Editor's Blog

Old school glam at Principal Manchester

It must be a never-ending and expensive process for hotels to stay ahead of trends and technology, while also getting a refresh. When one refurbishment project finishes, another one is due to start.

But after a significant £25 million rebranding investment, The Principal Manchester is proof that it can pay to go back in time to move forward.

The new-look hotel – the results of which I got to see during a visit this week – has been designed around a charming English antique theme that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into another era. 

Sherlock Holmes-inspired aged leather trunks and hard-covered books are scattered throughout the hotel lobby and in each room, while old-school rotary dial telephones aren’t just for show, but can be used for calls. The rooms are comfortable, with high ceilings and minimum fuss - there is only one light switch for the room (a bugbear of mine, as it can take a lot of time in some hotels to simply turn off all the lights) and there's no iPod docks, remote controlled curtains or other high-tech gadgets. There is of course a large, flat-screen TV, but apart from that it's just a comfortable space with large beds and a welcoming armchair that wraps around you.

As you move into the restaurant space, the Refuge by Volta, there is a bit more of an art deco, Great Gatsby inspiration. Glass panelling and low hanging lights throughout create an intimate feel, while a large mural and ode to Manchester stands out on an otherwise blank wall of bricks. While I only had breakfast, which was top-notch, there have been rave reviews about the intriguing menu created by chefs Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey, both ex-DJs.

This is all within a stunning building known for its imposing clock tower, situated literally across the road from Manchester Oxford Road train station and, to my delight, a short walk from Manchester’s famous Christmas markets.

Having only opened last month after rebranding from The Palace Hotel, The Principal Manchester is a stunning new addition for the new Principal Group, launched last month by Starwood Capital group, after an investment totalling £150 million. Each of the three hotels in the portfolio are set within imposing buildings in Manchester, York and Edinburgh and would make a statement to any corporate event. I’d thoroughly encourage a visit.

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