Ask people what food they associate with Cheshire and they’ll invariably say cheese. The familiar variety – crumbly, creamy and deliciously salty – is one of the country’s oldest named cheeses, and was long its most popular.
But traditional Cheshire is no longer the only local cheese; the ranks of the established cheesemakers are now being joined by small artisan producers, creating interesting new cheeses that have proceeded to win medals and awards around the globe – including at the International Cheese awards, held in Nantwich. And if you fancy pulling your own pint of raw milk, there are handy self-service vending machines at Peckforton Farm Dairy, Chance Hall Farm at Rode Heath and Street Farm Dairy near Kelsall.
There’s more to Cheshire dining than dairy foods, though. The county’s lush pastures play their part in bringing high-quality lamb, beef and pork to the table (goat, too), and the River Dane contributes fresh trout to local restaurant menus. If you’re lucky, they’ll be accompanied by some of Cheshire’s wonderful potatoes – look out for roadside signs in spring so you can stock up on new season spuds fresh from the farm.
In summer you’ll find pick-your-own fruit farms and gooseberry shows, while autumn brings an abundance of excellent apples and punnets of famous Cheshire damsons. Places to pick them – enough for a pie is the courteous thing to do – include the wild orchard by Lock 11 of the Bosley flight on the Macclesfield Canal and Marbury Orchard near Northwich.For those with a sweet tooth, the ace up Cheshire’s foodie sleeve is its excellent ice cream. The area is now home to some fantastic ice-cream farms, from small family concerns to one of the largest parlours in the country.
To drink with your dinner? Try one of the new Cheshire gins being produced by small-batch distillers, including Forest Gin from Macclesfield Forest, Second Son on the edge of Delamere Forest, The Wirral Distillery near Spital and Cheshire Gin in Wallasey – the latter two you can visit for gin tastings. Alternatively, seek out craft ales from the wave of microbreweries and their taps, which continue to pop up around the county.
Chester & Wirral
The Heart of the Cheshire Plain
Crewe & the Staffordshire borders
Macclesfield & the Peak District
Stockport & the northeast spur
Mersey & northwest Cheshire
The Chester Grosvenor Eastgate, Chester CH1 1LT; 01244 324024; chestergrosvenor.com. Arguably the county’s premier address, the Chester Grosvenor is as much a city landmark as a place to stay. Set next to the city walls, by the Eastgate Clock, the current building dates from 1865 yet sits on the site of a 16th-century inn. The presence of a suited porter at the door should give the clue that the hotel has a quite formal atmosphere. But if you’re after elegance and supreme comfort, the 80 luxuriously furnished bedrooms, Michelin-star restaurant and state-of-the-art spa will deliver.
Edgar House Hotel 22 City Walls, Chester CH1 1SB; 01244 347007; edgarhouse.co.uk. Set in a Georgian house on the city walls, overlooking the River Dee, Edgar House occupies a prime position, best enjoyed from the enviable vantage point of its riverside garden. Inside, the boutique hotel lavishes guests staying in its seven rooms with stylish opulence – chandeliers, rich fabrics, mirrored furnishings, freestanding baths – keeping just on the chic side of bling. Like the hotel, the restaurant, Twenty2, will be a winner with romantic couples.
Hillbark Hotel & Spa Royden Pk, Frankby CH48 1NP; 0151 625 2400; hillbarkhotel.co.uk. The look is Tudor, yet this black-and-white manor house dates from the late Victorian era and, in fact, once stood a few miles down the road until its removal, piece by piece, to its current spot at the turn of the 1930s. Beautifully restored, Hillbark contains gems such as a fireplace that once belonged to Sir Walter Raleigh. The 16 bedrooms come in different shapes and sizes, with four-posters and lovely views of the Dee Estuary on offer. There’s also a spa and a restaurant in the cellar serving a menu inspired by Mediterranean fare.
Oddfellows Hotel 20 Lower Bridge St, Chester CH1 1RS; 01244 345454; oddfellowschester.com. You’ll be in no doubt you’re in Cheshire when you step inside this quirky city-centre hotel with its bold Alice in Wonderland theme that plays on the county’s connection with the author Lewis Carroll. (Don’t be surprised to find a pair of giant wicker boxing hares or a table and chairs hanging from the ceiling.) There are 32 rooms divided between the original building and a new extension, plus four apartments. There’s a restaurant and bar with outdoor terrace which is sometimes dressed for fun (last winter it took on an après-ski theme).
42 Caldy Road 42 Caldy Rd, West Kirby CH48 2HQ; 0151 625 8740; 42caldyroad.co.uk. There’s attention to detail evident at this boutique-style B&B with four en-suite bedrooms, from the brass bedsteads with deep-sprung mattresses to little luxurious touches such as the fluffy bathrobes and Elemis toiletries. A choice of continental and full English breakfast will get you off to a good start, while spectacular sunsets over the Dee Estuary provide a stunning end to the day.
80 Watergate Street 80 Watergate St, Chester CH1 2LF; 01244 314879; 80watergatestreet.co.uk. From the moment you’re encouraged to kick off your shoes at this Georgian guesthouse in the city centre, you’ll realise this is a place where the invitation to relax is for real. There are three pretty bedrooms to choose from, all with good-sized en suites, harmoniously dressed with a mixture of eye-catching furnishings plus colourful quilts and jugs of fresh flowers. A generous breakfast features local produce and tea and cake are served in the afternoon.
Pubs with rooms
The Boathouse and Riverside Rooms 21 The Groves, Chester CH1 1SD; 01244 328709; theboathousechester.co.uk. An old pub on the river provides the setting for this smart B&B. It’s a rural retreat within the city, next to the park and reached along a tree-lined avenue, yet centred around a lively drinking and dining destination that spills out onto a riverside terrace in summer. There’s a nautical theme at play in the 21 rooms – note the sailing boats on the wallpaper and the cute idea of putting the room numbers on oars.
