Royal Tunbridge Wells is a town in west Kent on the border with East Sussex, in the South East of England.

The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells

Understand edit

Tunbridge Wells was founded in the 17th century following the discovery of the Chalybeate Spring in 1606. The waters from the spring were said to have restorative properties, and so Tunbridge Wells grew into a thriving spa resort town. Queen Victoria regularly travelled down from London to "take the waters", and in 1909 King Edward VII granted the town its "Royal" prefix (although this is rarely used by the inhabitants any more).

Visitor information edit

Get in edit

By car edit

Tunbridge Wells can be accessed from the north using the A21 trunk road, which runs as a dual carriageway for most of its length between the M25 and the outskirts of the town. The A21 continues south past Tunbridge Wells to Lamberhurst and Hastings.

The single carriageway A26 runs through the town centre, providing a link to Brighton and Lewes to the south, and Tonbridge and the A21 to the north.

To the west, the A264 provides connections to East Grinstead, Crawley and Gatwick Airport. To the east, the A264 becomes the A228 and links to Paddock Wood, Maidstone, Rochester and Strood.

By train edit

1 Tunbridge Wells station is in the town centre at the bottom of Mount Pleasant Road, close to the historic High Street and 5 minutes' walk from the Pantiles. It is on the London (Charing Cross/Waterloo/London Bridge) to Hastings route; trains are operated by Southeastern, +44 8457 48 49 50.

London is between 40 and 55 minutes away, depending on whether the train is direct or a stopper service. A standard class off-peak return ticket to London is £13.20 adult; £6.60 child.

Other Kent towns such as Canterbury, Ashford and Maidstone can be reached by train by changing at Tonbridge (10 minutes by train from Tunbridge Wells).

Get around edit

Map of Royal Tunbridge Wells

The centre of Tunbridge Wells is fairly small, and can easily be travelled on foot. The Pantiles is around 10–15 minutes walk downhill from the main shopping area around Royal Victoria Place. As with most other towns in England, the town is well served by buses and taxis.

By car edit

By bus edit

Arriva is the main local bus operator in and around Tunbridge Wells, although other companies also operate some services:

Buy your ticket from the driver when you board the bus.

Paper timetables can be obtained at the Tunbridge Wells Gateway (8 Grosvenor Road, near the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre). The Traveline and Kent County Council websites provide journey planners and route maps.

The Arriva 281 "Shopper Hopper" bus service provides a useful link for those looking to avoid walking up the hill between the Pantiles and main shopping district. It runs every 12 minutes, with tickets costing £1 for the day.

By taxi edit

The main taxi rank is at the train station, although you can order a taxi by telephone to pick you up from anywhere.

