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This weekend my husband and I had a very rare weekend. For the first time since having our children we had a night away without them! Because we haven't had a night away sans children since our honeymoon over 5 years ago we really wanted to make the most of it and do something really special. It also marked our 10th anniversary of having met so it was a really special weekend. We toyed with lots of ideas before deciding to have a night at The Midland Hotel.
=== Choice choice choice! ===
We live 20 minutes away from Manchester and thought having an overnight stay in a city we knew would be a great idea so we didn't waste our precious time travelling anywhere and we would get to see it from a different prospective not having to worry about getting the last train home and so forth. Once we had decided that we would stay in Manchester the next choice was which hotel and as you can imagine there is ample choice of hotels in Manchester. We were literally overwhelmed with choice and spent about a week reading reviews and looking at websites and photographs trying to establish what it was we wanted and which hotel seemed to have it. We eventually chose The Midland as we know it has a very grand reputation with it being on a pedestal somewhat and so we would expect a really grand time with being waited on and in luxurious surroundings. We liked the idea of the fact royalty stay here, that it has such a history to it, that the majority of reviews on this place are extremely favourable and the formality of having doormen that carry your bags and so forth. We then searched around for the best deal and managed to find it through a price comparison website which showed if we bought it through Hotelsclick.com it would be £89 for a room which was a huge saving as if you booked through Midland direct it was £149! This is just for the room, if you want breakfast you pay another £30 on top (£15 each) and if you wanted dinner it was £225 so we just opted for the room only option. We were really excited about our stay and couldn't wait to have some time just the two of us and in a really wonderful hotel.
=== Our arrival ===
The Midland Hotel is situated in the city centre but not on the main shopping strip or right against the stations. It is probably nearest to Deansgate station but it's really only a 10-15 minute average-paced walk to Piccadilly and it's right next to the metrolink station. There are lots of ways to get here and we found it no problem whatsoever. When we arrived we were really excited. We were told check in was at 3 but we arrived at 2:30. When we got there the red carpet was out with little ballards on so we couldn't walk up it so someone must have been expected to arrive soon, this was quite exciting! There were about 5 men on the door wearing their smart gear but not one of them offered to take our suitcase we were carrying. One did open the door for us though and wished us a good stay which was nice.
First impressions were that it was a grand hotel! There was marble flooring and a very spacious reception area with concierge staff standing by ready to help. To the left was what looked like a bar area and there was seating around in the reception area but it wasn't all that ample really. There were three reception desks and we checked in at the middle one. The lady on the desk was quite young and had a less formal manner than the other staff members. She said she would upgrade our room seeing as it was for our anniversary and that was lovely of her. She then advised us on places we could go in the evening. What surprised me in hindsight is that she didn't explain the hotel to us. She didn't tell us where the evening meals could be served or where the breakfast would be or the pool or spa... it was a mystery!
=== Our room ===
Our room was on the 6th floor which was good, this meant the noise from traffic couldn't reach us... it couldn't anyway as we were at the back of the hotel so the view from our window was of the rest of the hotel! Our room had a little hallway area with ample wardrobe space and a trouser press. Opposite this was the ensuite and then through the hallway and to the right was our room. We were really impressed by the size! It had a huge double bed- which was actually two twin beds pushed together but with a mattress on top so that it wasn't like you had a big gap to fall down! The bed had lots of cushions on it. There was a seating area to the left which had a sofa and an arm chair, by this was a large coffee table and a smart TV. We also had a dressing table which doubled up as a desk, two bedside tables and a mini bar with tea making facilities on top.
