Opened in 2019, the new build Hotel Indigo Chester, celebrates the city’s long history. Artwork displayed on the walls, connects a contemporary hotel to Chester’s long history dating back nearly two millennia to the Roman occupation. The hotel also focuses on the city’s heritage as a racing venue too.
For the Romans, Chester was a fortress on the north-western fringe of the known world. The site of Deva, as it was then called, suggests that there may have been plans to make the city the capital of a Britain that would include Scotland and Ireland.
Many remnants of this grand Roman City, including an amphitheatre, are within walking distance of the 75-room boutique hotel in Chester’s city centre.
Arriving early, we grab a space in the Pepper Street multi-storey car park and walk to the hotel, asking reception to store our luggage. On check out, the hotel validated our parking ticket giving a considerable discount on the 24 hours parking rate.
Returning from a walk through the black-and-white half-timbered houses of Chester, we find that our case has already been delivered to our room.
On the fourth floor our large room, of racecourse green and cream, has a balcony overlooking the red sandstone of St John’s church. A silver stirrup as knocker on the room door sets a horsey tone.
With a stable-style door to dressing area and leather saddle-strapping across the headboard there is a distinctly equestrian theme to the colours and textures of the decor. Artwork featuring horses and prize winners’ rosettes connects to Chester’s racecourse established in 1539, making it the oldest racecourse in the world still in use. Yet in medieval times those acres were underwater in the days when Chester was a major seaport.
A king-size Hypnos bed, giving views to a 46-inch television with built-in Chromecast, dominates the room. An oatmeal chaise longue waits at the foot of the bed. Alongside a writing desk, topped by a mirror, multi-tasks as a dressing table too.
There is a supremely well-designed large shower where you can set the temperature before stepping under the rainfall. Hang your towel on the towel rail within the shower and it stays dry.
Shower design isn’t rocket science, but few hotels get it right. Even the toiletries by Zenology are at the right height.
The Forge restaurant is run by Mike Robinson who multi-tasks as a chef, restaurateur, hunter gatherer, conservationist and food writer.
There is a sense of gastronomic theatre to an open kitchen where chefs cook wild and locally reared meat, all aged on the premises, over wood and charcoal.
Guests choose steaks from chilled cabinets. An appetiser of venison Scotch egg epitomises Robinson’s farm-to-fork ethos. The venison, within a crisp breadcrumb shell, originates from his Bathurst Estate whilst the runny orange yolk comes from local farmers’ free-range hens.
A five-minute stroll takes guests to a wall that circles the heart of the city with a historic two miles walk. Initially, walls of earth were constructed by the Romans to keep Barbarian hordes at bay, they were then strengthened with red sandstone for defences against the Vikings.
For centuries, Chester was England’s Wild West frontier town in constant danger of raids across the border. Yet again, in the English Civil War, Chester’s men stood behind the walls to resist Roundhead attacks. Fortunately, in the 18th century, when many English towns and cities were pulling down their defences, Chester decided to top its walls with paving stones for fashionable promenading.
After looking at the unique two storeys of shops that make up The Rows, climb the 216 steps to the top of Chester Cathedral’s tower to view one city, two countries and five counties. For families, Chester offers entertainment at the zoo, boat trips on the River Dee and oodles of Roman history. Take a tour, departing from the tourist information centre, with a Roman soldier, to discover the raw realities of life far from his warm Italian home. After dark, tours tell spooky tails of Chester’s ghosts and ghouls.
Other nice touches
Low level lighting in the bathroom safely guides guests round the room after lights out. Soft drinks and beer in the fridge are complimentary. They stand alongside a bottle of fresh milk.
Nicky, elegant in a little black dress, wheels a cocktail trolley to each table in The Forge. Some of the spirits are distilled from the produce of Robinson’s farm, though the champagne comes from further afield.
On the last Sunday afternoon of the month there is live soft-rock music in the bar.
Our balcony room begins at £194. Breakfast is £20 per head.
The best bit
Interior design blends old and new. Dark wood flooring represents the traditional as do the retro phones in the rooms. Though the lighting, satin brass and matt black table lamps, is distinctly modern. Soft furnishings, sometimes horsey, add in homely touches. Contemporary art brings a sense of Chester’s traditions.
There are racecourse scenes, representations of the cathedral’s stained-glass windows, as well as Chester’s famous black and white architecture.
The final verdict
Close to the city centre, the luxurious Hotel Indigo Chester, is well placed for exploring over two millennia of the city’s tumultuous history. Although only opened for just over a year, The Forge is already recognised as one of the city’s best and most eco-conscious restaurants.
Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Hotel Indigo Chester.