Kent, United Kingdom

Elmley Nature Reserve

Price per night from$216.28

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP179.17), via, using today’s exchange rate.


Hut, hut, hooray


Wetland wilderness

Go off-grid at Elmley Nature Reserve, a 3,300-acre conservation-led escape under an hour from London, with stylish shepherd’s huts, homey farmhouse rooms, secluded bell tents and luxury log cabins looking out on a vast, wildlife-packed landscape. The ultra-cosy hut interiors feature cast-iron radiators, wood-burning stoves and ash-branch beds topped with Romney Marsh wool throws – but don’t forget to venture outdoors: this is the only nature reserve in the country where you can stay overnight, after all. The Kingshill Farmhouse has individually styled rooms and charmingly rustic communal spaces. Trails lead from your door out across the wetlands, where barn owls glide over the reeds at dusk and flocks of birds swarm in the gigantic skies. It’s time to ditch digital and re-wild.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

Staying in a hut or Farmhouse Room? You’ll get locally made cookies; if you've hired out a cottage you'll get a bottle of English sparkling wine


Photos Elmley Nature Reserve facilities

Need to know


12, including one suite.


10:30am, check-in 3pm, but both are flexible, subject to availability.


Double rooms from £215.00, including tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast; Kingshill Farmhouse guests get free morning tea and coffee dropped to their door, followed by a 'Kentinental' breakfast to be enjoyed overlooking the reserve.

At the hotel

Free WiFi in communal areas and in the Kingshill Farmhouse and Elmley Cottage. In rooms: Roberts digital radio (except for the huts), kettle, tea and coffee (individual rooms in the Farmhouse have a morning tea tray delivered instead), fire wood, Bramley bath products. There’s a projector and DVD player which can be used on request.

Our favourite rooms

Each of the cabins has bifold doors opening out onto goosebump-inducing views across the landscape. The Damson has the extra allure of an outdoor vintage bath tub – there’s also a hammock above the bed, if you’ve got a mini Smith in tow. And there's an array of lovely rooms to choose from in the Kingshill Farmhouse – we like the Elmley Room for its romantic four-poster, but the palette-perfect Pink, Blue and Yellow rooms are equally appealing.

Packing tips

In summer months don’t forget your towel; the reserve's private Cockleshell beach is a fine spot for an afternoon dip.


The Barn is wheelchair accessible, and there’s a ground-floor bedroom in the cottage, too.


All ages are welcome in Elmley Cottage and various Shepherds Huts, where travel cots can be added upon request. However, only those over age 15 can stay in Kingshill Farmhouse Rooms.

Best for

Babies and up

Recommended rooms

The huts have handy kitchenettes as well as hanging hammocks and pull out beds, and the Kingshill Farmhouse rooms can accommodate little ones under-2 and over 12, but larger families should go for Elmley Cottage for maximum personal space.


The property's in-house guide offers tour sof the reserve, and during school holidays they offer plenty of additional kids activities. On rainy days there’s plenty to keep idle hands busy too – children’s books, board games and colouring books.


You can order dishes for kids and grown-ups to your cabin, and a wide range of mealtime kit is available to borrow on request – including highchairs, bibs, beakers and cutlery.

No need to pack

A travel cot, baby bedlinen, a changing mat or a potty.


Some paths are shingle or grass, so bring a sturdy, off-road-ready buggy if possible – or prepare to carry your tyke in a sling.

Sustainability efforts

Naturally. All fresh ingredients are seasonal and sourced from local farm shops, and meat is pasture-fed. The hotel generates its own electricity, and conservation is key: sheets aren’t washed every day for stays of longer than one night in an effort to save water. Food waste and coffee granules are used for compost, there are water butts to collect rainwater and power comes from solar panels. Huts are built from local and reclaimed wood and they’re well-insulated to reduce heat loss. Natural cycles and habitats are respected – so bees, moths and butterflies are left undisturbed.

Food and Drink

Photos Elmley Nature Reserve food and drink

Dress Code

Wellies for the wetlands, and a windproof jacket.

Hotel restaurant

Guests can lunch, take tea and snack away throughout the day in the Linhay and the Barn – after-dark this becomes a more romantic rustic dining space where local produce shines in seasonal dishes. We loved the spelt bread with seaweed butter, the red pepper and black olive hummus with pitta, and the slow-roasted aubergine topped with fennel, fresh herbs and sun-blushed tomatoes. Picnics and flasks of soup can be sent out on request, and guests staying in the huts can order breakfast sandwiches and warming meals to their door.

Hotel bar

The Barn and the Linhay are both set up as a café and bar which are loaded with drinks and snacks, including Curious craft beers, local damson gins, and Kent Crisps. Cocktails are inspired by the seasons (try the strawberry and sage margarita or white negroni in summer).


