“ Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 3AQ. Tel: +44 (0)161 278 1000. Fax: +44 (0)161 278 1002. „
My husband took me away to treat us to a weekend just the two of us after a rather hectic few months looking after the grandchildren and doing lots of jobs. It was well needed. He decided to treat me so didn't want to take us to a Premier Inn like we normally go to but to go somewhere more special. We have friends near Manchester so he wanted to combine it with visiting them and chose this hotel after reading lots of reviews on various sites. It was a lovely weekend and we had a very good time, I think this hotel is quite special but there are still ways in which it could be improved to make it perfect which is such a shame given the cost of it. Prior to arriving Choosing this hotel was all down to my husband. This is a bit of a risk as usually he struggles to make a decision but he opted for his one eventually. He said he read many reviews on various sites and chose this one because it sounded like it was very central to everything in the city and that it looked rather special. He said the majority of negatives in reviews didn't seem too bad so decided to book. He booked direct with the hotel as he struggles with websites and so rang them to book. It cost him £370 for two nights and this included breakfast. This seems like such a lot of money but like I say he wanted to treat us to a special weekend and we really could do with a special weekend break. We actually visited Manchester by train. This is probably a good job as parking was limited- from what I have seen there was no car park and the car parks around were very busy and very expensive so train was our best option. This is very convenient for the train station. It is about a 5 minute walk down a gentle hill from the station, we walked it and it was absolutely fine. So easy to find as you literally leave the station out of the main doors and then just walk down the main road towards the town centre. You then can't fail to spot the hotel which is located on the left hand side. I was really pleased by how close it was to the station, this is a huge bonus and makes a change from when you read that something is 'near to' and actually is a good mile away! Our moods were very light and happy upon arriving. Our stay The hotel is very modern and very shiny when you walk in! It looked very welcoming and clean which is always a nice start, we were very happy. The staff on reception were so friendly, they asked us about our stay and gave us information about dinner and breakfast. There was a special offer on regarding dinner but we opted against it as we wanted to dine out but it was nice to know that they do have offers. Our room was a couple of floors up and we didn't really have a great view- it was just of an alley way but I don't think you're going to get a spectacular review in a position like this as it is city centre. The room was very modern but I must admit I thought it was quite small considering the price. The bed was lovely, a really nice high up comfortable bed with plenty of cushions and very comfortable bedding. It did look likea very comfortable bed, one which I wanted to get into right away! The room was equipped with very modern things like an Ipod station thing and other such facilities so great if you're looking for something very modern although it wasn't relevant to us. We had a table and a nice large television and fancy modern lights but it did feel as though it could have been a bit bigger and a bit brighter. The lighting in the bathroom was rather poor too, they definitely need to put better lighting in there. I think it's meant to create 'atmosphere' but it just makes you struggle to see yourself which was a little annoying. Cleanliness wise it was good but because there were various things around these gathered dust and you could see it in the edges of a pot and in the corners of the table which was a shame, it could have been so much more sparkly. We slept well in here though, we didn't struggle with any noise despite being in the city centre- yes we could hear traffic and people but it wasn't anything too disturbing and the bed was so comfortable we slept very well indeed! Breakfast was not too special really which was a shame. It was a hot buffet and staff looked a little absent minded as though they were counting down to their shift finishing. You could have breakfast as room service but only the continental which I thought was a shame. When we left we had to pay extra as we had a hot breakfast, I didn't realise it wasn't included seeing as my husband had booked the night with breakfast but apparently that was only for the cold breakfast so this was a bit of a surprise and also quite rude considering the price we had paid! The atmosphere in the hotel was nice and bustling and everyone seemed to be very happy and having a good time (if we ignore the breakfast staff!) We returned to our hotel late one evening and the bar was still open so we had cocktails which were lovely! One thing I noticed though was that the bar area near reception was quite loud so it would be difficult to talk properly with reception staff so perhaps try to avoid checking in later on. I did enjoy the bar and found it nice and relaxing in quite a luxurious way rather than a peaceful one. Out and about in Manchester There was plenty to do around Manchester and the staff in the hotel were happy to give us advice on where to dine and such. We know the city quite well so didn't need much instruction. If you are visiting Manchester there is plenty to see and do. From this hotel there are lots of attractions within walking distance such as the MEN arena, shopping centres and the Print Works and there are also many places easily accessible by the tram which you