Now we were impressed with the amount of space we had and it was very clean with quite retro-style furniture which certainly gave it character but there were several disappointments where you would expect better from this hotel. The bathroom was only just slightly bigger than a Premier Inn and the bath was just normal, nothing fancy. You did get some nice toiletries but there was nothing extra like cotton wool or things like that which would be useful. I had been hoping to treat myself to a relaxing bath in luxurious surroundings but this bathroom was certainly nothing special at all. The tea-making facilities were also somewhat lacking. When we have stayed in much, much less expensive hotels we have had a variety of tea and coffee and hot chocolate but on offer here was just tea, coffee and decaf coffee. I was really expecting to see hot chocolate and de-caf tea. I only drink decaf so we had to go to the shop and buy our own teabags. The mini bar buzzed away but we couldn't even open it to see what was inside! I have no idea how it was supposed to open, we kept trying it but it just would not open whatsoever no matter what we did! There was a note on the bar saying that if we removed anything from it it would automatically be added to our account. I'm not sure if that meant if we just lifted it out of the fridge to read the ingredients and then put it back it would be charged but it was worded in that manner... like I say we couldn't open it anyway so have no idea what would happen or what was in there!
When it came to working the television it was a bit complicated because it was a smart TV so was really fancy but when you haven't used one before it takes some getting used to and when you're in a rush as you just have the one night together you don't want to spend 30 minutes getting acquainted with the workings of your television!
=== Facilities ===
I wish I could tell you about the facilities this hotel offers but I'm afraid to say my knowledge of them is extremely lacking thanks to... well simply not being aware of them! We knew there was a bar-type area so we went to sit there. This was up some nice steps and seemed to be broken into sections which I assume were all the same bar. We were expecting a waiter to come and seat us but all the staff just seemed to walk past us. Having not been here before we weren't sure what the etiquette was. In the end we just sat down on a sofa and I had to send my husband over to ask a member of staff for a menu. It is all very secretive and mysterious as the menus are very mysterious- the staff seem to want them back right away and only give you the first basic menu. The menu was rather sparse with a few selections of sandwiches which were quite nice sounding and some soup. There were some meals on it too which didn't include much to choose from but that is what you expect. There were a few desserts which sounded nice and then a choice of drinks some alcoholic-some not.
Nobody came back to take our order so again I had to send my husband up to get a waiter's attention. We ordered a de-caf tea and a cappuccino. This was served after about 10 minutes along with some nice biscuits, however, the waiter forgot the milk with my tea so went off to get it and it took another 5 minutes to bring it back. One thing I realised is that on the menu it said 'leaf tea' but the tea I got was just a tea bag of a brand you can get anywhere. This was disappointing again. We asked the waiter for the wine menu as when we looked at the menu we had been given we realised it only listed various alcoholic drinks but there was no sign of wine or cocktails. When he brought the wine menu over he apologised that it was a sticky menu- yuck! There were lots of cocktails and wines to choose from, you could get a cocktail for around £8 which we thought was actually quite reasonable.
When it came to paying the bill again we had to wait for a long time for a member of staff. This was so frustrating. They seemed to be busy talking to other guests whilst we lingered around the till area. I really was disappointed by this service but whilst we were waiting to pay we could see other diners having what looked like a platter of little cakes and other things that we hadn't seen on the menu. I have no idea if they had a different menu to us or what but it looked lovely and it was such a shame that we didn't know about it. Again another mystery of The Midland!
We opted to eat out in the evening but I'm not sure if we would have done or not if we had known anything about the restaurant for the evening meal. I still don't have a clue where it was or what was on the menu as nothing was advertised anywhere in the foyer. It may have been in the instruction book in our room but we didn't do much more than a quick flick through it. I do feel like the receptionist upon check in should have said something about it and you would expect there to at least be a menu on display in the foyer or something but we don't even know where the restaurant was situated let alone what it served!
There was a sign on the lift to the spa/swimming pool but we didn't go there as we wanted to go to the shops and things but we don't know if any of it was included in the price we paid or what was offered there. I don't know if there are any other facilities as that all seems to be a mystery too!
=== The Area ===
There is plenty to do around Manchester so you won't be bored! The hotel is well situated for going to the shops and looking at tourist attractions and because of the metro link it's easy to get around to places which are a bit further afield. We just visited the shops and restaurants of which there are plenty! The staff in the hotel were very helpful with suggestions of where to go so if you don't know the area then there will be plenty of advice given. There were leaflets available too in the foyer but to be honest some of them were a bit far out like the Yorkshire Sculpture Park which is a good 50 minute drive away. There are theatres, comedy clubs, cathedrals, museums and lots of other places all within walking distance for you to acquaint yourself with so you won't be bored here!