The Ship The Parade, Parkgate CH64 6SA; 0151 336 3931; the-shiphotel.co.uk. A historic black-and-white coaching inn in the former port of Parkgate is also a comfortable place to rest your head when visiting these parts. The 25 en-suite rooms are a mix of sizes – for families, couples and singles – some with four-posters and views of the Dee Estuary, too. Check out the bar for local ales from breweries.
The Book Keeper’s Cottage Port Sunlight, Wirral CH62 5DX; 0151 644 6466; portsunlightvillage.com. The model village of Port Sunlight provides an unusual location for holidaymakers heading to Wirral. Here, you can get a true insight into this historic community by staying in one of the houses, now Grade-II listed, created by Lord Leverhulme for workers in his adjacent Sunlight factory. Although the property is a piece of history, today’s visitors are guaranteed modern comforts in this three-bedroom cottage for six, including a courtyard with barbecue.
Heritage View Chester, inside city walls; airbnb.co.uk. Tucked away in a mews just steps from the main shopping area, this stylish ground-floor apartment is roomy for two and comfortable for four. The clever design has maximised the space available. The open-plan living area is neatly divided into a lounge and kitchen, separated by a handy breakfast bar, and has a pull-down double bed hidden in a large shelving unit. There’s also a double bedroom and small bathroom.
Inglenook Cottage Kelsall Rd, Ashton Hayes, nr Chester CH3 8BH; 01829 752109;www.premiercottages.co.uk/cottages/cottage-in-the-dales/inglenook-cottage/. Peace is guaranteed at this charming 18th-century cottage set in a rural village. The owners have enhanced the property’s heritage by retaining interesting original features such a section of wattle-and-daub wall and the large inglenook after which it is named. Sleeping six, it has three bedrooms and your group can come together in the cosy sitting room and large kitchen-diner, which has large doors opening out onto a private patio and secluded garden.
The Little Tin Chapel Chester, outside city walls; holidaylettings.co.uk. A flat-pack church, the city’s last surviving tin tabernacle provides an extraordinary choice of accommodation. Set on the banks of the Shropshire Union Canal, it once served as a place of worship for passing bargees. Now, it has been transformed into a two-bedroom cottage sleeping four, with the meeting hall providing a stylish open-plan space for cooking, dining and relaxing.
The Outbuilding Oscroft, nr Tarvin; airbnb.co.uk. Don’t be underwhelmed by the name. While The Outbuilding is indeed a structure set in the yard of a working farm, it’s also a well-presented self-contained apartment. Clad in timber, with a sweep of glass doors at one end that lets the light flood in, this is an attractive and spacious place to stay, offering an open-plan lounge-diner with kitchenette, twin bedroom and bathroom. There’s also a small patio and double doors open onto the orchard, which you share with the resident chickens.
32 by The Hollies 32 High St, Tarporley CW9 0DY; 32bythehollies.co.uk. The latest initiative from The Hollies, best known for its high-quality farm shops at Little Budworth and Lower Stretton, is a five-room boutique hotel with bar and restaurant in a Georgian house on Tarporley’s high street. Individually designed double bedrooms offer a comfortable night’s sleep and the menu focuses on Cheshire produce from breakfast to dinner.
Peckforton Castle Stone House Ln, Peckforton CW6 9TN; 01829 260930; peckfortoncastle.co.uk. Lord Tollemache’s faux-medieval castle, perched on the sandstone ridge and enveloped in forest, is now a 48-room luxury hotel. It’s no surprise this is a favourite backdrop for weddings – you get the whole Victorian take on days of yore at this sandstone pile, with its battlements and arrow slits, spiral staircases and baronial halls. The 48 bedrooms continue the theme with high ceilings, arched windows, rich colour schemes and heavy fabrics. There’s also a bar, two restaurants, spa and activities such as archery and Land Rover off-roading.
The North Wing Combermere Abbey, nr Whitchurch SY13 4AJ; 01948 662880; combermereabbey.co.uk. An upmarket B&B is the latest addition to this ancient abbey’s holiday accommodation, hosting guests in two bedrooms in the main house by the lake. A Tudor manor with a Gothic façade provides the setting, within which the atmosphere is more country house. The designer Nina Campbell lent a helping hand with the interiors, which observe the property’s heritage while layering on contemporary comforts. Walks in the grounds, a tennis court, croquet lawn and a unique maze of fruit trees provide on-site diversions.
Pubs & restaurants with rooms
Allium by Mark Ellis Lynedale Hse, Tattenhall CH3 9PX; 01829 771477; theallium.co.uk. A star of the foodie scene in the northwest, Mark Ellis’s name may be familiar from the BBC’s Great British Menu. Here is where to try his food (his alma maters include Pétrus in London and Simon Radley in Chester) then roll into bed. Set in one of the grand houses that line the high street, there’s a touch of glamour to the décor within – note the silver bucks’ heads on the wall – that is also present in the five comfortably furnished bedrooms.
The Badger Inn Cross Ln, Church Minshull, Nantwich CW5 6DY; 01270 522348; badgerinn.co.uk. Five en-suite bedrooms (one with an in-room jacuzzi bath) are available at this historic pub close to the Shropshire Union Canal. The oak-beamed inn dates from the 18th century, named after the brock on the crest of local landowners the Brookes family, and once a venue for bare-knuckle fighting. Today, the atmosphere is somewhat calmer, a restful place to enjoy good food and drink.
The Cholmondeley Arms Wrenbury Rd, Cholmondeley SY14 8HN; [01829 720300; cholmondeleyarms.co.uk. A former country school on the Cholmondeley estate provides the unusual setting for this pub with rooms. The quaint old schoolroom, now the pub, has retained its Victorian charm, with big windows and high ceilings framing an inviting vintage-style makeover that nods to its previous incarnation with memorabilia such as old hockey sticks (specials are chalked on the blackboard). The headmaster’s house across the old playground has a similar retro style, its six en-suite bedrooms furnished with antiques and hung with posters for latter-day products.
