Good interior design can make a huge difference in the hospitality trade, especially when it comes to choosing a hotel or bar.
With restaurants, it’s less cut and dried. For some people, dining out is all about the food.
Food critic Jay Rayner told Simon Binns in the MEN recently that he thinks the Manchester dining scene is ‘very strong’ and has a lot going for it, “but it does have a tendency to get preoccupied with frippery… there’s too much that’s not about the food. All I care about is the food, the rest doesn’t really interest me at all.”
Many people would agree, but with so many great restaurants to choose from in Manchester now, decor and ambience can enhance the dining experience and give some places the edge over others.
If cool interior design is on your checklist when you look for places to eat, drink and stay in Manchester, you’re in luck.
“Manchester is brimming with great interior design,” says Karen Roach, Interior Design Consultant at Wesley-Barrell. “I’m noticing international influences to suit the cosmopolitan customer as well as rustic and timeless, classic designs – often with a contemporary twist – as a canvas for the offerings in bars, restaurants and hotels.’
Here are some of her favourite interiors in Manchester:
The design brief for Tattu was to create a venue inspired by the history and cultural influence of body art, following its journey from East to West over centuries and acknowledging its significance as a unique art form. Dividing the layout into three distinct areas, each one would reflects a different style of body art. Iconic imagery and symbols from each genre would be incorporated within the design details so that each space would be entirely distinctive, yet aesthetically linked together as part of the overarching narrative, creating a journey throughout the venue.
Typically masculine elements are harmoniously balanced with softer feminine details to create a considered equality within the design. Materials, textiles and furniture were to be bespoke, tailored to reflect the unique style of the venue, resonating the individuality of body art and pushing design boundaries to create a decadent yet functional setting.
King Street Townhouse
King Street Townhouse is located in an impressive Italian Renaissance building built in 1872 and designed by Edward Salomons. The former bank had been gutted and turned into modern offices keeping the Grade II listed facade. The classic modern British design retains the beauty of the period property and its original use subtly without becoming themed. The bedrooms provide a tranquil oasis with calm, muted earthy colours, shades of off-white, greens, smoky blue, sand, biscuit & taupe with splashes of orange, burnt siena, red & aqua, – colours inspired by Kilim rugs. Each type of bedroom is individually designed with specially made Oxford-style white linen drapes over the bespoke made superking and king sized beds. There are three styles of bathroom with patterned mosaics and Victorian tiles on the floor with taupe or blue wall tiles, Monsoon showers, six different styles of free-standing bath tubs and twin sinks in suites.
This temple for meat lovers opened in 2001 in a converted Methodist church on St Mary’s St and was revamped last year. Designers were carefully selected from around the country, lighting fixtures sourced from around the world and furniture created to create an intriguing and unique space. It’s spectacularly decorated with cowhide leather laden interiors and crystal chandeliers, a heady fusion of South American and European influences, with a spectacular white marble floor, plush black leather booths and a snug area. The destination bar boasts an under-lit, black cracked glass bar framed in deep button black leather. Reflections and textures are played with and highlighted by the lighting design creating trickery and heightening intrigue.
Another enormous space – 12,000 square feet to be precise – with a cool interior which nods to Manchester’s industrial past, and a gallery space where talented local artists can display and sell their work, reflecting the city’s rebirth as a hub of creativity,. The focal point of the dining experience are a pair of wood-fired ovens in which most of the food is cooked. Three spaces – The Gallery, The Studio and The Drawing Room – are available for private dining and events. The Studio boasts a recently completed mural by legendary cartoonist Tony Husband called Partysan which incorporates a mixture of well known local characters who enjoy dining at Artisan.
Based in a Victorian courthouse building off Deansgate, Hawksmoor is pure art deco, from the beautiful leaded windows to the polished wood veneer and the banquettes with a bar as louche as a Prohibition-era speakeasy. The interior is best described as ornate faded glamour – almost Dickensian in its approach. Brass, wood and slate beneath wall lamps. According to Will Beckett, co-founder Huw (the other creative co-founder) was worried the wood wasn’t distressed enough. “He had them whacking it with bike chains outside. He was also a bit worried that the tables don’t look old enough.’
When it opened back in November 2011, The Alchemist in Spinningfields was an instant hit and incredibly busy. Since then the venue has doubled in size to 5,200 sq ft with a beautiful new dedicated dining area. Despite its size, the spectacular lighting and clever layout within ensure a warm and comforting atmosphere with stylish leather booths, huge wall of apothecary bottles, old chemistry desks used as tabletops and even a huge lighting structure which has been created in the exact molecular structure of alcohol in the main bar area.
