When swish new hotel Dakota opened in May, it brought with it 20 luxury suites – including the largest suite in the city – as well as a Champagne Room and a Cigar Garden. It promised a touch of Mayfair in Manchester.
It’s not even been open a month yet, but stars spotted leaving the new hotel have already included Hollywood superstar Hugh Jackman and Spice Girl Mel B. And they’re just the ones that made the papers.
We spoke to the hotel’s general manager Matt Townley to see how Dakota is looking after its star guests and whether there are any diva-ish demands, and took a look round the new rooms and suites to see what luxury really looks like.
Discretion is vital to Matt’s role, but maybe he can tell us if any of the big names confirmed for Parklife are staying at the hotel?
“We’re full this weekend,” is all he’ll reveal. “Completely booked, that’s all I can say.”
But if a band is staying at a hotel like Dakota, generally speaking, do they all have to have the same size rooms so there’s no squabbling?
“Every group is very different. We’ve actually had a band staying the last two nights that nobody would have known about,” says Matt.
He’s not giving anything away other than “they’re internationally renowned, you can probably guess,” but they had “a completely different rider per room.
“What goes into the suites is always tailored to the individual person.”
With years in the hotel industry, Matt must have received some bizarre requests from demanding guests. Can he reveal any?
“Discretion is absolutely the most important part of our business,” he says. “Not just about a superstar, but about every guest. You’d be amazed at some of the stories that happen in hotels.”
Just one story, we push. It can be anonymous. Go on.
“I’ve had to fill a whole bath with Evian mineral water for a guest before, but not at this hotel,” he smiles. Hot or cold? “It had to be heated up.”
And just recently a VIP customer requested that the ‘fish of the day’ from the restaurant menu be specially prepared at 5am.
“There can’t be many hotels in the city cooking the fish of the day at five in the morning,” Matt says.
“And a superstar guest in the last few days bought a puppy while she was staying. So we suddenly had a puppy to deal with. The team did a fabulous job reacting to that, being on puppy watch.”
Has he ever felt unable to cater for a guest’s demands?
“We’ve got a team here that are so focused on the guest that they just make magic happen,” he says.
“There’s absolutely nothing that could faze us. We never say no.”
Dakota has seen other celebrities staying at its hotels in Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh, but “Manchester as a city attracts a different level of superstar,” says Matt.
“It really is a truly international city. And as hoteliers we have to provide service in our hotels that match that aspiration.
“My team aren’t just focused on being the best hotel in Manchester, they’re focused on being the best hotel in the UK.”
We took a look round the suites to see what kind of rooms the visiting celebrities (or anyone who just fancies a bit of luxury in their life) can choose to stay in.
The two junior suites are the most accessible, starting from about £285. They offer a balcony, king size bed and ensuite bath with separate shower.
Then there are signature suites and seven executive suites, the latter offering dual-aspect, waterside views.
For the next level of luxury, the deluxe suites on the hotel’s top floor offer open living space, dedicated seating area, plush bedroom with emperor size bed, and a walk-in-wardrobe.
The ensuite bathrooms feature secrecy glass for added privacy if so desired, a roll top bath and a separate rainfall shower.
But set to be the glistening jewel in Manchester’s crown is the penthouse suite, known as the Grand Deluxe Suite.
It’s the largest and grandest suite in the city.
There’s both indoor and outdoor space with a dedicated lounge, dining area, opulent bedrooms, a walk-in wardrobe, modern fire place, ensuite bathrooms with steam showers and stunning marble tiles.
A sunken jacuzzi bath comes with its own TV.
There’s an adjoining private room in case a star wants to bring staff, a nanny or a minder maybe, which is “never let out on its own, it comes exclusively with the Grand Deluxe,” says Matt.
And the suite has its own private 8th floor external terrace, with far-reaching views across the city.
It comes with a hefty price tag of around £4,000 a night for the two bedrooms, which also includes chauffeur service and butler service – though not in the traditional style.
“All of our suites have access to chauffeur service,” says Matt.
“But the butler service we offer, it’s more of a host service really, not like a London butler who might follow you around for 48 hours.
“It’s still someone at your beck and call, but it’s more Manchester. It’s little things like the negroni mixed in your room on arrival.”
Speaking of drinks, the suites all come with complimentary minibars, in this case a mini fridge stocked with locally brewed beer and gin.
And the suites might not always be used as traditional bedrooms, says Matt.
“Sometimes if a star has an entourage they want a room to rest and relax in, like a green room. They might take a few suites and use one room as a communal room.”
Are rooms ever damaged by visiting rock royalty or movie stars?
“You hear the stories of rock stars throwing TVs out of the windows or whatever in the 80s, but that just doesn’t really happen anymore,” says Matt.
“They’re mostly just really nice people. Hugh Jackman was really lovely.
“And we make sure that every guest feels special, famous or not.”