Nearly free day out in Chester and hotel stay - Bubbablue and me (1)

A (nearly free) day out in Chester

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.

Nearly free day out in Chester and hotel stay - Bubbablue and me (1)

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.

doubletree hilton chester

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.

restaurant decor in doubletree chester
Garden restaurant chester doubletree hilton
relaxing in doubletree hilton

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!

hiding on a walk

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.

eating out in vaults DEbenhams cafe chester

Just walking around the city centre you get to admire the old buildings, The Rows above the shops, and watch any street artists performing.

street art in chester
overlooking chester
town clock in chester
main shopping street chester

Roman ruins and gardens

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.

roman amphitheatre chester

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.

running down the roman gardens chester
pink flowers in roman gardens
roman bath remains chester
celebration mosaic of chester

Down by the river

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.

pedalos on the river Dee
man playing accordian by Chester river dee

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?

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  1. You know I’ve never been to Chester before although my best friend now lives in Crewe and my Aunty has just moved to Chester. Aside from the expense for the swimming it looks like a you had a great value for money weekend #CountryKids

  2. We used to live in Chester, and this post made me smile massively. I love the sites, the walls and the river. Lovely post thanks for sharing. Next time you have to visit the ice cream farm its amazing ! #countrykids

  3. I have vague memories of visiting Chester many years ago so this post has brought back memories. I’m also salivating at the sound of a lovely warm cookie. #CountryKids

  4. I’ve not been to Chester before but I’ve always been interested too. I like that you managed to walk everywhere and there was plenty to see and learn for free. Definitely my kind of afternoon, I’ll have to add it to my list of places to visit !!

    1. I’m all for walking, so many cities are nicer to see like that, and it’s mostly compact. Have to admit I didn’t really put the right shoes on for a 2 mile walk into and around a city!

  5. I have only visited Cheater once and it pretty much rained all the time so it is one place that is on my list to go back to! Your photos make it look very appealing!

  6. Looks and sounds like an amazing place to visit! Chester is not on my radar but seeing your photos I wish we can go. The Architecture looks amazing there and really a nice place ot have a walk on a warm day. #countrykids

  7. I haven’t been to Chester no, so enjoyed reading this, woweeeee the architecture! it’s so old, I’m really into history, especially old cities and towns so I will have to go. I love your photos especially of the old clock. I think I would like to visit the roman amphitheatre 🙂
    sounds like the hotel swimming was a spa, it must be at £15 a pop!

    1. It was a spa you’re right. Such a shame, we only stayed in a spa hotel at Easter and it was free at any time to use the pool even with kids.

  8. Haven’t been to Chester in years, but even then it was just on shopping trips with my Mum. The swimming pool seems steep doesn’t it, but I guess when we stayed at Novel in York we had free use of the pool but had to pay for onsite parking, so swings and roundabouts really #CountryKids

    1. I wouldn’t mind if there were only set times to use it, but given breakfast wasn’t included in the room cost, it seems a bit of a cheek to say there’s a pool for use by residents when you book, but not state there’s a fee. We only stayed in a spa hotel at Easter which had everything complementary and no restriction on kids going in the pool either.

  9. What a beautiful city….It sounds like you had a great day and it was a big bonus that it was mostly free but even paying for things like a train ride at £2.50 doesn’t seem too expensive. #CountryKids

  10. My brother lives close by and we always ask to go into Chester when we visit. It is such a beautiful city and the old Roman walls fascinating. I can easily see how you can spend a day here without costing too much if you can stay away from all the tempting shops! I must make an effort to go down to the river next time too.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

  11. It looks an interesting city. Like stepping back in time. The Roman Gardens could be in Pompeii. Good job that parking wasn’t a problem. Left you free to explore without worrying about the time. #CountryKids

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