See edit

The new boathouse at Dunorlan Park
  • 1 Chalybeate Spring, The Pantiles. Chalybeate Spring is in The Pantiles, London Road. See what created the wonderful vistas of the town at Chalybeate Spring. On some days, it is possible to drink the metallic water, however, the spring is somtimes not in use. It is free to drink the water..    
  • 2 Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery, Civic Way, +44 1892 554171, . M-Sa 9:30AM-5PM, closed bank holidays and Easter Saturday. From Victorian oil paintings and archaeology to historic fashions and toys. Admission free.
  • 3 Dunorlan Park, Pembury Rd (Just out of town). Once a private landscaped garden, this park is well used by locals, having been restored following a Heritage Lottery Fund award of £2.1 million. There are two car parks: a small one on Pembury Road (the access in and out is not the easiest), and a larger one on Halls Hole Road, a country lane at the bottom of the park. Both car parks fill up quickly on sunny days. If you're staying in town it's only a 15- to 20-minute walk from the main shopping area. Kids and kids-at-heart will like the boating lake, and there is also a café selling snacks, drinks and ice creams.    
  • 4 Bayham Old Abbey, Furnace Lane, Little Bayham, TN3 8LP (5 miles east of Tunbridge Wells), +44 1892 890381. Adults £4.40, children £2.60, concessions £4.00.    
Penshurst Place
  • 5 Penshurst Place, Penshurst, +44 1892 870307, . 27 March to 31 October daily: manor house noon-5:30PM, gardens from 10:30AM-6PM. Features an impressive medieval manor house. One of the oldest gardens in England. Includes a 100-metre-long peony border, the Union Jack garden and many fruit trees and borders. There is a large adventure playground for children. Visit on the first Saturday of the month to tie a visit with attending the monthly farmers market to pick up some cakes, cheeses, jams, bread and other delicious treats. Grounds only £5.50, house & grounds £7.00.    
  • 6 Groombridge Place, +44 1892 863999. Apr-Nov: daily 9:30AM-6PM (check website for dates). Groombridge. Winner of the Top Garden Attraction in the UK by Good Britain Guide 2000. £8.50.    
  • 7 Bewl Water, nr Lamberhurst,, +44 1892 890661. Daily 9AM-sunset, except 10 Jul and 25 Dec. The largest man-made body of water in the South East, for walking and cycling, sailing, windsurfing and fishing. Admission is at the main entrance to park near the rather tacky visitor center. However many public rights of way approach the water, including one across the dam itself and these are open access. £4 per person (£5 on Bank Holidays).    
  • 8 Hop Farm Country Park, Paddock Wood, +44 1622 872068, . Daily 10AM–5PM, closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Once a working hop farm, it now offers a wide variety of attractions and events. £7.50 for adults, £6.50 for children.    
  • 9 Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge. Beautiful lakes, with rambling, bike and bridle trails. Free.    
  • 10 Scotney Castle and Gardens, Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, TN3 8JN (near Lamberhurst, an 8-mile/15-minute drive from Tunbridge Wells), +44 1892 893820, . A National Trust-owned attraction. The small castle, surrounded by a moat, is very picturesque. The castle is very small with the well-managed gardens being the main attraction for many visitors. Like many National Trust properties, the tearoom serves delicious cakes.    

Do edit

High Rocks
  • 1 The Pantiles. Walk along the oldest part of the town. Great in warm weather when the various pubs and restaurants put out table and chairs and the clientele along here spill out into it giving it a great atmosphere.    
  • 2 High Rocks. Take a walk and look at the impressive sandstone outcrops linked by eleven bridges that provide scenic walks in acres of peaceful woodland.    
  • Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre, St Johns Road, +44 1892 540744. Go swimming, play tennis or have a game of squash.
  • 3 Spa Valley Railway, +44 1892 537715. Operates from late March to end of October, and December. Carefully restored steam trains operate through 3½ miles of glorious countryside from Tunbridge Wells to Eridge. The line starts at the old Tunbridge Wells West station near Sainsbury's, with trains calling at High Rocks and Groombridge. Standard admission (return travel): adult £5, child & over 60s £4. Family & joint tickets with Groombridge Place also available.    
  • 4 Salomons Museum. Free.    
  • Penshurst place gardens. Very near Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge is not as upmarket but houses this stunning ancestral home with gardens.
  • Listen to live acoustic music every Sunday night from 8PM - free entry at the Mount Edgcumbe, Off Mount Ephraim, The Common Tunbridge Wells Tel: +44 1892 526823.[1]. Also check out the Local Live Music Website for music listings in the Tunbridge Wells Area
  • Cinema: the Odeon[dead link] shows the blockbusters. It's out in Knight's Park, at the far end of the industrial estate.
  • 5 Fenton's Curling Rink, Dundale Farm TN3 9AQ, +44 1892 826004. Oct-Apr. Curling rink, bring a group and learn. There isn't a skating or hockey rink.

