Discover: Best Restaurants in Chester

August 29th, 2015
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If you’re visiting the beautiful Roman city of Chester then you’re in for a treat as it’s home to some of the best restaurants around; there’s an abundance of independent eateries, quirky coffee shops and delicious delis for you to explore. The blog-writing team here at Sykes Cottages are big fans of eating out and need no excuse to peruse a menu, so take advantage of our expertise and discover some of the best places to eat in Chester, as voted for by locals.

Best for… a romantic meal

A firm favourite with us, La Fattoria on Lower Bridge Street is the place to go in Chester for an authentic Italian experience. Everything is freshly made and the pizzas (which we thoroughly recommend) are cooked in a proper pizza oven. La Fattoria has a welcoming, lively atmosphere and the food is mouth-wateringly good. If you’re looking for somewhere a little more intimate, try Sticky Walnut which is tucked away in the Chester suburb of Hoole and is another great option. This award-winning bistro has a strong reputation and offers ambitious, imaginative and downright delicious dishes.

Best if… you’re on a budget

Siam Thai on City Road is a delightful Thai restaurant in a lovely setting overlooking the canal. If you’re on a budget, you need to try their Early Sitting Menu, which offers tasty, traditional Thai food at excellent value. Eat from 5pm-6.45pm on weekdays, or 3.30pm-6.30pm on weekends and you can enjoy two courses for just £12.50 per person. Unlike many early bird menus, Siam Thai also offers plenty of choice with a wide range of dishes available including curries, Pad Thai and stir fried meals.

Best for… celebrations

If you want to book somewhere special for a celebration, American BBQ restaurant, Hickory’s is a fantastic choice. In an idyllic location on the banks of the River Dee, Hickory’s offers a mouthwatering menu full of slow-cooked ribs, burgers, steaks and skewers and you’ll also get free popcorn on your table- you’ll need to bring your appetite for this one! The drinks menu is another highlight with a wide range of cocktails, milkshakes and sodas; try the Cherry Cream Soda for a real treat!

Best for… families

For something a little different that the kids are bound to love, head to Hanky Panky on Commonhall Street. This specialist pancake café offers an impressive choice of both sweet and savoury pancakes with example menu items including Fisherman’s Friend (smoked salmon, crème fraiche with rocket, topped with chives) and The Sticky Toffee (sticky toffee fudge ice cream topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce).

Best for… lunch

There’s no shortage of fantastic cafes, pubs and delis around Chester which serve fabulous lunch options. If you want a recommendation however, we suggest you take a look at Watergate Deli on the lower Rows of Watergate Street. Watergate Deli is a charming and characterful, family-run coffee shop and deli which serves delicious home-made cakes, sandwiches, salads, pies and soups, all made using locally sourced produce.

If you’re planning a trip to Chester then don’t forget to take a look at our fabulous holiday cottages in Chester; we have some great properties in the area for you to choose from! If you do indulge in a meal out while you’re here, let us know what you thought on Twitter or Facebook.

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Five Traditional Foods You Must Eat In Wales

August 26th, 2015
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With half of the country backing onto the coast and the other half full of beautiful countryside, it’s no wonder Wales produces some of the UK’s best produce. But along with its fantastic produce, Wales is also home to a number of fantastic traditional recipes. On today’s blog we’ve decided to celebrate Welsh food by listing several traditional foods you must try on your next visit to Wales!

Welsh Rarebit

What it is: Welsh rarebit is often compared to cheese on toast but it’s so much more than that! A true comfort food Welsh rarebit combines cheese, mustard, beer and flour to make a tasty topping for thick-cut, rustic Welsh bread. Easy to make and easily found in many Welsh eateries, this dish is a must for anyone looking for a hearty Welsh breakfast.
Where to find it: Caffi Florence in Loggerheads Country Park serves a fantastic Welsh rarebit with home cooked ham for just £6.95. Perfect for a late breakfast or brunch, this Welsh rarebit is a real treat for anyone in the area.
Make it yourself: Visit BBC Food for a fantastic Welsh rarebit recipe that serves four people and takes less than 30 minutes to make.

