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Port Lympne Mansion Hotel near Folkestone launched meaning guests can stay where Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill visited Sir Philip Sassoon

By Chris Price

A party home that entertained the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill will entertain guests again after being turned into a hotel – in the middle of a nature reserve.

Six en-suite bedrooms decorated in art deco style have been unveiled in the mansion in the middle of the Port Lympne estate, near Folkestone.

It was built a century ago by Sir Philip Sassoon, a member of the Rothschild family and MP for Folkestone and Hythe from 1912 until his death in 1939.

Charlie Chaplin
Sir Winston Churchill
The view from Port Lympne Mansion Hotel

Current MP Damian Collins cut the ribbon on the renovated Grade II-listed building, where its founder entertained the likes of Lawrence of Arabia, Prince Edward and Mrs Simpson in the early 20th century.

Aimed at wedding guests, private parties and corporate events, it is the latest in a series of holiday accommodation developments at the 600-acre site, rebranded to Port Lympne Reserve.

The hotel adds to the Livingstone Lodge, Livingstone Cottage and Elephant Lodge safari experiences, which allow guests to stay within touching distance of the animals.

Sir Philip Sassoon, who entertained celebrity guests at Port Lympne mansion
The mansion's opening day in 1913
The Philip Sassoon room in the Port Lympne Mansion Hotel

Port Lympne Reserve managing director Bob O'Connor said: "The mansion is stunning and thanks to the work of the team who carried out its sensitive conversion and refurbishment it is now the perfect place to escape to or celebrate with friends and family.

"Guests will be able to wake up and walk in the footsteps of some of the most influential people and celebrities of the 20th century.

"This investment and renaming as a reserve is a major step forward in the future of our work here at Port Lympne, and underpins our efforts abroad.

"It is also a significant investment and vote of confidence in the future of the tourism industry here in Kent.

Port Lympne Mansion Hotel is opened by managing director Bob O'Connor, left, hospitality manager Sam Lloyd and Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins
The Port Lympne Mansion Hotel. Picture: Country Life

"For us to continue to fund our international conservation work we have to make sure we are delivering what our customers want and make the most of what we have here at Port Lympne, and sister wildlife park Howletts.

"We are now able to offer an unrivalled range of accommodation against the backdrop of this spectacular wildlife park and the English Channel."

Port Lympne has changed its name to a reserve rather than wild animal park to tie in its identity more closely with the animal conservation projects it carries out around the world.

The hotel is part of a £2m investment which will also add a series of treehouses and a camping experience for school children.

For more details, visit www.aspinallfoundation.org.

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