Michael Edwards gallops into Chester to enjoy Hotel Indigo’s contemporary style celebrating the city’s history.
Watching horses galloping towards the finish at Chester Racecourse, it is hard to believe that in Medieval times those final furlongs of green turf would have been under water. In bygone days, when Chester was a major seaport, the only horses on view in that territory, would have been seahorses.
Hotel Indigo Chester’s decor celebrates the fact that Chester Racecourse, witnessing its first race in 1539, is the oldest racecourse in the world still hosting races. Chester held its first race before Henry Vlll had even married his fifth wife.
A silver stirrup, serving as a knocker on the door of our room, announces the horsey theme. Opening as a 75-room boutique hotel in 2019, Hotel Indigo Chester is designed to give a sense of place, history and tradition. The aim, elegantly achieved is to connect guests with the city.
Our room, Pavilion, has a balcony overlooking the red sandstone of St John’s church. It is larger and a little more luxurious than the standard and deluxe rooms.
Developing the equestrian tone, a stable-look rustic door leads to a dressing area and wardrobe. A cluster of black-framed artwork on the walls features horses clearing the jumps and bright primary colours winners’ rosettes. Blending old and new, dark timber flooring is lit by sleek matt black modern lighting.
Throughout the public areas, the decor celebrates Chester’s history. Contemporary artwork presents Chester’s past. There are modern takes on the city’s famous black and white architecture, stained glass windows in the cathedral and the famed Eastgate clock dating from late Victorian times.
Chester, once the Roman grandiose city of Deva, was Rome’s northern powerhouse during their occupation of Britain. Close to the Indigo hotel are the remains of a 7,000-seat amphitheatre: an early example of exercising soft power to awe the indigenous British population with entertainment extravaganzas.
When the city paved the top of the city walls, for fashionable Georgian promenading in the 18th century, they preserved a two-mile heritage loop. The very scale of those walls suggested that emperors may have had plans to make Deva a grand administrative hub for a growing empire that would include Ireland and Scotland too.
Similarly, it is thought that The Rows, unique two-storey lanes of shops, were built with the debris of a decaying Roman city. For an in-depth view of Roman times, take a tour with a Roman Soldier departing from the Tourist Information Office. For soldiers sent to this far-flung fringe of the Roman Empire, this was a tough and chilly posting.
Such soldiers would have longed for the luxury of a meal at The Forge, the Hotel Indigo Chester’s bar and restaurant. Run by Mike Robinson, whose belief in farm-to-fork cuisine has made him something of a celebrity, the restaurant has an open kitchen providing culinary theatre.
Both food and drink are integrated into the architecture. One wall serves as a wine cellar and alongside the kitchen, guests can select steaks, aged on the premises, from the chiller cabinet. Then those locally reared or wild meats are cooked over charcoal and wood.
Not just a restauranteur, Robinson is a conservationist, hunter, and food writer. Venison, from his Bathurst Estate, frequently appears on the menu, be it a venison Scotch egg for a starter or a succulent hunk of meat for a main course.
Robinson has also branched out into distilling spirits from fruits and botanicals grown on his Bathurst Estate. These spirits appear on a cocktail trolley wheeled around by a bartender who mixes drinks at the table.
The cocktail trolley is just one surprise ingredient in a package that makes a stay at Hotel Indigo Chester a unique experience. Imaginative decor creates a welcoming boutique hotel that visually tells the story of Chester. Simultaneously, Hotel Indigo Chester is becoming part of the city’s developing history.
Tell Me More About Hotel Indigo Chester
Hotel Indigo, Grosvenor Park Road, Chester CH1 1QQ
T: 01244 735745 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Room rates begin from £119 with breakfast available at £20 per person.
The hotel provides a discount from £20 for 24 hours down to £12 at Pepper Street Car Park.