Travel

Chester Travel Blog

After thoroughly enjoying our trip away to Tenerife, myself and my girlfriend were hit with a case of the old holiday blues shortly after returning to the wonderful English weather (I mean, who doesn’t look forward to that, right?!)

We both agreed that to get over the fact that we probably won’t be heading abroad until next year, we still wanted something to look forward to in the near future. We did some research and eventually decided to visit the wonderful city of Chester.

Having previously visited another historic city in the form of York, which we found to be a lovely city, we decided that Chester would be the perfect next destination for us, given the similarities between the two, as well as hearing good things.

After some browsing of accommodation options, we took the plunge and chose to stay at the Bridge Street Townhouse. It was conveniently located close to all local amenities such as shops, bars, and restaurants which was perfect for us. It was a 20 minute or so walk from the train station, but for us, this was not an issue. Some may choose to take the bus or perhaps a taxi, but either way, there are plenty of transportation options easily accessible.

Upon arrival from the train station, we decided to walk to the hotel given the weather was on our side. We arrived at the hotel and were checked in by a pleasant and friendly young woman who made the check-in process simple and informative. She was an asset to the hotel and was one of the few positives of our stay. All staff we came across throughout the duration of our stay were extremely friendly and helpful, and in terms of their customer service, I genuinely have no complaints and cannot fault them with regards to this.

Next to the reception is a bar along with a seating area, which we found to be quiet at all times throughout our stay when walking through to our hotel room. We didn’t end up making use of this so can’t really comment on this particular aspect of the hotel, in addition to the gym and breakfast facilities, which we also decided not to make use of, instead choosing to venture out into the centre.

The receptionist informed us that our room was in the annex building at the back of the main building. After check-in was completed we made our way to the room. It was on the ground floor just behind the small car park which was part of the hotel. The room was small but cosy and had all the necessary things you would expect from a half decent hotel room, including tea/coffee making facilities, large comfortable bed (although it was two singles pushed together, mind) decent sized bathroom with shower and plenty of space to store luggage and hang clothes.

The issues started by the time night time came along. The sheer thinness of the walls in the annex building quickly became apparent upon returning approximately 11 pm on the first night of our stay. We could hear the TV from one of the adjoining rooms, and there were also creaking floorboards that could be heard throughout the night coming from the room above. That’s the last time I will accept a ground floor room, I thought to myself!

I wasn’t able to achieve a good night’s sleep because of the aforementioned issues, but that was only the beginning. Half way through the night, the sound of snoring from the room next door filled my ears as I tossed and turned, trying all I could to get to sleep but to no avail. Safe to say, I needed a coffee (or two) by morning! Let’s just say a trip to Boots was in order to purchase some ear plugs, and hey presto!

In terms of things to do we hadn’t planned anything in advance, with the exception of the two course Bella Italia meal we enjoyed on our first night, courtesy of Groupon. We just researched and discussed prior to our arrival, with two attractions in particular mentioned, those being Blue Planet Aquarium, and Chester Zoo. We eventually mutually agreed on the latter and visited on the second day of our stay.

We took the bus to Chester Zoo and spent around 3 hours here, it was thoroughly enjoyable despite the high cost of a ticket (£28!) and wasn’t too far from Chester city centre at all. Should you wish to visit other attractions in the area such as the aforementioned Blue Planet Aquarium, as well as Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, you could easily do so via bus should you not have travelled via car like ourselves.

Over the duration of our stay, we visited various bars and restaurants, including The Alchemist, where I had the pleasure of catching up with a friend from university, shout out to Jack! We also visited Chima Changas where we enjoyed an excellent Mexican meal, and I would wholeheartedly recommend this place. The food was fantastic, as was the customer service. They also offered a 30% discount off the main menu and drinks, for those lucky enough to call themselves a student!

Prior to our train journey home, we were kindly offered the chance to store our luggage at the hotel, which was greatly appreciated as we were free to roam the city once more before heading home. We took a walk along the city walls which was very reminiscent of our trip to York. To top off a fantastic stay in which the weather was on our side, we walked alongside the River Dee and finally through Grosvenor Park, both equally as pleasurable.

Overall, I would highly recommend staying in Chester if you want to visit a place with many historical attractions to visit, and you are within easy reach of several other attractions suitable for all ages and the family including. The hotel we stayed in wasn’t the best, or at least our room in the annex building wasn’t. So from personal experience, I would recommend staying elsewhere in the city centre.

 

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Travel

Tenerife Holiday Blog: Vanilla Garden Hotel

For our first holiday abroad together as a couple, my girlfriend and I mutually decided to visit Tenerife. After changing our minds one too many times, and after several hours, days and weeks of indecisiveness and stress (because as we all know, booking holidays can be somewhat stressful!) we eventually came across the wonderful Vanilla Garden Hotel in the Playa De Las Americas area of Tenerife.

After hearing several good things about the hotel courtesy of scouring several TripAdvisor reviews, we decided it would be the perfect hotel for a week’s stay for us.

We flew out on the 27th July 2017 from Manchester Airport for a late afternoon flight so we weren’t due to arrive until in the evening. After we had arrived and collected our baggage and boarded the transfer coach, trouble soon struck as the coach engine failed to start. Just our luck! We thought to ourselves.

A gentleman boarded the coach and informed us that another would be along in five minutes. Wishful thinking that appeared to be, as we were left waiting for at least thirty minutes. Many people gave up and decided to obtain alternative travel arrangements, however we held out for the replacement coach despite feeling somewhat tired and in need of a good sleep.

