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Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve, Ashford, Kent
You might initially be confused as you awake to the whooping call of Howler monkeys and the unmistakable roar of a (Kentish) lion. But pulling the curtains back, you are rewarded with views of terraced gardens sweeping down to dense forest with the Channel glinting in the morning sunshine beyond it. Whether you stay in Port Lympne's plush eight-room hotel, a self-catered cottage, cosy bubble dome, homely camping pod or glass-fronted lodge in the midst of a tiger enclosure, you'll be at the beating heart of this 600-acre reserve, home to over 900 rare and endangered animals.
We love the juxtaposition of animals straight from the plains of Africa and Asia striding around the fields of Kent, with the Channel behind them.
The hotel lies on the unique Port Lympne Reserve, just down the coast from Folkestone
By car: around 2 hours 15 mins from London on the M20, 2 hours from Brighton, 3 hours 20 mins from Bristol. There is free parking on site.
By train: Ashford International station is a 20-minute drive from the hotel, accessed via London St Pancras in 1 hour, as well as Charing Cross and Victoria, Paris, Brussels and Lille. trainline.com
Style & Character
Port Lympne Hotel is perfect foranybody with a passion for animals and their conservation. We love glamming up for dinner in the restaurant after a day feeding giraffe, bumping around in the safari truck and giggling at gibbons.
Service & Facilities
Enjoy momentary respite from the busyness of the park with a cup of tea in the balmy Moroccan Courtyard, overlooking the quintessentially British gardens.
- Animal reserve
- Sun terrace
- Games room
- Children's playroom
- Free Wi-Fi
- Complimentary parking
- Family friendly
- Accessible main house
The transparent Bubble, complete with its large timber bed, freestanding bath and transparent shower ceiling, makes for ridiculously romantic stargazing nights. Whether you stay in a posh suite, bubble dome or safari tent, you'll still find Bamford toiletries in your bathroom.
Double Bedrooms, Junior Suites, Suites, Lodges, Cottages, Creek Houses, Treehouse, Forest Hideaway, Glamping
Facilities include: ensuite bathroom, smart TV, WiFi hairdryer, tea & coffee facilities, safe, iron
Food & Drink
Much of the produce used here is grown locally by the company founded in the '80s by John Aspinall to supply Port Lympne and Howlett's. We love the succulent chilli calamari, washed down with a crisp Prosecco, sitting amidst olive trees on the veranda of Babydoll's restaurant.
Pinewood Café: Relaxed, modern. Tea, coffee and light bites. Open daily.
Port Lympne Restaurant: Light and airy. Locally-sourced ingredients, seasonal menus. Open daily. Mains from £16.
Moroccan Courtyard: Romantic. Open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.
Glyn Philpot Bar: Speciality teas, coffee, soft drinks, wines and spirits. Open every daily.