“ Address: 19 Trafford Road / Salford / Manchester M5 3AW / England / Tel: 0161 848 0898 „
This year my little sis got married. A time for celebration for any family, but even more so for us as she was 35, it was her first marriage and about time too! To be organised of course was the most important part of any wedding, the hen night! My mum and sister had visited us in Manchester earlier in the year and myself and daughter had taken them to Canal Street in the heart of the Gay Village which they'd loved. What better place for a hen weekend then Manchesters Canal Street on Gay Pride Weekend! First up was the hotel, only something cheap and cheerful was needed, it only to get dressed up in and sleep in after all. Preferably close to Canal Street as possible, which left out most hotels in Central Manchester. Its unusual to get under £80 a night and with it being Gay Pride weekend, even the Premier Inns were inflating their prices above that. In the end the Etap Hotel was chosen, 12 minutes and 5 tram stops to Piccadilly Gardens, it was a mere £40 a night. And that's per room which is excellent, its also perfect for a stag or hen weekend as it fits 3 people to a room. And for a bonus a buffet breakfast is included. Booking is easy, you either call the hotel direct, the central booking line or online. And doing it online was extremely easy, just a couple of clicks, card details (needed to reserve the room), and its done. Getting there is easy, its on the main tram lines, not overly expensive for a taxi from more Central Manchester, and easy to get to with a sat nav. As you get closer you'll see a lovely modern building looking quite swish, all dark reds and lots of glass, well its not that one, that's the Radisson, the Etap is right next to it and does bear far more resemblance to a Premier Inn! There is a car park which costs £4.50 for 24 hours stay, but its small and I would imagine on busy days it would be difficult to get in. There's very little parking around the hotel, but Etap apparently have an overflow secure car park several minutes walk away which costs £7 for 24 hours. Inside its your usual minimalist looking hotel which appears to have kept Ikea in business for several years, 2 sofas pot plant, table, and then what appears to look like a café at the back, lots of white tables with white chairs on a tiled floor. The main desk seems to double as a bar with a selection of bottled drinks and beers, nowhere to relax and drink the beer though! There are also two rather large vending machines full of unhealthy rubbish for when you stagger in at 2am and fancy some munchies! Booking in was swift and efficient as well, the staff were extremely pleasant. As seems to be the norm nowadays the vast majority had English as their 2nd language, but their English was perfect and most spoke several other languages as well as indicated by a flag on their name badge. There are 2 lifts which thankfully both worked as there are seven floors. Oh my, you are going to get a shock when you see the rooms if you haven't seen them on the website. If theres 3 of you then you are definitely going to argue over who gets the bunk bed! Beds come in twin or double and the bunk bed goes over the heads of the others, if you haven't slept on one in a long while it's a very scary experience! You feel really high up, it feels extremely massive and you have the sense of being about to fall out all night waking up your fellow drunken revellers below! The rooms are very small, there is no drink making facilities, however there is a small flat screen tv attached to the wall, oh and 2 plastic cups set out on the small corner sink. Thankfully the toilet is separate, I know girls quite often go to the loos in twos, but not when sober! There is also a walk-in shower which gives a good burst of hot water, but the door has a gap at top and bottom, and the handle is just a rather large hole in the door. May I suggest that all the occupants of the room know each other quite well before sharing a room as they will be getting quite intimate! It was extremely clean though, no stray hairs anywhere! And the toilet and shower were spotless if a little stingy on the cheap loo rolls! And its luck of the draw what room you get, one side overlooks the main road which always has traffic on it, and we had one group complain massively about a plastic bottle they heard bouncing down the road all night! Another overlooks the tram line which can get quite noisy with a tram ever 12 minutes starting at 6am, the other overlooks the car park with people coming and going all night and the last looks straight at another building, so don't go expecting beautiful views! The on bad thing I have to say is the temperature, although there was aircon in every room it was useless, it was miserable weather even so the heat became horrible at times, combine this with the fact that open windows let all the noise in made it a little difficult to sleep, well that wasn't what made it difficult to sleep, but more on that later! I didn't have any breakfast, after a Friday night at the Printworks nothing could be stomached! So I went and asked my mum! She described it as very nice, it was the usual continental fare, bread to make toast, jams, marmalades, several different types of marmalade, cheese, and drinks such as tea, coffee, orange and apple juice. In her usual words 'nice, but nothing to write home about', oh well I'm writing about it here! One thing I did notice as I did actually manage to make it downstairs was that there were quite a few tables full of dishes waiting to be cleared away, maybe this was due to the fact that it was towards the end of breakfast time (10am) and the staff were taking it a bit easy. Now I must do words of warning to some people who are thinking that this sounds like rather a nice hotel, it is, but it's noisy and the walls aren't particularly thick! Like us threes always lots of stag and hen parties every weekend and bunches of boys and girls drunk and away for the weekend are going to make noise! I do feel a certain amount of pity for any guests there for a quiet weekend on our nights there! We were all on one corridor bunched together and every single door was open with girls dashing from room to room with lots of feather boas around and complaints about make-up going on and 'how do you get these false eyelashes on', even the people we were sharing the corridor with had their doors open and were coming and going, it really was one big party atmosphere! When we came back from Canal Street the noise continued for most of the night with people coming back at all times. And from what I've been told whilst our night was excessive the Etap has a reputation for being noisy. Oh and the management pretty much leaving people to their own devices as long as they aren't breaking anything. It was, I have to say, and amazing weekend, and being waken up by a rather high pitched squeal of 'Oh my god, its looks like a drag queens been murdered out here' was the highlight. To this day I'll never know how the feathers from my boa managed to make it to up the other end of the corridor! The corridor outside was strewn with various feather, false eyelashes and other Gay Pride related attire! Booking out was again swift, with no problems, the staff were just as pleasant with the bleary eyed party goers who could barely see to put their pin numbers in to pay, thankfully check-out was 12 o clock! After reading various reviews I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the Etap, polite staff and clean bedrooms count a lot towards a good stay. If organising another night out for friends in Manchester I would certainly use them again, but would be very careful about who was in the party, after all, I cant see Great-Aunt Beryl climbing up those steps to the bunk beds!