Royal Tunbridge Wells The Pantiles

As you may have seen in my stories, we spent the May Bank Holiday exploring Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent celebrating my birthday. This was our first time visiting and we couldn’t have picked a more beautiful weekend to enjoy the town and its stunning surroundings.

Shopping in Royal Tunbridge Wells
White Picket Fence Royal Tunbridge Wells
Flowers at Royal Tunbridge Wells

Royal Tunbridge Wells

For our first overnight stay of 2021, we decided to drive two hours south to Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent. We arrived to pristine streets lined with Victorian and Georgian buildings, many with balconies that looked as if they belonged in New Orleans, and quaint boutique shops. We were fortunate to get booked in to the Smith & Western Hotel, a historic American South-West themed hotel and restaurant, formerly the Tunbridge Wells West Station that opened in 1866 with train services to the South Coast.  The hotel building still features the original ticket office and clock tower.  The western design transports you to Texas once you set foot inside with barrels, western tack, cowhides, cowboy boots and, of course, traditional American food being served.  The location of the hotel was amazing – just a short walk to the famous Pantiles with its boutique shops, cafes and bars.

Western saddle in western restaurant
Smith & Western Room, Royal Tunbridge Wells
Smith & Western arrival
Cowboy boot lamp, western style ranch interior
Cowboys at Smith & Western Restaurant Royal Tunbridge Wells
Smith & Western Interior Ranch, Royal Tunbridge Wells
Smith & Western hotel ranch interior, Tunbridge Wells,Kent

The Pantiles

We unpacked and decided to have a quick bite to eat at the hotel before venturing out for a leisurely stroll to explore the town. I was in awe of the beautiful, historic architecture and stumbled upon the prettiest cottage with a white picket fence. We made our way down to The Pantiles. Unfortunately, because it was Sunday most of the boutique stores were closed, but we did manage to find a few gems including Collared, a stylish shop for dogs and dog lovers – we couldn’t resist and bought Roxy a dog coat and yet another ball! Adam then spotted a boutique called Bod & Ted that turned out to stock most of my favourite brands (I think perhaps now he wishes he hadn’t pointed it out to me). As it was my birthday, I decided to treat myself to a few items which included an exquisite Pink City Prints sky blue prairie dress with puff sleeves that I was immediately drawn to.

We paused for an iced tea at the Fine Grind café, beside the most beautiful florist and bar (in-one), The Cove.

Sky blue prairie dress, folk dress, Bod & Ted
Sky blue prairie dress, folk dress, Pink City Prints dress
The Cove, florist in Royal Tunbridge Wells

A Mini-Adventure

Following our stroll around town, we had a couple of hours free before our dinner reservation so decided to pop out for a drive around the surrounding villages.  One of my favourite things to do is to go on a ‘mini-adventure’ where we drive with no route planned, turning down random little roads (the smaller the better) to explore the region and see what we stumble upon.  On this particular ‘mini-adventure’ we drove through the High Weald Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with with jaw-dropping views across wooded valleys, huge ancient sandstone rock formations at High Rocks and picturesque villages. One such village was Groombridge, where we noticed a few people gathered, peering over a bridge.  We pulled up and walked back to the bridge, to discover a steam train about to leave the Groombridge Station.

We had so much fun exploring together!

Steam Train, Groombridge, Royal Tunbridge Wells
Groombridge station, Royal Tunbridge Wells, picturesque British village
Steam train, Tunbridge Wells
Picturesque village UK, Groombridge, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Groombridge steam train staion, Kent, Tunbridge Wells

Dinner At Smith & Western

We ended our day with dinner at the Smith & Western Hotel where we were treated to the largest portion of nachos I’ve ever seen! Adam ordered a ‘two-pint beer’, while I enjoyed a colourful cocktail.  Serving us were, of course, waiters dressed in cowboy attire – complete with cowboy hat and ‘outlaw’ masks.  

Nachos at Smith & Western, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Pint at Smith & Western Hotel, Kent


After breakfast the next morning, it was finally time to head home. But not before stopping off at Bluewater Shopping Centre for a spot of last-minute shopping.  Actually I was returning an item I’d bought there the previous week, but made a few additional purchases in the process! Keep an eye open for Instagram stories with snaps of the new outfits.

Heading home we talked about how much we’d managed to fit into two days. Which reminds me, I forgot to mention that the previous morning began with an early start at a boot sale to see what potential props/décor we could find for our upcoming stall at the Tennessee Fields Festival

Our time in Royal Tunbridge Wells was incredible; we felt very safe with the COVID-19 adjustments in place and can’t wait to explore even more of what the region has to offer in future trips.