Whilst I have always been a huge fan of Christmas Day, my favourite part is actually the build up and the fun and exciting things we do as a family in the weeks leading up to the big day. From festive grotto’s to Christmas parties, we try to make the whole of December as magical as possible and yet, for Gaz and I, we also enjoy taking a moment for ourselves with our annual visit to the Christmas Markets.
This year, when we were invited to stay at Crabwall Manor Hotel, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to incorporate a visit to Chester Christmas markets. Both Gaz and I love Chester, and we have had some fantastic days out there, but we have never stayed over before and couldn’t wait to make a real weekend of it.
Crabwall Manor is the most beautiful hotel, founded in 1600, just 4km away from the city centre. Set in private grounds, it is a peaceful haven of calm with 48 luxurious rooms with fantastic facilities and full access to the Spa.
Crabwall Manor is very grand and yet extremely welcoming, and we were met by a friendly face at reception who checked us, confirmed our dinner reservation, and showed us to our room.
Our room was absolutely gorgeous with a stylish modern decor but still in keeping with the historical feel of the hotel. It was lovely and spacious with plenty room to sit back and relax, something which, on a child free break, we are always keen to do!
I thought it was a lovely touch to have a bottle of Prosecco waiting for us in the room which, of course, we made good use of! Those little touches make such a big difference, giving a lasting impression of a hotel and their attention to detail.
The bathroom was equally lovely and so spacious with a calm and neutral decor. It was also immaculately clean, beautifully lit and later, when I had a long hot soak in the bath, it was utterly bliss!
Having left our luggage in the room we explored a little more of the hotel which was already dressed for Christmas. It was great to talk to members of staff at Crabwall who filled us in on the history of the Manor, including the renovations in 2000. It is clear that a lot of work has gone into Crabwall Manor and lovely to hear the staff speak so highly of their workplace.
As a guest staying at Crabwall Manor I loved that there are so many places to relax and enjoy a drink in one of the many seating areas, lounges and bars. Despite being just a short drive from the city centre, looking out of the window at the beautiful gardens, you would never know as such.
Keen to see the Christmas markets we drove just ten minutes down the road to Chester city centre where, luckily for us, the markets had just opened that same day.
Chester is one of my favourite places to visit, just oozing in character, and, particularly at this time of year, there is something to see on every corner. We had heard great things about the Chester Christmas markets, situated outside the town hall along Towngate, and as we approached it was lovely to feel that first flurry of festivities.
We had such a lovely few hours wandering around the markets, taking in all of the Christmas decorations and gifts, and buying a few little things for the children.
The markets also had a huge selection of food stalls including a hog roast, hot dogs, fresh pancakes, cheeses and fudge, as well as several bars selling mulled wine, German beers and hot chocolates. As you can imagine, we took full advantage of that!
To walk off some of our indulgence, we took a walk down by the River Dee which is one of our favourite places in Chester. During the Spring/Summer months the river is bustling with activity and music, and yet the river is very quiet at this time of year making it the perfect spot for a peaceful moment.
Just by the river is the most gorgeous park, Grosvenor Park, which is well worth a visit. Covering 20 acres of land, it is regarded as one of the finest and most complete examples of Victorian parks in the North west of England, if not nationally.
You can then take a walk back along the city walls, passing by various information points to tell you more about the history of Chester. It’s a great way to see the city and particularly lovely in the colder months with all of the pretty colours and the smell of Christmas in the air.
After an amazing day together in Chester we headed back to Crabwall Manor ready for dinner. We had heard great reviews about the food at Crabwall and couldn’t wait to try it for ourselves. The restaurant itself was beautiful and our waitress could not have been any more helpful, or friendlier. When I explained about my recently diagnosed nut allergy, alongside being gluten free, she brought me a special allergen menu and really took the time to help me with my choices so I could enjoy my meal without any worries.
For our starters Gaz chose butternut squash soup whilst I had asparagus wrapped in parma ham and, when it arrived, I was so impressed with the presentation. Both dishes were utterly delicious and it was so lovely to enjoy a meal together without the children trying to steal every mouthful!
For his main Gaz, as always, chose rib eye steak and chips where as I went for chicken which was hands down, the best chicken dish I have ever eaten. Gaz’s steak literally melted in the mouth and, given he is quite a tough critic, I knew that it really must have been cooked to perfection.
It’s safe to say that we were both very full after two courses and yet when we saw the dessert menu we couldn’t resist forcing one down. I went for Creme Brûlée and Gaz, on the waitress’s suggestion, went for dark chocolate mousse cake. Both desserts were absolutely delicious although afterwards we were both in need of an elasticated waist band and a lie down!
The next morning we woke early for breakfast and, given the standard of our evening meal the night before, I had high expectations for breakfast! With a choice of continental and cooked breakfast we both went for a full English and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I have to say that the sausages at Crabwall were to die for, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I went back for seconds!
After breakfast we had a walk around the grounds and took in the views from the rear of Crabwall. With it’s castle-like structure, the Manor would make the perfect backdrop for a wedding and it was interesting to see the bandstand where Crabwall now have a license for outdoor ceremonies.
Before going home we decided to enjoy the peace and quiet for a little while longer at the Spa, which is free to use for all paying guests. With a fully equipped gym, aerobics hall, swimming pool, and spa treatments, the Spa has everything you need for a much needed pamper. Although we did have treatments included in our package the Spa was fully booked until later that afternoon which unfortunately was too late, but we did manage to make full use of the pool facilities.
Alongside the swimming pool Crabwall Manor has a jacuzzi, a steam room and sauna, all of which were exactly what we needed to top off a relaxing weekend. We were fortunate to be the only people using the facilities at that time which was definitely an added bonus!
I would definitely recommend the hotel to anyone wanting a luxury stay in close proximity to Chester and all it has to offer. We had the best time and left feeling refreshed and relaxed and ready to face the madness of Christmas. Thank you Crabwall!!
** We were gifted a complimentary stay at Crabwall Manor Hotel in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions are my own **