This 5,500 square foot former textile warehouse was stripped back revealing the services of the building and the walls were whited out to enable colours and textures to breathe around the space. Pastel tones cover Formica tables, bright gradient colours shine from light boxes in every window and a layer of warmth is created with a tiled cork floor. Keeping the space largely open plan, the lighting has been carefully designed to create sections within the space, featuring Italian Flos drop and Nud cast concrete pendants, which create a more intimate atmosphere at night. Furniture is a mixture of classic and crafted pieces with classic Eames designs sitting alongside custom pieces made in Manchester. Creative partner Instruct Studio worked with Islington Mill’s Workroom Industries to build various items from light boxes to signage. John Owens from Instruct said they wanted to take their inspiration from beyond Manchester and looked for ideas in the cities and countries they’d travelled to and the venues where they’d felt most social and comfortable.
This neoclassical style building has been painstakingly restored and transformed from a bank into a handsome 60-room hotel. Lead designer Oliver Redfern of Squid-Inc wanted to pay tribute to a major building designed by Edwin Lutyens whilst injecting a distinct fresh personality. The architecture provided natural inspiration for the nostalgic yet decadent design direction. Internal restoration includes the reincarnation of the main staircase, the brass handrail, its balustrades, mouldings and terrazzo flooring. The art deco influence can be seen in the striking bespoke geometric carpets running throughout the corridors and bedrooms. Beautifully rich wall finishes of metal, wood, leather and ceramic are used extensively and provide a richness and decadence that evoke emotions and moods of the past.
Tib Street basement bar whose design brief was for an interior which gives the feel and mood of a dive and would enable it to transform from a laid back daytime eatery to a full blown late night experience open till 5am at weekends. Lots of reclaimed materials including timber and metal, vintage brass lighting to give off welcoming warm tones, bespoke distressed leather reclaimed Chesterfield sofas, and graffiti artwork by a local artist. In fact, just like a dive bar but without the sticky dance floor.
Urban Cookhouse brings the relaxed, sophisticated dining of downtown New York to central Manchester. The bar/restaurant occupies an old, converted shipping warehouse on the cusp of the famous Gay Village, Sackville Street. With help from the wonderful structure of the building, Cookhouse enthuses the inspiration of casual New York-style dining with violet colours resplendent against an industrial and stark silver panelling softened by laid back pallet tables and bean bags. A brief which aims to celebrate the cosmopolitan culture of two great global cities.
An 8000 sq ft venue on Lloyd Street in the stunning surroundings of the Grade II listed Elliot House. The design takes its cues and inspiration from the traditional grand cafés of Europe, accessible and welcoming, but with a hint of decadence and a touch of luxury. A stylish destination bar and restaurant with a classic yet contemporary interior comprising patterned marble floors and counters, glossy polished plaster and stained glass. A spacious open dining room with rows of cast iron columns is light and airy during the day, warm and intimate in the evening, with a glowing and glistening island bar at its centre. A striking display kitchen enables diners to witness the hustle and bustle in the restaurant, making them feel part of the action.
Interior designers JMDA’s brief was to come up with a concept which reflects Thai life and street food and to make it as authentic as possible whilst still staying on the right side of UK environmental health requirements. They succeeded and a little piece of Bangkok came to Spinningfields. A rustic yet vibrant interior with reclaimed materials, genuine Thai artefacts, and bric a brac including posters, old TV’s and radios, photographs and postcards. An open kitchen creates a theatrical atmosphere.
Infamous Diner is a true slice of Americana in the Northern Quarter. The stunning interior, designed by Manchester’s No Chintz, is inspired by the classic American diners of the 1950’s but with a modern, contemporary twist. Traditional black and white floor tiles and retro furniture sit alongside decadent wall tiles, a silver lit ceiling, a perfect Back To The Future marble counter and raspberry pink booths. The space has been dressed with authentic American memorabilia including a feature wall made up of 800 original American license plates. The bright neon signage on the windows is inspired by the bold and bright classic American highway signs and the logo by the 50’s cars which would have trawled the highways between diners during this era.
If good design is something you value when it comes to your home, Wesley-Barrell have a wealth of expertise at their Deansgate showroom. “We can simply offer advice on room planning and colour co-ordination or go one step further and provide a full interiors advisory service,” says Karen.