Due to our relatively late flight, we were the last ones to check in. Our coach dropped us off across the road from the hotel so not much of a walk. We were greeted by a young gentleman on reception checked us in promptly and efficiently. He was very polite and friendly and an asset to the team. He let us know our room number and informed us that a cold meal had been prepared for us along with offering us a welcome drink. This was greatly appreciated and a nice touch.

In terms of the room itself, it was absolutely fantastic, very clean and spacious. There was a large wardrobe offering plenty of storage, tea and coffee making facilities, microwave and flat screen tv. The bathroom was large and had a walk in shower with a hairdryer and toiletries provided. The bed was large and extremely comfortable and you we enjoyed a great night’s sleep every night easily.

The air conditioning in the room was extremely reliable and much appreciated in the height of the summer! (be sure to keep your balcony door shut though as it will switch off). The location of the hotel was very convenient, easily accessible to all local bars, restaurants and shops. It is situated just down the road from all the main nightlife Playa de Las Americas has to offer, however we were never disturbed by any noise despite it being relatively close to the Veronicas.

The hotel is very quiet at night and ensures you can enjoy a good night’s sleep with the odd exception of a small amount of noise from people leaving early for flight’s but you would get this anywhere so not so much an issue.

We attended a meeting the first morning of our stay and the Thomson rep was very friendly and professional, he thoroughly explained all the excursions and explained on a map all the points of interest. He didn’t make us feel pressured or rushed into buying any tickets to any excursions and allowed us to take a look at which ones would interest us the most.

We returned and booked Teide by night which at 85 Euros seems steep but it was worth every penny (or cent in this case!) transport from the hotel was included, and you were able to experience picturesque, panoramic views of Tenerife in which we were able to watch the sunset from above the clouds,which was absolutely incredible. We had a lovely three course meal included in the cost, and a perfect end to a perfect day came in the form of a well informed and professional stargazing session.

The other excursion we chose to do was the Freebird Catamaran trip, which was also very enjoyable. We were able to view both dolphins and whales which was a great experience and something I had never done previously, highly recommended!

In terms of other things to do, we visited the Las Vistas beach which was approximately thirty minutes walk away, although you could get a taxi should you wish to. Word of warning though! Ensure you take flip-flops or a pair of shoes as the sand is unbearably hot! At least in the height of summer anyway. There was a beach close to our hotel, but we didn’t really fancy the nearby black sand beach as it doesn’t look quite as appealing despite being natural!

We also visited the Safari Centre which was approximately twenty minutes away, absolutely fantastic surroundings, nice and modern and made you feel like you were in Las Vegas, or at least I thought so! Additionally, we visited two of the nearby resorts in Costa Adeje, which was very picturesque and had a nice beachfront walk. Los Cristianos isn’t too far away also, and although this has a less touristy feel and felt more authentically Spanish, I would definitely recommend a visit. Plenty of lovely bars and restaurants available with decently priced drinks and meals.

Additional aspects of our hotel included the lovely pool surrounded by plenty of sun beds which we were always able to get no matter the time of day. There were notices around the hotel not to reserve them but as we all know everyone does it anyway! In terms of food we stayed half board so had breakfast and an evening meal included.

The breakfast was plentiful and catered for a wide range of tastes including cooked breakfasts including fried eggs, bacon and pancakes at the show cooking, and you could even get English hash browns which were lovely! drinks were included at breakfast but not at evening meal.

You could get drinks charged to your room which saved taking cash to the poolside for example, although you needed to set this up at reception first. We found the evening meal to be adequate and had a variety of meals throughout the week. You could get options from the show cooking including beef, steak and chicken which we tried and thoroughly enjoyed and they even asked how you liked your steak cooked which was perfect.

There was a pool party twice a week in which there was a live DJ however we chose not to attend. The music was quite loud but it was during the day and didn’t really bother us although it may not be to everyone’s tastes.

We spent a lot of time on the balcony which overlooked a terrace below however you could see the road when sat out on it so the view wasn’t the best, but this did not affect our stay in any way so no complaints. The overall cleanliness of the hotel was fantastic and the grounds were cleaned by the staff every morning. Our room was usually cleaned by 11.30am to a very high standard with fresh bedding and towels provided and the maids were very friendly whenever greeting you.

There is an outdoor gym under cover with a small but adequate selection of equipment, along with an outdoor jacuzzi which when we checked out was cordoned off so we weren’t able to use this unfortunately. There is a chillout area at the reception with a 24 hour bar and there is also the pool bar which offered an excellent selection of drinks at decent prices, including the local beer Dorada which is very nice and widely available across Tenerife at a cheap price.

The front gate at the hotel is locked after 12am I think it was, but you are able to obtain entry once reception staff notice you are stood there. There is also a back gate situated by the pool which was locked at 10pm although we only used this for walking out of the hotel so weren’t sure on how to gain access back into the hotel through this gate. It is a good option though if you wish to avoid any punters enticing you into their bars etc.

When checking out there was an option to pay a fee to extend your check out time from the usual 12pm which in hindsight we probably should have paid for, along with the option for a courtesy room they provided you with for half an hour to have a quick shower before your flight. However don’t make the mistake we made, you have to let reception know in advance as it is first come first served, so unfortunately we weren’t able to obtain one of these courtesy rooms which was disappointing, but understandable given we had not given adequate notice.

Overall I would highly recommend staying here, there were couples and small groups of all ages and nationalities staying at the hotel and so we didn’t feel out of place at all. It was generally younger people but don’t feel put off if you are slightly older. I would definitely return if staying in Las Americas again and any positives far outweigh any negatives.