During our travels over the years, we have managed to successfully negotiate subway systems in major cities across the world.
But Chester’s park and ride proved our undoing as we unwittingly hopped on the wrong bus!
A friendly driver thankfully pointed us back in the right direction, however, and we got an impromptu tour of the less well known sights of this historic destination.
The reason I mention park and ride is the Mercure Abbots Well Hotel is located just a few minutes walk from one of its two edge-of-town locations.
So do not be put off from staying here by thinking it is not central enough.
We were able to arrive at lunchtime on a busy Saturday, park at the hotel and check into our room, and then jump on the park and ride.
This meant free parking and avoiding the stress of queuing traffic in the city centre.
Hotel rooms are spread over two floors and the building is set in two acres of landscaped gardens.
Although staying as a couple, we had been allocated a family room, so had a nice big room with a double and two spare single beds.
Everything was very comfortable with all the usual facilities – tea and coffee making, hairdryer and dressing gowns – plus a welcome bowl of fruit, which was a nice touch.
One thing which struck me about being on the ground floor was it meant the room was not over-heated as is so often the case when you are several flights up and heat from all the floors below is rising.
There are many reasons to visit Chester – the zoo, the shopping, the races when they are on, or just to experience its heritage.
Shopping areas boast high street names, but go up the steps to the 700-year-old Rows and you come across delights such as the specialist tea and coffee merchant Bollands of Chester.
The 1,000-year-old cathedral opens out on to a large square buzzing with visitors and there is a lively atmosphere throughout the city.
After exploring the retail opportunities, we followed a path at the back of the cathedral to the canal, where a pub on the banks boasted craft ales and was packed to the rafters with folk enjoying lunch or an afternoon drink.
Carrying on we came to the River Dee where you can join a river cruise or just sit and watch the world go by.
Steps lead up the city walls before you can take a path back into the centre of town.
After exploring the city, visitors to Abbots Well can relax in its recently refurbished ‘Feel Good Health Club’ which features a swimming pool, spa, sauna, jacuzzi and steam room.
Spa treatments are also available at The Secret Sanctuary, with special deals for pamper weekends.
There is also a well-equipped gym if you feel the need to work out during your stay.
In our case, our walk around the city comprised our exercise for the day, so after a relax in our room we were ready to sit down for dinner in the Brasserie.
Guests with dinner included in their tariff can either choose from the a-la-carte menu up to the value of £22, or enjoy three courses from the set menu.
We chose the latter, which had a good choice of starters including garlic mushrooms and mozzarella salad, while roast chicken was our pick for main course.
Accompanied with a crisp bottle of rosé and rounded off with desserts of fresh cheesecake, and pears and cream, we were refuelled after our busy day.
Service was good and the restaurant is pleasantly located, with some tables enjoying a charming aspect over the gardens behind.
There is also a stylish bar where we were able to finish off our wine.
For those wanting to sample Chester’s nightlife, a cab into the town centre costs around £6, and there is entertainment for all age groups in the city.
With their low beams and wood panelling, many of the older pubs offer a unique atmosphere and we would recommend the area near the cathedral as a good place to explore.
We came across a tiny jazz bar which fitted only about 20 people in it and even that was at a push.
Breakfast the next day was served in the restaurant with a buffet offering a good choice of cold and hot dishes.
Although the hotel was quite busy, we did not have to queue and when dishes ran out, they were quickly replenished.
It is fair to say some of the public areas of the property do look a little tired, and the restaurant menu needs a little more imagination, I would say.
But service was good and the hotel felt very friendly.
We liked the location as it was peaceful but easy to reach the busy town centre, and Chester remains a great destination with its mix of culture, heritage and entertainment.
The rooms start from £68 based on two people with bed and breakfast.
Book via mercure.com for the best rates.
Book before April 9 to secure up to 35 per cent off your stay.
Stays can be taken any time between now and September 10.