King Charles Hotel, Gillingham

Exterior of the King Charles Hotel, Gillingham

What’s the King Charles Hotel like?

This three-star family-run hotel started life as a Naval, Army and Air Force club in 1948 before becoming a hotel in the 1960s. David Bowie even played two concerts here! The hotel, in the heart of Medway, may be a little dated in parts but refurbishments are ongoing. In the meantime, though, it’s a great place for a bargain break.

How dog-friendly is the King Charles Hotel?

Pets are very welcome at the hotel – we met three others during our stay. No provisions are provided, however, so you’ll have to take your own beds, bowls and food. Dogs are not allowed in the Aurora Restaurant but you can dine with your pet in the Lounge Bar, where staff will also set you a table for breakfast. Dogs are welcome in the courtyard garden, too.

There’s an extra charge of £10 per night per dog and up to two pets can stay in a room at a time. Find out more about the hotel’s rules for dogs by reading its Pet Policy.

Bedroom at the King Charles Hotel, Gillingham

Tell me more about the King Charles Hotel

There are 97 en-suite bedrooms at the hotel and ours was Room 803, on the ground floor. The spacious family room had both a double and single bed and was simply decorated in shades of red and cream. The pine furniture and polystyrene ceiling tiles made it feel a little old-fashioned, but everything was spotlessly clean – including the bathroom.

When we visited, after the first coronavirus lockdown had lifted, some redevelopment work was going on in the hotel grounds. It doesn’t give you the best first impression – but don’t let it put you off. The hotel, which has been owned by the same family since 1980, is in need of some updating so it’s good that is being acknowledged.

It was also reassuring to see that the hotel had brought in a number of measures to make it Covid-secure. Masks had to be worn in public areas and there were several hand sanitising stations dotted around. The tables and chairs in the bar and restaurant had also been spaced out for social distancing, with markings on the floor to act as reminders.

Burger and pie ordered on room service at the King Charles Hotel, Gillingham

What’s the food like at the King Charles Hotel?

Really good. We lazily took advantage of room service during our visit, which incurs an additional 10% charge. Instead of having reduced options, we could order anything from the main menu, which had something for everyone from mixed grills to BBQ jackfruit melts.

We opted for the vegan burger and the mushroom and leek pie, both of which were delicious and well presented. The prices for food and drink were very reasonable for a hotel, too. Sandwiches started from £3.40 and a round of drinks (a G&T and pint of Murphy’s) cost less than £9.

If you decide to eat out, however, dogs are allowed in several bars and cafes locally. In Rochester, these include Cafe Nucleus – which has three branches in Medway – Tiny Tim’s Tea Rooms and The Seaplane Works. And in Chatham, which is famed for its historic dockyard, try The Fire Station Brasserie.

Are there resident dogs at the King Charles Hotel?

No, but we met a handful of other pooches during our stay – and the hotel has regular doggy guests.

Ernie in Great Lines Park, Gillingham

Where are the best dog walks near the King Charles Hotel?

The hotel is practically opposite Great Lines Heritage Park – a large green space that is home to the Chatham Naval Memorial. It is also close to Lower Lines Park, which emerged from wasteland during the development of the MidKent College campus. Here, you’ll find an ancient fortification built ahead of the Napoleonic Wars. An interesting historical trail will take you past old air-raid shelters and gun emplacements.

Unusually, there are several ‘dog parks’ close to the hotel as well. I know these secure areas are popular in America but I’d never heard of them in the UK until I started researching Medway. The largest is Bark Park, inside Maidstone Road Sports Ground. There is also a dog run and play area on St Mary’s Island.

Slightly further afield, of course, you have the delights of Rochester and Chatham to explore. Dogs are welcome to explore the grounds of Rochester Castle for free. You can also follow in the footsteps of author Charles Dickens, who grew up in the area. Pick up a map for a self-guided walking trail from Medway Visitor Information Centre, in Rochester High Street, for just £1.

Shelter in courtyard garden at the King Charles Hotel, Gillingham

What Ernie loved about the King Charles Hotel

The sausage for breakfast, the great park walks nearby, the fuss from staff

What I loved about the King Charles Hotel

The relaxed atmosphere, the well-priced food and drink, the friendly staff

How to book the King Charles Hotel

Rooms start from £45 per night, including breakfast. At the time of writing, the hotel also had a Loyalty Card Scheme – stay for 10 nights and get a night for free. For more information or to book, call 01634 830303 or visit the King Charles Hotel website.

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