Photos Elmley Nature Reserve location
Elmley Nature Reserve
Kingshill Farm
ME12 3RW
United Kingdom

You’ll find the reserve on the south coast of the Isle of Sheppey, where the Thames Estuary opens out into the North Sea.


Elmley is just an hour from London City Airport, and a little more from Gatwick (Heathrow is around an hour and forty minutes away, if the M25 is kind to you). You can fly into London from just about anywhere in Europe, along with most international hubs around the world. An Uber from City Airport will cost around £70.


Take the one-hour train from London (Victoria, Stratford International or St Pancras) to Sittingbourne, which is eight miles from Elmley. From there, you can take a 30-minute taxi, or change and catch a train to Swale, just three miles from the reserve.


Driving is the easiest way to get to and from Elmley, and it’s handy to have your own car for exploring the local area. Hire from the airport, or from a car rental company in central London.

Worth getting out of bed for

You don’t have to go far for a little wildlife watching – just draw the curtains and scan the marshes for hares, owls and birds of prey. Then pull on your wellies and follow endless paths through the wetland wilderness yourself. With you appetite well and truly worked up, order a home-cooked meal to your hut, or skip straight to dessert with toasted marshmallows around the firepit. Above all, give your screens a rest (there’s no WiFi anyway), and gaze at the stars instead.

Beyond the reserve itself, there’s plenty to explore. Go antique-hunting in the market town of Faversham, then drive out to the Brogdale Collections, home of the National Fruit Collection – take your pick from over 4,000 types of fruit, and sign up to classes in cider-making, basket-weaving and grafting. Think of a fairytale castle and it’ll probably look a lot like Leeds Castle (Maidstone), with stone turrets towering over the moat; there’s a mighty maze to tackle, and if you time your visit well you might catch a mediaeval jousting tournament, too. If you’re after seaside strolls and good old fashioned fish ‘n’ chips, set your sights on Whitstable; if July’s Whitstable Oyster Festival is on, even better. Minster Leas is a Blue Flag beach fit for a summer paddle or sprawl on the sand, while Shellness beach, on the eastern tip of Sheppey, is made entirely of – you guessed it – shells (fair warning, its other claim to fame is its tolerance for nudity). From Whitstable, take a slow-and-steady sailing barge along the Kent coast, passing Second World War forts, wind farms, and a bunch of birdlife on the way.

Local restaurants

By all means, go to Deal Pier Kitchen for the unique location (on the end of the pier, with views over the water and back to the seafront), but the food deserves your attention too – especially the full English brunch of local sausages and organic eggs served on sourdough toast. Macknade (Selling Road) is a café crossed with a kitchen larder; sit in with platters of cheese and charcuterie, or pick up picnic supplies from the farm shop. For a Sunday roast with all the trimmings, get thee to The Lighthouse (50 The Strand); it’s an arts venue too, so check out the timetable for upcoming gigs. Fancy dinner: The Sportsman (Faversham Road) is a beloved gastropub drawing produce from the local area – so expect the likes of thornback ray fillet with brown butter and cockles, or salt-baked celeriac with Kentish apples.

Local bars

Canterbury’s 19th-century city gaol has been converted into The Pound (1 Pound Lane), an upscale cocktail bar with Chapel Down English wines in the cellar, Curious beers on tap, and a waterside terrace overlooking the River Stour. Prison has never been so appealing…


Photos Elmley Nature Reserve reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this rural escape on the Isle of Sheppey and unpacked their wellies and waxed jackets, a full account of their eco-friendly break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Elmley Nature Reserve in Kent…

These days, try as you might, it’s pretty difficult to really, really escape. Go to a desert island and someone will probably throw a beach towel down next to you; go to the top of a mountain and you can almost guarantee a queue of people waiting to take their version of ‘that shot’. It turns out, you don’t actually have to go that far to get away from it all. The Isle of Sheppey is basically in the Thames Estuary, and the hum (and convenience) of the M25 is only 40-odd miles away, but you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere that feels more distant from the Big Smoke. Here, on the protected Elmley Nature Reserve, the silence is only pierced by the occasional hoot of an owl, or by wildfowl splashing in the Swale. A small selection of shepherd’s huts and cabins (and a couple of cottages) are spaced out across the landscape, with fire pits under the stars and hot-water bottles tucked under snuggly wool blankets on the beds. If/when you venture outside, you can walk for miles and never come across another sapien. It’s the kind of place where the endless views are only matched by the ever-changing clouds overhead – the kind of place that everyone needs to visit… but please, not all at once.

Price per night from $216.28

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