This is a paid article written in partnership with INNSiDE by Melia with products or services supplied by them. Full editorial integrity is maintained at all times. The views and opinions expressed are entirely the authors own based on personal experiences when travelling and are honest and factual without any bias.
INNSiDE Manchester is an effortlessly relaxed, contemporarily independent and stylish accomodation option that makes it the perfect choice for a city break or UK staycation in the urban, metropolitan city of Manchester.
From the moment you walk up to the INNSiDE hotel you think you know what to expect and from first impressions you would be partially right. Just like the city itself the INNSiDE hotel is a subtle amalgamation of the vigorously modern and at the same time uniquely local.
As you arrive at the INNSiDE hotel you are greeted by a huge, imposing, angular building. Standing between the old, decaying railway bridge and sleek architecture of the modern First Street redevelopment the hotel itself is a subtle blend of achingly modern glass and chrome and the surrounding traditional red brick of Manchester that is displayed as a proud badge of honour on the buildings red facade. The sleek, modern look continues inside as the sharp lines and gleaming surfaces of the lobby create an impression of an ultra modern, trendy hotel.
As first impressions go it was a good one. High quality, ultra modern and essentially what you would expect from a new hotel. But INNSiDE Manchester is so much more than that. There are a million sleek, shiny chain hotels around the world that are very high quality and very nice, but have very little soul or heart and honestly this could have so very easily been just another one of those. But INNSiDE is different. As you enter the lobby through the glass turntable doorway you are enveloped in something very special indeed.
Small touches like the large purple bulldog and the oversized Insta worthy deckchair a part of a plethora of small design touches that elevate the lobby from corporate bland to artistic chic, and the subtle, coloured lighting and bright furniture is a striking introduction to the artistic vision that sweeps through the hotel.
The dressed down, smart casual staff create a welcoming, homely atmosphere without losing any of the professional touches of the highest end hotels and the small details, like the art on the doodle pillar by local artist Dave Draws and the ubiquitous Manchester Bee drawn on it cement the hotel into its local envioronment and gives it a solid, characterful heartbeat that leave you in no doubt that you are in the heart of Manchester.
INNSiDE Manchester is located at the heart of the city centre making it an ideal choice for a city break or a staycation base. An easy five minute walk (if that) to Oxford Road and Deansgate train stations which are both located a short walk away on either side of the hotel as well as just a couple of minutes away from the tram line that will take you through the city, and an easy fifteen or twenty minute walk away from the main Manchester Piccadilly train station, (less if you take the tram) which will also take you to and from Manchester Airport. INNSiDE really is in easy reach of all the major public transport routes into and around Manchester.
More specifically the INNSiDE hotel is located in the redeveloped and revitalised First Street area, Manchester’s latest foodie and entertainment hotspot just off the bohemian Northern Quarter. This former home to the iconic Manchester landmark the Hacienda nightclub (which is now luxury apartments, because of course it is), has now been redeveloped into a new and vibrant entertainment, cultural and business space with a raft of independent restaurants, bars an independent cinema and even a crazy golf venue all in one small area! You could very easily stay here for a week and not have to move more than a minutes walk from the hotel to try a new bar or restaurant or be entertained with something new every night.
On a practical level there is also a small Sainsburys just next door for all those basic essentials, always handy if you forget your toothbrush or need some extra milk. Basically everything you need for entertainment and dining options are right here at your fingertips, perfect if you just want a weekend break without going too far.
But what would a visit to Manchester be if you didn’t explore the city? And if you do want to use the hotel as a base to explore Manchester then you can’t go wrong here either.
The Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, the Castlefield Roman ruins and the famous John Rylands Library are all just round the corner and easily reachable on foot within five or so minutes walk. The surrounding Deansgate area has a raft of bars, clubs and restaurants and even a famous comedy club just a few minutes walk away if you are looking for something to do.
Being in the heart of Manchester you are never too far away from any central attraction either and the Printworks, the main shopping areas of Manchester and other attractions are all within 15 to 20 minutes walking distance, less if you use the tram.
The service here was on the whole impeccable. In general INNSiDE had the cool professionalism of larger chain hotels, but the approachable friendliness of a smaller boutique hotel, and the lack of uniform with a smart casual approach actually worked really well here.
One thing that impressed me was the warmness of the welcome at the INNSIDE hotel despite the currently necessary infection prevention control procedures, and otherwise imposing glass screens and hand gel at reception did nothing to dull the smiles and friendly greetings as we walked through the door.
The staff on reception were friendly and approachable and answered all my questions without complaint, and seemed very proud in chatting to me about their pet friendly policy when I got excited about seeing a dog in the lobby! Genuinely helpful with directions and recommendations, the reception staff really have to be singled out as a valuable resource for the hotel and are great ambassadors for customer service.
And although I never saw them once the domestic staff did an impeccable job of keeping everywhere spotless which I think deserves a mention because they are quite often the unsung heroes of all good hotels and never get enough credit!
