With a wealth of history as well as a vast selection of independent shops, art galleries, pubs and eateries, there are many great reasons to visit the cultural hub of The Pantiles, Chapel Place, Castle Street and the High Street at the lower end of Tunbridge Wells.
With many buildings dating from 18th and 19th centuries it makes for a very attractive area where historic charm blends perfectly with its modern vibrancy and the Christmas period brings with it the addition of beautiful festive lights and decorations making it the ideal setting for getting in the seasonal spirit.
Located near the train station and with a variety of public car parks it is an easily accessible area for visitors looking for a day out shopping, eating or exploring the beautiful historic setting.
With 400 years of history, the Georgian colonnade of The Pantiles attracts visitors from far and wide. With 70-plus independent stores you can find something special and unique rarely found in shopping centres, making it a not to be missed location when visiting Tunbridge Wells.
The town was born here in 1606 due to the Chalybeate Spring located there. While drinking from natural springs to improve health had been practised since Roman times it was during Elizabeth I’s reign it became more popular. When in 1629 Tunbridge Wells got a royal seal of approval it became the most fashionable drinking spa near London and from there the town and its appeal has continued to grow.
Whether you are looking for furniture for your home, clothes for your new wardrobe or jewellery for a special someone; the dress for your big day, inspiration for your interiors or a present for your pet, The Pantiles has it all, plus more.
And don’t forget to treat yourself in the run-up to Christmas – pamper yourself by getting your hair done there, or why not have a beauty treatment?
It’s not just the long-standing shops that attract visitors, markets are held regularly on The Pantiles on the first and third weekend of the month where you can enjoy the hustle and bustle of exploring stalls offering a selection of local produce, clothing and artisan crafts, among others. With seasonal themes, guest traders and changing stock from regular stallholders, there is something new to be found on each visit.
The added beauty of the markets being held on The Pantiles means there is plenty of choice when it comes to stopping off for a quick drink to recharge your batteries, a well-earned lunch or an evening meal at the end of the day, with a variety of cafes, pubs and restaurants.
It is not just in the day The Pantiles can be enjoyed. Head there for an evening meal out with choices from Indian and Italian to traditional British and seafood plus more, or simply meet up for a drink with family or friends.
The colonnade also comes alive in the evening for regular events such as Jazz on The Pantiles and Soul Train, among others, where local eateries move tables out onto the walkway so diners can enjoy music outdoors while the bandstand hosts the entertainers. Plus just a stone’s throw away is the landmark music venue The Forum.
Just a short walk across the road is Chapel Place where as you meander along you will find shops, galleries and eateries which proved to be the beginning of permanent constructions in Tunbridge Wells. In 1676 the building now housing the Parish Church of King Charles the Martyr was erected – the first substantial building constructed in the town which was to offer a chapel/assembly room/temporary shelter as the popularity of Chalybeate Spring drew more visitors.
At the quaint and pretty Chapel Place you can get set for Christmas with the chance to buy jewellery, books, Italian truffles and wines, gifts for the home and even pick up your Christmas turkey. Just around the corner is Nevill Street, housing independently-owned florists, galleries, eateries and more, another great spot to find that unique gift this Christmas.
Head on to the High Street, where there are yet more unique and independent shops, from jewellers offering bespoke designs to beautiful boutiques. If you’re looking for a new look for your home for 2018 then you will find plenty of interior inspiration, from design advice to bedding and bathrooms.
On the High Street itself and the many side roads off it such as Castle Street – each offering charm and harking back to its past with little touches like traditional paving and iron railings – there are plenty of opportunities to take a relaxing break for a coffee, snack, meal or drink.
And once you have fallen in love with the area, there are a variety of estate agents to help find your dream home!
There’s even more reason to visit this part of Tunbridge Wells with extra special treats this Christmas. Calverley Grounds once again plays host to the Tunbridge Wells Ice Rink open daily until 1st January (closed Christmas Day). Also across the borough in the council’s car parks there will be free parking after 4pm from 18th-23rd December.
And while browsing the shops look out for the best-dressed window as Royal Tunbridge Wells Together is once again organising this popular competition to find the top one, and there will be prizes for the top three.
• For more information on everything Tunbridge Wells has to offer, visit www.visittunbridgewells.com