The Crown High St, Nantwich CW5 5AS; 01270 625283; crownhotelnantwich.com. One of Nantwich’s original Elizabethan buildings, The Crown is a landmark of this market town. You’ll get a sense of its history when you climb the winding staircase from the spacious pub and brasserie to the accommodation above – the uneven floors are a testament to this old coaching inn’s great age. The 18 en-suite bedrooms don’t quite reflect the characterful building, but a good breakfast is served in a lovely room overlooking the street below.
The Pheasant Inn Higher Burdwarsley, Tattenhall CH3 9PF; 01829 770434; thepheasantinn.co.uk. This pub has long been a favourite with walkers on the Sandstone Trail for its great food and drink and fantastic views across the Cheshire plain to the Welsh Hills. It’s also winning fans for the comfy accommodation offered in 12 en-suite rooms of different sizes from cosy to palatial, spread across the pub and outbuildings, some with great views. Try one of the suggested local walks before tucking into the superior pub grub.
Barton Bank Cottage Red Hs, Barton SY14 7HU; 01829 782720; bartonbank.com. A romantic escape for two, this tasteful open-plan cottage ticks all the boxes, from the leather couch to snuggle up on, log burner blazing in the winter, to the four-poster bed and rolltop bath. Take in the views from the sheltered deck. You’re welcome to bring the dog, too.
Cheshire Boutique Barns Cholmondeley Rd, Wrenbury CW5 8HJ; 07922 277292; healdcountryhouse.co.uk. These four boutique barns (two sleeping two, two sleeping four) offer country-house comforts with a shabby-chic twist. Mezzanine bedrooms, a huge copper bath, upcycled furnishings – each self-catering space has its individual spirit. You can stay in the big farmhouse, too, beautifully in white and pastels, with five double bedrooms.
Combermere Abbey Cottages Combermere Abbey, nr Whitchurch SY13 4AJ; 01948 660345; combermereabbey.co.uk. One of the county’s best self-catering destinations can be found at the 10 cottages, sleeping four to 10 guests, within the abbey’s Jacobean-style stables. You’ll feel pampered by the sophisticated styling, which makes the most of the architectural features, such as the big coach-house doors, at this elegant complex set around a cobbled courtyard. Dogs welcome.
Garden Cottage Bunbury; airbnb.co.uk. This lovely cottage, at the side of the friendly owners’ house, puts you in the centre of village life, a short walk from Bunbury’s two great pubs. There’s a cosy sitting room, useful little kitchen and two restful and spacious double bedrooms, one of which can be converted to twins, plus a patch of garden to call your own, set with a picnic bench. A high chair and travel cot are available for families. Well-behaved pets are welcome, but watch out for the hole in the hedge.
Manor Farm Holiday Cottages Manor Farm, Egerton Gn, Cholmondeley SY14 8AN; 01829 720261; egertonmanorfarm.co.uk. A former dairy farm is the setting for these two self-catering cottages; Bewley, with one double bedroom, and Dove Cottage, with two plus disabled facilities, both dressed in an elegant classic style. There’s space outside, too, on a shared patio with beautiful countryside views. Manor Farm also has a B&B with five en-suite rooms, serving full English breakfast using locally sourced produce.
Millmoor Farm Cottages Millmoor Farm, Malpas SY14 8ED; 01948 820304; millmoorfarm.co.uk. Roll your sleeves up; you can take part in feeding the animals at this farmstay. There are six cosy cottages for two to seven sharing, set within a mix of buildings, from a corn store to a wing of the farmhouse. A shared laundry room is available, too.
Newton Hall Shepherd’s Hut Tattenhall; airbnb.co.uk. A fun twist on self-catering is offered in this shepherd’s hut in the owners’ private garden. Inside, there’s a double bed, kitchenette and en-suite shower room, outside you’ll enjoy your own seating area. A compact retreat for two.
Pillory House Loft Apartment Nantwich; airbnb.co.uk. This loft apartment is a spacious option in the centre of town, with a sitting room, double bedroom and en-suite shower room. There’s a double sofa bed in the lounge, making it possible for four to share. High beamed ceilings and exposed brick walls add a touch of style.
Redwood Cottage Dorfold Hall, Nantwich CW5 8LD; 01270 625245; dorfoldhall.com. Superior stays are offered in the grounds of this country hall. One of the estate’s cottages has been tastefully transformed with fresh, modern interiors across its three bedrooms, sitting room and kitchen-diner. Deep baths, walk-in showers and a cosy log burner in the lounge add a little indulgence to the clean design.
Sandstone Trail Cottages Sherrington Ln, Broxton CH3 9JU; 01829 782169; sandstonetrailcottages.co.uk. Perfectly located for Bickerton Hill and walks in the surrounding countryside, these two one-up-one-down cottages are as comfy as they are convenient. Within each, the open-plan ground floor space provides neatly defined areas for cooking, dining and relaxing (warmed by a log burner). Upstairs, the large bedroom has a king-size bed that can be made into twins and an en-suite bathroom. Both cottages have a little private garden across the drive.
The Snuggery Nantwich; airbnb.co.uk. On of a row of terraced cottages on the edge of a churchyard, The Snuggery has an enviable position in the heart of this market town, steps from the shops and pubs. The quaint one-bedroom cottage has had a modern makeover, yet it retains elements of its old-world charm, with features such as the exposed brick walls and a patio garden.
Victoria Apartments Tarporley; airbnb.co.uk. These two apartments overlook the buzzy high street below, making for a convenient and comfortable place to stay. The interiors have a fresh, modern look that lends and airy feel. Apartment 1 has two double bedrooms, sleeping six, Apartment 2 is for two sharing, and both can be combined for a party of eight.
Camping & glamping
Broad Oak Farm Birds Ln, Tattenhall CH3 9NL; 01829 770325; glampingincheshire.co.uk. Turn up with your own tent or hire one of the luxury glamping options, including wooden pods, sleeping four, and pre-pitched tents, to get straight into the camping vibe toasting marshmallows around a fire pit. There are chickens to feed, or watch the cows being milked, and look out for bats in the evening sky. The campsite is on Route 70 of the National Cycle Network.
