A Christmas in Chester Staycation – Explore, Enjoy, Support with The Chester Gift Card

Chester is a very special place – and we will be open for business again very soon.

This is a city with plenty of outside spaces. Even your shopping experience is delivered in the open air courtesy of our unique Medieval rows – and a short walk from the city centre will take you to so many hidden places. My advice is to always have your camera ready for that perfect Insta moment – you’ll find one round very corner.

Our river front is beautiful whatever the weather, but I love it most in the Autumn time with the golden leaves creating pretty pictures as far as the eye can see. Stop for a moment, sit by the bandstand and watch the world go by while enjoying the great outdoors in the safety of your own household or bubble.

Christmas is Not Cancelled here in Chester, so much so that we have created a special Whats On Guide full of fabulously festive happenings. From our fabulously festive food and drink right across the city to our indoor food lovers market and emporium, from a magical Christmas tree festival at Chester Cathedral to a special date for all the family with The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Christmas is most definitely on for 2020.

And the Taste Cheshire Christmas Farmers Markets are not to be missed – for the most delicious locally-produced festive fayre  in the county.


A Christmas Carol opens next month at our beloved Storyhouse – one of the only Christmas productions in the UK this year. Tickets are on sale now and performances start 3rd December, so its time to book your socially distanced seats for the greatest show in Cheshire!


Where to stay? 

The Townhouse Boutique Hotel 

One of our favourite places to stay in the city centre is The Townhouse. So much more than an independent, boutique hotel, this super-friendly venue is located on picturesque Lower Bridge Street and our stunning river front (my happy place) is just a few minutes walk away. The Townhouse is spacious, stylish and charming. Expertly run by the Hesketh family, this property is beyond covid secure and the staff deliver their exemplary standards effortlessly. The rooms have everything you need and more, and the beds are heavenly. They have family rooms as well as Chester’s only party pad – a separate apartment which can accommodate up to 10 guests with a mix of twins & sofa beds. Their outside space is magical too. The Secret Garden is an oasis in the middle of a bustling city and the cocktails are sublime, and Afternoon Tea is one of our favourite affordable treats the city.
Dog friendly
Outside space
Family friendly

Find out more here 

The Pied Bull 

Another independent venue, The Pied Bull is full of fabulous surprises. The rooms are gorgeous with jaw-dropping features (roll top baths, Jacobean panelling, comfy sofas) and the two suites with four-poster beds are stunning. The Pied Bull is one of the oldest inns in the city and the pub area is so old-worldy which I love, and the food is such good quality – some say they serve the very best home made pies in Chester! They also have the smallest micro-brewery inside the city walls. Definitely one of my favourites.
Dog friendly
Outside space
Family friendly

Find out more here

Best Chester Bars 

Its true – Chester has some amazing bars – and amazing world class bartenders!  Its really hard to choose just a a couple of them for this feature, but here goes …


In its 20th year, this amazing bar restaurant is an institution. It feels like we have all grown up with Barlounge in our lives, and walking into the place feels so familiar and comfortable, its almost like coming home. Very high standards of service but not at all stuffy, Barlounge really does have it all. Amazing drinks, fantastic food and the best cocktail list on the planet. I absolutely love Rick’s Espresso Martini, and the Barlounge White Russian brought back from a boozy “research trip” at 3am in New York is worth a visit all on its own – even if you’re on your own! Everything here is pure quality and the staff are a delight.

Book here

Liquor & Co 

Once again, a great quality venue with a fabulous team. These guys take their drinks pretty seriously – everyones favourite neighbourhood-style bar with fab decor and good music. With so much passion, commitment and knowledge, Liquor & Co has a few secrets and surprises of its own, just ask for the Janitor. 😉

Find out more here

Dining In Chester 

Commonhall Social 

For a relaxed dining experience, head straight to Commonhall Social. Stewart and his team have recently reopened their doors with a fresh new look and a new food menu too. Expect some healthy new additions, but we all need a bit of foodie filth now and then, so some of their signature dishes including their super-famous burgers are still up for grabs. The new outside space is really gorgeous – perfectly socially distanced and slightly Scandinavian in style, and very dog friendly too (they even serve a doggie roast on a Sunday).

Find out more here


Plant based, independent and Michelin recommended, we are so lucky to have such an amazing restaurant in Chester. The fabulous team at Hypha continue to operate at their usual high standard and have now shifted their focus to the Seasons Story, moving away from their Ala Carte menu. We enjoyed their Autumn Story recently and were blown away – click here find out why we gave it a glowing review. This is a stunning bar restaurant with a hugely knowledgable and passionate team who are nuts about food sustainability and fermentation.

Find out more here

Hickory’s Smokehouse 

For a family friendly experience, then Hickory’s Smokehouse is where its at. Located on the river front and The Groves, Hickory’s is adored by everyone, especially the little people! With plenty of outside space, a brand new walled garden (part undercover and heated), a cinema room and kids menu, this is definitely our favourite super-family-friendly venue with great service and the best milkshakes in town. And those chicken wings …. !

Book here

Shop Local Chester 

Chester Boutique

How I love Chester Boutique! This is the perfect example of a local, independent shop smashing it right out of the park every day of the week – and its not difficult to see why. Dawn and her gorgeous team are so much fun – they have lifted our spirits all the way through lockdown with their hilarious banter and frivolities! From their gorgeous shop on Bridge Street they sell the most fabulous fashion at an affordable price (so we can have more of it!) and Dawn knows exactly what her customers want. I never go anywhere else, Chester Boutique has everything I need and much more for a delightful covid-secure independent shopping experience. And you can shop online too.

Website here 

City Gate Menswear 

Virtually opposite Chester Boutique (and right a bit), you’ll find City Gate Designer Store. Owner Nick has been running this great independent menswear shop for over 40 years and he’s seen it all! With an army of loyal customers over so many years, Nick has kept his business fresh and welcoming throughout it all, so its no wonder he has one of the longest standing businesses in the city.

More info here

Weasel and The Bug

Yes you’re right, its a great name for an independent toy shop! No trip to Chester would be complete without a visit to this super-cute independent toy store, as this is where the magic happens! Famed for her fabulous window displays, Katie Jones is an impassioned independent retailer who adores her city as much as we adore her gorgeous shop. If you want proper toys this Christmas, then go and see Katie who once again offers a truly authentic Chester shopping experience.

Website here

A bit of a Pamper

The Scented Garden Retreat 

Laura Heywood has been running her wonderful independent spa business for 25 years next month! The Scented Garden Retreat is the perfect place to book in for your favourite treatment (or maybe try something new?) and let Laura and her lovely team take extra special care of you. These ladies are experts – highly professional yet super-friendly at the same time. I recently went for a double treatment of a back and next massage which was heavenly, followed by a CACI non-surgical facelift – and the results were incredible! This is definitely one the the jewels in Chester’s Independent crown. Click here to find out what I gave The Scented Garden Retreat a five star review.

Website here

The Chester Gift Card

You can use your Chester Gift Card in all of the places we have included in our guide. And if you’re looking for the perfect Christmas present, what better way than to give The Gift of Chester this year – and the really good news is that you’ll be giving some much needed support to our beloved high street at the same time.

Click here for more info and to purchase a card


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