Manchester’s hotel scene is thriving – but it’s not all about rain showers, marshmallow beds and designer toiletries.
Very much a focal point of any hotel visit is the bar, where everything from the décor to decadent cocktails is designed to ensure guests enjoy a memorable experience.
And it’s not only out-of-towners who can enjoy what’s on offer.
We’ve picked the best hotel bars in the city, from the traditional and established to the contemporary and innovative, where you can enjoy a tipple in stunning surroundings – minus the expense of an overnight stay.
The Plantation Bar, Cow Hollow Hotel
The boutique Cow Hollow Hotel exudes Manhattan cool and The Plantation cocktail bar has received rave reviews since the venue opened in the Northern Quarter last year.
What it lacks in size, it makes up for in style, with lots of exposed brick, luxe textures and statement decor.
Open from midday until 1am, there’s flat-pricing on all drinks (cocktails £9, all wine £7 a glass, beers £5, and spirits at £6). They also claim to have one of the widest selections of liquor in the city, with a particular slant towards Italian digestifs, bourbons and rums.
The Conservatory, Whitworth Locke
Take a seat beneath the glass roof at The Conservatory bar, a chic space within the atrium at Whitworth Locke that’s light and bright during the day and turns into a more intimate venue at night.
Originally designed as a pop-up, the bar, with its statement pop of yellow, became a permanent fixture earlier this year.
Open 3pm until late Monday to Friday, and 12pm until late at the weekends, there are Bottomless Thursdays and Fridays from 6-8pm where you can sip prosecco, wine or beer for £22, and Happy Hour Monday to Thursdays when it’s 2-for-1 on house beers and house wine, and any 2 cocktails for £10.
Cloud 23, Hilton Manchester
Located on the 23rd floor of the Beetham Tower, the cream and white minimalist-looking Cloud 23 is something of an institution in the city. It might not be the newest kid on the block but the incredible sunset views from the highest bar in the city are always an attraction.
Open till late every day, the private express lift will whisk you up from 11am Monday to Wednesday and midday the rest of the week. They’re currently offering a Wine, Dine and Skyline offer, a 3-course meal in the ground-floor Podium restaurant, half a bottle of house wine or Prosecco and a cocktail in Cloud 23 for £40pp.
A brand new Manchester Through the Ages menu offers the chance to try all 10 cocktails for £100 (shared between 4 people).
Peter Street Kitchen’s Rikyu Bar, Radisson Blu Edwardian
The bar and restaurant at Radisson Blu Edwardian was extensively renovated last year and reopened with much fanfare as the Peter Street Kitchen. It’s a stunning space where the food is inspired by the shared dining experience found in Japan and Mexico.
The Rikyu bar, open from midday to late, is heavily influenced by the clean lines of East Asian design and, as you’d expect, there’s a huge selection of sake, alongside cocktails, wines and spirits.
There’s also a Japanese Whisky Masterclass on selected Saturdays, priced £50, where you can sample vintage and contemporary blends, cocktails and canapés.
After much hype, Dakota opened its doors in May and hasn’t disappointed, with people praising its elegant ambience. Maybe it’s the leather booths and stools, or the rich, masculine tones, but there’s a certain Mad Men feel about the bar.
It seems apt then that there’s a cigar menu, to be enjoyed out on the terrace, alongside a list of cocktails composed of classics and contemporary concoctions, priced from £9, including the whisky-based Pencillin-ish and gin-infused Bobby Dazzler.
There’s also a bar menu of light bites served from 12pm to 10pm, including black truffle and comte croquettes and goats cheese arancini.
The Refuge, The Principal Manchester
Located on the ground floor of the grand and historic Principal Hotel, the Refuge bar manages to feel cosy and intimate despite its immense size (it’s 10,000sq ft in total). This is due to the fact it’s separated into four areas, each with its own distinct feel.
There’s the dining room, famous for its Sunday roast sharing platter, and Den, for private events. But the place to grab a drink is the Public Bar, which is dominated by mosaic pillars and a 40ft granite bar and, just behind it, the Winter Garden, a large atrium that makes for a stunning setting with soft lighting, velvet seating and black and white tiled floor.
The Refuge gets busy and noisy but the atmosphere can’t be faulted. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events including the Come As You Are Weekender over the August Bank Holiday.
ABode Brasserie Bar
An all-day venue in the style of a grand European brasserie and bar, Brasserie Abode on Piccadilly offers drinking and dining in an elegant space filled with cool leather, intimate booths and polished brass set over two floors.
Open till the small hours with resident DJs, the drinks list includes craft beers and wines by the glass as well as the bottle, plus classic cocktails. Weekdays, there’s two cocktails for £10 until 7.30pm.
Chez Mal, Malmaison
A stone’s throw from Piccadilly Station, the Chez Mal cocktail bar has a fun list of creative cocktails and ‘Maltonical’ spirit and mixer combos as well as classics.
Grab a stool at the bar and watch their mixologists create the perfect martini, or comandeer a table and relax with bar snacks that include honey and soy glazed tiger prawns, BBQ pork belly, and citrus cured salmon.