This Blog Post Was Written By Bethany, PA (and Fiancé) to Luke Granger
Opening in the Summer of 2019, The Cave Hotel near Canterbury, Kent is a newcomer in the world of Kent wedding venues. Since first hearing about The Cave Hotel, I have been very intrigued; its concept of a luxury escape hotel with an indulgent experimental restaurant menu really appealed to me.
With claims it is set to be Kent's destination hotel and restaurant, The Cave Hotel is certainly on a lot of wedding planning radars. Over the last few months, The Cave Hotel has cropped up in a number of conversations with our wedding photography clients and other wedding suppliers, but as yet I haven't met anyone who had actually stayed the night, let alone got married there.
Given that the hotel is less than 40 minutes from our front door, and a potential Kent wedding venue for our clients to choose, I figured it would be a fantastic idea for us to visit The Cave Hotel ourselves and give it a little test drive.
With Christmas out the way and already a busy schedule ahead for the year, dinner in The Firepit restaurant, an overnight stay and breakfast the following morning seemed to be the perfect way for us to enjoy a little treat. On a drizzly day in January, I booked us the Bridal suite.
As a Kent Wedding Photographer, Luke regularly stays in hotels all across the world, as his personal assistant (and Fiancé), I occasionally get the pleasure of accompanying him and love a bit of luxury. Keep reading to hear about our stay.
The Cave Hotel, nestled amidst 167 acres of Kentish countryside provides a 40 room hotel, a wonderful restaurant, golf course, and most important for the readers of our Luke Granger Photography Blog, a potential Kent wedding venue.
As we arrived, the wintery, leafless trees lined the driveway giving us a peek at the golfers practicing on the driving range before we reached the car park. Right by the entrance I spotted a 'Reserved Bridal Suite' sign and Luke parked us up.
The reception area oozed opulence from the minute we stepped through the automatic doors. As we were checked in by the lovely Chloe, I looked over to the luxurious lounge area; crackling fire places, fur throws and low lighting looked very inviting. Thinking it would make a really nice spot to grab a cocktail with friends or an afternoon meeting with clients.
Chloe kindly escorted us to the Bridal Suite which is situated at the far end of the third floor corridor. You enter through two doors, one after another (I assume this is to soundproof the antics of amorous newlyweds) into what really is a beautiful room.
It is hard to describe the room layout (hotels really should put their floor plans online) but I will do my best to try to help you visualise. The bridal suite is a semi circle shape made up of two main zones.
As you enter the low lit room, a large wardrobe area stands in front of you, to the left, double sinks create a luxurious feature with an inviting shower room behind them, to the right (opposite the sinks) a desk area, then separated from the main room by a glass door the toilet sits behind.
The second zone has plush ribbed carpet instead of the wooden flooring and can be entered from either side of the large wardrobe area. To the left the UFO bath tub stands proudly, the kingsize bed sits in the centre with a sofa area to the right. In front of the bed the 65' tv is wall mounted above a very unusual crackling fireplace and the floor to ceiling windows framed by Venetian windows gave a scenic countryside view.
Chloe showed us how to operate the mood lighting/air con, the all important mini bar and made sure we knew to give the team a shout if we needed anything during our stay. I also came across some yummy chocolate truffles and a cute note that we had been left by management. Already I knew the place was great.
The mini bar was well stocked so Luke poured me my go to drink, a Vodka & Orange, as I unpacked our overnight things; he then explored our room and fiddled with the selection of remotes whilst tucking into the complimentary Goupie chocolates.
Now a moment ago, I told you the toilet door was glass, does that concern you? Well, it concerned Luke slightly. Probably because he thought his not-so-secret past time of playing games on his phone would be busted. Well, I am pleased to confirm that due to the layout of the room, unless you were in the shower opposite, you would not see each other. If you were still concerned, just find the remote that controls the lights. Whilst fiddling, Luke managed to make the room pitch black to the point I couldn't see the suitcase on the floor and kicked it. Thanks for that.
As a Kent wedding photographer, Luke likes to experiment with his creativity, since we first met back in 2018, I had said I'd always wanted to do a boudoir shoot. What better place to tick something off my bucket list than at The Cave Hotel.
Now I am not your stereotypical model, I eat carbs after all, but its important to remember brides are not models either. As a wedding photographer based in Kent, Luke has lots of experience in posing and prompting his couples to create beautiful photographs. Boudoir photography comes with a whole new set of challenges, we always encourage our business clients to invest in self development, this shoot was Luke taking his own advice.
I feel as a husband and wife (almost) team ourselves, we can offer a fun and relaxed experience to brides who want to express themselves in a new, empowering way. Some may choose to bring a friend or their future groom for moral support but we are certain, our new avenue of boudoir photography will be a success.
