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For the thousands due to flock to Kent for the 2011 Open Championship, a place to stay and play during the week-long tournament is going to be essential

The eastern tip of the county,whcih will be inundated with golf enthusiasts when Royal St George's stages the Open in 2011, possesses a number of hotels and guest houses, all of which specialkise in making sure the golfer enjoys himself away from the course just as much as when he is walking the course either inside or outside the ropes.

One of those is the Bell Hotel in Sandwich. When the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews announced three years ago Royal St George's would be hosting the 2011 Open, the Bell was fully booked for Open week within minutes of the announcement because of its proximity to the course and high reputaton among the golfing fraternity.

The Bell Hotel lobby

Situated on the Sandwich Quay alongside the River Stour, the Bell was recently refurbished and has 37 individually designed en suite rooms.

Matt Collins, manager of the Bell Hotel, was presented with a Highly Commended award for Leisure and Tourism at KOS Media's Business Awards in December, when he said: “We have a hotel with a reputation for stylish accommodation, a restaurant, 'The Old Dining Room', renowned for a menu centred on fresh, local and seasonal produce, and a building redecorated and restored in a manner befitting its listed status.

“And Sandwich is the undiscovered hidden gem of Kent. The first of the Cinque Ports and reputed to be the most complete medieval town in England, it must rank as one of the most attractive destinations within two hours of London.

“On top of that, it is a high-class golf destination, with three world famous courses on its doorstep - perfect for a golfing getaway.”

The same could be said for the Blazing Donkey, which in fact markets itself as ‘Kent’s Premier Golf Hotel’.

The Bell Hotel
The Quay, Sandwich
Tel: 01304 613388
Eastwell Manor
Boughton Lees, Ashford
Tel: 01233 213000
Tudor Park Marriot
Hotel & Country Club
Bearsted, near Maidstone
Tel: 01622 734334
London Beach Hotel
Tenterden, Ashford
Tel: 01580 766279

Just a few miles from Sandwich, the Blazing Donkey is owned by Richard Martin, himself a very steady 10-handicap golfer who has played most of the courses in the county over the past 30 years.

“We try to give our guests a golf break they will always remember,” he said. “Kent boasts so many great courses, some famous, others not so famous but still little gems in their own right, and we are proud of our association with many of them and I have booked literally thousands of green fees and tee times on behalf of our guests.

“Many of our groups and societies come back year after year because the golf is so good in this area and our food and hospitality are second to none.”

BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss adds his famous voice in support, saying: “The East Kent corner of the Garden of England is high on my own personal list of golfing 'meccas', and I commend the lazing Donkey as one of the south east’s best hotels for golfers.”

To the west of the county, meanwhile, Bearsted's Tudor Park, a Marriott Hotel & Country Club featuring an 18-hole PGA Championship course, also has a rich reputation for providing a quality golfing break.

And for wives or partners who are perhaps not quite as keen on golf as their other half, the hotel offers a special golf/spa weekend break where both parties can indulge themselves either on the course or in the swimming pool and spa before meeting up again for dinner in the Conical Grill or Zest restaurant. Sounds a very amicable arrangement.


Kent Garden of England

Reproduced with kind permission of KOS Media Ltd and Visit Kent. For further information, go to and


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