Please note our writer visited Manchester prior to the coronavirus pandemic
Manchester’s city centre is strewn with attractive hotels, from five-star cocoons of luxury and hip aparthotels in former mills to budget beds and seductive hideaways. It makes things easier when you’re planning weekend of, say, exploring the high street shops of pedestrianised Market Street, restaurants along King Street, bars of the Northern Quarter, clubs in Canal Street, or general gallery and museum-hopping – or all of the above – to have the right hotel in the right location. Especially as many of them offer spas, bars and comfy beds at the end of the day (or night) to soothe tired souls. With unbeatable postcodes, top service, cool design and excellent added extras, here’s our pick of the best hotels in Manchester city centre.
This city centre hotel, housed in Manchester’s former Stock Exchange, is on a quiet but central street a two-minute walk from the shops and restaurants on King Street in one direction and the high street shops of pedestrianised Market Street in the other. Original features such as marble columns, stained glass and fireplaces sparkle, while an excellent restaurant by chef Tom Kerridge is in pride of place in the building’s magnificent dome, formerly the trading floor. From arrival – when you can choose whether to check in over a complimentary cup of tea and slice of cake in the guest “traders” lounge, or at the desk – it’s clear that service is top-notch.
Tucked away on the city centre’s quiet Booth Street (not nearby King Street as the name suggests), it’s just a five-minute walk to Manchester Art Gallery in one direction and the bars and restaurants of Spinningfields in the other. Visiting King Street Townhouse is like staying with a rich friend who has extremely good taste. Everything from the furniture to locally commissioned artwork throughout the property has been sourced by former owner, Sally O’Loughlin, and no two of the 40 bedrooms are the same. From its infinity spa-pool with a spectacular view of the Town Hall clock, and stylish public areas, to bedrooms you’ll struggle to leave.
This hip hotel is right in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, so there are bars and restaurants galore on the hotel’s doorstep. Piccadilly train station is a five-minute walk away as is Manchester’s main shopping street, Market Street – ask for a quiet room or use the complimentary earplugs if you’re a light sleeper. Many original features have been retained from the former textile warehouse it occupies, and are complemented by a stylish décor with bold touches such as a fake palm tree. Expect plenty of treats – including free prosecco and nibbles (between 6pm and 8pm in The Plantation Bar), Netflix in all rooms and milk and cookies before bed. A light breakfast is included.
This five-star hotel, which sits on Peter Street in the city centre, is set in one of Manchester’s grandest buildings, the Free Trade Hall. Original features such as the colonnaded seating area in the bar and restaurant, Peter Street Kitchen, and the original coats of arms from the building’s main auditorium above reception are reminders that you are somewhere special. This bold restaurant and bar serves Japanese and Mexican sharing plates as well as imaginative cocktails – and the culinary combination works. Bedrooms are in a new, purpose-built section of the building. There’s a spa and gym with a 12-metre swimming pool, sauna, steam room, experience shower and whirlpool tub.
As well as a 166-room design-led aparthotel at this former cotton warehouse, just a two-minute walk from Piccadilly station, there’s a social hub (Culturplex) on the ground floor with a restaurant, coffee shop, gym, bar and mini-cinema – so allow plenty of time to explore it. Stylish apartments range from studios to enormous two-bedroom penthouses, but even entry-level rooms have space for super-king-sized beds, peacock blue and gold kitchenettes, sofas and dining tables. The majority of apartments have both a dishwasher and a washing machine too.
Dakota Manchester aims to bring “a touch of Mayfair to Manchester” and oozes glamour, from its imposing black building to dark and moody interiors. Venetian blinds between the reception area and the bar, wooden screened booths in the restaurant, and candlelight give the feeling of being on a glamorous film noir set. Steak is the speciality in the hotel’s Dakota Grill restaurant, but it also does other classic dishes well, such as an excellently flavoured line-caught stone bass. The hotel is on Ducie Street, less than a five-minute walk from Piccadilly railway station and on the edge of Manchester’s hip Northern Quarter. Set next to Rochdale Canal, some rooms look out over the water – though views are grittily urban rather than pretty.
This achingly cool aparthotel, on busy Princess Street in the city centre, has all you need for a stay in the city – and more. It’s over the road from the bars and restaurants in Manchester’s vibrant Gay Village, a couple of minutes’ walk from Chinatown and a five-minute walk from Manchester Art Gallery. Rooms, done out in blush pink with brass finishes, are chic retreats and have fully equipped kitchenettes, extremely comfortable king-sized beds, seating and working areas. FDN Whitworth takes coffee seriously and serves healthy breakfast, brunch and lunch options as well as bar snacks in the evening. Regular classes are held in the basement Locker Room gym, and there’s a co-working space.
First impressions of this hotel are undeniably grand – from the Grade II listed ornate red brick and terracotta exterior to the pillared, glass-ceilinged reception area, which often has a striking floral arrangement at its centre. It is home to two excellent restaurants as well as a luxurious spa (though all guests have to pay £10 to use the spa; £5 for children) and a gym. There’s also the quirky Mr Cooper’s Restaurant and Bar, the Tea Room for afternoon tea, and the Bar & Lounge for a less formal meal. Breakfast is served in Mr Cooper’s and is a decent buffet selection of cooked and continental items, as well as à la carte options for extra.
On Manchester’s grand King Street, this five-star is extremely central – it’s just a 10-minute walk to Piccadilly railway station, and less than five minutes to Manchester Art Gallery, while the shops on Market Street and King Street are just outside. It’s all about glitzy decadence and theatre here, with a cheeky twist, from cocktails on the rooftop terrace to the gold-tiled private members’ club on the top floor. The hotel also aims to be “the sexiest hotel in Europe” with leather-clad walls in five Inner Sanctum suites. The 60-cover restaurant, Honey, has a small menu with some interesting options. Ask for a seat next to one of the arched windows for a great view of the city below.
A 10-minute walk from Piccadilly Station, the hotel – visible from all around thanks to its clocktower – is also less than five minutes by foot from the gay and mixed bars and clubs of Canal Street, and about 12 minutes from the city centre’s shopping malls and department stores (noise can be an issue). Inside, public areas positively drip with ornate original features, including glazed bricks, tiles and faience, stained glass and carved wooden staircases. Glossy contemporary fittings add sex appeal. All categories of room can sleep up to four adults in two doubles or a double and two singles; suites sleep two. Minibars come stocked with complimentary mineral water and fresh milk, and there’s also a tuck-box of free treats including posh crisps and chocolate bars.