London is great but…
Living in London certainly has its many, many advantages and for me one that I’m determined to make the most out of is the easy accessibility to so many beautiful parts of the UK. It’s incredible that in less than an hour, we can discover new towns and cities each with their own personality and hidden gems to discover. Over the past year, we’ve visited some beautiful places using the Southeastern railway network, including Canterbury and Whitstable – and now, as we approach the bustling festive period, we decided to head to a new town and begin our Christmas shopping early! I’d heard great things about Tunbridge Wells so we put a date in the diary, ordered our Off-Peak train tickets, and hopped aboard the 10.33 from Waterloo East to spend the day out of the city.
Tunbridge Wells certainly knows how to make a great first impression. The train station is in the very heart of the town, and you step out to see a stunning parade of historic shop fronts, in the style of a traditional spa town. We made our way up the hill which happened to lead us toward the more modern side of town, we dashed into a few of our favourite stores in one of the shopping arcades before turning to Instagram to help us discover some hidden gems.
We popped into a store called Biggie Best during our morning amble, and what a festive treasure trove it was! Baskets filled with locally made tree decorations, hand stitched stockings and an array of festive scented candles. We couldn’t help but pick up a few unique ornaments to remember our day by. The shop keeper was inquisitive about our photo taking and took great pleasure in recommending a few of her favourite places in the town – the area that she recommended to us was ‘The Pantiles’ – one of the destinations we’d also pinpointed from our Instagram research – so we decided to slowly make our way there.
It seemed that Tunbridge Wells was already well prepared for the festive season. We popped into multiple boutique stores that had the most incredible selection of charming decorations and gift ideas. Another favourite was ‘Susie Watson Designs‘ on the High Street – we spoke to the gentleman that worked there who told us all about Susie Watson and the ethical way in which she runs her business – designs are brought to life by skilled craftsmen and women in Sri Lanka and India and the story of the products’ journeys is brought to life by story boards across the walls of the store. He finished by giving us a tip about a super cake and coffee spot just across the road – and equally as soon as I revealed on Instagram that we were in Tunbridge Wells, we were inundated with recommendations to try out the locals favourite spot – Juliets.
The locals were right…
Juliets was everything we’d hoped to find in Tunbridge Wells – a family run business and a fabulous buzzing atmosphere inside. Families, friends and couples of all ages filled the tables enjoying the home made cakes and huge range of coffees (I went for a Pumpkin Chai latte!) and teas (served from teapots shaped like houses!) or something even more filling from the extensive menu.
We spent an hour or so in the bustling cafe, sampling a selection of their cakes including Pollenta, Orange Zest and Pistachio, as well as the more traditional Carrot Cake to name but a few! We picked up a salad box filled with healthy grains and protein as well as an Energy Ball each as we left – ready to continue our explorations!
We continued down the high street popping into even more unique stores on our way – many had Autumnal and Halloween inspired decorations which we couldn’t help stop and photograph!
Eventually we found our way to The Pantiles area that we’d been recommended by so many locals – and it didn’t disappoint! A charming and historic area with shop fronts unchanged from the Tudor times when The Pantiles was a popular place to shop, eat, drink and explore for the gentry visiting from London! Still a thriving area now with an equally big lure to visitors of the area, the streets are lined with local and independantly run stores – you won’t find any big mall type stores here!
It was here that we spoke to a few more locals while topping up our caffeine levels on a street-side coffee stall, who kindly showed us a route that would take us through a beautiful park, up past one of the areas most grand hotels; Hotel Du Vin, and then finishing at their favourite pub and brasserie; The Mount Edgcombe. They told us of warm, crackling fires and a cosy ‘snug’ area to enjoy a drink – it sounded like the perfect way to enjoy our last few hours in Tunbridge Wells!
After a long walk admiring the oldest homes in Tunbridge Wells and making our way through a beautiful woodland, we arrived at The Mount Edgecombe. We’d arrived a little too late for the lunch service unfortunately but decided to enjoy the cosy surroundings in a cave-like seating area while we checked our train times back to London! We perused the menu and the dishes sounded like the perfect typical comfort food that you crave on a Winter’s day – so definitely one I’ll be returning to on our next trip to Tunbridge Wells!
Tunbridge Wells is just under an hour from London Waterloo East with Southeastern Railway. If you fancy booking a trip to Tunbridge Wells or somewhere else in Kent and East Sussex, check out their Off-Peak fares to get the best value ticket for your journey! Find out more here.
What I Wore in Today’s Post
Jumper by Club Monaco (similar)
Gilet by Reiss
Trousers by Topshop
Boots by Russel and Bromley
Bag by River Island