The best Manchester hotels

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This grand Victorian landmark – all red brick and shiny terracotta, designed as the Refuge insurance HQ by Alfred ‘Natural History Museum’ Waterhouse in the late 1880s – languished for years as the sort of hotel beloved of blearily dishevelled office parties. No longer: it’s now a local hit thanks to an intelligent redesign that’s really opened up its public spaces, with a sprawling, always-lively lobby that takes in a bar, restaurant, tree-clad conservatory and games den, divided using a latticework of ironwork and secret doors, and populated by a good-time crowd and some of the city’s most well-known faces. It’s a huge space that could easily have felt impersonal, but isn’t. You might get lost finding your way back to your room – they’re quieter than you might think, and the high-ceilinged ones in the Clocktower building have more original details – but that’s no bad thing. For the restaurant, rather than parachuting in a big name, The Principal invited the DJs-turned-restaurateurs behind Volt in West Didsbury to upscale their small-plate menu – lamb shawarma, hake with black dal, scented with Middle Eastern spices and chilli hits. It’s a hotel that nails a proper sense of place without reverting to northern clichés.

Address: The Principal Manchester, Oxford Street, Manchester M60 7HA
Telephone: +44 161 288 1111
Website: phcompany.com
Prices: Doubles from £126

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Author: CHERYL SLATER