I stayed at this new Manchester hotel on business for one night as the hotel I usually use was fully booked.
The hotel is located on the North side of Manchester city centre. This is obviously an 'up an coming' area judging by the amount of glass and chrome new build offices going up nearby. It does however suffer from the usual Manchester problem in that it sits cheek-by-jowl with Victorian streets. Some of these have been recently renovated in to beautiful office/commercial spaces showing off the fantastic architecture to good effect, but far too many are decaying and rather seedy.
Not a problem for me, having spent five years in the city at a time when the whole place was a dump. It might prove a little worrying for business visitors or tourists unfamiliar with Manchester to turn a corner in to some of these streets. Most of the other central hotels suffer from the same issue, and the city centre is pretty safe so don't let that put you off.
The Crowne Plaza is convenient for Manchester Victoria railway station, the Arena, the Arndale shopping centre and most parts of the city centre. it is further away from Manchester Piccadilly station that other hotels, which is where visitors from the South would arrive. It would definitely be worth getting a taxi if you have luggage or if it is raining, which being Manchester it almost certainly will be!
The hotel is not obvious from the street. It is a brand-new building but just looks like one of the many new offices going up in the surrounding the area until you are right outside the front door. Some more obvious signage would be useful for visitors arriving on foot.
The hotel lobby is nothing special; you could be in a Crowne Plaza or any other chain hotel in the world. There were a few people in the queue ahead of me, but check-in was extremely quick and efficient compared to most hotels.
I had a club room on the 8th floor; not by choice, it was all that was available when it was booked. The room itself was definitely not the anonymous cookie-cutter hotel room I was expecting. (You know the chain-hotel feeling; you wake up at 3:00am and wonder where in the world you are as the room gives you no clue.)
This place is trying hard to be different décor-wise. The room is dominated by a giant black-gloss construction which runs floor to ceiling along most of the wall behind the bed and leans outwards at a rakish angle. To call it a 'headboard' would be like calling a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier a 'boat'.
Coupled with zebra-print soft-furnishings and throws and the ultra-bright LED spotlights dotted around, the effect is overwhelming. If a red braces-wearing Gordon Gecko jumped in to his DeLorean and time-travelled forwards 30 years, a larger version of this place is exactly what he would want for his bachelor pad.
It is a look that would definitely work in a spacious Vegas penthouse suite, and was just about bearable when the curtains were pulled back on the floor-to ceiling windows. Once they are closed, it is all a bit too much for the senses.
In terms of practicalities, the oversized king bed was comfortable. The room had sufficient closet space, an armchair and a desk with plenty of accessible power sockets over the desk, so no crawling around for once. The room also has wired and wireless internet access, two phones and a large flat-screen TV. There is a small (locked) mini-bar, which I didn't need so did not bother calling reception to get it unlocked.
The bathroom has a bath and a separate shower cubicle, and I found it well lit and reasonably spacious. Lighting in the rest of the room suffered from the usual hotel problem in that it is all task and side-lighting. Even with everything available switched on, the room was dark; all the more so due to the 2001-style black monolith behind the bed that sucked in most of the available light.
The room was absolutely spotless, so no complaints there. I hope they pay the housekeeping staff overtime because it must be absolute hell keeping the acres of glossy surfaces looking immaculate, but somehow they managed it.
This was far from the best night's sleep I have had. The room was located on the top floor, just across from the lift lobby. I was anticipating a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing of other guests disturbing me, but didn't hear anything on that front. The lift machinery however was audible throughout the night; not particularly loud but the frequent whining and buzzing was noticeable. I'd imagine it would not be an issue on the lower floors
I switched the air-con unit off overnight, but could also hear a constant 'rushing' sound. I don't know what it was, perhaps air, water or machine noise. Maybe I was being over-sensitive, but combined with the lift machinery, this wasn't the most restful of environments. (I have had better sleep in a hotel directly opposite an international airport in case you think I'm going over the top here!)
The TV had a reasonable selection of free TV channels as well as chargeable movies on demand.
Club-level rooms have access to a lounge with complimentary drinks and snacks, but it closes at 8:00pm and I had arrived too late to take advantage of it.
I had dinner in the Glasshouse Bar and Restaurant as it was getting late. The usual 'table for one routine'. The place large, anonymous and pretty empty. Three or four other guys with their tables for one and acres of empty seats.
As a vegetarian, I expect my choices in chain hotels to be pretty limited, and my expectations were met in spades.
I had to settle for a plate of bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This alone was five quid. Seriously, 99% of places would bring you something like that for free whilst you peruse the menu! The bread was nice and chunky, but the dip was served in a mini-trough rather than in a shallow bowl. This meant the bread ended up dripping in flavourless olive oil since you had to plunge it deep in to the trough to reach the balsamic.
This was followed by a mushroom risotto which didn't taste of mushrooms or much else for that matter, and it was pretty watery to boot. It was hot and served promptly, which is just about the praise I can muster for it. I had deja-vu moment, and realised that this mushroom risotto is what InterContinental Hotels foist on vegetarians at Crowne Plazas and Holiday Inns across the UK (and probably the world).
Tip to management; buy the chefs a few recipe books or you're going to miss out on 7 to 10% of your potential bookings, since I don't think many of us veggies would want to experience that more than once every ten years or so.
Manchester city centre is packed with restaurants of all sorts and has a small-china town not too far away from the hotel. If you have time, you would have a better experience eating out.
Although breakfast was included in the price I paid, I didn't have time or the inclination to try it.
The hotel doesn't appear to offer an express check-out service. I found this slightly bizarre as the TV is capable of displaying your bill on-screen at any time and a credit card is taken at check-in. There was a queue for check-out, but again it was much quicker than I have experienced at other hotels.
The hotel is on the pricey side, but it is brand-new and shiny so warrants the premium price. The hotel is entirely suited to business travellers and couples on a city-break as it is convenient for the central business area and shopping/restaurants. I don't think I'd choose to bring a family here though.
I'll probably end up staying here again as there are not many four-star or better hotels in Manchester, but would definitely eat out next time.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Crowne Plaza Manchester City Centre is the hottest new hotel to land on the city in 2008. It is perfectly situated in the heart of Manchester in the trendy Northern Quarter, Victoria and Piccadilly Stations and Shudehill Tram and Bus Interchange are all within a short walking distance of this stunning new city centre hotel. The Crowne Plaza Manchester City Centre is ideally located within easy access to the MEN Arena, Manchester Central, the Printworks, Manchester Arndale Shopping Centre, Urbis, Manchester City and Manchester United football grounds. The Crowne Plaza Manchester City Centre has 228 luxurious bedrooms with one or two queen or king sized beds including Club Rooms, Junior and Presidential Suites, and a club floor with enhanced views and exclusive access to the top floor club lounge. The stylish rooms have superb contemporary bathrooms boasting separate bath and shower, LCD televisions and complimentary internet access. All guests have complimentary access to the gym which has a range of cardio-vascular equipment open 24 hours a day. The Glasshouse Bar and Restaurant is an ideal place to relax and unwind with a specialty cocktail or have dinner with colleagues or friends. The Crowne Plaza Manchester City Centre also offers nine modern and state-of-the art meeting rooms with a maximum capacity for up to 200 delegates with complimentary wireless internet access. Located right in the heart of Manchester on the edge of the captivating nightlife and excellent entertainment area including the trendy Northern Quarter, the hotel provides you with the gateway to what the city has to offer. With state of the art conference facilities and 228 individual bedroom experiences, every care has been taken to combine the edgy modern design of the building with contemporary luxury facilities. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Crowne Plaza Manchester
- Manchester Crowne Plaza