West Malling, in Mid Kent, is the perfect place to stay if you're after a quiet holiday away from the city. You should always be able to find something to do while you're staying in the town too - for such a small area there are a vast number of historical buildings for you to visit, such as St Leonard's Tower on the outskirts of the town. Another important building in West Malling is Malling Abbey, on Swan Street, which dates back to the 1890s.
If you don't mind travelling a little bit you can also find some great things to do in the towns and villages close to West Malling. One place that you could visit is Great Comp Garden in Platt, just 2 miles from West Malling. A trip to this garden makes for a fantastic family day out and, afterwards, you could return to West Malling and grab a bite to eat at one of the many places to eat in the town.
You can uncover some of the town's history by visiting the historic sites in West Malling and your first stop should be at St Leonard's Tower. This Norman keep is thought to have been built by the Bishop of Rochester, Gundulf, in 1080 and is still in reasonably good condition today. It's free to visit St Leonard's Tower, although you'll need to book an appointment on the official site if you want to tour the interior of the keep.
In 1090 Gundulf set up Malling Abbey, which still stands today and is one of the top attractions in West Malling. The current community of Anglican Benedictine nuns that live and work in the abbey was founded in 1891 and they regularly open the abbey to the public for heritage open days, so you can explore the abbey for yourself and learn all about its fascinating past.
Great Comp Garden, in Platt, is an easy 10 minutes from West Malling town centre and is one of the superb things to do in Mid Kent. The garden extends for 7 acres around a beautiful 17th century manor and is expertly maintained by professional gardeners. The garden changes with the seasons, so you can always see something new, and you can buy souvenirs from the gift shop or enjoy a light lunch at the Old Dairy Tearooms.
You'll find some really good places to eat in West Malling to suit all tastes. You don't need to break the bank to dine out in West Malling either - there are quite a few restaurants that have set meal menus and happy hours.
If you're looking for pubs that serve food in West Malling you're in luck - The Swan, on Swan Street, is an award winning pub restaurant that serves delicious food from a range of different cuisines. They also have a special Sunday menu and a kid's menu full of child size meals.
Those that are feeling a bit adventurous can try out Frank's Restaurant & Mussel Bar on High Street. This restaurant's speciality is mussels and it's one of the best seafood restaurants in West Malling, although they do have a selection of other meals for you to choose from as well.
There are a few Chinese restaurants in West Malling, including Imperial Dynasty and Lovely Chinese, both on High Street. If you enjoy Chinese food you might like Thai, which you can try at the Pad Thai restaurant. The menu is packed full of flavour, with each dish being cooked to an authentic and traditional recipe.
West Malling is situated just off the A20, which is directly connected to the A228 and then the M20, so getting to the town by car couldn't be easier. The nearest towns to West Malling include Maidstone, Sevenoaks and Dartford and those travelling from London can be in West Malling in just over an hour.
Train travel in West Malling is incredibly easy as West Malling Railway Station, off Lucks Hills, has regular services to London Victoria, Maidstone, Ashford and other areas, and the station has a minimum connection time of 4 minutes, meaning that you won't have to wait around for very long.
Leper hospital image contributed by Robert Edwards. St Leonard's Tower image contributed by Hywel Williams. Morris Minor Centre image contributed by Oast House Archive. All images are copyrighted but licensed for further reuse under the Creative Commons License.