Sometimes you do things that afterwards seem a little nuts. Before having N I’d have thought nothing of driving for a 6 hour round trip for a 1 hour work meeting. But after deciding it was time to visit my best friend before she had her second baby, I’m realising that I need more time than a fleeting overnight trip somewhere.
I had decided to break up the journey, and that we’d go for a day out in Chester, stay in a hotel, then see my friend the next day in Manchester. As it wasn’t a real break, I was hoping we’d not spend much money so apart from the hotel, we were on a bargain break.
Hotel stay at Doubletree Hilton
I’d booked a nice hotel, the DoubleTree Hilton in Chester. We do love staying in hotels, it’s such a treat, although as per usual N slept really well, and I struggled. I always find the first night in a hotel the hardest to sleep, then do well the rest of the time. So overnight stays aren’t the best for me.
The hotel was comfy, the breakfast was tasty, plentiful and in the lovely Garden Club, and our room overlooked the garden. It was nice to have proper air conditioning as well. They give you a warm cookie on arrival too which is a nice touch.
The only disappointment was the leisure club. I presume because it’s a spa, even hotel guests have to pay to use the swimming pool. At £15 for a swim between certain hours that children were allowed in, I wasn’t paying that when we’d already paid a lot for the hotel.
There was a bonus that we didn’t have to pay for parking. Online when booking and reading the reviews, everywhere seemed to say it was £10 to pay each day, and that parking was often a struggle so there was paid parking nearby. Thankfully the car park’s obviously been extended (there’s building work going on too). Given we didn’t see any nearby parking, it was lucky we didn’t have any issues.
We did leave the car at the hotel and walk into Chester for the afternoon to avoid paying the extortionate parking costs in the city. It was around 2 miles, and it felt like it in the heat. Should have got a bus or a taxi!
Chester history afternoon
After a long awaited lunch in the vaults at Debenhams (they’d run out of premade toasted sandwiches, so their version of a cheese and ham toastie was 2 slices of toast with some ham and cheese in – yuck), we decided to mooch around the city for a bit. Chester was heaving – I couldn’t believe how busy it was.
Just walking around the city centre you get to admire the old buildings, The Rows above the shops, and watch any street artists performing.
I wanted to check out the Roman amphitheatre on the way back up to get a taxi back to the hotel. N wasn’t impressed, he’d had enough, but it was just a different route so he was happy enough in the end. N has a love of Horrible Histories at the moment, we talked about roman town names, and which other cities had been roman towns.
The roman amphitheatre, like most of the city walls, is what remains but you can still picture what it would have been like all those years ago. There were plenty of people sitting in the sun and enjoying the space, while there were also information displays for those who wanted to know more.
Next door is the Roman Gardens. A beautiful but small walk through gardens, including the remains of old walls and columns, as well as beautiful flowers and greenery. There were plenty to children around with families, learning about the battles and the remains of the roman bath there. N wasn’t convinced it could have have a bath in the middle. He obviously didn’t remember our previous visit to Chedworth Roman Villa where he got the baths a lot better there.
With N distracted we were able to head down towards the river. It was looking very murky and quiet on the water, but there was plenty going on with a trumpeter entertaining in the bandstand, a gathering of a motorcyclists club, as well as the usual tourists and locals out for walks.
We didn’t stop for an ice cream there as the queues were too long, instead walking back up to Grosvenor Park to check out the playground. Chester is quite hilly so it was very warm going, and by the time we reached the top N didn’t want to fight it out on the playground with the big crowds there. Instead we decided to go on the miniature railway – for about £2.50 we had a short ride around the park, and despite it being busy, didn’t have to wait. We were able to just get on the next train arriving in.
With a trek back to the taxi rank in the warmth we’d had enough sight seeing and wanted to chill out a bit in the hotel before heading out for dinner later.
We enjoyed our brief afternoon in Chester – even without spending lots of money, if you’re willing to walk round the city, there’s plenty of history to see and enjoy.
Have you visited Chester? What was on your tourist hit list?