can pick up from just a little way down the road from the hotel. Such as Old Trafford, The Museum of Science and Industry and the Opera House. We saw a show which was fantastic and we had tea at a pub near to it which was also very nice. We also did lots of shopping and visited friends too. There is a lot that this city has to offer and the tram network means it is easy enough to get around it. The traffic is quite heavy, I wouldn't fancy driving around this place or relying on the bus service or even a taxi so the trams are great to have. Conclusion I think that this hotel is perhaps a little overrated in some respects which is a shame really. I think it is quite 'showy' by that I mean by having all the mod cons and very modern detailing but that the basics are lacking such as happy staff at breakfast and ensuring everything is very clean. I wouldn't say the room was dirty but it certainly should have been better than it was. The size of our room was a little on the small size considering the price we paid, we have stayed in Premier Inns with rooms that have been bigger yet a quarter of the price so that was a bit of a shame. We did feel as though we were staying somewhere special though because there was a nice atmosphere about the place which you just don't get in other venues where we have been. The best thing about this hotel is it's central location, it's brilliantly placed for the train station and visiting the city but would I pay that price to stay here again? Probably not. This doesn't mean I didn't enjoy my stay as I certainly did, it was a very enjoyable stay because we felt like we could really relax, maybe our room wasn't huge but the atmosphere was different to when we have been away before so it really helped us to feel as though we were a million miles from home which was just what we needed. Yes there are niggles with this hotel, it could be better if some tweaks were made and we did have a few disappointments but I think when you build something up and know it has a very good reputation you can't help but look for faults. I think if we visit Manchester again we will probably not stay here because of the price but I wouldn't mind visiting it's bar again and maybe trying out the restaurant as the food looked super and presented in a way which really was very mouth-watering! I have seen you can get rooms here for £100 a night which is cheaper than what we had and perhaps they are worth that yes especially for a city centre hotel. I am giving it 4 stars because it is a very good hotel which could just be improved every so slightly. Just watch out for the extra charge for breakfast and be aware that parking isn't at the hotel but at a carpark which charges.
In a previous life Mr Lools and I would have a city break around once a month. A night away somewhere in the UK in a hotel for a nice meal and a break was a great way to relax. However since becoming parents weekend breaks are few and far between and dictated by babysitter availability and also cost. Sadly we don't have the cash for extravagant luxuries like this. However we do get the opportunity every now and then to have some "us" time and after seeing a fantastic deal for a night in the Malmaison Manchester we decided to treat ourselves. ***The Hotel*** The Malmaison Manchester is a 167 room hotel in central Manchester owned by the Malmaison chain. The hotel website describes the Malmaison to be "somewhere between the mists of Paris and the 24 hour party city" with a Moulin Rouge feel. Like most hotels in the Malmaison chain there is a luxuries extravagant feel to the 4* hotel which includes a spa, gym, members club and restaurant and grill. The hotel has quite a dark luxurious feel to it in the public areas. The reception has a large checkerboard floor and the lifts are covered in quilted purple velvet. The doors to the rooms are black with red painted walls in the corridors. ***Getting There*** The Malmaison Manchester is located in the Piccadilly area of Manchester City Centre. The postcode for the hotel is M1 1LZ however the hotel is situated on the main road with only a small drop off area and no parking. If you are driving to the hotel the postcode to use is M1 3AY. This takes you to the NCP The Grand Car park. This costs £16.00 to park here for 24 hours but if you are staying at the Malmaison the hotel stamps this giving you a 20% reduction on your parking charges. The hotel is only a 5 minute walk away from Piccadilly Train Station. It is a 10 mile journey from Manchester Airport. This journey will take 20 minutes in a taxi or you can also take a train from the airport to central Manchester. ***Booking*** I booked a room at the Malmaison Manchester directly on the Malmaison restaurant. After shopping around I found this to be the cheapest price and was even cheaper than the "discount" hotel websites. The website is easy to navigate and once you put in the dates that you would like to stay between, the choice of rooms available and prices are displayed. Once you have clicked the room you would like to stay in you are taken to a further screen where you can book extras. This included the Eat, Drink and Sleep package that we opted for. For an extra £20 onto the room cost you get an evening meal for 2 with a bottle of wine included. However at the time of booking on the website this simply states "sleep and dine with locally produced and sourced food". Once you have selected your options to stay you then are taken to the booking and payment screen. It takes less than 5 minutes to complete this page and once you have entered your payment details and clicked confirm you are given a booking reference number which is also sent to your email address. However when we arrived at the hotel they only took the surname the booking was made under and they