Do friends or family want to stay over the holiday period? No room at your place and no idea where to recommend? Let our very own hotel inspector Dennis Keighron-Foster do the hard work for you…
There is a lot going on in Manchester, especially at Christmas. We have the best shopping the north has to offer, plenty of world class theatres and museums, the famous Christmas markets in Albert Square and, according to all the recent press we’ve had, Manchester is one of the best places to visit. So it’s more than likely that people you know might want to pay you a visit over the festive period.
Maybe your mother has been nagging you to come and stop at yours to do a bit of Christmas shopping with her friend. Maybe you’ve got friends who have moved away coming at you left, right and centre wanting to see you before Christmas and you can’t offer any of them anywhere to stay because you live in a one bed apartment. Or maybe the spare room in your two bed terrace is full of stuff you don’t need but don’t want to throw away.
Instead of stopping with you, your friends or family suggest they’ll take in a show and stop in a hotel this year, but only on a recommendation. But you live here and have no idea which hotels to suggest, so the saga drags on. But before you start crossing potential visitors off your invite list, cancel a night out to get the spare room decorated, or call all your friends to find out which one of them borrowed your airbed last Christmas, sit back, pour yourself a G&T and have a quick gander at my top hotel recommendations for friends and family over the holiday period.
I’ve done a bit of investigating and found five brilliant hotels of differing prices that make the most of this illustrious city and the buildings in which they find their homes. Hotels that friends and families of all different shapes, sizes, backgrounds and incomes should be happy to be stay without worrying that they’ll have a rotten stay.
If there’s no room at one of the smaller inns (well, it is Christmas after all), you may well find one at Innside, a smart, clean and contemporary 4 star 200 room hotel offering affordable rooms and an excellent breakfast.
It’s one of Manchester newest hotels – it only opened in May – so it still has a very new feel. Decor is stylish and minimalist. My room was spacious and comfortable with modern decor, floor to ceiling windows which let in lots of light, open plan bathroom, a great view across the city, and, most important of all a very comfortable king-sized bed. There are also tea and coffee making facilities, free soft drink mini bar and very fast free Wi-Fi. The hotel has a gym, a sauna and a steam room, all of which are free to guests Located in the new First Street development in the heart of Manchester, just a short walk to Deansgate and Oxford Road Station, theatres, restaurants and bars.
VERDICT Value needn’t mean inferior quality
1 First St, Manchester M15 4RP
Great John Street Hotel
A hidden gem oozing individuality, Great John Street is a chic 30 room boutique hotel with individually designed bedrooms and suites alongside stylish lounges and Oyster Bar just a stone’s throw from Deansgate – so all the convenience of a city centre location but without the noise.
The hotel’s past as a Victorian school house has been fully embraced throughout but without the cold showers. Original features – cast iron radiators, stripped floorboards, enormous windows and fireplaces – have been preserved, with pictures of former pupils on the wall, and staircases still named boys’ and girls.’
Most of the rooms are duplex with massive windows spanning both floors. All are en suite with walk-in showers and giant tubs – some have his-and-hers roll-top baths.
Each room is unique but shares the same sense of decadent style with crushed velvet fabrics, ornaments and books scattered on the bookshelves, and enormous beds. Rich, deep-coloured fabrics, roll-top baths and large comfortable beds create a luxurious retreat. You can even wallow in a hot tub on the roof garden “playground.”
VERDICT Not cheap, but better and less expensive than many larger 4-star hotels
Great John Street, Manchester M3 4FD
Located at the top of King Street above Jamie’s Italian in the beautiful old HSBC bank building, Gotham achieves fun and sophistication in equal measure.
It’s all about attention to detail. The furniture and fabrics are the best I encountered on my travels around Manchester and you can really tell that the interior designers are passionate about art deco. Every beautiful element is perfect, from the perfectly stocked mini bar in its purpose-built massive trunk to the rainfall shower, chrome fittings, beautiful lighting and the leather Roberts radio on the bedside- a lovely touch.
The building is listed so they’ve had to incorporate some beautiful original features as well as keeping some of the immense proportions of the old bankers’ offices. Despite its design creativity and exclusivity, the hotel is not as expensive as you might imagine, and its standard rooms are almost as nice as the junior suites and definitely represent the hotel well.
Gotham has some other little gems hidden within its fortified walls – a fabulous cocktail bar called Brass with terraces that look out over Manchester and a stunning brasserie restaurant with views down King Street and beyond.
VERDICT Perfect for a treat but probably less than you’d think. Check online for best price
Quote I LOVE Manchester for 10% off of their lowest list price.
