We love to travel abroad, but there are so many great places in the UK to visit that we thought we would love to see a little bit more of our own country, so we booked a short mini-break recently and headed for the historic city of Chester.
With its pretty Tudor buildings and historic walls, it was the ideal place - and not too far away from us since we live in the north of England.
On a personal recommendation from a friend, we stayed overnight at Edgar House - which has recently been voted the No.1 Small Hotel in the World on TripAdvisors Travellers' Choice Awards. This is a lovely Georgian hotel with just seven bedrooms and is renowned for good food at its Twenty2 restaurant, which is also open to members of the public. Both our dinner, and breakfast the next morning were beautifully served, cooked and presented.
The hotel is situated on the banks of the River Dee close to the remains of the Roman Baths (a medieval spa no less!) and was just a short stroll into town. Our Garden Room was on the ground floor, with a small terrace in the garden (obviously!) While lovely and quiet at this time of year, we can imagine that since the garden accommodates the outside eating area for the restaurant, it could get noisy in the summer months.
The room was lovely and comfortable, and the bathroom was fabulous - with lovely Molton Brown toiletries - in fact in their partnership with Molton Brown visitors can pop into the shop and get a glass of Prosecco! Unfortunately we didn't see the shop, but instead settled for afternoon tea with scones and jam in the small comfortable lounge at Edgar House.
We headed for the city centre and marvelled at the wonderful buildings, walking around the city walls and taking pictures of the second most photographed clock in England, after Big Ben. The EastGate clock stands on the city walls and marks the original entrance to the city and Roman fortress of Deva Victrix, although the clock was not added until 1899.
The main shopping area is in and off Eastgate Street, with its famous medieval galleried two tiered Rows - the oldest shopping facade in England. This was originally a market town, and Chester's retail heritage included fruit, root and herb markets with horse, cloth and cheese fairs flourishing in the city. While today there are many high street names, there are also a number of individual boutiques and independent shops not found elsewhere. Wander off the main street and there are a number of cobbled side streets and alleys where you can find a few treasures.
Other places worth a mention are the remains of the Roman Amphitheatre and the stunning Chester Cathedral, both of which are in the city centre. A previous visit for me also included a day at the oldest race course in the country, Chester Races - the Roodee - and which was originally a Roman harbour, no less! Another venue worth mentioning, particularly if you have children, is Chester Zoo just a little way out of the city, which claims that wildlife conservation is at the heart of everything they do.
For us, however, day two of our little trip was a visit to the designer outlet Cheshire Oaks, which stands in a huge shopping complex of designer and high street outlets at Ellesmere Port. And while we marvelled at Ralph Loren and Michael Kors - we just went home with a few special offer Molten Brown bubbles!