This hotel certainly has multiple personalities. The Queens which is steeped in history and full of quirky travel knickknacks, memorabilia, statues, paintings, sculptures and more whilst The Kings is more modern and contemporary and similar to newer hotels. Then in the middle of this there's a nod to Chester's Roman heritage with Soldiers uniforms, a huge terrace garden with sculptured lions, columns, and a fountain. With all it's many faces I really liked this hotel.
The Room - We booked a family room and were situated in the The Queens with it's previously mentioned eclectic decoration. The room it's self was huge, with two queen size beds (one firm and when very soft, almost like a giant pillow). The room its self was clean and adequate and had everything we needed, however it was showing the signs of wear & tear and probably in need of a little TLC. The bathroom was probably the biggest let down, although clean and very spaces, this definitely needed some attention. With plugged holes from various holders, rails and bathroom fixtures that had either been removed or broken, to just generally feeling very dated and neglected, it's only saving grace, the power of the shower. No grumbles here! Finally there's no air conditioning in this part of the hotel (I believe it is available in The Kings) and with only a small window to open the room was quite stuffy. I would say you'd want to avoid this at the height of summer!
Food - Breakfast was a buffet and very nice, everything you could wish for including two types of sausage, two types of bacon, hash browns, fried bread, black pudding, beans, tomato, scrambled egg & mushrooms. Fried eggs where being cooked fresh little and often right there at the buffet and if you wanted an omelette, you just had to ask. There were also areas were you could get cereal, fruit, pastries, bread & toast.
We ate once in the hotel for our evening meal and despite not being as cheap as maybe some other restaurants in the town, the surroundings were comfortable, the food very tasty and well presented and of course convenient. To honor it's heritage with the the railway station opposite, the menus are presented on enlarged railway tickets and this theme of travel is echoed throughout the lobby and reception areas.
Staff - Here the hotel was faultless. Everyone we me met were helpful, polite and efficient. This even extended to all the house keeping staff we passed in the morning who greeted us (including our 4 year daughter) with huge smiles.
Location - The hotel is perfectly situated for the station, in fact it's across the road (never heard any noise) it is a 15 minute brisk walk to get in to the town, maybe longer with children in tow. We used the hotel as a base to visit the near by Chester Zoo. We purchased our tickets in advance, but these can also be purchased at the hotel.
Decor - I like The Queens a lot. Discovering all the different pieces of art, memorabilia, sculptures etc along with it's playfulness in design, for example the reception desk made from dozens of suitcases and the concierge desk from a rather large open trunk, not to mention a full size red telephone box and a huge chair that's was almost as big. If you want fun and can cope with the slightly tired rooms and don't need air con, then specify the Queens, if you prefer modern, sleek and more contemporary surroundings make sure you check in to the Kings.
Parking - probably my biggest gripe and it's not limited to just this hotel. But it's the cost of parking. I appreciate in prime locations like this, the hotel car park may be abused and I expect this also forms part of their commitment to reducing car use as many councils now like to see transport plans and sustainability proposals, but it still infuriates me that the cost of parking can't be waived if you are a registered guest staying at the hotel.
Overall a fantastic stay. Maybe on other reviews I would have scored this 3 out of 5 overall because of the tired room, but the quirkiness, food & staff more than made up for it and thats why it gets a 4. less