Cheshire Farm Yurts The Croft, Newton Ln, Tattenhall CH3 9NE; 07984 470333; cheshirefarmyurts.co.uk. Experience a night in a Mongolian-style yurt in the middle of rural Cheshire. These quality quarters sleep up to four (they’ll stretch it to six if that’s useful), with a luxurious king-size bed the one to bag. A private terrace, barbecue, toilet block with hot showers, and children’s play equipment complete the picture. The kids will love the location, right next door to The Ice Cream Farm.
Pubs with rooms
The Royal Oak Chester Rd, Kelsall CW6 0RR; 01829 751208; theroyaloakkelsall.com. This big country pub was originally a railway station – but the railway never came. So it was put to use as a pub, a role it still plays today, though now in the guise of a restaurant and bar. On the first floor are 12 spacious boutique-style en-suite bedrooms with large well-dressed beds at their heart. A drink in the garden is a must.
The White Bear Wheelock St, Middlewich CW10 9AG; 01606 837666; thewhitebearmiddlewich.co.uk. There are three en-suite bedrooms to choose from at this 17th-century coaching inn in the town centre. Each has been decorated with flair, featuring a mix of antiques and contemporary touches such as feature wallpapers and flat-screen TVs. Real ales, including local brews, are a feature of the busy pub itself.
11 Bostock Green by Tatton Stays Bostock Green; airbnb.com. An old beamed cottage near bucolic Bostock Green provides a pleasant spot for a party of up to eight. There are three bedrooms – one is a single but has a trundle bed to transform it into a small twin. A log fire provides a cosy aspect to one of the two living rooms in winter, and a hot tub can be requested, plus there’s a private garden. The Hayhurst Arms is just across the road for quality gastro-pub meals.
The Hollies Forest Lodges Tarporley Rd, Little Budworth CW6 9ES; [tel] 01829 760761; theholliesfarmshop.co.uk. Tucked in a copse behind The Hollies Farm Shop are five luxury log cabins sleeping four to six guests. Each lodge centres on a large and boldly decorated, open-plan, communal space, with good-sized kitchen and plenty of room to lounge and dine. Double doors open onto a furnished outside deck with hottub and barbecue.
Camping & glamping
Delamere Forest Camping & Caravanning Club Site Station Rd, Delamere CW8 2HZ; 01606 889231; campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk. Delamere Forest is the lovely location of this camping and caravan site. There are electric hook-ups, a shower block, parent and baby room, Wi-Fi access and facilities for people with disabilities. Members and non-members are equally welcome.
Shays Farm Caravan & Camping Shays Ln, Little Budworth, nr Tarporley CW6 9EU; 01829 760233; shaysfarm.co.uk. This caravan and camping site is a family-run affair. Facilities include a new amenity block and there’s a small fishing pit on site stocked with carp, tench and perch, as well as a field to walk the dog. Fresh eggs are available to buy at the owners’ farm.
The Alexandra Court Hotel 7 Newcastle Rd, Congleton CW12 4HN; 01260 297871; thealexandracourthotel.com. There’s an elegant and sumptuous air to this 14-bedroom hotel. From the sparkling chandeliers to the plush carpets, the polished wood to the tactile fabrics, the decor is sumptuous. As well as breakfast, a refined afternoon tea is offered and there are landscaped gardens to enjoy, too.
Mere Cottage 118 Crewe Rd, Alsager ST7 2JA; [01270 361743; merecottagealsager.co.uk. This 19th-century cottage offers four en-suite bedrooms. Work by local artists and photographers is displayed around the house, which also features a guest lounge, dining room and small garden. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available for breakfast on request and the eggs are freshly laid by the owners’ hens.
Pubs with rooms
The Bear’s Paw School Ln, Warmingham, nr Sandbach CW11 3QN; 01270 526317; thebearspaw.co.uk. This handsome red-brick village inn, with half-timber detailing, offers top-class food (locally sourced, of course) and stylish lodgings. There are 17 en-suite bedrooms decorated in bold colours and patterns, from the fabrics to the feature wallpapers – restful places to retire to with a full belly.
The Wheatsheaf 1 Hightown, Sandbach CW11 1AG; 01270 762013; wheatsheafsandbach.co.uk. This large Victorian coaching inn in the town centre has been given a lavish makeover, layering pastel tones and sensuous fabrics – leather, velvet, linen, satin – and bold patterns and prints for a sumptuous feel in its seven bedrooms. You won’t have to go far for a good meal – the food served in the ground-floor restaurant and terrace is top quality.
Chequer Stable Sandbach; homeaway.co.uk. Just the two of you will enjoy this romantic little cottage set on a smallholding in the countryside. There’s an open-plan living area (with woodburning stove), with the double bedroom set on a mezzanine level. On warmer days, soak up the sun from the private patio.
Dane Cottage Holidays Congleton; 01260 276323; www.danecottageholidays.co.uk. This ground-floor annex offers comfortably furnished open-plan quarters. Beneath its vaulted and beamed ceiling, there’s space to cook, dine, relax and sleep. Attractive touches include the leather sofa and a king-size wooden sleigh bed. There’s a private garden for warmer days and anglers will enjoy having access to the owners’ fishing lake.
Camping & glamping
Castle Camping Congleton Rd, Mow Cop ST7 3PL; 07539 682202; castlecampingltd.co.uk. A tent with a view. This camping site sits on the Gritstone Ridge, with fantastic views across the Cheshire Plain, with likely wildlife to spot including buzzards and badgers. You can pitch up with your own tent but there are also two pre-erected trailer tents, too. There’s a shower block and electric hook-ups. Free-range hen and duck eggs are available to buy.
Common Barn Farm Smith Ln, Rainow SK10 5XJ; 01625 574878; cottages-with-a-view.co.uk. High in the hills to the northwest of Macclesfield, this working sheep farm offers a choice between five traditionally furnished B&B rooms and three self-catering cottages (sleeping six, four and eight). The out-of-the-way rural location, at the end of a long bumpy track, won’t work for anyone wedded to their mobile (the signal can be patchy up here) but it’s good for walkers – set within the Peak District National Park, the farm is surrounded by open countryside, with beautiful views all round, and you get a hearty full Cheshire breakfast to set you up each morning.
