The thriving boutique hotel scene in Manchester shows no sign of slowing, much like the city itself. Whether you’re after Victorian-era grandeur or velvet-clad fun palaces, we check in to the most characterful stays in the city.
A long-standing favourite of visiting VIPs, the five-star Lowry sits on the Salford side of the River Irwell, linked to central Manchester by a curvy white footbridge. Rooms are sleek and spacious, with light flooding in through floor-to-ceiling windows, and the on-site perks include a spa offering Elemis and Aromatherapy Associates treatments. There is also a revamped restaurant, where the modern British menu features veg from Cheshire farms, Lancashire meat and fish, and gins and beers from local Salford producers.
One of the finest Manchester hotels, Stock Exchange is a little beauty, its Edwardian baroque interiors awash with marble columns, gleaming brasswork and stained glass. They haven’t cut any corners here: bowler-hatted doormen usher you in; celebrity chef Tom Kerridge is behind the refined menu of British comfort food; and the bedrooms feel grown-up and glamorous, with swish white marble bathrooms and soft furnishings in soothing shades of coffee and cream.
Built in 1903 to house well-heeled rail travellers, this red-brick landmark is a grande dame of the Manchester hotel scene and looking better than ever thanks to a £14 million top-to-toe refurbishment. The revamped bedrooms have been elegantly made over in cool neutral shades, and the lovely basement spa offers thermal experiences, a relaxation pool and Caudalie treatments. Eating options include Adam Reid at the French, winner of many awards for its modern British fine dining.
Named after a variety of potato (yes, really), the Oxnoble is known for its food. An early arrival on the gastropub scene, it still packs in the punters for a menu that features the likes of brioche bacon butties, steak and ale pie and vegan burgers. It also has 10 simply furnished but cosy bedrooms that make a great base for visiting the surrounding area, with Castlefield on one side and the Science and Industry Museum on the other.
The Mal was one of the first boutique hotels to open in Manchester and, despite increased competition, it’s still going strong. The easy-to-reach location close to Piccadilly station certainly helps, as does the fact that it has continued to refresh and update over the years. The look in the rooms, split between a 1904 cotton warehouse and a modern extension, is mostly moody and monochrome, and facilities include a small basement spa and gym and a popular brasserie and bar.
Victorian grandeur meets 21st-century buzz in this Oxford Road hotel, created from the old Refuge Assurance Company HQ. At its heart is a vast, high-ceilinged space replete with original arches and ceramics, all cleverly subdivided into different zones: bar, games den, foliage-filled Winter Garden and a restaurant serving small plates and sharing dishes (the slow-cooked lamb shoulder is a perennial favourite). Bedrooms impress, too: no two are alike, but all have grand proportions and a cool modern look.
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