found our booking. Payment is not taken immediately on booking; I found it was taken from my bank account 2 working days after our stay. There is a 24 cancellation option if you no longer need your booking. You can book a room with the hotel by telephoning the booking line on 0161 278 1000 however personally I have always found this is not the cheapest way to book. Malmaison Manchester is often featured on laterooms and lastminute.com where you can pick up deals. The best deals with these sites seem to be if you are booking only a few days before you are visiting if you want a large reduction. ***Rooms*** When you come to book your stay a wide choice of rooms is given to you. Prices vary depending on your book but the prices on the below rooms are based on a one nights weekend stay in September 2011 (for two people). The cheapest option is a "cosy double" (£150 per night) which comes with all of the features of a standard double room only the room is smaller. You then have the option of a standard double (£160 per night) , a larger double room (called a spacious double) at £170 per night and a superior spacious double (which includes a larger TV and Ipod docking station amongst the extras for £190 a night. There is then the choice of booking a suite. The suites include a cinema suite with a DVD and cinema area with a living room and couch area for £265 per night. A Manchester United or Manchester City Suite which is a football themed room with split level lounge area for £315 per night. You then have the top of the range suite which is a 4 poster which includes a 4 poster bed, cinema area and separate lounge room with 42 inch plasma tv. This has a plunge tub and walk in shower costing £385 per night. We opted for a standard double room. However when we booked (August 2011) prices were massively reduced and for a Saturday nights stay including the Sleep, Eat and Drink package this cost us £109 which is excellent value. When we arrived in the room I was very impressed. The room was painted mainly white with a red, white and black stripe feature wall. The bed was a large (queen size) bed with black white and red bedding. The bed was extremely comfortable and coupled with the fact the bedroom was very quiet and virtually soundproof I had a great nights sleep. All of the room was coordinated and it had a very modern, contemporary yet luxurious feel. At the bottom of the bed was a large dressing table/ desk with a light, flatscreen TV on the wall and a large mirror. The plug sockets were all located next to the mirrors which is perfect for getting ready (for hairstyling) and the room had plenty of lighting options so was not dingy. There was also a chair in the corner of the room. Storage wise there were only a few drawers in the dressing table but a wardrobe in the corner by the bed which had ample room to hang up items and put a suitcase in to keep the room clutter free. The room was spotless when we arrived as was the modern bathroom. The bathroom fittings were modern, with a basin sink, a large mirror in the bathroom and a shower bath. The shower was a rain shower type head and was extremely powerful. Even when onto turned on half way the water literally pounded out onto your skin. You also needed to take care as because the water pressure was so high as you showered the water actually filled the bath and came right past my ankles. There was a notice to say a bath can fill in up to 90 seconds therefore do not leave the bath unattended when filling. In the bathroom there wa also a number of Malmaison branded toiletries (shower gel, shampoo, conditioner) and also extras like a shower cap, cotton buds and cotton pads. ***Dining*** As part of the Eat, Drink and Sleep package we were given an explanation of this package once we arrived at reception. The details on the website are slightly unclear however the lady at reception explained that this includes an evening meal for two people in the Smoak Grill restaurant which is attached to the hotel. You can choose 3 courses off the set menu or you can dine from the a la carte menu and the value of your meal can come to £40 and any food that comes to more than this total is added onto your bill when you leave. Included in this package was also a bottle of house red or white wine with your meal. Breakfast is not included in this package (which initially sounded like it was at the time of booking) and costs and extra £10 per person. This includes full English and a continental buffet from between 7.30am and 10.30am. We decided to decline this as we knew that there is a large Wetherspoons less than a 2 minute walk away from the hotel which serves breakfast from 7am-12pm for only £2.99 for a full English! **Smoak Grill*** I'm not going to go into too much detail in this review about our experience of the Smoak Grill because the Smoak Bar and Grill deserves a review in its own right as it is definitely an experience I would recommend. We booked our table on arrival at reception. One disadvantage of the Eat, Drink, Sleep package is that you have to dine at a certain time in the restaurant. This is between 6pm and 7pm and after 9pm. When it came to dining in the restaurant we were greeted and then shown to our table. The restaurant is modern with bright red diner style seats and some union jack style chairs but also quite a traditional grill style restaurant with rustic wooden tables, wooden floor and an open cooking area so you can see the grill and the chefs cooking the meals. There is also a large glass cabinet next to the grill which displays all of the chilled meat inside which is waiting to be cooked. After being given our menu we opted not to eat from the set menu with the package. On this menu there were 3 starters (including soup, potted shrimps and a salad) , 3 desserts and around 