal for drying off those wet coats and muddy paws. The house has a wonderful large garden, veranda, fire pit and unobstructed sea views. Guests can step out onto the beach for a walk along the pebbles within minutes, or walk up to the White Cliffs of Dover to explore the rare wildlife, insects and plants of White Cliffs Country. Just minutes away is The Zetland Arms, a seafront pub and restaurant with panoramic ocean views and a rabble of regular canines for your dog to befriend. Serving sublime local seafood and locally brewed ales by Faversham’s Shepherd Neame, a meal here is sure to go down a treat whether its fish finger sandwiches on crusty bread at lunchtime or Dover sole with spring greens in the evening.
Opening on April 1 for the new season, Hole Park Gardens is the perfect place to witness the beauty of spring this month with your pooch. Visitors to the gardens in early April will see swathes of crocuses, narcissi and daffodils. A pretty ‘Camelia Walk’ with shade-loving hellebores takes walkers down a path flanked by flowering cherry trees. Before the bluebells take centre stage, the meadows and woodland floor are a sea of primroses and dainty blue scillas. Magnificent mature magnolia trees will also be flowering throughout the gardens and woodlands, a pretty photo opportunity for you and your dog. After walking at Hole Park, visit nearby Arthur’s Coffee House in Cranbrook for gorgeous light lunches, delicious homemade cakes and exceptionally good coffee. Arthur’s are famous for being dog friendly, so expect lots of fluffy pals to greet you.
Just a 30-minute drive away from Cranbrook is Lacton Manor Barns, available through Bloom Stays. Sleeping eight with room for two dogs, this is perfect for friends and families that love to staycation together. A wonderful conversion of two old farm buildings, three generations have farmed here for over 70 years. Guests can enjoy this heritage property fitted with all the modern comforts of home in a beautiful part of Kent just below the Pilgrims Way – another great spot for dog walks. The open-plan living space opens up via huge bi-folding doors onto a large terrace and garden; great for playful children and dogs. After playing outside, snuggle up together on the giant squashy sofas.
Another beauty on Bloom Stays’ portfolio is Lower Standen Farm near Benenden. With room for three dogs and 24 of their pet humans, this is ideal for big groups that love exploring, walking and eating together. With a luxurious yet distinctive interior that showcases the owners’ well-travelled life, this 17th-century self-catering country retreat oozes historical charm in abundance. Set amidst acres of grounds that reveal a hidden heated swimming pool, undulating fields and windmill views, the exterior is just as splendid as the interior with its characterful appeal, oak-beamed walls and lavish detailing. A house perfect for leisurely breakfasts in the contemporary state-of-the-art kitchen and evenings of board games in the snug, your dogs can always be in on the fun. Only a 25-minute drive away is the beautiful Scotney Castle. Home to one of the most picturesque gardens in the United Kingdom, Scotney is a real beauty spot when it comes to dog walks. With expansive views across the wider estate, a woodland glade, moat, walled garden, hidden walkways, a heather-thatched icehouse and a Victorian boathouse, the edges between tamed and wild nature are deliberately blurred.
For our canine friends that love a puppuccino after a blustery spring stroll along the seafront look no further than Mr Whippet’s Café (@mrwhippetscafe) in Sandgate. With a flat promenade that meets a stony seafront, Sandgate is a lengthy stretch of beach that backs onto a pretty highstreet full of boutiques, pubs and restaurants. At Mr Whippet’s, expect beautifully brewed coffee and gorgeous light bites including pastrami and blue cheese sourdough toasties, as well as scrumptious cakes, such as their famously good cinnamon buns.