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Amy Hopkins heads to the charming market town of Faversham in Kent to check out a cosy Creek-side hotel and award-winning restaurant
Fifty miles from London and ten miles from Canterbury in east Kent is the medieval market town of Faversham. With a thriving market, lively creek community and plenty of independent shops and restaurants, Faversham is delightful place for a weekend retreat in the heart of rural Kent.
The historic town is a town full of character and characters – like David Selves, the radio DJ, auctioneer, chairman, author and larger-than-life proprietor of Faversham Creek Hotel.
The hotel building dates back to 1723, when it was a merchant’s house. David and his wife Tracy bought it in 2014 and transformed what was a rowdy boozer into a smart boutique hotel. There are six bedrooms, all thoughtfully decorated and named after famous people from Faversham’s colourful past. Four out of the hotel’s six rooms are easily adaptable for families, with a travel cot and fold-out kids bed available to borrow.
My husband and I head to the Creek Hotel to stay in the magnificent Queen Matilda room. The grandest in the hotel, it’s named after King Stephen’s wife (the pair founded an abbey in Faversham in 1147). The spacious room overlooks the hotel’s pretty courtyard. Its standout features are the huge four poster bed (seven foot wide and seven foot high) and the raised sleigh-bath, which sits in the corner of the bedroom, inviting guests to indulge in watching TV from the tub.
The hotel’s pint-sized restaurant, Red Sails, seats 36, with each table named after a Faversham barge. Proprietor David clearly relishes his role as host and entertainer, welcoming guests as if they were family. As we sit down for our meal, David makes his way around the restaurant, greeting diners by name, chatting easily and sharing anecdotes.
A trustee of the Scouts society and an active member of the Creek community, David has fingers in countless pies and is a great believer in supporting the local community. He employed Faversham builders to complete the renovation of the building and the ingredients used in the restaurant are sourced from local farm shops, butchers and fisheries. The hotel is yards away from the Shepherd Neame brewery and so it’s no surprise to discover their beers are pride of place behind the bar.
The dishes on the menu are simple, but cooked with quality ingredients and technical and artistic flair. To the credit of the hard-working chefs, the restaurant was a finalist for Restaurant of the Year in the recent Kent Life awards and the A la Carte and tasting menus have won AA Rosette ratings. Kids are allowed in the restaurant, although it’s an intimate environment, so if you’ve got younger ones it’s probably advisable to bring plenty to entertain them.
We start with oven-warm bread and salted butter – both so delicious it’s hard to hold back from devouring the whole basket. I choose a starter of smoked haddock chowder, with a cooked-to-perfection crispy egg, a dish David tells me is incredibly popular. My husband enjoys pan roasted pigeon and liver parfait with a creamy hazelnut sauce. Our main courses – cod fillet on a bed of curried risotto, samphire and sea lettuce for me, and steak for him, are just as delicious and artfully presented. After two courses we are stuffed, but are easily talked into trying the banana dessert, a medley of white chocolate covered parfait, caramelised banana, peanut brittle and sorbet – a platter of perfection, ideal for sharing.
All our dishes are visually stunning, rich in texture and skilfully cooked, which is especially remarkable considering the head chef, Scott Pendry, is only 21.
At least one dish on the menu changes each week, so there’s plenty of variety, even for regulars. David tells me that the restaurant’s pies are legendary and incredibly popular, although they’re not on the menu tonight.
The next morning, well rested after a night in Matilda’s vast four poster bed, we make our way downstairs for breakfast. From the menu we choose a full English and scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. Both dishes are as delicately presented as last night’s dinner, and very tasty.
The Red Sails restaurant offers some of the best (and reasonably priced) food in Faversham and the hotel itself is an ideally situated and comfortable base for exploring the historic Kent town. Staying at the Creek Hotel is like staying with old friends and, thanks to David’s enthusiasm and local knowledge, you’ll get a free history of the town thrown in.
Where: The Faversham Creek Hotel, Conduit Street, Faversham ME13 7DF
When: Red Sails restaurant is open for lunch Wed-Sat 12pm-2.30pm, dinner Wed-Sat 6.30pm-9pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Price: Bed and breakfast accommodation in a double room costs from £110 per night for two people. In Red Sails restaurant, the creek set menu costs £14.95 for two courses or £17.95 for three
Book: Email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call 01795 533535 or 07842907453