Hill Top Farm Wincle SK11 0QH; 01260 227257; hill-top-farm.co.uk. This working dairy farm overlooks the pretty village of Wincle and earns consistently rave reviews for its B&B offering. There are two warm, comfortable bedrooms (one double, one twin), both housed in a former shippon, along with a guest lounge that’s shared between them. As the name suggests, the farm is up in the hills, with far-reaching country views and a variety of walking trails nearby, including the Dane Valley Way just across the river. The full English breakfast contains local ingredients and given enough notice (let them know when you book your room), they’ll also happily provide evening meals or prepare packed lunches for you.
Sleep, Eat, Repeat The Flat Above, 23c Church St, Macclesfield SK11 6LB; 07474 102490. Staying at this small B&B puts you right in the heart of all things Macclesfield – set above The Salt Bar (a Scandinavian restaurant), it’s just a five-minute walk from either the train or bus station, and mere yards from Market Place and St Michael’s church. Décor-wise, things are smart and contemporary, with a touch of glam courtesy of chandeliers and piles of cushions, and the three double rooms come with thoughtful extras including snacks on the tea tray and fresh milk in a fridge in the hallway. Two of the rooms are en suite; the third has its own bathroom just across the hall.
Pubs with rooms
Legh Arms The Village, Prestbury SK10 4DG; 01625 829130; www.thelegharms.com. Right in the heart of well-to-do Prestbury, the Legh Arms has seven recently refurbished bedrooms above the pub. The standard rooms are clean, comfortable and well equipped if a little corporate in style, with their shades of brown and beige. If you want to feel the character of the 16th-century building a little more, go for the deluxe room or suite, where you’ll find beams, antique furniture and more lavish fabrics. It’s a 10-minute walk to the train station, with links to Manchester (via other stations) in one direction and Macclesfield and beyond in the other.
Robin Hood Inn Church Ln, Rainow SK10 5XE; 01625 574060; @RHRainow. A village that once had several pubs is now down to just one: the Robin Hood. All the more reason to help keep it going by booking into one of the four simple B&B rooms housed in a separate building behind the pub. The location is great for outdoorsy types, right on the border of the Peak District National Park, putting you in prime position for making the most of the interesting walking in every direction, but if you fancy more urban attractions, the number 60 bus, which stops right next to the pub, will whisk you into nearby Macclesfield in around 15 minutes.
The Ryles Arms Hollin Ln, Sutton SK11 0NN; 01260 252244; rylesarms.com. Unlike Rainow, Sutton has managed to hang on to a handful of pubs, including this independently owned inn to the southeast of the village. As well as being a popular destination for a country pub lunch or dinner, it also has accommodation in a converted barn next door to the main building, with six attractive and recently renovated bedrooms, set over two floors. All are done out in similar style, with muted tartan carpets, natural wood fittings and modern bathrooms, but Room 1, on the ground floor, has been fully adapted for guests with disabilities, and if you opt for Room 6, the superior room, you also get a seating and dining area, kitchenette and washing machine.
Stanley Arms Bottom of the Oven, Macclesfield Forest SK11 0AR; 01260 252414; stanleyarms.com. This remote pub, in the splendidly named Bottom of the Oven, has seven en-suite rooms housed in a converted barn. They’re cosy, comfortable and traditionally decorated, with dark-wood furnishings and floral bedspreads and curtains, and the decanter of sherry next to the tea tray is a nice touch. All around is open countryside and there’s plenty of scope for great outdoors activities, whether you fancy cycling the trails of Macclesfield Forest, wild swimming at Three Shire Heads or climbing Cheshire’s highest peak, Shining Tor, a couple of miles away.
The Apartment at Bartomley Farm Wincle; airbnb.co.uk. The countryside round Wincle is full of appealing places to stay, including this attractive barn conversion, which sleeps two people. If you want peace and quiet, this will do the trick – it’s at the end of a long track, with nothing but green fields and trees in all directions (and the owners’ house next door). Follow the external staircase up to the first-floor front door and you’ll find a large, high-ceilinged bed-sitting room (with wooden beams and whitewashed stone walls) and small kitchen, and when you’re not out walking there’s plenty to keep you entertained indoors – the apartment is well stocked with books, games, maps, DVDs and an iPod dock. Thoughtful touches include the homemade bread and jam, and eggs from their own chickens.
Cheshire Hunt Holiday Cottages Hedge Rw, off Spuley Ln, Rainow SK10 5DA; 01625 572034; cheshirehuntholidaycottages.co.uk. I remember when the Cheshire Hunt, in between Pott Shrigley, Bollington and Rainow, was a country pub we’d head to for the occasional Sunday lunch – until one day we arrived to find it had closed down and been turned into a private home. On the plus side, the old barn has now been converted into two handsome holiday cottages: Orchard (sleeps six) and Damson (sleeps five). Each has a good-sized lounge (with wood-burning stove and leather sofas), a well-equipped kitchen, comfortable bedrooms and a private patio, and taking them both would work well for two families travelling together, with shared facilities including a games room, croquet lawn and orchard.
Clough Brook Cottage Allmeadows Farm, Wincle SK11 0QJ; 01260 227209; [web] peakcottages.com. If it’s an attractive barn conversion you’re after, Wincle seems to be the place to go. Here’s another one, some way out of the village on the way to Allgreave, in a peaceful rural location overlooking fields that slope down towards Clough Brook. Right outside the door, a footpath leads along the hill to Wincle, or you could head in the opposite direction for lunch at the Rose & Crown or ice cream at Blaze Farm. The cottage sleeps up to five in two bedrooms and the whole place has been nicely done out, with a calm, creamy colour palette, all home comforts, and a patio with a view.