Hiking edit

  • Tunbridge Wells circular walk. It makes a great day's hiking trip especially if you bring a picnic along. There are many entry and exit points on the footpaths so although the entire circular walk is 27.5 mi (44.3 km) you can easily do a much shorter hike starting and ending in the town itself. Many of the walks take you through pretty villages, atmospheric woodlands, farmland (and through livestock fields), past churches, along streams/rivers and past lots of pubs. You can grab a copy of a map with details of the different walks in the tourist information centre in the Pantiles. There is lots of wildlife around – including birds, livestock, snakes and lizards (if you're lucky!) If you want to do some camping there are several camping areas on route.

Theatre edit

Buy edit

The main shopping area of the town is centred around the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre, although there are shops throughout the town centre, with more independent shops located in and around the High Street. There is a good number of quality charity shops around Victoria Place and down to the High Street.

There is also rather a generic industrial estate on the edge of the town with a variety of big box stores.

Tunbridge Wells is a shoppers' paradise if you like designer clothes in a mellow setting with oodles of history.

Royal Victoria Shopping Centre

Eat edit

All the major fast food chains are represented, mostly in the town centre, and the Royal Victoria Place shopping mall has a fairly large food court, although it is generally noisy and crowded.

Apart from some in Camden Road, most restaurants can be found in the centre, on Mount Pleasant and in the High Street area. There are also many pubs in and around Tunbridge Wells that offer good food. A long wait at Pizza Express and Carluccio's — booking is imperative.

Specific restaurants (cost assumes starter, main course, one drink, tip):

  • Chez JJ, 86 Camden Rd, +44 1892 525830. French restaurant, so French even the signs on the door and the menu comes out in the language. Luckily the staff will speak English so don't be scared — it just adds to the experience. Good value food as well!
  • 1 Estro Pizza and More, 76 Mount Pleasant Rd, TN1 1RJ. Beautiful pizzas in this Italian restaurant.
  • 2 The Hare, Langton Rd, Langton Green, Tunbridge Wells TN3 0JA, UK (At the corner of the main crossroads in Langton Green), +44 1892 862 419, . M-Th noon-11PM; F Sa noon-midnight; Su noon-10:30PM. Quaint gastro-pub in Langton Green with great decor and a garden backing onto a field, lovely in the summer months. Excellent food (especially the chunky chips!), a few options for vegetarians and vegans. Can be difficult to find parking in the summer. £10-25 for a main course.
  • Hotel du Vin, Crescent Road, TN1 2LY, +44 1892 526455. A bistro in the middle of town, near the town hall, that offers excellent food and a wide selection of wines. ~£40.
  • 3 The Lodge Coffee House, Kitchen & Bar, 67-69 High St, TN1 1XX, +44 1892 689205. Great friendly staff and a great option for lunch or quick coffee (only open during the day).
  • Masala The Indian Restaurant, +44 1892 616700. Authentic Indian restaurant at the heart of The Pantiles. Masala is the largest restaurant in the town, and part of the Nizam Indian chain.
  • Mount Edgcumbe: see Sleep.
  • 4 Sankeys, 39 Mount Ephraim, TN4 8AA, +44 1892 511422. Consistently high quality seafood from the British Isles, as well as some game. ~£30.
  • Wagamama, Mount Pleasant Road. One of the Japanese noodle bar chain restaurants. Quite affordable. ~£14.

