The Corner House Canterbury
This sensitively restored medieval pub, set just outside Canterbury's city walls, is one of two properties owned and run by chef Matt Sworder and his father. Expect heart-warmingly British food, vast sharing platters, four characterful bedrooms and delicious local food.
- Gabriella Le Breton, Travel writer
The Corner House sits on Canterbury's ring road facing the eastern city walls, a five-minute walk from the Cathedral and city centre. Canterbury East railway station is five minutes' walk away for stopping trains to London Victoria and St Pancras (in an hour and 17 minutes). High-speed trains to London St Pancras (56 minutes) leave from Canterbury West, which is 16 minutes' walk away. Central London is just under one and a half hours by car.
Style & character
Dating to 1574, the Corner House (then Three Musketeers) gained its first public house licence in 1682, and has continued, under various names, to serve Kentish Ales through to today.
The building is rumoured to have counted Charles Dickens amongst its patrons. Current chef patron Matt Sworder embraces its Kentish heritage while elevating it from pub to restaurant (or, arguably, gastropub) with rooms. Archive photographs and a historical timeline of the building adorn the walls of the wood-panelled, candlelit dining area, with ancient beams running overhead.
Service & facilities
Sworder, who honed his culinary skills in Gordon Ramsay's La Noisette, oversees the kitchen and proceedings from his original property, the Corner House in nearby Minster. Manager Alex runs a tight ship with young, attentive staff who are passionate and knowledgeable about Kentish produce. A public car park is located behind the property (buy 24-hour vouchers for £6 from Alex) and there's an attractive garden for al fresco dining.
There are four bedrooms; Dickens and Tourtel on the first floor above the dining room, the Attic Room above and Chaucer to the rear of the property. Sloping floors, low beamed ceilings and original fireplaces (in the bedroom and bathroom, in the case of Dickens) are standard. Dickens boasts a large bay window overlooking the city walls (and four lanes of ring road traffic) while Tourtel features a more spacious bathroom.
The Attic Room (not for tall guests) boasts city views with the bonus of a vaulted bathroom with a roll top bath. All feature a tea tray, bathrobes, complimentary minibar stocked with fresh milk, filtered water and orange juice, and ear plugs to combat the noise of the ring road. The quieter Chaucer, overlooking the garden, can be booked as an ensuite or a suite, with an open-plan sitting/dining area with kitchen accessible through an adjoining door.
Food & drink
With several Kent Restaurant of the Year awards and two AA Rosettes under his belt, Matt Sworder is a celebrated local chef. Don't expect froths and foams – his food is unpretentious, hearty, inexpensive and quintessentially British with signature dishes like slow braised Romney Marsh lamb and Mr Spanton's asparagus, tomato and Ashmore cheese tart. Produce is virtually entirely local, including the ales and wines suggested to match each dish.
Sworder loves a sharing board, so you can start with a mass of pork scratchings, sausage rolls, chicken liver parfait and homemade terrine (£8 per person) and finish with a waist-swelling selection of Curious Porter cake, lemon posset, beetroot and Kentish rapeseed cake, and brown bread ice cream (£8 per person).
Breakfast is a Kentish feast served on a butler's tray in the privacy of your own room: think baskets of homemade bread and pastries with local jams, Kilner jars of homemade granola, yogurts, fresh fruit and juices.
Value for money
Double rooms from £70 low season; rising to £160 in high. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi. With spacious, atmospheric bedrooms in central Canterbury, friendly service and generous breakfasts, the pub with rooms offers strong value for money.
Access for guests with disabilities?
The restaurant is accessible but bedrooms are all accessed by steep staircase.
Children are welcome and rooms capable of accommodating cots (not provided) but there are no specific child-friendly facilities.