As much as we crave long-haul holidays and a sense of escapism, there’s a lot to be said about what the UK has to offer and, given the current question marks about overseas travel, I find that particularly comforting.
If you’re based in London and seeking a weekend away that requires minimal travel time, Kent is an ideal option. I won’t lie to you, the county doesn’t offer crystal clear seas or a chance to taste a foreign cuisine, but it does boast beautiful coastline, acres of untouched woodland and a mean plate of fish and chips.
My three friends and I escaped to the Kent Downs about a week before the UK was put into lockdown; by this point anxiety was mounting as the nation dashed around loading supermarkets trollies with loo roll and soap. It was a complete accident that we were in Kent on this particular weekend, but it proved to be the perfect place to escape the madness.
Thanks to the team at Mulberry Cottages, we nested up in Norwood Barn, a charming three-bedroom property which overlooks miles of farmland. We arrived on a dark, damp evening, but felt instantly warm – thanks to the toasty underfloor heating and complimentary bottle of wine.
This feeling continued after the first night’s rest when the sun had risen and we could properly appreciate the magic of the barn. Like many barn conversions, Norwood is bright and open with original-exposed brickwork and large windows on either side of the property. It’s also incredibly spacious, with a large kitchen/dining room space and a separate lounge on the upper floor.
It was this mezzanine level lounge that proved to be our favourite space. Although it might sound glamorous, the décor in this room – and throughout the barn – is simple and rustic, which is exactly the way it should be, because with a building this beautiful, you can let the architecture do the talking.
There’s also no need for excessive furnishings when you’re treated to such gorgeous views. On a clear day, Norwood Barn looks out onto 20 miles of the surrounding area, including the coastline (binoculars required). But if just gazing over the seaside doesn’t do it for you, the boutique town of Whitstable is 30 minutes down the road and the historic city of Canterbury a short drive away too.
For those wishing to stay local, don’t fret, the barn is a short, scenic walk away from a handful of traditional pubs. We weren’t blessed with the best weather during our stay, so instead chose to load up on goods at a nearby farm shop and bunker down for the evening.
Norwood Barn proved to be the perfect space for a girl’s weekend away; with two doubles, two singles, as well as four toilets, there was plenty of room. But if you’re travelling in a bigger group, there’s also the option to hire the two bedroom smaller barn right next door.
In a nutshell, Norwood Barn is a (spacious, bright) pocket of peace and quiet in the middle of beautiful, tranquil surroundings and after the past few months we’ve had, aren’t we all due a bit of that?
Price: £583 for 3 nights / £760 for 7 nights
Phone: 0345 268 1414
All images courtesy of Shepherd Photography