Welshcakes

What it is: Welshcakes are delicate little cakes which can be eaten at any time of day. Traditionally cooked over a bakestone, they are now more commonly cooked on a griddle for just two to three minutes each side. Welshcakes are filled with dried fruit and a mixture of spices which normally include nutmeg, sugar and ginger.
Where to find it: Cwmni Cacen Gri in Betws y Coed is famous for its traditional Welshcakes served fresh from the griddle. We would highly suggest stopping by and treating yourself to a hot Welshcake and tasty traditional Welsh tea.
Make it yourself: Good Food have put together this tasty recipe for Welshcakes which is sure to impress your friends and family. The recipe makes 16 Welsh cakes and takes around 20 minutes from start to finish.

Cawl

What it is: Cawl is a traditional Welsh stew made with lamb, leeks and root vegetables, usually potatoes, carrots and swede. Each region in Wales has its own take on cawl so although the core ingredients stay the same, you should see the addition of other seasonal veg and possibly even bacon as you travel around the country.
Where to find it: The Plash Inn in Whitland is part of Discover Carmarthenshire’s Cawl Crawl and serves up a truly tasty cawl full of flavour!
Make it yourself: This fantastic recipe from Loved Earthy Locally is sure to warm you up on a cold day. Packed full of goodness this recipe will serve six people and takes around three hours to cook.

Bara Brith

What it is: Translated, bara brith means ‘speckled bread’ although the issue of whether bara brith is a bread or a cake is wildly debated across Wales. As bara brith is traditionally made with yeast, packed full of dried fruit and spice, and served with salted Welsh Butter, we’re going to say it’s most definitely a bread!
Where to find it: Treat yourself to a Welsh afternoon tea at Caffi Gwynant and along with an array of other delicious treats, you’ll also receive a slice of their mouth-watering bara brith with Welsh butter.
Make it yourself: For a tasty bara brith loaf that will cut into 10 slices, we would suggest this recipe from Good Food. Ready in just one hour and 40 minutes, this bara brith is best served with traditional Welsh salted butter.

Glamorgan Sausage

What it is: A favourite amongst vegetarians, Glamorgan sausage is a cheese and leek mixture coated in breadcrumbs. Traditionally made with Caerphilly cheese, Glamorgan sausages can actually be made with any crumbly white cheese and are fantastic when served with pickle.
Where to find it: The Hayloft Restaurant at the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre serves a fantastic Glamorgan sausage as part of their lunch time menu. Stuffed with wholegrain mustard and Aberwen cheese, the sausages are a favourite for many customers.
Make it yourself: The Guardian have put together a fantastic recipe for homemade Glamorgan sausages. This recipe will make six and should be ready in about 45 minutes.

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nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

10 Fantastic Photos of Yorkshire

August 23rd, 2015
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With winning the gong for the best European Destination two years in a row at the World Travel Awards, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Yorkshire has got a fair bit going for it. Between the dramatic coastline, beautiful countryside and quaint market towns, the county really is a haven for all of the photographers out there. So we’ve pulled together some of our favourite shots from God’s own Country, why don’t you take a look and see which one would get your vote?

Flamborough Head

The Humber Bridge

Malham Cove

Nidderdale

The Ribblehead Viaduct

Whitby Abbey

Ilkley Moor

Ingleborough

Robin Hood’s Bay

York Minster

So there you go, ten fantastic photographs from all around Yorkshire, but which is your favourite? Let us know, either by tweeting us or getting in touch over Facebook! Or maybe they’ve inspired you into taking a trip up to Yorkshire to experience them first hand? If that’s the case you’ll want to have a browse of our Yorkshire cottages. With properties ranging from the Dales to the Moors, and West Yorkshire all the way across to the East Riding, you’re sure to find something to suit you.

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

How We’ve Improved In The Past Year

August 22nd, 2015
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As you’ll probably already know, here at Sykes Cottages we’ve been nominated for a prestigious British Travel award for the third year running! We’ve been nominated for Best UK Holiday Cottage/ Self Catering Booking Company and to help convince you to vote for us, we wanted to show you what we’ve done to improve in the last year in order to deserve your vote this time around.

