Hotel Stories

The heart of it all

Hotels in Best Western brand come in all shapes and sizes, and we’re rightly proud of how diverse our portfolio of properties is.
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We can count pubs with 10 bedrooms in our membership alongside London palaces with more than 100, brand new boutique hotels as well as 500 year old coaching inns that have been at the heart of their communities for centuries. So if a hotel can come in so many different shapes and sizes, what is it that makes it a hotel in the first place? We asked that question to Neil Lomas of Leaf Hotels, General Manager of the Best Western Clifton Hotel in Folkestone, and for him there was only one answer.

“When the Clifton is busy she has a wonderful buzz and atmosphere about her, she is a grand old lady and is in a perfect location on top of the Leas overlooking the Channel & French Coast.

“There’s a saying that ‘People buy people’ and this perfectly sums up the Clifton Hotel and it is the people who work here that make the hotel. We have several long service staff, Philippa in particular has been with the hotel for over 20 years, Maj in the Restaurant has been with us 15 years, myself & Zaida the Food and Beverage Manager have been working with the company for 10 & 17 years respectively.”

As far as hotels go, the Clifton is about as picture perfect an example as you could wish for, perched on Folkestone’s gently sloping cliffside above the English Channel. It’s a palace built in 1864 in the model of the grandest Victorian hospitality, a Palladian pile formed from a terrace of six houses like a great white wedding cake, with bay windows to show off the sea to its best advantage. Inside, the place is all high ceilings with perfectly preserved crown moulding and arched doorways with decorated keystones leading from reception room to reception room. The hotel had a £1 million restoration n 2016 and wears its grand old style well alongside modern flourishes, such as the re-appointed dining room and its understated, classy décor.


There’s even a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse here, the hotel’s main restaurant, serving up a menu personally approved by the great man himself.

But none of that really gets to the heart of what the Clifton is as a hotel. Walls can be painted, sofas can be bought and installed, rooms can be renovated, but nothing can create that intangible feeling of a home away from home that you get staying at an independently run hotel at the heart of its community.


“Every single bedroom is different; guests often have a favourite room. The people who come here like something that’s a little bit traditional, retro even. The hotel has a charm and character all of its own – the floorboards do creak! What’s most important is that guests know that good customer service comes before everything and we want every guest to feel looked after.

“When you come here it’s about the experience and savouring every moment, whether you are here for a short break or stopping by for dinner, a drink or afternoon tea.

“People come back to the Clifton because of the people here – we employ 50 local people and our staff are our biggest asset. The team look after the guests like their friends. We have countless guests that come here time and time again.”

As usual with Best Western hotels the main character is the location itself. Our hotels are embedded in the local community and steeped in it, not plopped down by an international chain or tacked on like an afterthought, and that’s what makes staying with us different to the experience of staying anywhere else. From the food on your plate to the staff behind reception, it’s all part of the area around you.

“It is a pleasure to meet old & new guests where we can elaborate on the attractions and sights to see in Folkestone and surrounding area. We are able to provide lots of personal touches from flowers, chocolates, bubbly and surprise celebration plates in the restaurant to help make their stay extra special.

“Folkestone is the home UK’s largest urban contemporary outdoor art exhibition with pieces by Bill Woodrow, Tracy Ermin, Anthony Gormley dotted around the town, sea front & harbour with the Folkestone Art Triennial taking place every 3 years.

“The Harbour Arm on the Folkestone Sea Front is a fabulous day out with lots of independent traders, musicians and street artists performing during the summer months, and we work with local veg suppliers and all kinds of other local businesses to make sure.

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