In Aberdeen’s west end, The Chester Hotel is a work of art

Housing one of the country's largest private collections by the Scottish artist, John Byrne, the luxury hotel gives its guests the gallery experience…

There is a famous print by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher — you know the one — called Relativity. It’s a mesmerising, monochromatic work, where flights of stairs criss-cross and change direction, gravity shifts and various landings and lobbies lead everywhere — and nowhere. Look at it long enough, and you’ll start to figure it out. But at first glance? It’s as confounding as artworks come. 

It’s a little like staying at The Chester Hotel. Because this Aberdeen-based bolthole, built across a snaking series of original granite townhouses in the west end of the city, has even more steps and stairs than Escher’s masterpiece.

It makes for an intriguing, entrancing stay — where different hallways and levels lead you around every inch of the historic property. But all of this meandering and winding is welcome; as The Chester is itself an art hotel — and houses one of the country’s largest private collections by the Scottish artist, John Byrne.

One of the most inventive and contrary artists alive today, Byrne’s style pinballs between an almost primitive impulsivity and technical mastery, bringing both together to create artworks of a distorted, dreamlike — but incredibly accomplished quality. And some of his finest paintings hang on the walls of this hotel, alongside other oils and pictures from Iain Faulkner, Alexander Miller and The Connor Brothers.

On the subject of impressive frames, the hotel’s beds are as well-made and comfortable as fine furniture comes. Some suites even have ‘grand super king’ mattresses, and frames which feature televisions that rise from the base. 

You’ll find a similar level of craftsmanship and attention to detail across the hotel’s entire offering of 72 bedrooms and suites; with even the entry level ‘Classic’ rooms boasting double or king beds, Nespresso machines and complimentary toiletries from Speyside’s Gordon Castle. Paired with rainfall showers and Egyptian cotton sheets — and your stay is guaranteed to be as cosy as it is cultured.

This level of luxury and comfort even extends outside of your room. Whether you’re in town for a wedding, or simply to play a few rounds of golf (50 courses can be found within an hour’s drive of the hotel), the amenities at The Chester Hotel are as neatly presented as the rooms themselves. 

The on-site IX Restaurant advances the artistic feel of the hotel, with a theatre kitchen allowing diners to observe the chefs at work. Dishes on the menu include ‘Cajun Monkfish Tacos’ and ‘Confit Duck Terrine’, and the ingredients are all proudly sourced locally — with eggs from Torphins, vegetables from Glamis and fish from Peterhead. 

The coffee, too, comes fresh from Castleton Farm in the nearby parish of Fordoun — and is the richly roasted lifeblood of the best breakfast this side of the Moray Firth. Think black pudding baps, creamy scrambled eggs and sweet Scottish strawberry jam. Everything you need to begin a bracing day on the North Sea coast. 

Then there’s The Gallery. The hotel’s bar bucks the bland stereotype of such spaces, and has become a go-to destination for drinkers far beyond The Chester’s guests. But that’s no surprise. Among the cracking cocktails whipped up by master mixologists, we’d recommend trying either the tropical-spiced ‘Undiscovered Treasure’ or the fragrant, floral ‘Chester Sling’. 

And, as in every other space of the hotel — from the contemplative ‘Garden Room’ to the private dining space ‘The Granite Balcony’ — there is world-class art exhibited on the walls. These sculptures, paintings and print are reason enough to check out (and check into) The Chester. And, amidst Aberdeen’s sprawling greyscape (which has earned it the nickname ‘The Granite City’) this collection offers travellers a delightful splash of creativity and colour.

The Chester Hotel

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