If I had to choose between living in London or Tunbridge Wells, I would choose Tunbridge Wells (and Ben would tell me I was effing crazy). I am not really into the hustle bustle of cities and the metro in London was seriously as crowded as Indian transport during rush hour. Tunbridge Wells had charm, was easy to get around, and had unique boutique shops, art galleries and adorable pubs that served really good English food!
Ben grew up in “Royal” Tunbridge Wells and his mom now lives in Tonbridge (why the spelling in different, I don’t know). It’s royal because Queen Victoria & Prince Albert used to vacation there as a kid.
It was famous before then because of a hot chalybeate spring that people used to come for a “spa”. The water was believed to have healing properties so people would come to have a sip. Word spread to the Royals, which is why they ventured to Tunbridge Wells.
The well is still there, although empty while we visited and the surrounding area is called the Pantiles. It’s a great place to walk around, shop, and have dinner.
They do a jazz night every Thursday as well. During World War 2, Tunbridge Wells was actually a place of refuge for all the people escaping London’s bombings. It’s also been called the “Garden of England”.
With all the royalty in and out of Tunbridge Wells, it’s not surprising that a royal mansion near Calverley Park was turned into a hotel. Hotel Du Vin & Bistro invited Ben and I to stay, so we popped in for a night. The rooms were perfect and classy and I highly recommend staying there!
They offer movie nights in the summer with themes like Italian, English, French, etc where the movie matches the food. We didn’t have the right time frame to fit it in, so ate at the Bistro.
Being the classy gal I am, I got a cheesburger. Ben had a steak and I was really jealous that I wasn’t smart enough to order that too! Not that I don’t love a cheeseburger, but I ordered one everywhere I went.
Ben loved this Old Mout Cider so much that he bought 3 and packed them for India. Luckily they didn’t break and he actually had one tonight here in Goa! The hotel is known for amazing wine, but other than our drink at dinner we were detoxing from all the drinking we were doing and just wanted to lie in and watch a movie (the Minions.. it was cute).
I love eggs Benedict and am determined to learn to make it myself! Breakfast in England is always so much food… which is not a complaint. Ben had a bath, which was his favorite part about the hotel. English people and their baths… so weird.
The bar and bistro were packed full of people and I’ve been told this hotel is a popular place for fancy dining or date nights. You definitely need to reserve a table. Lots of people go for Sunday Brunch, which Ben’s family recently did for his grandma’s 80th birthday just the week before we went.
Ben’s friends live there and took us to all their favorite pubs and restaurants. I mean, we had Dominoes and fast food too of course! Ha ha, Ben and I always have to get our fix when we are out of India.
Some of the best meals, his mom and Mick cooked! I love an English style Sunday Roast… and I love English cauliflower and cheese.
According to Ben’s friends the best pubs are the Chaser (pictured above) and Checkers Inn where we had such a good dinner – cauliflower cheese, bangers and mash, salad, goats cheese starters, pork belly, and lots more.
We stayed a few nights at Ben’s bestie Mitch’s house (and his wife Laura and their cute twins Lucy and Amber… who stayed shy even a week later!). After a night of boozing, the next day we woke up craving ribs so what to do..? Go out and buy them! Mitch made them with a sticky cola BBQ sauce and we ate ourselves into a coma.
Ben’s mom’s roasts were delicious! I took a photo of the pork roast we had the week after, but it didn’t really turn out or at least show off how yummy it tastes. All the veggies used came from their own garden! It was all so good and I finally had a Yorkshire pudding I liked.. then I had 3 more.
The trip wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Bluewater so I could shop. Being boys, they had 5 guys burgers with me, left me there so they could gokart, then came back just in time for Krispy Kreme.
We drove out to see Ben’s grandma and her husband Peter at their house (THE CUTEST HOUSE EVER!!) and their huge 50 pound dogs. The towers on her house were used back in the day to dry out hops for beer… how cool is that?
All in all we had a great time and we can’t wait to go back – which will most likely be next year for Ben’s sisters wedding in London. Look forward to more posts from our day in Hastings and Rye & our time in Austria right after England.
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