Crag Hall Wildboarclough SK11 0BD; 0845 200 4801; craghall.co.uk. Crag Hall is very definitely at the grand end of the holiday let spectrum. Owned by the Earl and Countess of Derby, the Georgian county house in Wildboarclough sits in five acres of gardens, with views across to Shutlingsloe, and sleeps up to 21 people in serious comfort. As well as 12 bedrooms and assorted reception rooms (including a billiard room and a children’s play room) you also get a daily housekeeping service and the option of a chef to take care of all the cooking for you. There’s great walking all round, including a footpath that leads to the pretty spot of Three Shire Heads, where you can take a dip in the rocky pools that mark the boundary between Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire.
Dane Cottage Wincle; 01260 276323; danecottageholidays.co.uk. Sister property to the Dane Cottage in Congleton, this 18th-century stone cottage in the heart of Wincle has been handsomely renovated to provide smart holiday accommodation for two. It’s spread over three floors, with the kitchen-dining room on the ground floor, a cosy lounge, complete with window seat and log-burner, on the first floor, and an en-suite double bedroom on the top floor, all with pretty views over the Dane Valley below.
Disley Hall Disley Hall, Corks Ln SK12 2DA; sykescottages.co.uk. On the outskirts of Disley, a 15–20-minute walk from the village centre, the Grade ll-listed Disley Hall has been attractively renovated and now serves as a self-catering holiday home (sleeps six). Despite the name, it’s more cottage than grand manor house, but a very pretty one, with good-sized rooms and lashings of character – expect thick stone walls, wooden beams, mullioned windows and woodburning stoves. You’re right on the edge of the Peak District here, and Disley is one of two Walkers Are Welcome towns in Cheshire, so there’s no shortage of great hiking in the area.
East Lodge Lyme Pk, Disley; nationaltrust.org.uk. There’s just one holiday cottage on the Lyme estate: this Edwardian property on the eastern edge of the 1,400-acre deer park. Comfortably furnished throughout, in traditional country house style, it has two bedrooms (one double and one twin) and a cosy sitting/dining room with a woodburning stove. As well as having access to the hall and gardens during opening hours, staying here also means you’re free to roam the estate grounds after hours.
Kerridge End Cottages Kerridge End Hs, Rainow SK10 5TF; 01625 424220; kerridgeendholidaycottages.co.uk. These attractive stone-built cottages sit on the road between Rainow and Macclesfield, with the bus between the two stopping nearby. There are three to choose from: The Stables (sleeps two), The Coach House (sleeps four) and The Hayloft (sleeps six). All have a five-star gold rating from VisitEngland and have earned a gold award from Green Tourism for their commitment to sustainability – you’ll find a statement about their environmental management on the website.
Otter’s Retreat Mellor Knowl Farm, Wincle SK11 0QE; 01260 277235; ottersretreat.co.uk. This very swish cottage sits on a working sheep farm, giving you 38 acres of fields and woodland to roam before you even get started on the beautiful countryside that surrounds it. On the ground-floor is a long open-plan living area with a sleek modern kitchen at one end and a cosy sitting area, complete with inglenook fireplace and log-burner, at the other, while upstairs the two double bedrooms are light and serene, with white-painted floorboards and high-spec en-suite shower rooms. New for 2018, they’ve added a shepherd’s hut (with its own bathroom and cooking facilities), which can sleep a further two people, so booking house and hut together gives you room for up to six.
Camping & glamping
Underbank Camping Barn Blaze Farm, Wildboarclough SK11 0BL; 01260 227266; www.visitcheshire.com/accommodation/underbank-camping-barn-yha-p88381. Part of a popular, family-run ice cream farm, Underbank provides very basic ‘stone tent’ accommodation for groups who aren’t looking for anything luxurious. Hot water and electric light are included, and you get a ground-floor living area with table, benches, fridge and microwave and an upstairs sleeping area with room for 10 – but you’ll need to bring all your own camping mattresses and sleeping bags, plus, if you want to cook, camping stoves and all utensils.
Oddfellows on the Park Bruntwood Pk, Cheadle SK8 1HX; [tel] 0161 697 3066; oddfellowsonthepark.com. It’s had stints as a private home, town hall and offices, but in its latest incarnation the building still known locally as Bruntwood Hall has become a very swish boutique hotel, younger sibling to the Oddfellows Hotel in Chester. Its 22 bedrooms are kitted out in glamorous contemporary style and the public areas on the ground floor are rich in original features, including a handsome Minton tiled floor in the hallway and beautiful stucco ceiling in the restaurant (where chef Ian Moss serves up delicious seasonal dishes). The low-flying planes let you know that Manchester Airport isn’t far away, and the background hum of traffic is a reminder that the A34 is even closer, but looking out of the window you could be in the middle of the countryside – the house is surrounded by an attractive public park, with duck pond, children’s playground and assorted sporting facilities.
Pubs with rooms
The Red Bull 14 Middle Hillgate, Stockport SK1 3AY; 0161 480 1286; robinsonsbrewery.com. Characterful accommodation is hard to come by in central Stockport – there isn’t much choice on the hotel front and what there is tends to be the big-name chains. One exception is this Robinsons pub, a short walk uphill from the town centre and the brewery, which has a traditional look, log-burners and, following a fairly recent refurb, four en-suite bedrooms to let above the bar.
Ring O’Bells 130 Church Ln, Marple SK6 7AY; 0161 427 2300; robinsonsbrewery.com. Marple’s another place that isn’t exactly awash with places to stay, but this Robinson’s pub, right next to bridge 2 of the Macclesfield Canal, does have one double bedroom to let. There’s also a patio garden overlooking the canal, and if you follow the towpath across the road it’s a two-minute walk to the junction with the Peak Forest Canal and the start of the Marple Lock Flight.
Magpie Cottages Lower Dale Farm, Dale Rd, Marple SK6 6NL; 07718 041193; magpiecottages.co.uk. As well as providing stabling for a couple of dozen horses, Lower Dale Farm Equestrian Centre (on the grounds of the former Marple Hall) also has accommodation for human guests. Its five highly rated self-catering cottages are converted from more former stables; two are on the ground floor, with patio windows opening on to the shared gardens, and the other three upstairs in the old hay loft. Each has a double bedroom plus a sofa bed in the living area, so can sleep up to four people, or all five properties can be linked for a larger group.