=== Staff ===
The staff here seem to vary enormously. When we arrived we had expected a bit more of a welcome with bags being taken and so forth but I think the staff were too preoccupied waiting for the red carpet guest. The staff in the bar area were really lacking and this let us down hugely. The concierge staff, however, were really on the ball in a way which was a little bit too much if I'm honest! When my husband and I had checked in we stepped aside and discussed whether or not we were going to go to our room first or go straight to the bar area and a concierge member of staff interrupted our conversation to ask what we were planning on doing. I'm not sure if he thought we were making the foyer look untidy or if he was just trying to be helpful but it was a bit much really and the next morning he was the same when we had checked out he tried to get us to check out again when we said we were leaving. So in our experience it seems like we only got one extreme or the other.
=== Sleep ===
We slept really well in this hotel. The bed was extremely comfortable. I have no idea what they put in their pillows but they are a perfect density and so, so comfortable. The curtains are really thick too so no light came through which meant for the first time in years we slept in until gone 8am which was amazing! We really enjoyed our sleep and were surprised by how quiet the hotel was, we didn't hear a noise from any other rooms and I guess being on the top floor had that going for it as it meant nobody was above us.
=== Breakfast ===
What a big disappointment breakfast was! I can honestly say that a Premier Inn breakfast is way better than this. When we went downstairs in the morning we were escorted into the breakfast suite which was downstairs and again it was rather mysterious- you weren't told how much it was or what options you have we were just taken to a table. We then realised it was buffet-style and that we automatically had to pay £15 a head even though I don't eat hot breakfast. I felt like this was rather unfair and it was disappointing to have to serve ourselves especially when paying such a lot of money per head. Cereals were terrible! You had a choice of several but they had 'watered them down' - The Frosties were mixed with cornflakes! I mean that is just really poor when you're paying so much money! There were various kinds of bread and croissants and there were little pots of dried fruit you could sprinkle on your cereal but these pots were tiny so you kind of felt like you could only have a tiny bit. Hot breakfast wise it was all kept in big metal containers so the hashbrowns were soggy and the eggs had gone a bit congealed. My husband said the sausages tasted really cheap and that he much preferred the Premier Inn. I tried to enjoy my bowl of cereal which was absolutely nothing special so looked around the room to try to appreciate the atmosphere but it was rather lacking. We could have been in any large room having breakfast. I can imagine if the room was done up for an event it could look quite good but there was nothing special about it bar some carvings on the wall- the lights were really standard ones and the tables nothing special at all. I was so let down by this. We would have given it 4 stars if it hadn't been for this poor breakfast experience.
=== Conclusion ===
I had high expectations about this place and sometimes that's the problem- that you think of something to be amazing and then you're let down but I had hoped that this wouldn't be the case for a hotel which has such good reports. Perhaps if we had celebrity status we would have been told about the restaurant in the hotel and we wouldn't have had to stand around for ages wondering if we seated ourselves or if someone would show us to a table in the bar, maybe that's the problem here we're just 'ordinary'. I really was let down i was hoping for much better. There is no denying the room was a lovely size and was furnished and the bed extremely comfortable but the really standard bathroom and the lack of special touches- fresh flowers, a welcome note, de-caf tea... did let it down.
If we ever get the chance to have a night away child-free again I don't think we would stay here again. Part of me wants to to see if we just had a bad weekend of poor staff who liked to keep menus and facilities secret but I wouldn't risk paying another £90-£150 to do so and we certainly wouldn't have breakfast again that's for sure! We paid £120 in total when you include breakfast and I don't think it was worth that and I certainly would not have been happy if we had paid full price. If the service had been better and we were really welcomed like you would expect with a breakfast that wasn't so poor then we would have been happy but there were just so many little faults that really let this down. I really do feel disappointed as we had saved up and spent a long time looking forward to this.
