Your guide to Royal Tunbridge Wells
Visiting Tunbridge Wells and curious as to where to go or what to do? Let us guide you through the best of what the town has to offer including shopping, outdoor events, where to get a caffeine fix and more…
Located around 40 miles south-east of central London by road, Royal Tunbridge Wells is a historic spa town on the West Kent border in the High Weald. Tunbridge Wells was given its Royal status in 1909 by King Edward VII when he recognised the popularity of the town with Royalty including his mother Queen Victoria and remains one of only three towns in England with the “Royal” prefix. For this reason Royal Tunbridge Wells and The Pantiles, the famous Georgian colonnade at the bottom of the town with 400 years of history behind it, became a major holiday destination for the gentry and royalty, and today remains a charming place to browse, shop, eat, drink and take a stroll. For this reason, the Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells was a major holiday destination for the gentry and royalty, and today remains a charming place to browse, shop, eat, drink and stroll.
Best for: Independent restaurants and cafés
Just outside the town centre, Camden Road in itself has a little food world of its own. The restaurants and cafes range from a family-run Italian, to a French-inspired brasserie to a plant-based hotspot and everything else in between. Cocktails are certainly on the menu on this road, you’ll most definitely find the all of the classics as well as some quirky and imaginative tipples too.
Best for: Shopping
THE HIGH STREET
If you take a stroll down Tunbridge Wells’ historic High Street you’ll find everything from independent fashion retailers who stock established as well as up and coming fashion brands amongst some well-known named boutiques too.
Best for: Outdoor events
Throughout the year, The Pantiles plays host to an array of outdoor events including farmers, arts and crafts as well as vintage fashion markets. Jazz on the Pantiles is a hugely popular annual event that runs weekly on Thursday evenings between May and September where locals and visitors alike enjoy pop-up bars, street food and of course live jazz music from the bandstand.
Best for: Countryside views
A twenty minute walk from the town centre is the town’s largest recreational area of Dunorlan Park which totals around 78 acres of grounds and park. The park boasts views of the boating lake, onto the rolling Weald countryside and beyond. There is also an on-site café where hot drinks, food and ice cream are available and Dunorlan Park also hosts a number of outdoor events all year round including a fireworks display in November, Park Run every Saturday morning and much more.
Best for: Bars and nightlife
The town centre is the central hub in Tunbridge Wells and is home to the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre which houses plenty of places to shop until you drop. As well as this, the library, Trinity an Assembly Hall theatres are also located centrally and are within walking distance of each other. There are also plenty of restaurants to choose from in the centre of town as well as a bustling nightlife scene with several bars and clubs to spend your evening in.
Wake up and smell the coffee…
Bringing the heat of Melbourne to Camden Road, The Black Dog serve up Monmouth Coffee as well as a guest bean alongside an international inspired menu made from local, fresh ingredients.
If you find yourself towards the bottom of the town, at the end of the High Street we recommend Fine Grind Espresso Bar who source their beans locally from the Horsham Coffee Roastery, and even if you’re not dairy-free, the almond milk latte is an absolute game-changer. Order it large!
We’re dining at…
Sankey’s, who are a family-run business and pride themselves on sustainable fresh seafood. They have several venues to dine at throughout the town but our favourite is the Seafood Brasserie on Camden Road. Fresh fish and shellfish come from their own fishmongers and directly from the British coast as well as oysters, crabs, lobsters and more which are on the menu daily. This all happens in an informal and modern environment with an open plan kitchen amongst fish displays. In the warmer months, The Seafood Brasserie’s large bi-fold doors open up to provide an al fresco dining experience.
Kitsu, which is tucked away in Victoria Road. Informal and cosy, this noodle bar specialises in vibrant and freshly prepared sushi which is at the forefront of its menu as well as classic Japanese dishes such as goyoza and ramen. There are also a number of vegetarian options on the menu. Kitsu is BYOB, and charges a small fee for corkage so why not pop into Firkins on Camden Road for some craft beer or Italian wine beforehand?
Time flies when you’re having fun...
For those who love live music, The Forum which is adjacent to The Pantiles is a 250 capacity live arts venue and hosts a range of grassroots music nights for local music acts as well as burlesque, comedy and much more. In 2012, NME Magazine named the venue as the ‘Best Small Live Music Venue’ in Britain.
If theatre’s more your thing there’s always something fantastic showing at Trinity or The Assembly Hall Theatre, from household comedy, drama and family entertainment both of which are located in the heart of the town.
Take a nightcap here…
Chapel Place Wine and Gin Bar, an intimate bar in located in the charming Chapel Place area of Tunbridge Wells. Boasting over 100 different gins, this is the place to try out a Negroni or French 75 with a difference.
Built in the early 19th Century, The George first served as a coaching inn for people on their way between London and Tunbridge Wells, making the pub a historic town centre watering hole. Out the back they also have a large decked area– an east-facing ‘secret garden’ which is one of the best places in Tunbridge Wells to enjoy the sun with a drink, while the front courtyard gets the sun from the late afternoon.