Hotel Indigo® Chester
The last time Chester was brought to my attention for opening a new and exciting hotel was back in the noughties when the fabulous Oddfellows opened its doors.
The city of Chester wasn’t relevant to the design of Oddfellows, it could have been anywhere, but the building was unique.
The panelled walls, high ceilings, basement cellars and private courtyard to the rear allowed the designers scope to create a fantasy setting in every space, including an upside down ‘laid table’ suspended from the ceiling.
Oddfellows is beginning to show signs of wear and tear but it is still a brilliant party hotel.
It’s quirky, it’s fun and it’s totally unique and if this magazine were to publish a top thirty list of boutique hotels, Oddfellows would still be included.
Now, a new build hotel has opened in the city and unlike Oddfellows the interior design is subtly themed around the history and culture of historic Chester.
This hotel unites the local character of the city with vibrant colours and textures to give it a residential feel, with a façade designed to be in keeping with the more immediate properties alongside Grosvenor Park Road.
The hotel is operated under the Indigo® brand, a boutique brand of Intercontinental Hotels Group.
This was considered to be a perfect pairing as Indigo were one of the first hotel brands to embrace ‘sense of place’ – celebrating a hotel’s unique location, recognising that no two neighbourhoods are alike and ensuring therefore that no two Indigo hotels should be alike.
The brand seeks to reflect local architecture and character when developing new hotels, this in turn helps to inform the design of each property.
The hotel is operated under a franchise agreement with Castlebridge Hospitality and was designed by architects Franklin Ellis.
The bedrooms are ‘contemporary with a traditional twist’.
Franklin Ellis have taken inspiration from the historic neighbourhood and have created three unique room designs – Material Layers, highlighting the architecture of the City; The Eastgate Clock featuring nods to the famous clock and its designer John Douglas; and Racecourse rooms paying homage to the UK’s oldest racecourse.
In total the hotel has 75 rooms including a charming top floor suite called the Grosvenor.
This has an interconnecting door to the next room extending its appeal as a party room for small groups.
A broad wrap around balcony provides views across parts of the city and parkland and without a dividing barrier this also connects the two rooms.
The Suite offers a King size Hypnos bed, bathroom amenities from Molton Brown, a standalone roll-top bath and exceedingly thick fluffy towels and dressing gowns.
This makes the Grosvenor Suite not only one of Chester’s largest hotel rooms but also one of its most luxurious.
The ground floor is open plan and designed in zones that bleed into each other.
Guests enter the hotel from the left side of the building, where they can check in and take the lifts to the upper floors or stop and enjoy a drink in the bar area.
To the right of the bar is the restaurant where diners can watch the activity of chefs working in the open kitchen.
Facing the kitchen is a raised semi-circular bar that doubles as a buffet food counter for breakfasts and a chefs’ table at night.
The restaurant has its own entrance, which helps to give it a degree of independence from the hotel.
The restaurant is branded as Wood Chester and aims to offer a fine dining experience.
To achieve this they have recruited former Masterchef champion Simon Wood, who has created a range of ‘modern interpretations of traditional dishes’ to delight guests.
There is also a private dining room off the restaurant that is opulently dressed and separated from the main space by a glass encased wine cabinet to one side and opaque glass panels to the other.
This room has a clubby feel to it that will make guests feel that little bit more superior than those dining in the main restaurant.
If the food achieves the levels of excellence that they are aiming for, then this room may prove to be Chester’s hottest dining ticket.
Simon Wood has gained a strong following for his cooking, his seven and ten course tasting menu being particularly popular.
Partner at Franklin Ellis Architects, Ben Dudley, said: “It’s been a real joy to be involved in this hotel and signature restaurant project.
“We have added unique elements to the interiors that are relevant to the area, including artwork of local landmarks and items that are made locally.
“On a personal note, it was fascinating to work with Chef Simon Wood and to see how his attention to every detail ensures his guests have a wonderful dining experience. I’m certain this project will be a fabulous new venue for Chester and a delightful place to stay.”