100 King St, Manchester M2 4WU
The Palace Hotel
Every turn you take in this massive building you are reminded of the grandeur of the Victorian era. Ceramic tiles line the corridors, the reception area is this great glass domed, marble lined piazza which is where horse and carriages would enter the building to drop off the insurance company executives.
The corridors, and even my room, were delightfully eerie. You really feel the echoes of the past in this building, especially as it’s quite easy to get lost in its rambling corridors. My room had a wonderfully high ceiling and beautiful mahogany panelling on every wall, giving you this wonderful private feeling, cut off from the rest of the hotel. It really was a peaceful and serene stay.
I was feeling a little lazy the night I stopped here so made use of the room service and ordered fish and chips, which were absolutely perfect. All of the food here is locally sourced, which is quite an achievement for a hotel with 275 rooms. If you are going to the Palace Theatre, you can have a pre-theatre dinner in the restaurant and your dessert and coffee after the curtain has come down – a really nice touch.
One thing that they offer here, which I have never seen before are some absolutely huge rooms with two king size beds – perfect for a family or a group of girlfriends looking to get ready together and have a few drinks before they head out on their night on the town.
VERDICT Characterful hotel at a mid-range price
Oxford St, Manchester M60 7HA
A small, sweet hotel that doesn’t overwhelm you with too much fuss. Instead it has an extremely relaxed environment, probably due in part to being above their own wonderful real ale pub with a lovely warm atmosphere, friendly staff and jolly patrons.
Abel Heywood lies right on the border between the city centre, close to all the shopping areas, and the Northern Quarter right on top of some fabulous restaurants and cocktail bars.
My room was spacious and simple but well put together, with a sitting area which is always welcome. The bathroom was large, not the most expensive fit out I have seen, but clean and fresh and perfect for above a pub.
The bed was comfortable and I had a very good night’s sleep as it was one of the quietest hotels I’ve stopped in – surprising for above a pub. The hotel has its own streetside keycard entrance, which is great if you are sneaking in after some late drinks.
VERDICT If you’re looking for a boutiquey feel and some added home comforts try Abel Heywood out for size.
Quote I LOVE Manchester at Able for a 5% discount off of their list price
38 Turner St, Manchester M4 1DZ
Located close to Piccadilly Station, the Malmaison is the perfect place to use as a base to get some Christmas or January sales shopping done as it’s just a short walk away from all the main shopping areas. It’s also just a stone’s throw away from the Northern Quarter, with all of its funky bars, restaurants and independent shops.
As you walk through the door you are greeted with a rather chic black granite reception with lots of little areas to sit and a view of its Smoke bar and restaurant, which I had the opportunity to dine in – the food was delicious, I had Tuna Tartare and a beautiful local grass fed steak to follow, which I had rare because I knew the quality of the beef was going to be so good. The staff were extremely attentive and welcoming, which is always nice when you are going solo.
When it comes to the accommodation it’s hard to deny that the Malmaison has gone a bit ‘chainy’ now that it’s side stepped its Parisian décor roots and opted for something a bit plainer. But where the bedrooms lack in creativity they make up for in quality, especially at this mid-price range – the bed was big and comfortable and the room was spacious.
VERDICT Recommended for its Smoke restaurant and its shopping and train station proximity
Quote I LOVE Manchester when booking a room and dinner at the Mal for a free bottle of house wine.
1-3 Piccadilly, Manchester M1 3AQ
Motel One’s basic premise is that they combine affordability and design to give a feeling of luxury, they want their guests to know where they – and they have certainly achieved this, the building has been cleverly designed so that the hallway windows frame a beautiful view of Manchester, in the foyer; symbols of Manchester are incorporated into the design without becoming a pastiche of itself. Worker bees on the wallpaper and hive patterns on the furniture give a gentle nod towards our industrious past, yet continue the hotel’s contemporary, clean and modern look.
My bedroom was compact, but fairly well thought out and the bathroom is far superior to anything else in its price range, with marble floors and sink unit, you definitely don’t feel like you are in a budget hotel. The breakfast was the expected yet extremely welcome self-serve continental one. I think they went above and beyond the sort of offering I would expect at this price, pastries, cold meats, hard or soft boiled eggs, good quality coffee and everything else you’d expect and more.
For a no frills hotel, I’d say that the service they provide in the environment they have created is pretty frilly at Motel One.
VERDICT If it’s budget you’re after then look no further than Motel One.
34 London Rd, Manchester M1 2PF