10 amazing country house hotels in Cheshire, including stately halls and swish spas
These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Please check the latest travel guidance before making your journey. Our writers visited these hotels pre-pandemic.
Cheshire’s country house hotels are nothing if not varied. On the traditional side of things, you could stay in a hilltop castle or historic stately home, complete with four-poster beds, wood-panelled walls and stained-glass windows. Alternatively, you could opt for something more contemporary, like a 21st-century manor house with super-swish spa or a collection of former farm buildings given a rustic-chic makeover. Whatever your taste in rural retreats, here’s our pick of the loveliest country house hotels in Cheshire.
The original timber-framed hall of this sprawling address near Chester burned down in 1912 but today’s incarnation is a modern development. Interiors are gradually being upgraded from a corporate style to a lighter, classier look in line with the lavish new spa complex. This £10 million addition is the jewel in Carden’s crown, offering super-comfy treatment beds, an indoor pool, thermal suite, glamorous beauty lounge, three relaxation rooms and a restaurant. Outside, the impressive spa garden comes with assorted hot tubs, heated seating pods, a fire pit, panoramic sauna and al fresco bar. Elsewhere facilities include two championship golf courses, a range of outdoor pursuits, a leisure centre and a three-acre vineyard, producing sparkling wine.
Character is what Peckforton, one of Cheshire’s most distinctive hotels, is all about. Built in the mid-19th century and sitting on top of its own little forested peak between Chester and Crewe, it’s a Victorian take on a medieval castle, complete with sandstone battlements, arrow slits and stone spiral staircases. Décor inside stays true to the period feel, with old French tapestries on bare stone walls, suits of armour, heavy red curtains adorned with the Peckforton crest, and in the rooms, the odd roaring fire in winter, dark wood furniture and rich colours on walls and fabrics. There’s a small spa, and outdoor activities include abseiling (down the castle walls) and laser tag. A choice of two restaurants serve elevated or informal British fare.
In a green and leafy part of the Wirral, this is one of Cheshire’s best-kept secrets, even for locals. Despite looking every inch the Tudor manor house, with its black-and-white half-timbering and ornate brick chimneystacks, Hillbark was actually built in 1891 and originally stood several miles away before being moved here, piece by carefully labelled piece, between 1929 and 1931. The current owners have done a grand job of restoring the property which now offers 16 rooms (polished wood furniture, quilted bedspreads, gilt-framed paintings), an intimate, low-lit cellar restaurant with Mediterranean food and a live pianist, and a spa, hair salon and small fitness room. Guests can use the facilities at Caldy Golf Club.
Aside from booking Combermere Abbey’s very smart holiday cottages, guests can stay in two rooms in the recently restored (and very grand) North Wing of the main house. The building – a Tudor manor house overlaid with a Gothic façade – has a fascinating history, and everything has been brought up to 21st-century standards of comfort. Expect natural Edward Bulmer paints on the walls, plush fabrics from designer Nina Campbell, and furnishings that mix inherited pieces with items sourced from local auction houses. On the shores of a lake the setting is beautiful. There are lovely walks around the grounds, plus an all-weather tennis court, croquet lawn, and a maze made out of fruit trees.
With a rural location, a romantically French château-style tower, elegant lounge and dining rooms, and a pretty, wisteria-strewn terrace, it’s easy to see why couples like the Beckhams head to this handsome Georgian mansion for special occasions (they got engaged here). The property’s former stable block has been converted into an attractive spa and, in the old yard, a 17-metre swimming pool and hydrotherapy pool are flooded with light from the glass roof above. In winter the wood-panelled bar is a cosy place to sample some of the 50-plus gins they stock; while in summer, the terrace is the place for aperitifs. Choose between feature suites in the old hall, newer rooms in the executive wing, and classic bedrooms between both.
With views across to Cholmondeley Castle, this romantic East Cheshire retreat is all about the roaring fires, country pubs and bracing walks. The former tenant farm has four boutique barns, each with unique features and fitted out with a luxurious flourish – think shabby-chic furnishings, cosy outdoor areas with fire pits and blankets, White Company products, concealed bathtubs, and kitchenettes (this is primarily a self-catering option). You can order a breakfast hamper of local goodies and afternoon tea upon arrival. Expect a warm welcome and local knowledge, but also plenty of opportunity to enjoy your surroundings in peace.
The Mere feels more golf course with rooms than “traditional” country hotel. The look throughout is smart contemporary-corporate, with neutral colours, high-end finishes and golfing pictures on the walls. The hotel is surrounded by an 18-hole, par-71 golf course that has regularly hosted the Open Championship qualifier. There are four tennis courts, a spa, and various event rooms for hire, one of which is lined with artworks by Harold Riley. The corporate style continues in the 81 generously sized bedrooms, where the look is urban rather than country. Dining options include the informal Club Lounge and the spa café, but the main restaurant is Browns, which largely delivers on its two AA-Rosette promise.
Historic Crewe Hall, the former stately pile of Lord Crewe, is divided between two contrasting wings: the original Grade I-listed property, the Jacobean Hall with traditional rooms and period features, and the modern West Wing, with contemporary rooms, leisure and conference facilities. The former, lined with wood-panelled corridors and stained-glass windows, is packed with interesting historical flourishes, such as the Great Library with tableaux featuring scenes from classical literature. The latter has more of a chain-hotel feel with a labyrinth of corporate-hospitality siderooms. All-day dining takes place in the open-kitchen Brasserie.
Nunsmere’s biggest selling point is its sylvan setting: all green and leafy, with well-cared-for gardens and a lake that curves round on three sides, and while there is no spa, pool or gym, there are plenty of outdoor activities. The original Edwardian house is a handsome red-brick and sandstone affair with ivy climbing up the walls, and the 1960s extension blends in better than most. Inside, the reception rooms are quite grand, with chandeliers hanging from high, decoratively plastered ceilings and thick floral fabrics on chairs and curtains. Deluxe rooms are a reasonable size but upgrade to executive or a suite and you get acres of space.