FH: stories | Clifton Hotel

This story was written in October 2020. The hotel is currently open to key workers and essential business travellers only.

It is also offering a takeaway and delivery service with an extensive menu including Sunday roasts, burgers and kids’ meals.

Phone the hotel on 01303 851231 for details and to order.

Perched on a cliff overlooking the English Channel, the Clifton Hotel dates back to 1864. This Victorian three-star hotel has a rich history and was in fact once six houses – knocked together into one hotel over a period of time.

Hotel group Leaf Hotels, which has hotels in Folkestone, Canterbury and Dover took ownership in 2016, operating it under the famous Best Western brand.

The company invested £1m+ to transform the entire ground floor, reconfiguring the space into three distinct areas – a restaurant, bar and coffee area and giving it a ‘boutique hotel’ treatment.

The hotel is full of character and personality and there is a big focus on memorable customer service. Bedrooms are traditional and spacious, with high ceilings and plenty of period features.

The clean, comfortable rooms have everything guests might need – television, iron and ironing board, safe – in fact more than most 3-star hotels. Large sash windows afford the accommodation with unmissable views, says group general manager Neil Lomas,  “All our rooms have great views – either of our lovely garden or stunning views towards Folkestone Harbour or across the Channel to France.”

Neil continues, “Every single bedroom is different; guests often have a favourite room. The people who come here like something that’s a little bit traditional, retro even. The hotel has a charm and character all of its own – the floorboards do creak! What’s most important is that guests know that good customer service comes before everything and we want every guest to feel looked after.”

The jewel in the hotel’s crown is the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, which opened in 2018 on the ground floor and is now one of the most popular restaurants in Folkestone. Every dish on the seasonal menus is designed by the renowned chef himself, even down to the suppliers of the ingredients in each dish, and the way the meal is presented to ensure the highest quality.

And what better start to hotel getaway than a drink in the hotel’s own Ocean Bleu bar, the perfect spot for a gin and tonic (with more than 30 specialist gins to choose from) and just to sit watching people coming and going on the Leas outside.

Looking ahead, the hotel is already preparing menus for its popular festive lunches and dinners. Party nights may be out this year but Neil has plans for socially-distanced live entertainment to get guests in the Christmas spirit.

“When you come here it’s about the experience and savouring every moment, whether you are here for a short break or stopping by for dinner, a drink or afternoon tea.

“People come back to the Clifton because of the people here – we employ 50 local people and our staff are our biggest asset. The team look after the guests like their friends. We have countless guests that come here time and time again.”

As someone who moved to Folkestone more than 20 years ago and stayed, Neil is passionate about the area and all the things that guests can do on their stay at the Clifton, “There is so much potential to fill a short break. The beaches which take you all the way from West Hythe right the way along the seafront to the Harbour Arm – that are great for walking and exercise. We have the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne,  the Battle of Britain Museum over in Hawkinge. There are so many historical features in this town, going back to World War One when it was it was the embarkation port for troops heading over to Europe.

“Although we are right on the coast we are accessible, the high-speed train makes it 54 minutes from London St Pancras to Folkestone, it’s brilliant. We are only 10 mins to/from Channel Tunnel, and if you want to hop over to France for the day for lunch you can. Dover is just down the road. We also have the World Heritage Site of Canterbury which 20 mins by car and Ashford Designer Outlet is also 20 minutes away.

“Then there’s the creative appeal of Folkestone, with the Creative Quarter, and all the different shops on the Old High Street & Tontine Street and all the local artists who are here. Not to mention the Folkestone Triennial which draws artists & visitors from all over the world every three years. We are soon to have one of the world’s biggest skate parks too, which is currently being built.

“It’s a wonderful place because it’s quaint and quiet. And people should come to see that. It’s has so many open spaces and lovely little parks, indeed some parts of the town feel like Belgravia when you walk around with their secluded & mature little parks/gardens in between the houses. In the west end of Folkestone, there are beautiful buildings and the architecture is stunning.

“Then you’ve got the coastal park, the Leas Cliff Hall…there really is so much here to look at and art-wise, it has Europe’s largest urban art exhibition. It’s a wonderful place to visit.”

Discover more at www.thecliftonhotel.com

You can also find them on Instagram @cliftonhoteluk and Facebook at Best Western Clifton Hotel, Folkestone.

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