Go wild at Port Lympne Reserve in Kent
Words Pendle Harte
WHAT TO DO
Staying at Port Lympne Reserve gives you unlimited weekend access to the park and to its sister site, Howletts, about half an hour’s drive away. There’s no shortage of animal activities – join a safari truck through Port Lympne’s African Experience and encounter free-roaming giraffes, wildebeest, zebra and ostrich at close range; drive your own golf buggy through the primate trail and carnivore zones (lions, tigers, cheetah, even snow leopards) and marvel at the UK’s largest herd of African elephants at Howletts.
Who would have thought you could wake up in Kent, look out of your window and see a rhino? We are in a treehouse (though admittedly it’s not really a treehouse, more a house on a hill accessed by a steep staircase) and in addition to being a comfortable (huge beds, large sofa), stylish (lots of blonde wood) and well-equipped (flawless self-catering facilities) two bedroom house, its main attraction is the view. From its glazed wall and decked terrace you can see not only across the entire park and its African Experience (rhino, antelope, giraffe) but even to the sea (they say on a good day you can see France).
Port Lympne and Howletts are zoos in Kent founded by John Aspinall, gambler, casino owner and famed friend of Lord Lucan. His animal collection reputedly began with a monkey and a tiger in his flat in Belgravia before the sites in Kent were acquired to accommodate and protect his growing brood. Now the Aspinall Foundation is dedicated to the preservation of rare and endangered species, working wherever possible towards reintroducing animals into the wild.
Drive your golf buggy to dinner at the hotel, where the dining room walls are covered in colourful murals, some dating back to the 1920s and many of them animal-themed. Food is high class and staff are charming.
Midweek prices from £300 to £600 per suite, per night. Weekend prices from £400 to £750 per suite, per night.
Port Lympne Reserve, Aldington Road, Lympne, Hythe CT21 4LR