We’ve moved to a bigger and better office

Sykes Cottages Staff with Awards

Some of our staff in the new Sykes Cottages garden terrace

In March 2015, we completed our move to our new office in Chester city centre. Aside from the obvious danger to my bank balance that comes with having a wealth of shops and restaurants on the doorstep, the move spells great things for Sykes as it gives us the opportunity to keep growing and expanding the company to be better than we’ve ever been before.

We’ve won awards

Sykes Cottages' Awards

Our most recent awards

It’s not just the British Travel Awards we’ve been successful in; in the past year, we’ve been delighted to have continued our status as an award-winning company outside of the British Travel Awards too! In December 2014, we won the prestigious Travolution Award for the ‘Best Use of Search Engine Marketing’ and in March 2015, we were named one of the Top 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain by the London Stock Exchange Group. Here at Sykes, we always strive to ensure that we’re the best that we can be for our customers, owners and staff and so we were over the moon that our achievements and hard work have been recognised by such respected brands. Here’s hoping for more success in the coming months!

We now have over 6,000 cottages to book

Our cottage portfolio is expanding every day and we’re working hard to make sure that we have a fantastic selection of holiday cottages for you to choose from. Currently, the count stands at over 6,000 cottages! All of our cottages are equally wonderful but there are some that have joined our ranks in the past year that really stand out; for example, The Abbey in Penzance which is a beautiful luxury property and one of Cornwall’s most important listed buildings; The Rowan Yurt in Hepworth- this gorgeous, romantic yurt has proved to be one of our most popular properties this year; and Dome House in Bowness-on-Windermere, which is a stunning architect-designed property recently featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs.

Vote for us in the British Travel Awards

British Travel Awards

If you haven’t voted for us yet in the British Travel Awards and you’d like to, you can do so by clicking on the above button. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has voted so far; we’re absolutely thrilled that you’ve taken the time to vote for us and we’ll be keeping everything crossed that we can win this for you for the third year in a row!

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Five of Yorkshire’s Prettiest Towns

August 17th, 2015
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Often referred to as God’s own country, Yorkshire is packed full of picturesque market towns, charming villages and rural country hamlets, all of which help make it one of the nation’s favourite holiday spots. If you’ve yet to be convinced by Yorkshire’s scenic landscapes then keep reading as we list five of the prettiest towns in Yorkshire that are sure to see you packing a bag for a northern adventure in no time.

Harrogate

Recently voted the happiest place to live in the UK for the third year in a row, it’s easy to see why Harrogate has made it onto our list of Yorkshire’s prettiest towns. From the cosy country pubs to beautiful historic buildings and luxury spas, Harrogate is the destination of choice for couples who are looking for a romantic getaway.

Selby

Dominated by its beautiful mediaeval Abbey, the historic town of Selby is truly one of Yorkshire’s hidden gems and a must for history lovers. Step back in time as you explore the impressive Abbey and marvel at the 15th century gatehouse before indulging in a bite to eat at one of Selby’s numerous fine restaurants.

Huddersfield

The historic market town of Huddersfield is ideal for culture seekers; with numerous festivals and markets held throughout the year, you’re never short of something to do. Visit Huddersfield and you can’t help but be impressed by the award-winning Victorian architecture, historic monuments, stunning art work, international market and delicious eateries.

Hebden Bridge

Hebden Bridge is ideal for anyone looking for some creative inspiration. Journey down the town’s cobbled lanes and you’ll find artists and musicians hard at work in their studios, or visit during the annual Arts and Music festival and let your creativity run wild as you get stuck into the exhibitions, poetry performances and workshops.

Thirsk

Another of Yorkshire’s traditional market towns, Thirsk exhibits all the traditional characteristics you would expect from a Yorkshire town including a cobbled market square and historic coaching inns. For a truly memorable day out in Thirsk, why not visit the races or explore the family home of James Herriot, famous vet and author?

And there you have it, our selection of Yorkshire’s prettiest towns. If this list has you itching for a break up north then why not take a look at our Yorkshire cottages? With over 600 properties to choose from you’re sure to find a cosy little town to call your own for the week.

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nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.