Good news is you never need to go too far to find the perfect getaway. For Chester, we’ve made a quick search: best cities to visit in UK, and pretty Chester showed up. Then we thought ‘Why not?’, plus it’s not too far from Leeds, 1 hour and 30 minutes by car. Let’s go!
On the road
We left Leeds at about 08:15, and parked the car in Chester around 10:00. Contrarily to what I’ve been told, parking was pretty easy to find in town. First impression when approaching Chester’s City Centre was like “Where are we?” and “Looks similar to Leeds, doesn’t it?”. Turned out we’ve been genuinely surprised when we reached the Centre, a 3-min walk from Delamere Parking, where we’d parked the car.
Chester City Centre
We like to take our time when visiting places, and not planning much, just going along the mood.
Weather on our side, Chester reminded us of York, with the kind of same layout: a city inside Roman walls circling the buildings. We just had to follow the path, and walked quite a lot for such a small town: 13,000 steps which makes it a nice promenade.
Pretty Chester’s Cathedral is quite noticeable, which you can visit if you like. To be honest, it was so beautiful outside that we didn’t want to lock ourselves in.
In addition to being quiet and absolutely charming, Chester offers everything we can hope from a typical British experience: narrow streets, shop galleries, enchanting residences, musicians, hungry squirrels and… an elephant.
To save money, Salty had prepared delicious sandwiches, perfect for a break in the sun, enjoying some street music and contemplating the architecture.
We even had two awful bitter cups of coffee (which they call “hipster” coffee). The problem is that the coffee shop was cute, which’d make you think they’d serve normal coffee, like any normal person would hope for. But no, once again, it had to be bitter and very hard to slurp. It’s just definitely not our taste.
La Brasserie at The Chester Grosvenor
Fortunately, La Brasserie at The Chester Grosvenor made it up to us and we ordered a really enjoyable afternoon ‘tea’ (in reality, we’re coffee persons), along with delicious scones and cakes.
In addition to offering an excellent staff service, this brasserie is elegantly designed with golden ornaments and mirrors for the pleasure of the eyes, which makes it one of the highlights of our journey.
At about 14:30, we went back to the parking (we only paid £4.50 for 4 and a half hours, pretty reasonable). Overall, we spent £10 each that day. The best part was yet to come, as we headed to the countryside, to Rowton Hall Hotel & Spa.
Rowton Hall Hotel & Spa
This hotel isn’t cheap (£155 for one night, breakfast included), but to celebrate our one year together we wanted a nice retreat with a spa.
Here we were, wandering past Chester in the middle of nowhere to this quiet place. The hotel itself was okay, the staff charming who welcomed us really well. Bear in mind that the newspapers’ morning room delivery (offered at the reception) isn’t included in the price.
Our room (number 6) was spacious and clean, but its furniture a bit old as well as the walls that’d deserve to be repainted. Also, I was expecting more freebies upon arrival, and a better coffee in-room as I don’t drink instant coffee.
Even if we weren’t there to watch TV, the TV screen was a bit small for the size of the room. Finally, the mattress (which I think was a Queen size), was a dream: very very comfy!
Overall, Rowton Hall looks a bit vintage and would require a refreshment, as well as its spa facilities, even if the latter is clean and well equipped: a big pool, a fitness room, a steam and a sauna with a spacious and secured changing room which you can all access for free, as part of your accommodation rate. We spent the afternoon there and it’s been very relaxing.
Their breakfast was outstanding: the buffet’s selection is comprehensive, and in addition you can choose anything from their breakfast menu, which sounds more like a tasty brunch. Totally adapted for a Sunday, we loved it!
59 at The Hollies
Later on, we had a reservation for two at 59 at The Hollies. The Hollies are a local farm, 59 is there restaurant, a 20-minute drive from the hotel. Once again, we headed to the countryside! I selected this place because their meat is supposed to be delicious. So it was. Their 59-day aged beef is an absolute… food orgasm! You can feel the difference when tasting local farm food.
In total, we spend £75, including: 1 piece of beef each accompanied with salad, 2 sides each (1 x farm greens, 1 x sweet potato fries), 1 glass of red wine each (the Entrecôte wine from France was like velvet, delicious!), 1 dessert each (Salty chose the Hollies Moo-Moo that is a tremendous amount of ice-cream and farm fresh cream, I had the gluten free brownie and vanilla ice-cream). The atmosphere at the restaurant is lovely, with low lighting, perfect for a romantic dinner, the staff is somewhat nice too.
Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre
I’ve always loved horses, and Cheshire is home to loads of equestrian and horse centres, which in one word is… paradise. Salty has got some intuition and randomly selected one on Google Maps for our Sunday stop on the way back to Leeds.
We ended up in Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre! They have a full farm with shire horses, chickens, pigs, peacocks and… one Scottish wildcat (a true beauty and menaced animal with less than 100 in the wild).
The ticket is £9.50 each, and you can cuddle horses and spend as much time as you want. They present the shire horses to visitors at specific times and organise many activities.
We chose to walk around as they own several acres of pure nature, silence, and lovely animals. There is a couple of trails to follow through the different animal areas. This farm is ideal for families or simply to rejuvenate in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday.
The staff is absolutely charming as well and this Centre made our escapade a truly unique experience.
We hope our trip inspired you and that you’ll want to explore Chester as well. Share your reactions with us by leaving a comment!
Also, follow us through our next getaway to… Dublin, Ireland, March 15-17, where we’ll celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.