Drink edit

The Opera House
  • 1 The Barn Pub, 1 Lonsdale Gardens, Mount Pleasant Rd, TN1 1NU, +44 1892 510 424. M-Sa 9AM-11PM (closed Su).
  • 2 The Bull, 79 Frant Rd, Tunbridge Wells TN2 5LH, +44 1892 546 089. noon-10PM.
  • 3 The Compasses, 45 Little Mount Sion, TN1 1YP (up a steep and narrow cobbled street, just off the High Street), +44 1892 530744. Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight. Said to be the oldest pub in Tunbridge Wells, this pub has plenty of character and warm open fires.
  • 4 The Cross Keys, 236-238 St John's Rd, Tunbridge Wells TN4 9XD, +44 1892 536 516.
  • 5 The Duke of York, 17 The Pantiles, TN2 5TD, +44 1892 517 619. 11AM-11PM.
  • 6 Framptons, 2 The Pantiles, TN2 5TJ, +44 1892 530 819. 10AM-.
  • 7 Fuggles Beer Cafe, 28 Grosvenor Rd, TN1 2AP (In the top part of town near Tesco), +44 1892 457739, . M-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su noon-10:30PM. Friendly bar specialising in beer near the centre of town. Regular events held, a wide range of drinks and much of what they stock is available to be bought in bulk. £3-5 for a pint.
  • 8 The Hand & Sceptre, 21 London Rd, Southborough, TN4 0RJ, +44 1892 529 292. 7AM-11PM.
  • Mount Edgcumbe: see Sleep.
  • 9 The Opera House (Wetherspoons), 88 Mount Pleasant Road, TN1 1RT (just up from the war memorial), +44 1892 511770. Su-Th 8AM-midnight, F Sa 8AM-1AM. This former opera house, and later bingo hall, was converted to a pub a few years back. The interior is mostly intact and pretty magnificent to explore from the comfort of a chair with a drink. If you can, catch the legendary annual 'Spoons Opera when the pub is briefly returned to its former glory as a functioning Opera House. It's a vast boozer with a certain charm, always busy, largely due to the dramatically cheaper beer here than in other watering holes in the town. ~£2.50 for a pint.    
  • 10 The Beau Nash, Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 8AU (the top of Mount Ephraim, coming from the town centre), +44 1892 53 9350. Su-Th noon-11PM; F Sa noon-midnight. Cosy, traditional tavern near the centre of town. Hidden behind some houses just off the main road going through the town so it stays quiet. Friday is soul night and the first Sunday of every month is open mic night from 8PM. Pub quiz every Tuesday at 8:30PM.
  • 11 White Bear, 84 High St, TN1 1YB, +441892318010. noon-11PM.
  • 12 The George Pub & Brewery (The George), 29 Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8AA.
  • 13 The Sussex Arms (The Forum Basement), Sussex Mews, Tunbrdige Wells, TN2 5TE, +44 1892 549579. M-W 3PM-11PM, Th 3PM-midnight, F 3PM-1AM, Sa Su noon-11PM. Legendary boozer, traditional pub serving a variety of craft beer, ale, and more. Home to the Forum Basement, live music venue. Live performances, DJ nights, comedy nights, and more.
  • 14 The Ragged Trousers (The Ragged), 44 The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 5TN, +44 1892 542715. Brasserie and pub by day, vibrant bar by night, serving French-inspired dishes alongside British pub classics. A wide selection of craft beer, wine, and spirits, in a friendly atmosphere.

Sleep edit

  • Travelodge Tunbridge Wells Hotel, Mount Ephraim, TN4 8BU, +44 871 984 6381. A Victorian spa hotel (circa 1860) now run by Travelodge. The public areas retain many original Victorian features although the rooms are Travelodge corporate bland. There is a charge for parking.
  • Spa Hotel, Mount Ephraim, TN4 8XJ, +44 1892 520331.
  • Hotel du Vin, Crescent Road, TN1 2LY, +44 1892 526455.
  • 1 Mount Edgcumbe, The Common TN4 8BX (off A264 Mount Ephraim), +44 1892 618854. Country pub with six rooms in this Georgian mansion above town by sandstone bluffs. Not every beer garden can boast a 6th century cave for cosy rendezvous. Excellent dining. B&B double from £120.

Go next edit

Routes through Royal Tunbridge Wells
LondonSevenoaks  NW   SE  RobertsbridgeHastings
BrightonCrowborough  SW   NE  TonbridgeMaidstone/Rochester
CrawleyEast Grinstead  W   E  END

This city travel guide to Royal Tunbridge Wells is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.