I love living in London, there is always so much to see and do. However I am also keen to see more of this country, as there are so many stunning places and I definitely haven't explored enough. So I was delighted when Southeastern Railway invited me to visit Rochester and find some hidden gems. To be honest, I believe Rochester is a hidden gem itself, as many people might choose Canterbury for a day trip from London and Rochester would not necessarily be one's first choice. So why should you visit Rochester and what is there to do and where should you eat?
It is super easy to get to Rochester, as there is a high speed Southeastern train and it will only take 30 minutes from St. Pancras International. This town is charming and delightful, with a high street full of great places where you can stop for a bite to eat or cake and coffee, antique stores and second hand book stores.
What to see and do
Rochester is most known for its connection with the writer Charles Dickens. There is a Festival celebrating the author, as he lived in the area as a child and returned years later. Rochester was definitely a source of inspiration for Dickens and many corners of the city are featured in his works: from Restoration House (the home of Estella and Miss Havisham in "Great Expectations", to the Grade I building Eastgate House (featuring as 'Westgate' in "The Pickwick Papers", and then as the 'Nun's House' in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood").
Explore Rochester Castle and enjoy the view from the top, where you can see the river Medway.
Unfortunately we could not see Rochester Cathedral, which is the second oldest in England and was founded in 604, as there was a mass, so one reason to go back. founded in 604 and the second oldest in England.
Browse the antiques stores (try not to spend money- super hard) and get lost finding a treasure in Baggins, the biggest second hand book stores.
Where to eat/ grab a coffee
The Deaf Cat Cafe- since we are cat lovers and owners, we just had to stop and grab a coffee in this place. Love the writing on top of the entrance inside "Charles Dickens never visited a Costa Coffee. Fact. Keep the tradition alive!
Bruno's Bakes and Coffees- this place got me from the moment we entered: inviting cakes everywhere, smiling and welcoming owners (Frank and Bruno) behind the counter- just the place we were looking for to grab some food. We had coffee and something savoury (a delicious ham and cheese croissant), but I couldn't leave without grabbing a cake to eat later at home. It took me ages to decide, if you ever get a chance to visit you will know why, and finally opted for a pecan pie, which was heavenly! If only this place could be in London!
Sea Plane Work- superb smashed avocado on toast, I couldn't visit Rochester without finding a place where to have brunch, and friendly service.
There are also many tea houses, if you prefer to stop for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. So as you can see there is plenty to choose from and you are guarantee to have a great out from London. If you fancy booking a trip to Rochester or somewhere else in Kent and East Sussex, check out their Off-Peak fares to get the best value ticket for your journey! Find out more here.
Disclaimer: this post has been written in partnership with Southeastern Railway, views are my own.