Prior to having children, Mr Lools and I would regularly have short trips away or nights away in a hotel within the UK. Not only did we enjoy more relaxed trips in country hotels we also enjoyed city breaks. We always opted for more "upmarket" hotels and found ourselves regularly booking with the Q Hotel group as we found the hotels within this chain were very reasonably priced in addition to offering a high standard of accommodation. So when we decided on a night away in Manchester we opted for The Midland Manchester which is part of the Q Hotel chain.
The Midland Hotel is located in Manchester City Centre on Peter Street. It is a very central location and very conveniently located for those travelling to the hotel by rail. It is opposite Manchester Central Station, 200m from Oxford Road Station and 800m from Piccadilly Station. The hotel is very centrally located for shopping and nightlife. The Deansgate area is only a two minute walk from the hotel where you will find a number of bars and restaurants. The Arndale shopping centre is less than a 10 minute walk away from the hotel.
The main drawback of the central location is a lack of parking. The hotel does not have a car park for guests therefore if you are travelling by car you will need to park in a private car park nearby. The nearest hotel is the NCP Manchester Central which is less than a 5 minute walk away from the hotel. This does cost £15 for 24 hours parking therefore is an additional cost to consider as part of your stay.
Manchester Airport is 10 miles away from the hotel.
The Midland Hotel is described on the Q Hotel website as "a Grade II listed treasure which oozes luxury, comfort and style, and enjoys a history that leaves other Manchester hotels out in the cold. Over the course of its 100 year history, The Midland Hotel in Manchester has welcomed many a king, queen, president and rock star. And, should you choose to stay with us, it's where you will be treated like royalty too. The red-bricked Victoriana that Manchester is famous for is perfectly captured in the architecture of The Midland Hotel, Manchester. The building's characteristic style continues inside, where you'll find opulent decor, rich fabrics and shimmering chandeliers."
My first impression of the hotel was very impressive. On walking towards the hotel the red bricked hotel stood out from the other grey/ stone coloured buildings on the street and the hotel is architecturally a very beautiful building. On top of that "THE MIDLAND" is written in large gold lettering above the impressive entrance. On walking through the large entrance I was also very impressed with the very large grand entrance hallway. This is a very large and open area with marble flooring, reception desks and pillars. There is definitely a very luxurious feel about the hotel. It is a large hotel with 312 bedrooms and 14 conferencing room.
The public areas of the hotel and hotel corridors are slightly less grand but very impressive. These areas are carpeted and the areas are decorative but also modern and very spacious. There is a lot of gold detailing and mirrors in the public areas. All of these areas were very clean and tidy during our stay.
***Booking/ Checking In/ Checking Out***
We booked our stay at the Midland Hotel online through the Q Hotel website (the chain of hotels The Midland Hotel is from). This was a case of entering the date and number of nights that we wanted to stay and the various options and room rates.
The room rates are fantastic the charge for breakfast is only £10 per room on top of the room only price and Dinner Bed and Breakfast only £50 added onto the room only price. There are three different room types in the hotel standard, superior and suites. Suites cost an extra £75 per night to stay in and a superior room is an additional £20 per night.
It is also possible to call the hotel direct and book a room although the hotel does not offer as many special offers this way.
For one nights stay including dinner bed and breakfast we paid £120 to stay in a superior room.
Checking In and Out was very easy and quick. We had to pay for extras on top of our stay when we checked out but this was a simple case of putting our card in the card reader, getting a receipt taking less than 2 minutes. The staff in the reception area were very friendly and efficient and because there were 3 different reception desks and the reception area is large even with a number of guests in this area it did not feel cramped or overly busy.
A standard room rate varies at the hotel. For a standard room on a Friday or Saturday (room only you will be looking to pay around £90 per night. Weeknights are around £70 and Sunday nights are around £60. We booked for a Sunday night and when Q Hotels were running a "November special" so booked a one nights stay in a superior room with dinner bed and breakfast for £120. I think for two people this is excellent value for money.
The superior room includes all of the features of a standard room which include tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryer, TV with Sky channels, trouser press, Wi-Fi and telephone but also means you get a larger room and larger bathroom with complimentary bathrobes and mineral water.