After my stint at modelling was done, I enjoyed a relaxing bubble bath in what has got to be the most amazing bathtub I have ever seen. Now I will admit, it took about 40 minutes to fill but the UFO bath was a great novelty, alongside the Grown Alchemist toiletries, it felt very luxurious.
Bathed and dressed for dinner we headed down to The Firepit restaurant where we were greeted and seated at a little table near a mystical fire, similar to the one in our room. The restaurant continued the cavernous theme of the hotel, seductively lit, filled with luxurious details and an air of mystery.
The Firepit describes itself as 'a contemporary, fine dining, sharing-plate experience', comparable to the concept of tapas, its dishes are designed to be delivered in an undetermined order from the kitchen and should be shared as a table.
The Firepit team were all so lovely, despite Luke and I both having slightly fussy tastebuds. There were some lovely main dishes that we were keen to try, however I didn't like any of the side dishes (vegetables are not high on my list of food choices). Our waitress kindly asked the chef to make me a little side salad to accompany my meal, It wouldn't have been the end of the world if they weren't able to, but making an exception proves they are focussed on delivering such a good service to their guests.
We were initially delivered our drinks, I chose another Vodka & Orange whilst Luke opted for a Rose-Berry Cosmo (Absolut Citron, Cointreau, Lime, Cranberry Juice With Homemade Rose Syrup). It was decorated by two pansy type flowers which we debated whether they were edible, I assumed they were and ate them as Luke looked on in horror.
A bread board was delivered first (see, I told you I wasn't a model). We had classic sourdough, accompanied by salted butter alongside chilli and cheese bread with its own chilli butter; both were beautifully light and really tasty.
Our first main dish was delivered soon after, the 'Korean Beef Skewers'. Topped with spring onion and coriander. The delicate, melt in the mouth beef was the perfect way to get our taste buds wanting more.
Luckily we didn't have to wait long before our next dishes arrived. My side salad and Luke's 'Sticky Thai Fried Rice', followed immediately by 'Orange & Ginger Glazed BBQ Pork Chop' and 'Smoked Brisket' which was actually an off menu special, much to my disappointment they didn't have any of the 'USDA Short rib of beef' available today.
The waiter described each dish as it was placed at our table, he went to cut the yolk of the fried egg, as that is the serving suggestion, but I stopped him quickly. Luke doesn't eat the yolk of an egg but had been too polite to tell the waiter. I felt as though I had interrupted a magicians magic trick, he seemed a little disappointed he couldn't complete his little performance for us but Luke was grateful Id saved his food.
My made to order salad was simple yet lovely: Spinach, Rocket, Red Pepper, Onion and Tomato with a delicate drizzle of vinaigrette. The salad was a nice accompaniment and I have recommended The Firepit Team add it to their menu. I am not a fan of rice, but I tried Luke's dish and was pleasantly surprised, I ate the egg though and it was cooked perfectly.
It is hard to decide which of the two meat dishes were my favourite; the pork had a great flavour with its zesty bbq style glaze, the brisket had a more obvious asian inspired sauce which gave it an unusual edge. The menu is inspired by flavours from across the world, experimental hybrids each carefully collaborated to create dishes for the fine dining experience we were enjoying. I'd highly recommend a visit, even if you don't fancy an overnight stay, the restaurant alone is a fantastic location for a romantic date.
Although rare for us, we decided we didnt fancy dessert this evening so with dinner complete, we thought we would check out the pool area for a little dip and relax, It would be rude not to test out all of the facilities whilst we were here.
As the pool area is unmanned, you have to sign in at reception to fill in a disclaimer (basically promising you won't drown). Given that it was fairly late and the hotel was quiet, we had the whole place to ourselves.
Small but perfectly formed, the pool area was themed like the rest of The Cave, luxurious and mysteriously lit; just like a cave. Four loungers made the perfect spot to read a book if you didn't fancy a dip in the heated C shaped pool or you could walk over the well designed bridge to relax in the Jacuzzi.
We spent about an hour talking and swimming together in the pool, not a lot of exercise actually happened if I am honest. Although I did try to hang from the bridge at one point, it was short lived as when Luke suggested I apply for Gladiators, I laughed too much that I forgot to hold on; My upper body strength is not very good. After my unexpected dunking, we figured it was time to go back to our room for the night as they were due to close the pool soon.
We wrapped ourselves up in our fluffy robes and complimentary flip flops, all embroidered with The Cave logo, before wandering back up the corridor, into the lift and back to our beautiful Bridal Suite. We were soon tucked up in the luxury sheets on our king size bed, a perfect end to a lovely day, we turned the lights out and kissed goodnight.
After a wonderful sleep in the super squishy king size bed, It was nearly time for our stay at The Cave Hotel to come to an end. I eventually tore myself away from the super soft sheets, falling into the rainfall shower where I stayed far longer than I would in our shower at home. Feeling refreshed, all wrapped up in the luxury fluffy towels, I packed away our belongings as the sunlight crept in through the Venetian blinds.
