Spending a day in Hale and Hale Barns
- Credit: Pics; John Cocks
How to enjoy the delights of Hale and Hale Barns in 24 hours.
They're amongst the most sophisticated and sought-after postcodes in Cheshire, yet despite their cosmopolitan pull, the appeal of Hale and Hale Barns is arguably the village atmosphere.
Admittedly, that'd be a village with a disproportionate number of supercars, celebrity inhabitants, aesthetic doctors and suburban mansions, but still - their collective wealth of independent businesses, including a host of on-trend boutiques, bars and cafes, makes them one of the most vibrant all-day destinations outside of city life.
And all in one nice, compact area code where the locals actually know each other.
So if pottering, Prosecco-sipping and people-spotting are your thing may we suggest you mark a date in your diary for some well-deserved you-time. Just make sure your credit card is prepared for what's about to happen...
IN THE MORNING
While you're still benefitting from your morning caffeine hit apply your energy to a little retail exploration. Hale is a hotspot for high-end boutiques and Ashley Road, Hale's main drag, is the address to head to. First stop, The Edit, where you'll find grown-up laidback luxe that's not too hard on your credit card. In fact this was owner, Penny Rawson's first venture, with other stores now dotted across East Cheshire.
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For savvy labels and eye-catching accessories try Adi Va, while See-Saw does a seriously seductive line in gorgeous lingerie. Head in the direction of Hale Barns and you'll find Basil & Bea on nearby Park Road - a goldmine of edgy designer labels that have 'weekend wardrobe' written all over them. If you're into a browsing experience of a different kind - or you're simply feeling a little more cultured - Ashley Road is also the home to galleries such as Clark Art and Clarendon Fine Art. Yes, the latter in particular, deals in the kind of pieces that can only be described as 'an investment, darling' but, really, who can put a price on art?
Talking of which, if art is your thing, take a little walk down to Hale Road where you'll see Arts and Crafts pioneer Edgar Wood's Grade I listed Royd House - its precociously cool concave façade with diamond (as in the geometric shape, not the gemstone) detailing is considered one of the most significant examples of Arts and Crafts domestic architecture. We'd hazard a guess that's 'an investment, darling' too.
If your morning was all about pounding the pavements of Hale (not to mention the contents of your purse) then consider the afternoon your well-deserved downtime. The area does quite the line in luxury salons. In Hale Barns you have Opium, owned by original Housewife of Cheshire Ampika Pickston, where in sumptuous surroundings you can indulge in one of their special treatment packages (we'd personally opt for the £150 VIP package with luxury facial, hot stone massage and manicure).
Or a short drive away is Hale Country Club & Spa where you can bypass the local members sweating it out in the gym and head straight to the sauna - handy half-day spa packages cost £120 for non-members and include a 60-minute treatment as well as a light lunch.
If you're after more of an express pampering experience then get ready for the evening ahead with a blowdry - our salon picks include Frisor on Broomfield Lane and Hob on Ashley Road. Given the state of zen you'll be entering after all of that, let's discuss a bed for the night; up in Hale Barns The Bull's Head and Lodge on Wicker Lane has stylish, spacious rooms and super friendly service. Both of which will do us just fine.
DAY ON PLATE
It's Hale's food-and-drink scene that makes it a true all-day-and-night destination - so schedule in enough time for morning brunches right through to end-of-night cocktails. Start your day at chic spot Juniper, a relatively new addition to Ashley Road, where you'll find a sophisticated all-day breakfast menu (congratulations if you have the willpower to swerve the French toast) alongside light lunch options including toasted sandwiches and salads.
If on-trend and organic appeals to your palette, you'll love a lunch at nearby The Garden, a favourite with celebs and TV stars - think superfood smoothies, cold-pressed juices, super-sized salad bowls and raw cheesecake (you can almost convince yourself the calories don't count). As evening approaches another recent opening, Riva Bar and Restaurant on Cecil Road, provides a new laidback location for some early evening cocktails - there's a midweek happy hour 4-6.30pm - and bistro-style dining should you want to stay later.
People-gazing is as much fun as the menu-grazing in Hale - and the terrace at Piccolino is a great option for both. As is glamorous Victor's with all its Hamptons-style luxury, champagne cocktails and eclectic menu (from shashimi to chateaubriand). Talking of eclectic; Hale offers a range of global cuisine; enjoy Sri Lankan dining at Sigiriya, eat authentic Italian at Cibo and experience the tastes of Lebanon at Sahara. Appetite thoroughly whetted yet? Thought so.