Stay and play: Carden Park, Cheshire

Carden Park isn’t your typical country hotel. Calling it that would be underselling what is essentially a sport-lover’s theme park, deep in the south Cheshire countryside.

It’s the kind of place you bring the family for an activities-filled break, centered around two golf courses, a world-class spa, and an aerial obstacle course that looks like it’s been transported from Go Ape.

The 17th century estate was part of the De Vere brand until 2014 and since then more than £20 million has been invested to elevate the facilities, which are so extensive that you are now presented with a map on arrival.


The Nicklaus course is one of the few Jack Nicklaus designed courses in England.

Nicklaus Course

Best defined as your quintessential resort course, with driveable par 4s, wide fairways and plenty of water hazards to test your mettle. As has become the norm on Nicklaus courses, there’s nothing tricked up about the design and the five teeing areas keep it playable for everyone. 

We often found ourselves pulling out the big stick, such are the number of par 4s you can attack, but we came away unenthused and thinking that the layout lacked character besides a couple of double fairways and intimidating tee shots.

The gravelly bunkers were immensely frustrating and while the greens were probably the best we’ve putted on this year, we expected far more because of the Nicklaus name. 

The 14th hole on the Cheshire course at Carden Park.

Cheshire Course

A significant step up from its younger brother, the Cheshire is a proper technical test and offers incredible variety, interest and vistas in the most tranquil of settings.

It begins with a rather mundane par 3, but there’s seriously good fun to be had thereafter, particularly on a back nine which builds to an incredible finish. It ends with the most inviting tee shot on the course, set upon a cliff face overlooking a clubhouse full of Jack Nicklaus memorabilia.

Non-hotel guests can play here for under £50 when booking online, which represents amazing value.

Signature hole

The 425-yard, par-5 14th (pictured above) looks inviting from the yellow tees, but requires two big hits to reach the green, which sits perched on the brow of a very steep hill. Four deep bunkers in front stop you from running anything in.

The Thermal Spa at Carden Park is as good as it gets.


You could stay for a week and not exhaust the outdoor possibilities, which include archery, falconry, quad-biking, off-road driving, Segways, shooting, tennis and more. 

Besides the Toptracer driving range, people tend to come here for the adult-only, five-star spa, which has won countless awards since opening. It boasts one of the UK’s largest spa gardens, furnished with fire pits and heated garden pods, three hot tubs, an infinity pool, and a Bollinger champagne bar.

A garden pod at Carden Spa is the perfect relaxation spot.

Inside, you’ll find three relaxation lounges and multiple sauna and steam rooms, plus a health-conscious (yet pricey) restaurant upstairs and an exhaustive menu of treatments.

It does cost a pretty penny to enjoy a spa day here, but the hotel does have its own leisure center which is free for guests and includes a very extensive gym, pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room.

Kids are also well catered for with an impressive games room featuring a PS5 and Nintendo Wii, though thrill seekers will gravitate towards the high-ropes adventure course, which presents 18 mid-air obstacles and ends with a 210m zip line. Prices start from £40.

Carden Park has its own aerial adventure course, called Vertigo.


All of the 197 bedrooms have recently been refurbished and are split between the main building and courtyard. Many of them overlook the golf course and sculpture garden and offer plush bedding, blackout curtains, and a 39-inch HD TV with selected Sky channels. A lack of air conditioning is perhaps the only major drawback.

The spa at Carden Park will take your breath away.


Despite charging £20 for a burger, it’s easy to see why Carden Park has become a destination for diners from across the north-west. The main restaurant – Redmond’s Brasserie – boasts two AA Rosettes and excels in serving British classics in a cozy, family-friendly setting. 

For fancier fare, The Vines delivers an eight-course tasting menu (£90) crafted by Executive Chef Graham Tinsley MBE, who has created menus for the royals.

Lighter dishes are also available from the lounge and bar, where you can sip sparkling wine made from grapes grown in a three-acre vineyard on site.


Unless you fancy paying £110 for a family of four to visit Chester Zoo, we’d recommend driving 15 minutes to the Cheshire Ice Cream Farm, home to the biggest sand and water play area in Europe. They also boast the world’s largest ice cream parlor, with over 50 different flavors to choose from!

The rest of your day can then be spent at Cheshire Oaks, the UK’s largest designer outlet, which has more than 140 shops, restaurants, and cafes. As a hotel guest, you also receive a 10 percent discount voucher which can be used at selected stores.

A typical room at Carden Park.


A dinner and golf package at Carden Park includes one night B&B, dinner in Redmond’s Brasserie, free use of the leisure facilities, and two rounds of golf (Cheshire and Nicklaus). Prices start from £179 per person, subject to availability. Offer is ongoing and based on two people sharing a twin or double room.

To book, call 01829 731000 or visit the website.

About the author

Today's Golfer features editor Michael Catling.

Michael Catling
Today’s Golfer Features Editor

Michael Catling is Today’s Golfer‘s Features Editor and an award-winning journalist who specializes in golf’s Majors and Tours, including DP World, PGA, LPGA, and LIV.

Michael joined Today’s Golfer in 2016 and has traveled the world to attend the game’s biggest events and secure exclusive interviews with dozens of Major champions, including Jack Nicklaus, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Gary Player, and Justin Thomas.

A former member of Ufford Park and Burghley Park, Michael has been playing golf since he was 11 and currently plays off a handicap of 10.

Away from golf he’s a keen amateur chef and has his own healthy recipes website. He also loves playing squash, going to the gym, and following Chelsea FC.

Michael uses a Ping G driverPing G 3-woodPing G Crossover 3-ironPing G Series irons (4-PW), Ping Glide wedges (52º, 56º, 60º), TaylorMade MySpider Tour Putter, and Srixon AD333 golf ball.

Get in touch with Michael via email and follow him on Twitter.

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