5 different main courses which were traditional British dishes but personally Mr Lools and I wanted to sample a different starter and also a steak and felt the a la carte menu offered a choice. We both opted for a starter and a main instead of three courses. To start I got a shredded duck salad and Mr Lools went for local smoked salmon platter these starters were £8 each. We both went for a 35 day aged rump steak (400g) which was priced at £25 each. We both got chips which were not included with the dish and cost extra. We went over our "allocated budget" however the meal we had was definitely worth paying more for. The steak was delicious and cooked perfectly and I can honestly say the best have eaten. **Smoak Bar and Ember Lounge*** The Smoak Bar is a more relaxed area located just of the reception area. This has a relaxed look which is very unique with union jack chairs, low tables and comfy chairs. This is a table service only bar and both times we went to the bar we were told that someone would come over and take our order. There are around 10 tables in this area which is very cosy and relaxed. Drinks prices are higher than average but you would expect this for a hotel bar and pints of beer are around £3.50 and glasses of wine £5+. The Ember Lounge personally I found a little pretentious and exclusive. When we arrived at reception we were asked if we wanted to book a table. We weren't told how long we could stay for but we "booked" a place for 9pm which was free however the prices inside the Lounge are higher than in the Smoak Bar and we paid £10.60 for a pint and a (small) glass of white wine. Cocktails started at £9. We were only in this area for around 30 minutes before we left. There was a young female "host" who was escorting guests through the Smoak Grill to the Ember Lounge. The atmosphere was very formal and exclusive and I did feel that other guests seemed to look each other up and down on arrival. There was music playing however not much laughter going on (most of the tables were small groups or couples) and people seemed to be chatting very quietly. A number of guests arrived in the lounge but left immediately so I do feel that this was not quite the experience most people were expecting. ***Leisure Facilities*** Malmaison Manchester has a gym which is fully equipped with a variety of equipment that you would expect in a modern gym. The gym is small but not as small as many hotel gyms. We did not use the gym but did have a look at it and it looked clean and modern. The hotel also has its own spa. I visited the spa on the afternoon we arrived for a manicure. There was an offer on when I arrived and the spa had space so I only had to book 30 minutes before my treatment The spa is open from 9am-9pm Monday to Friday and 9am-6.30pm on weekends. The spa is modern and extremely clean although it is quite small. The staff were extremely professional and I was extremely pleased with my manicure. This cost £16 for an hours treatment which normally costs £32.50. I do feel at full price the treatment cost is quite high. I noticed whilst receiving my treatment to different packages available and the hotel spa offers half and full day packages which cost in the region of £150 but include food, champagne and 4-5 different treatments. ***Service*** The staff we encountered during our stay were pleasant and offered good service although some better than others. Check in was extremely efficient and the receptionist was very friendly and explained the package we had chosen very well and was helpful in booking us a table at the restaurant, booking me in at the spa and also booking us into the Ember Lounge. Service in the Smoak Grill was exceptional. This on reflection was very staged as the staff (even the manager) were dressed in jeans and portrayed a very relaxed informal dining area however they were extremely friendly, extremely efficient and looked after all of our needs which made our meal very enjoyable. The Smoak Bar and also the Ember Lounge had friendly service but I did feel very slow and although they offer table service in both bar areas we waited over 5 minutes before someone took our order but the staff did not appear busy. Check out was also very efficient and although it was busy when we checked out at 11am the two receptionists managed to serve and check everyone quickly whilst still remaining friendly. ***Overall*** I would definitely recommend the Malmaison Manchester. The rooms and hotel are decorated quite extravagantly but without being tacky or distasteful and the upkeep and cleanliness are excellent and what you would expect from a 4* hotel. The hotel has leisure and spa facilities and is located in a very central city centre location. Although one disadvantage of being so central (like 90% of hotels in central Manchester) the hotel does not have a car park however there is an NCP located less than a 2 minute walk away. The Eat, Drink and Sleep package is definitely excellent value for money and as a special offer for £109 for a nights stay for two, with an evening meal and a bottle of wine in such a nice hotel this is excellent value for money. The Smoak Grill is exceptional from the service through to the food and I can actually say this is the best steak that I have ever eaten. Although I would say the package is slightly misleading and could be explained better on the website and you may have to pay for extra if you want to dine from the a la carte menu and if you want breakfast. However £150 for a nights stay for two people in a 4* hotel with 2 of the largest steaks I have seen and a bottle of wine still can't be grumbled about. Maybe not my favourite Malmaison hotel in the chain and not my favourite Manchester hotel but definitely worth a visit and a makes a great relaxing stay for couples.