The Belle Epoque 60 King St, Knutsford WA16 6DT; 01565 633060; thebelleepoque.co.uk. Back in the 1970s, the Belle Epoque, a local landmark, was a very posh French restaurant considered one of the places to eat in Cheshire. These days, still owned by the same family, it serves mainly as an exclusive-hire venue for weddings and other events, but also runs occasional ‘dining experiences’ and has seven B&B rooms. The bedrooms themselves get mixed reviews, but there’s no knocking the location in the heart of things on King Street, housed in one of the distinctively quirky Richard Harding Watt buildings that are a feature of Knutsford.
The Longview Hotel 51–55 Manchester Rd, Knutsford WA16 0LX; 01565 632119; longviewhotel.com. On the main road north out of Knutsford, facing the heath on the other side of the road, this family-run hotel has 32 bedrooms (split between three buildings), a restaurant and a cellar bar, which served as campaign HQ for Martin Bell during the 1997 general election. Décor is dated or traditional, depending on your point of view, and rates are on the pricey side but it will be interesting to see what happens once The Courthouse opens its long-awaited bedrooms, offering more competition right in the heart of town.
Ash Farm Park Ln, Little Bollington WA14 4SU; 0161 929 9290; ashfarm.co.uk. Three miles west of central Altrincham is Little Bollington, where this 18th-century former farmhouse now provides charming B&B accommodation. There are four bedrooms in the main house and another ground-floor bedroom with its own separate entrance. All are comfortable and cared for and come with flat-screen TVs, tea and coffee-making facilities and dressing gowns. There’s a residents’ lounge with sofas, wood-burner and shelves of books, and the popular village pub, the Swan with Two Necks, is right next door, so you don’t have far to go in search of dinner. Ten minutes’ walk from the B&B brings you to the Dunham Massey estate and the Bridgewater Canal is even closer.
Birtles Farm B&B Ashley Rd, Ashley, Altrincham WA14 3QH; 0161 928 0458; birtlesfarm.co.uk. Manchester Airport may be just a few miles away but you wouldn’t think it to look at this 17th-century farmhouse, which sits at the end of a rough track surrounded by countryside. The three bedrooms are tastefully decorated in calming, neutral coffee-and-cream shades and all have views of the pretty garden, and the full English breakfast in the mornings showcases local produce, including eggs from their own hens. A handy base for visiting nearby Tatton Park.
Goose Green Farm Oak Rd, Mottram St Andrew SK10 4RA; 01625 828814; [web] goosegreenfarm.com. This farmhouse B&B makes a good base for anglers, with three coarse fishing lakes stocked with carp, tench, roach and assorted other fish. The location is rural – just south of the prosperous village of Mottram, it’s set on a working beef rearing farm that specialises in Bazadaise cattle. You can follow a path across the fields to the local pub, the Bull’s Head, about a mile away; other footpaths lead to the National Trust sites of Alderley Edge and Hare Hill, and the North Cheshire Way passes close by.
The Hinton Guest House Town Ln, Mobberley WA16 7HH; 01565 873484; thehintonguesthouse.co.uk. You can tell from the outside, with its neatly tended garden and smart driveway, that the owners of this B&B, on the road between Knutsford and Alderley Edge/Wilmslow, are sticklers for keeping things in good order, and that impression continues inside. The five bedrooms and family suite (made up of two rooms and a shared bathroom) are clean, comfortable and well maintained. The premises have an alcohol license, so you can enjoy a drink in the lounge or garden.
Holly Tree Farm Holmes Chapel Rd, Lower Withington SK11 9DT; 01477 571257; hollytreefarm.org. Stay at this rural B&B and you get an excellent view of one of Cheshire’s most distinctive landmarks – the mighty Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank is just across the fields. Holly Tree is a family-run working farm spread over 100 acres, with sheep, beef and poultry. Breakfast, with lots of local produce on the menu, is served in the farmhouse but the four bedrooms (one double and three twins) are in a detached house next door.
Millbrook Cottage Guesthouse Congleton Rd, Nether Alderley SK10 4TW; 01625 599390; millbrookcottage.co.uk. If you ignore the passing traffic (easier to do since the nearby bypass took much of it away) it’s easy to feel you’ve stepped back in time at this Nether Alderley guesthouse. Over the road is a medieval corn mill, net door a Tudor cottage and down the lane the 14th-century village church. The guesthouse itself is a Grade ll-listed 18th-century cottage with a couple of double bedrooms to let and a cottage suite with its own lounge.
Owen House Farm Wood Ln, Mobberley WA16 7NY; owenhousefarm.co.uk. You get a few options at this working farm in rural Mobberley. There are five B&B rooms (three doubles, two twins) in the farmhouse and a further 10 (eight doubles and two family rooms) in The Tens, a converted stock shed. The former are more traditional in style, the latter newer and funkier, with quirky light fittings and smart modern bathrooms. There’s also a bridal cabin (the farm serves as an offbeat wedding venue and holds a license for civil ceremonies) with rustic-glam décor incorporating mirrored furniture and reclaimed timbers.
Wizards Thatch Macclesfield Rd, Alderley Edge SK9 7BG; 01625 599909; wizardsthatch.co.uk. If you like your accommodation bright, light and clean-lined, best avoid this thatched-roofed B&B – but if you favour full-on quirkiness and eccentricity, you’ll feel right at home. The three suites, Camelot, Merlin and Wizardry, are the polar opposite of minimal, stuffed with big antique furnishings, and every surface is covered with bric-a-brac, plants and books. Two of the rooms have big four-poster beds draped in red and gold tapestries, and there’s an abundance of exposed brick and wooden beams. Location wise, the cottage makes a great base for an Alderley Edge weekend – although hidden away behind greenery, it’s right in the centre of the village.