I was surprised to see golfers out on the green already, I had no idea games of golf started so early! A selection of eager beavers dressed head to toe in checked golfing gear were strolling along without a care in the world, it wasn't even 9am. Luke eventually surfaced and began to get ready whilst I filled in the feedback sheet that had been on the desk, breakfast was calling and I was keen to see what was on offer.
Served in The Firepit Restaurant, breakfast at The Cave Hotel is a mixture of continental and made to order offerings. We arrived to a quiet restaurant, just a couple of other diners were already tucking into their breakfasts. The bar area was laid out with a selection of pastries, cereals, yoghurts and juices, able for guests to help themselves. We grabbed some juices and Luke grabbed a Lemon Curd Croissant, which he declared as the best croissant he has ever had.
The waiter offered us tea and coffee (which we politely declined), Luke chose the American Pancake Stack served with bacon and maple syrup, whilst I chose a Full English accompanied by some sourdough toast. I don't actually like pancakes (I told you I was fussy) but for research purposes of course, I tried a little of Luke's and they were beautifully light and fluffy.
Given that we were were visiting in a professional capacity, I had emailed ahead and asked to view some of the other types of room; the team were happy to show us around and made sure we had had a great stay. I must mention, every member of the team at The Cave Hotel during our stay were fantastic, they clearly have high standards when it comes to customer service which is something we really value.
Just what you want from a team of people who are organising your wedding day!
As we had stayed in the Bridal Suite, I had thought the other rooms may seem a little lack lustre in comparison, I was actually highly impressed across all room types. All rooms have the same quality finish; each a King size bed with the amazing bedding, fluffy towels, gorgeous toiletries and 65' HD televisions.
One of the Junior suites would actually be my preference if we stayed here again. Although slightly less than the Bridal suite in cost, It certainly didn't show. I felt it was on par in terms of good layout; the only real difference between the two is the position and shape of the bath tubs.
If you felt like splashing the cash, The Penthouse would be the room to hire. A huge 2700 sq feet suite featuring an opulent entertaining area, a fully fitted private kitchen, alongside a bedroom and pristine bathroom. Accompanied by its own butler and uninterrupted views across the golf course it would make the best place to host the ultimate hen or stag do.
Luke got the drone in the air for some overview shots, you can see the circular Penthouse sat proudly on the top floor, the bridal suite below and underneath, the pool area. Due to the countryside location, each room comes with its own fantastic views, even In winter, the grounds look amazing.
Alongside the bedrooms, we also got to visit the Barnhall room that is used for weddings at The Cave. The main entrance was looking glorious with its red carpet, lined with topiary trees making a great feature for the bride and groom to be greeted by their family and friends. Inside, the high ceilings with their beautiful oak beams make the venue a beautiful choice for a wedding reception. Tranquil water features set alongside modern fire pits, rivalling that of the Love Island villa, make the terrace a fantastic setting for guests to mingle on a sunny day.
I am looking forward to the first time Luke photographs a wedding here, there are so many good photo opportunities across the hotel and grounds. Who's up for jumping in a golf buggy for a whizz across the putting green? An outside ceremony area is being built in the Spring, so that gives an excuse to return in a few months.
That brings our stay at The Cave Hotel to an end. We loved our visit and would highly recommend any couple wanting to enjoy a mini break, a romantic date night or who are planning a wedding in Kent to take a look.
As Kent wedding venues go, the countryside views teamed with modern luxury really give The Cave Hotel an edge. The Cave team have created a selection of wedding packages that can be tailored to your needs, a fantastic location for Luke Granger Photography, to photograph your wedding day.
One of our focusses this year is building relationships with and supporting local brands we love within the industry. We believe strongly in transparency and feel it is important that our readers know this stay was paid for in full by us and was not gifted to us in exchange for a review.
As always we will only ever work or recommend brands we genuinely would book ourselves, as a result of our recent visit are even considering booking The Cave Hotel for our own wedding.
We have also now become a recommended wedding supplier of The Cave Hotel; they love our work as much as we love theirs and we hope to work alongside the team in the future. I am certain they will become one of the most popular wedding venues in Kent.
Our website is filled with examples of our photography work and a selection of blogs that may interest you, take a look around and let us know if you have any questions.
Update July 2021
The team at The Cave Hotel have made a number of adjustments since our first visit back in Jan 2020. The Barnhall has now been converted into The Cowgirl Lounge, a luxurious place to visit for a dinner or drinks and they have a new addition to their wedding and events offering an amazing marquee!
We look forward to sharing some updates with you about The Cave Hotel once we photograph the amazing wedding of Josie & Dan in a few weeks time.
if you are planning a Wedding at The Cave Hotel and would like to discuss our wedding photography packages, do get in touch.