Looking for places to stay in Kent? Want a country-yet-contemporary hotel? Read our review of The Salutation, and check out more places to eat in Kent here.
***This hotel has now closed
The Salutation in a nutshell
Just 200ft from the River Stour, the stately Salutation, designed by Edwin Lutyens, is a masterpiece in Georgian grandeur (albeit with an uber-modern tasting room and glass-fronted open kitchen downstairs).
It’s an elegant place, where the atmosphere is hushed and the carpets are spotless. Expect sweeping staircases, twisted columns, double-height sash windows and nearly four acres of carefully tended gardens (also designed by Lutyens). If you fancy a stroll, head to the Poplar walk then continue to the wet meadow, where you can sit awhile and admire the house from a distance.
There’s also a timber-clad lounge-cum-bar, a drawing room where afternoon tea is served, and a pretty terrace that looks out onto the gardens. Outside, also on the estate, is a gift shop, café and a small nursery where you can buy plants (more than 100 of those on sale can’t be found anywhere else in the country).
Which room should I book at The Salutation?
All eight bedrooms are vast, with views of the garden and St Clement’s Church beyond. Billowing curtains, Chesterfield-style sofas and ornate bed canopies lend a heritage feel to four of the rooms, while the others (Farrer, Lutyens, Jekyll and Gertrude) are more contemporary with navy blue walls, geometric rugs and sloping roofs. You can make your own tea and coffee, but there are no fridges for fresh milk.
The food and drink
The kitchen, refreshed in 2017 when chef Shane Hughes took over, is designed to be entirely transparent. It’s glass-fronted, so diners (who eat at gnarled wooden benches) can watch their meal come together (or turn to face the other side of the room and enjoy tropical garden views). The dining room itself is deliberately muted – dove grey walls, simple panelling and modern lighting – to let those views shine.
Order the tasting menu (for a very reasonable £48 per person) to try the best of Shane’s cooking. Pre-dinner snacks might include truffled pea piped back into its shell, and mini mac ’n’ cheese bites made interesting with a background hit of fermented chilli (six weeks in the making). You might also try dark wedges of Guinness sourdough with smoked butter, delicately poached Scottish scallops (lifted with grapefruit) and duck breast with sticky honey sauce, pull-apart confit duck leg and roast butternut squash layered with blue cheese. The wine list is compiled by Master of Wine Vincent Gasnier and, though predominantly French, includes Kentish bottles from Biddenden and Chapel Down vineyards.
Though not quite as show-stopping as dinner, this includes stewed fruits, cereals, pastries and hot dishes cooked to order (including the egg’s benedict, draped in velvety hollandaise).
What else can foodies do?
Be sure to visit the kitchen garden (behind the wet meadow), to see the herbs and heritage vegetables that go into Shane’s menus. He works in conjunction with head gardener Steve Edney to keep the food as seasonal and local as possible.
Is it family friendly?
Children are welcome, but the exclusive feel of the main house could make parents wary of vocal children. Instead, book the Coach House (two bedrooms and a kitchen) or the three-bedroom Gardener’s Cottage, both of which sit in The Salutation’s grounds.
Take afternoon tea on the terrace, right in front of the bowling green. It’s eat-all-you-like, and includes homemade scones, carrot cake with spiced mascarpone and bottomless champagne.
Words by Charlotte Morgan