Next on my historic UK tour with Mercure Hotels was the Roman city of Chester. With its electric blue entrance and curved futuristic frontage, the Mercure Chester Abbotts reminded me of either Star Trek or The Jetsons; I couldn’t quite decide.
Inside though, everything was down-to-earth and contemporary. I received a very warm welcome and helpful service during my too-brief, but enjoyable, stay.
As with so many Mercure hotels, Chester Abbotts boasts a great indoor pool. This one also has a spa and sauna right alongside. It has a laid back vibe, comfortable, roomy rooms and also delivers a great early-bird breakfast at a very reasonable price.
Location-wise, of course it’s pretty close to Liverpool. If you’re in the North-West for a visit to Beatletown then that’s less than 40 minutes’ drive or slightly more if you want to do like the song and ‘Cross the Mercy’ (take the ferry across the river).
However if you like your history more historic, then you needn’t even travel that far. Chester is just over catapulting distance (two miles) away. It boasts what appears to be a classic medieval town centre, lined with beautifully restored Tudor-style - but actually Victorian - buildings. A very real and impressive Tudor remnant is the Cathedral – a mere outhouse compared to the neighbouring Liverpool’s vast cathedral, but better looking and with much more of that not-so-new medieval church smell.
Most remarkable is the Roman wall, which is now a walkway, encircling the whole inner city. Built in 79AD, added to and shored up over the ensuing centuries, the wall is a fantastic reminder of Britain’s distant past. At the risk of sounding like a children’s TV presenter, being in such great condition it really does bring history to life. While Bath gets most of the Roman-related press, I think Chester deserves a little more mention.
Mercure Chester Abbotts gave me a very friendly welcome to a fascinating and rarely heralded historic gem of a city.
Give yourself more time than I did. Chester deserves at least a weekend!