The hotel’s at the heart of the city, two streets from Albert Square and the Neo-Gothic Town Hall. Manchester’s liveliest districts, famed shopping zones and landmarks such as the John Rylands Library and Manchester Art Gallery are a 10-minute walk.
International hub Manchester Airport is the closest, a 25-minute drive away. Flights from the US connect via London Heathrow (British Airways run a frequent direct service); flights from Asia stopover in central Europe or the UAE. The hotel can organise transfers on request.
The legacy of Manchester’s industrial past is excellent rail links. The hotel is a 10-minute walk (or five-minute taxi ride) from the city’s four main stations: Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria and Deansgate. Trains from London Euston arrive at Manchester Piccadilly in around two hours and Northern Rail runs frequent services from regional destinations such as Liverpool, Leeds and York.
Locals take great pride in the fact that most destinations are usually a 10-minute walk away from wherever you are, and pavement pounding is the best way to come across the city’s lesser-known treasures. There’s an Avis booth at Manchester Piccadilly, if you want to explore the Peak District’s greener pastures, and a Q-Park on St James Street, a five-minute walk away.
Worth getting out of bed for
Manchester’s electric atmosphere is most charged around King Street Townhouse’s just-by-Albert-Square location. The glossy Spinningfields development is 10 minutes away; stock up on labels in Mulberry, Armani and Flannels boutique, before dining in a crop of global eateries (Comptoir Libonais, Ibèrica, Thaikhun and Fazenda). The Alchemist’s ‘lab’ invents molecular libations (+44 (0)161 817 2950), while pints of craft ale are pulled in The Oast House (+44 (0)161 829 3830) and The Lawn Club’s rustic environs (+44 (0)161 914 7830). Bibliophiles should visit grand, Neo-Gothic John Rylands Library (+44 (0)161 306 0555) on Deansgate, and magical mediaeval library Chetham’s on Long Millgate (+44 (0)161 834 7961). Manchester Art Gallery (+44 (0)161 235 8888) is hung with 19th-century pomp and splendour, with galleries devoted to modern art and design on the third floor. Iconic football stadium Old Trafford (+44 (0)161 868 8000) is in the Stretford area of Greater Manchester (a 15-minute drive away or 20-minute ride on the tram’s A line), and worshippers can pay homage at the National Football Museum (+44 (0)161 605 8200) on Todd Street; Harvey Nichols is a free kick away from there if shopping’s more your bag. Cultured types can watch off-kilter shows at the Royal Exchange Theatre (+44 (0)161 833 9833) or musicals at the Opera House (+44 (0)844 871 3018). The O2 Apollo (+44 (0)161 273 6921), stomping ground of musical giants and superstar comedians, is further south on Stockport Road. The Northern Quarter’s jumble of vintage shops, indie record stores, cafés and bars, is 10 minutes north of the hotel. Rummage for newbie labels at Horsebird and Dead Legacy, or old-school wares at Pop Boutique (+44 (0)161 236 5797) and Retro Rehab (+44 (0)161 839 2050), and join the cool kids in Piccadilly Records (+44 (0)161 839 8008) and Eastern Bloc (+44 (0)161 228 6555). Round off your day dancing till the small hours in Canal Street’s Gay Village. When you’re partied out, do as the locals do and seek out the Town Hall clock tower – the hotel’s just next door.
Tattu on Gartfield Street (+44 (0)161 819 2060) has an impressive mod-Chinese menu (beef and foie gras pot stickers, lobster prawn toasts and soy-glazed wagyu) and a magnificent cherry-blossom tree growing through the first floor. Alongside black-lacquer panels and huge anchor and rope installations, it’s a dreamy spot for a romantic meal. Close by, on the Avenue, a triangular prism rises from the ground; this isn’t the tip of an illuminati pyramid, but the entrance to Australasia (+44 (0)161 831 0288), a subterranean eatery with a menu that starts in Australia then travels round the Pacific Rim. Choose from sushi, steaks or the sizzling fish and crustacea on the Robata grill. A serious contender for Manchester’s first Michelin star (the city doesn’t have one yet, who’d a thunk it?) is The French at the Midland Hotel (+44 (0)161 932 4198). Its six- or 10-course tasting menus show chef Simon Rogan’s true creative mettle: broad beans and egg muddled with nasturtium and truffle, ox cheek fried in coal oil, and ‘Aynsome offerings’ (flowers and herbs from the eponymous manor). We predict a glittering future. Manchester House (+44 (0)161 835 2557) – chef Aiden Byrne's pride and joy – shows similar innovation in its dishes: roasted langoustine with ajwain, Txogitxu beef tartare and chocolate panna cotta with cauliflower ice-cream will kick start your taste buds.
Licensed till 4am with excellent live acts, the North Quarter's Night & Day Café (+44 (0)161 236 1822) is best known as a bar; but its stacked breakfast sandwich (served from 11am), brie-and-parmesan cheese toasties and mains such as honey-glazed pork belly, make it an excellent lunch spot too. Artisanal single-origin coffee, a Nordic-themed inspired by the owners’ travels, exposed-brick walls and so on: Takk MCR café (+44 (0)7989 583576) on Tariff Street may have heavy hipster leanings, but its strong cups of joe and simple Scandi food (we like the Icelandic-style hotdog) keep its barn-wood pews packed.
Manchester’s live-music venues are legion, and each offers something special. Albert Hall (+44 (0)844 858 8521) on Peter Street stands out for its varied programme and colonnaded grade-II-listed concert hall. The venue’s played host to big-hitters (Goldfrapp, Suede) but more experimental acts (the Cinematic Orchestra, Explosions in the Sky) and noted dance outfits (Chvrches) are slotted into their impressive roster. Housed under a railway arch on Whitworth Street, in what was once beloved avant-garde performance space the Green Room, Gorilla (+44 (0)161 407 0301) strives to stay Manchester’s wild card. Experimental music outfits, book readings, art installations, club nights: anything goes; and the upstairs Gin Parlour adds a (generous) measure of sophistication. The martinis are the bar’s pride and joy. A pint in The Marble Arch (+44 (0)161 832 5914) on Rochdale Road is a must; the 19th-century bar has the original wall and floor tiles, and a slightly sloping floor that might befuddle those who’ve sampled several of the 11 craft beers on tap (and a few guest beers).