I don’t often go five star with the kids – surprise, surprise – but when I do I expect to have an especially nice time with them, a five star experience no less. The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen is sleek and contemporary. I’ve dined there before with my husband – the food is excellent. I’ve had afternoon tea in the guest lounge with friends. And I’ve met pals at the bar because the cocktails are beautiful and the setting is smart. But I’ve never taken small humans in there before – it’s always been my haunt, not theirs! How would a couple of preschoolers and a polished city hotel gel? Well, when I tell you about ‘Chester’ the cartoon dog you’ll understand.
CHECK IN – We were greeted at reception and personally shown to our room, which is always a nice touch. Details of the room were explained to us briefly and then we were left to our own devices to relax.
THE ROOM – The rooms at The Chester are stylish, smart, contemporary and modern – all of those adjectives fit, yet the space was also comfortable and practical. For example, the lighting in the bathroom is excellent for makeup application – a detail that, even in the best establishments, is often overlooked by designers. We were based in the Rothesay Suite so we had a little extra space. Mr Child had his mini bed in the living room and Mr Toddler’s travel cot was in our bedroom. There was a family bathroom, lush toiletries from the White Company, televisions in the bedroom and living area, a family dining table for eating or working, a Nespresso coffee machine for our use, and lovely details such as bedside lamps that I coveted. We were very comfortable.
EVENING MEAL – The IX restaurant in the Chester is beautiful and I did worry about exposing it to my tots. It’s been awarded two AA rosettes under the stewardship of Executive Chef Kevin Dalgleish and understandably so. There are several discreet private dining zones, and a gallery kitchen which always intrigues me. We’d booked a table for 6.30pm, the earliest sitting (though you can eat at the bar earlier if you’d prefer), and we were initially the only people in the restaurant. I find that those dining without children don’t really want to eat when we do, so we don’t interrupt each other!
The table was elegantly set with knives and glassware, which we swiftly got cleared away, and the menus arrived. The boys were handed a tiny hardcover menu, which I assumed was the wine list, but it was actually their very own Children’s Menu. No scrappy piece of paper or laminated sheet of A4!
This was by far the most impressive Children’s Menu I’ve seen. Inside was a wee cartoon of ‘Chester the Classy Canine’, who has apparently worked tirelessly with the chefs to bring kids a ‘barking good selection of tasty meals. Chester wouldn’t wag his tail for anything less than the finest local Scottish produce’. Our tots sat and perused their menus even though they can’t read. They looked ridiculously funny, but they knew how to act the part.
The Children’s Menu is also A La Carte, with four courses on offer. Why should children always get set menus? I was so impressed. Mr Child opted for Build Your Own Pizza, and Mr Toddler ordered My First Steak (£7.00). That name, My First Steak, is so deliciously precocious and tongue in cheek, I just love it. As Mr Toddler’s beef from the Ballindalloch Estate arrived(!!!), I received my dish of wild halibut with pumpkin, squash and roast onion drizzled in a seville orange vinaigrette. Mr Husband had man food – slow cooked blade of beef with oxtail and haggis.
Both dishes were wonderfully presented but tasted excellent too. I always like the food here. Meanwhile the kids apple juice (£2) arrived in tiny silver tankards. They looked like little Tudor monarchs slurping away, again it was a lovely, amusing detail. By now, the restaurant was starting to fill up. We were the only young family there, but quite a few guests were on business trips so it was a mixed crowd and I felt comfortable having children in this five star space, especially as the menu indirectly stated how welcome we were. It was a success, though Mr Toddler did pull two leaves off the cactus centrepiece so apologies for that.
BREAKFAST – After a comfortable non-eventful night, which is a hit in my book since I’ve had kids, we were ready to start the day. At breakfast we experienced the only hiccup as my husband’s traditional fry up took an age to arrive. Myself and the children dined slighter later and by then things were back on track. The breakfast offering certainly stood out. At the buffet you could help yourself to cured ham straight off the bone, smoked salmon, Katy Rodgers yogurts, as well as bakery produce and fruit juice. I also found space for French Toast with caramelised bananas (quelle surprise), and ordered a few sausages for the boys as well. It was a grand way to kickstart our morning. After breakfast we hung out in our suite till check out at 11am – I think we’d got overly used to the luxury lifestyle.
LOCATION – The Chester is in Aberdeen city, it’s just outside the very heart of the city centre (about a 20 minute walk) though it’s certainly feasible to push a buggy to the west end of town to find other restaurants, shops or cafes. It’s probably best to get a cab from the train station if travelling with kids, but check distances and make up your own mind. There’s ample parking onsite and nearby, and we got a space right outside the entrance, so driving is certainly the easiest option. Aberdeen is well served by rail, air and bus transport links. The hotel also boasts spa facilities which one day I’ll get round to trying.
The main point about a family trip to the Chester is that it did feel like a five star experience. Stylish accommodation, good service, excellent food and a welcoming children’s menu with cute details such as the silver tankards. For another special occasion I’d certainly dine there again with the kids, and even look into a private dining room if it was a family birthday, reunion or special function. It’s nice to feel that the treats don’t have to end when the kids arrive.
If you like what you read then don’t miss a post, enter your email address in the ‘Follow’ box then click ‘Follow’ or join the conversation on Facebook. For any queries or opportunities please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We experienced a complimentary night B&B at The Chester for review purposes, and we covered the costs of our evening meal and drinks. All images copyright of Tots2Travel.