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Balfour Winery to develop boutique wine hotel in Kent

Published:  28 March, 2022

Maidstone Borough Council has accepted Balfour Winery entrepreneur Richard Balfour-Lynn’s proposal to develop plans to create a boutique wine hotel in the Archbishop’s Palace, Maidstone, Kent.

One of Kent’s most historic buildings dating back to the 12th century, the Archbishop’s Palace has extensive gardens and outbuildings. The plan is to create three new buildings for luxury bedrooms in the grounds overlooking the River Medway and the River Len.

The vision is to create a boutique hotel with restaurants and bars and state of the art wedding and conference facilities. The Palace will remain open to the public. 

Balfour Winery on the Hush Heath Estate, Staplehurst, is part of a group known as the Wine Garden of England, a partnership of the eight major wineries in Kent that was formed a few years ago to promote the growing wine tourism sector.  

The group intends to create a wine tourist map of equal international standing to other destinations such as Napa Valley in California, Margaret River in Australia, and France's Champagne region. 

The hope is that Maidstone, only an hour away from London, will become the urban centre of the Kent wine industry, and The Archbishop’s Palace will provide a hub and a focal point for all Kent wineries. 

Richard Balfour-Lynn said: “The Archbishop’s Palace will become the champion and beating heart of Kent wines, spirits and local food produce. Part of our plans will be to run tutored wine tastings and winemaking and viticultural courses from the venue. The Palace will be the centre of the Kent wine tourist sector, attracting visitors from London and further afield. Authenticity will lie at the heart of the offer.”

Balfour-Lynn has an exclusive six-month contract to develop the plans with Maidstone Borough Council and the planning team. With a 40-year track record in hospitality, notably Hotel Du Vin, Malmaison and De Vere hotels, Balfour-Lynn is well placed to develop and run the pioneering venture. 

Maidstone is Kent’s most significant town at the heart of the growing Kent wine industry. With increased visitors to the town, this new venture's impact on the local business community is set to be transformational and will enhance the town’s reputation. The hotel will reportedly create over 100 new jobs in the local area.