Pubs with rooms
The Roebuck Mill Lane, Mobberley WA16 7HX; 01565 873939; roebuckinnmobberley.co.uk. Cheshire meets Provence at this lovely little inn, hidden away down a dip just off the main road through Mobberley. The youngest sibling in the Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars family, it’s the kind of boutique country pub that’s still disappointingly thin on the ground in this part of the country and when it re-opened, post-makeover, in 2016 its six bedrooms proved an instant hit, so you’ll need to be quick to nab one. All named after different grape varieties, they’re quirkily furnished in rustic-luxe style. The restaurant/bar has a retro bistro feel and excellent Mediterranean food, and there’s a pretty terraced garden.
The Vicarage Freehouse & Rooms Knutsford Rd, Cranage, Holmes Chapel CW4 8EF; 01477 533393; thevicaragecheshire.com. This 17th-century former farmhouse and vicarage had been allowed to fall into a sadly dilapidated state before the current owners took over and renovated it a few years ago. Now the bar/restaurant is an attractive, welcoming space, all flagstone floors and wooden beams, with a quirky selection of furniture and accessories sourced from reclamation yards. The chef used to work at the Chester Grosvenor and aims to source produce locally where possible; on a good day the food is delicious. When it comes to bedrooms, you get a choice – a modern block at the back contains 20 standard bedrooms with unfussy décor, but for more character go for one of the six signature rooms in the original building, where the look is more luxurious and may come with beams, exposed brickwork or a freestanding bath.
Cheshire Country Holidays Brookbank Farm, Bridge Ln, Blackden Heath, Holmes Chapel CW4 8BX; 01477 518448; cheshirecountryholidays.co.uk. The name might suggest there are several properties but actually Cheshire Country Holidays consists of just one: a 16th-century brick farmhouse, with room to sleep up to 18 guests across seven bedrooms (four doubles, two triples, one quadruple). Unlike many, they’re happy to accept hen and stag parties as well as families, and have a range of different packages to suit different groups, from a digital detox (including bushcraft tasks and a guided meditation) to a celebration break (with cake, wine tasting and vintage tea party).
Dairy Apartments Tatton Park, Knutsford WA16 6QL; 01244 746104; sykescottages.co.uk. Staying at Dairy Cottage puts you right on the Tatton Estate, with 1,000 acres of parkland around you. There are two apartments in the house, both with Laura Ashley furnishings and a woodburner in the lounge. One, on the ground floor, sleeps four; the other, set over two floors, sleeps five, with one double, one twin and one single room. Both apartments share a garden and barbecue, making them a good option for two families travelling together. They’re located close to the farm, on the northern edge of the park, around half a mile along the drive from the main hall and gardens, both of which have free access for guests during opening hours.
Camping & glamping
Capesthorne Hall Caravan Park Capesthorne Hall, Congleton Rd, Siddington SK11 9JY; capesthorne.com/caravan-park. Barring a few weeks in June and August, when it’s needed for two major events (the Big Church and Rewind festivals), the caravan park at Capesthorne is open from the start of March to the end of October, providing 50 pitches, all with electric hook-up and 30 of them with hard standing. The modern shower block includes facilities for guests with disabilities and also houses a laundry room, and the site has a four-pennant rating from the AA. The pitch price includes entry to the formal gardens (as long as there’s no wedding on, in which case they’re off-bounds) and caravanners get discounted entry to the hall.
The Partridge Tarporley Rd, Stretton WA4 4LX; 01925 730848; thepartridgestretton.co.uk. There’s no avoiding the background traffic noise at this country pub in Stretton, right by junction 10 of the busy M56. That location, though, makes it handy for anyone travelling by car. For most of its life, the listed 18th-century building was a private home (one former resident, Charles Whitley, was a university friend of Charles Darwin, who used to visit) and it only became a pub in the 1990s. Following a major renovation and a name change, it reopened as The Partridge in 2017 and now has 10 smart ground-floor bedrooms.
Beechlands Cottage Frodsham; sykescottages.co.uk. A 10-minute walk from the centre of Frodsham, this small but sweet cottage is an annexe of the owners’ home and reached via their garden. It’s all on ground-floor level, with one double bedroom, a kitchen, sitting room and small patio.
Broomedge Farm Cottages Broomedge Farm, Burford Ln, Lymm WA13 0SE; 01925 752830; broomedgefarm.co.uk. A little east of Lymm is this 18th-century dairy parlour converted into two contemporary holiday cottages. They’ve retained original features such as the high-beamed ceilings but created open-plan living spaces, with the kitchen flowing through to dining and lounge areas. Each cottage sleeps four people in two bedrooms, which can be made up as either doubles or twins.
Childe of Hale Cottage Hale; homeaway.co.uk. This pretty thatched cottage at the centre of Hale village was once home to the county’s tallest resident, John Middleton. Aka the Childe of Hale, he’s said to have been 9 ft 3 inches tall and legend has it that he had to sleep with his feet sticking out of the window. You should find things altogether more comfortable – there are two cosy bedrooms and a wooden-beamed lounge with wood-burning stove. Wander a couple of hundred yards down the road and you’ll come to a life-size statue of the man himself, designed so you can hold his hand for a photo opportunity.
Fir Tree Barn Cottages Pennypleck Ln, Crowley CW9 6NX; 01565 777327; firtreebarn.co.uk. A couple of miles north of Arley Hall, Fir Tree Farm is an environmentally friendly working farm. Here, a brick barn has been converted into three self-catering properties, each with one double and one twin bedroom, plus space to take another bed if needed.
Camping & glamping
Lady Heyes Holiday Park Kingsley Rd, Frodsham WA6 6SU; 01928 788557; ladyheyespark.com. This was once a working farm but now houses antiques dealers and craft workshops rather than livestock. The field behind the shops is now a caravan park, with 85 hard-standing pitches plus 28 grass pitches (with electric hook-up) for campers. They also offer glamping pods with private hot tubs; some are in an adults-only area, others in an area where children are welcome.