I was very impressed with our hotel room it was very large with a king sized bed. The room was made to feel more spacious as there were two large sash windows in the room which overlooked Peter Street. Although the hotel is quite traditional the room is more contemporary and modern in its décor with light walls and carpet and dark deep rich colours on the headboard and bedding. The room also had a large modern painting on the wall.
The bathroom was very impressive with a large shower bath. This was very modern with its cream tiling and modern sink basin and spotless. The shower was very powerful but my only criticism is because the shower was so powerful the glass shower screen did not stop the water hitting the bathroom floor. Taking a long shower like I do meant there was A LOT of water on the bathroom floor.
The Midland Manchester has two dining options The French Restaurant and The Wyvern Bar and Restaurant. We did not dine in the Wyvern Restaurant but glanced at the menu and it consisted of British bar and Grill meals typically priced around £15 for a main meal.
We did have a round of drinks in the Wyvern Bar. We ordered a single vodka and diet coke and a pint of lager. This came to £7.00 which I feel is quite reasonable based on hotel prices.
The French restaurant is where David Beckham first wooed Victoria on their first date; therefore I had high expectations if it had met the Beckham's seal of approval! The restaurant is very impressive although large has quite an exclusive yet welcoming feel to it. The décor of the restaurant is very grand and traditional with large chandeliers and gilding.
The menu consists of French cuisine with a British twist and has been awarded 2 AA rosettes. The menu is seasonal however there were 5 different options for each course, with a range of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. I ordered scallops to start, with a beef main and chocolate dessert as did Mr Lools. The menu is quite elaborate therefore may not be to everyone's taste. Service in the restaurant was excellent and staff were polite and helpful without being overbearing or making you feel rushed. Portion sizes were also satisfactory, not huge but a good size for what would be considered to be "fine dining".
The meal was part of our stay up to the value of £50 although we did have to pay around £20 extra on food due to what we ordered when we checked out. The food in the restaurant is more expensive than others in the Q Hotel group but the quality is considerably higher. Main meals are typically around £23. A bottle of house white wine cost £15.
Breakfast was served in the Wyvern Restaurant which was decorated very similar to The French restaurant with gilding and traditional décor although slightly less formal. This was included in the price of our stay. The main choice was a buffet full English breakfast. The sausages and bacon are cooked perfectly and are excellent quality. There is only a small quantity of each item of food under the hot plate which is restocked every 10 minutes so food is guaranteed to be fresh. There was also a selection of pastries, cereal and fruit.
The Midland has 14 conference rooms with the ability to accommodate 700 people. Because we were on a "leisure visit" we did not see any of the conferencing facilities but I have heard from colleagues who have visited the hotel for the Conservative Party Conference in 2009 that the Midland was a great venue.
The hotel also has a Leisure Club that we visited. The hotel has a small gym, small swimming pool and Jacuzzi. This is located underneath the hotel so feels quite dark and dingy in comparison to the other areas of the hotel which are light and airy, not helped that the lower floor has low ceilings. The gym has weights machines, rowing machines, treadmills cycling machines and cross trainers. There were about 2 pieces of each equipment but because the gym is small it does feel cramped and the machines a little too close together.
The swimming pool is very small and located just off the gym. Mr Lools and I were the only people in the "pool" but it would better be likened to a large paddling pool around 4m square and not really a pool for swimming in. The Jacuzzi is also in this area directly next to the pool which means if you get in the Jacuzzi the excess water splashing out into the swimming pool. The male and female changing areas are also next to the pool and towels are provided for hotel guests. The pool and changing areas were small and not impressive or what you would expect from such a large hotel, but they are extremely clean.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the Midland and could not fault the hotel, room or food. This was definitely worth the £120 a night (on DB&B rate) and feel this is one of the better 4* hotels that I have stayed at. The hotel is very grand but the stylish, comfortable and clean interior means a very enjoyable stay
The main downside is the hotel has no parking therefore if you are driving to the hotel this is an additional cost. As it rains a lot in Manchester a five minute dash through the city centre in the rain to get to your hotel from the nearest car park.
A hotel definitely worth a visit, even the Beckhams agree!
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