Short break - Edgar House, Chester

Land and sea

Land and sea - Credit: Archant

The Best Small Hotel in the World is in Chester, so says a travel website. Janet Reeder visited Edgar House to find out what makes it so special

Edgar House

Edgar House - Credit: Archant

Edgar House is an elegant Georgian building on the city walls of Chester overlooking the river that has been converted into a boutique hotel. But this isn’t any hotel, it’s the Best Small Hotel in the world, according to the travel website Trip Advisor.

Owners Tim Mills and Mike Stephen who have spent six years transforming this once run down private house which they saw ‘by chance’ on a recce around the city.

But in spite of taking their time on the project, ensuring everything was right before they opened to the public, even they were blown away by their new elevated status.

‘They just gave us a call based on reviews and feedback we had and Mike nearly dropped the phone thought no it can’t be real,’ says Tim.

‘ It was astonishing we really pinched ourselves. Number one in the world. We are so humbled by it.’

Of course, I was really curious about why it was so loved by those who stayed here so went along with my friend Xenia for girlie night out.

Our room on the ground floor was lovely, completely designed for comfort, French doors that opened onto the garden, everything you’d need of course, but what strikes me is how at home I feel here. It’s like staying in a beautiful country house owned by very considerate friends, rather than a hotel. Well friends who keep their distance. There’s an old telephone box by reception which doubles as an honesty bar, a TV room, and a striking collection of art on the walls.

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The dining room of the restaurant Twent2, which is open to non residents too is intimate but not stuffy and Chef Neil Griffith has created a menu that respects the seasons without being poncey.

The food is very good indeed. From Land To Sea, £9.50, is as fresh as an ocean breeze, featuring quail’s egg, petits pois, salmon caviar, sea asparagus, Cornish crab and fennel velouté, Goat’s Cheese and Beetroot, £9, is elevated by the addition of a sharp, crispy goats cheese bob bon, red amaranth and an intensely sweet beetroot reduction.

A main of line caught sea bass was a heady mixture of meaty fish served with a fragrant seasonal vegetable fricassee, potato puree and vine roasted tomatoes. The saffron and herb broth which accompanied it would alone have been delicious but as an accompaniment to the rest of the dish took it to another level.

The classic flavours of an elegant looking Woodland Fughi and Tarragon crepe , £17.50, was given a twist with sea salt crisps (not from a packet!) and sprouting greens .

And yes. We were definitely having dessert. Deconstructed Plum Frangipan, £9, was crumbly, almondy deliciousness but the winner was Xenia’s Dark Chocolate Orange Fondant, £9.50 possibly the best fondant we’d ever tasted.

In the interests of research we also tried the cheeseboard , featuring a selection of locally made cheeses, from cheesemakers Burt’s Cheese and Bournes.

Everything about our stay, including a brilliant breakfast, was exactly right. There may be equally brilliant small hotels out there in the rest of the world but at Edgar House you can really feel the love.