INNSiDE’s Stay Safe With Melia policy is there to reduce risk to travellers as much as possible and goes above and beyond government guidelines in terms of maintaining a safe, clean envioronment. As a qualified nurse I am aware of the infection control procedures that are happening behind the scenes and notice all the subtle and not so subtle ones that are visible to guests. That clinical experience allows me to understand exactly what is being done and why, and more importantly allows me to spot when things aren’t being done right, which is why when I say I was impressed from a clinical perspective, you know that opinion carries some weight. Not only that I noted they never allowed the infection prevention control procedures to get in the way of good customer service. Many places can get this very wrong and the emphasis on clinical procedure can be potentially intimidating and off putting to guests, but the staff at INNSiDE Manchester pulled it off extremely well and still managed to make everyone feel as welcome from the moment they stepped through the door as they made them feel reassured by the infection control policy. This is a quality and a mark of a truly great hotel that really cannot be emphasised enough.
In the interest of a balanced review and fairness the one area where there was a slight blip in the service was the inconsistency of service in the restaurant.
Service at breakfast the first morning was impeccable, speedy, and staff made the whole experience friendly and welcoming. Breakfast the second day however was very slow. Waiting times to take our orders or ask for a refill on our drink was just a little too long, and after being asked to sit anywhere we liked at breakfast on that second morning a twenty minute wait for our first cup of coffee was just a little bit of a let down after the service the morning before and after another long wait for our food watching it get taken to two other tables before ours wasn’t great.
The evening service in the restaurant was a little slow and confused too, with the waiter taking a long time to come near us and then getting a little confused at the menu options on offer.
Now to be really fair this is just nitpicking a little bit on my part, as it didn’t really impact our experience too much, and could just be a simple lack of experience on the individual staff which you can always give a bit of a pass on, but you have to show the criticisms alongside the compliments and believe me when I say this was the only criticism I could possibly find during my stay. It really was barely nothing more than a blip on an otherwise perfect stay.
On the plus side however for any guests with allergies and food intolerances it is worth noting that you will be looked after very well in the restaurant without being made to feel like a burden, which for all my readers who are gluten free or suffer any intolerances will know is a huge concern. Staff were in general knowledgable, non discriminatory and ready with helpful advice, and always went to double check with the chef just to be on the safe side.
Now this is where I start gushing again. I loved my room at the INNSiDE Manchester! I genuinely can’t stress that enough! We stayed in one of the studios on the 10th floor and quite honestly could have lived there quite happily! The room was genuinely huge, well designed and built to exacting minimalist standards, fitting the brands European heritage with a Bauhaus reminiscent feel.
The contemporary look was aesthetically pleasing with chic clean lines, simple block colours of black white and grey accented with splashes of plum and most importantly for me absolutely clutter free. Some items had been removed as part of a heightened infection control policy but actually made the whole experience better as a result anyway. I have never liked hotel rooms that have too many of those unwashed scatter cushions, bed throws and paraphenalia everywhere so the fact that the room was free of all of that was a blessing for me, both from a cleanliness and just a preference point of view. I can forego the small pleasure of stealing a branded pencil for my collection to enjoy a clutter free experience!
The room still had everything you would need and would expect to find, the safe, the fridge and everything else you may expect are all here, but are carefully hidden away to keep with the contemporary look.
I particularly liked the specific cupboard used to house the fridge, kettle and coffee maker. Instead of just leaving a tray on the desk like you would normally find in a bog standard hotel it felt like a lot of thought had gone into the design. It was a small and simple touch but added an extra level of quality to the room. It felt like a little hideaway kitchen that could be packed away to keep the sleek, minimalist aesthetic when not in use. That subtle attention to detail did not go unnoticed and really added to the next level feel that ran through the whole hotel.
Now to be fair I am a huge fan of sleek minimalism and contemporary design and am the first to admit that I do have a natural tendency to like this type of hotel room, but can also admit that so many hotels that try this ultra modern, contemporary open plan look can come across as bland and corporate. That definitely was not the case here. Just like the rest of the hotel the rooms at INNSiDE have subtle design touches like the art from a local artist on the headboard that tie it not just to the brand aesthetic of the hotel but to the city itself which honestly gives it that unique, warm touch that any minimalist design really needs.
And another small feature that I really liked was the fact that first of all there were enough plugs in the room for all my charging needs – which is a big thing in and of itself – but more importantly there was a plug right next to the bedside table for charging my phone! This may seem like pedantic nonsense but trust me, when you travel as much as I do not having enough plugs or hiding the only plug socket away on a distant wall behind a heavy piece of furniture becomes a huge bugbear!
But at the end of the day the most important aspect of any hotel room is the quality of the sleep you get, right? Now I can sleep anywhere so that has never been an issue for me, I’ve slept in sleeping bags in the Himalayan mountains, a bivi in the Borneo jungle and cramped up with dozens of other people on a 12 hour chicken bus ride in Guatemala, so when I get a comfortable bed I always appreciate it! And believe me when I say this was absolute heaven!
The King size bed itself was huge and seriously comfortable! You could literally sink into the mattress and I could easily stretch my 6″2 frame out on it which is always a joy. Crisp, white linen kept the minimalist aesthetic going and was perfect without any extra unneccassary cushions or throws. When I say I had a good nights sleep here, please understand that what I mean is I never wanted to move from that bed ever again!
I’m still not sure what to think of the rooms open plan bathrooms though. Actually I do. I’m not the biggest fan of the open plan bathroom concept in general, open plan living spaces yes, but not bathrooms, and have never liked the trend for see through glass bathroom doors that almost every hotel has now. So when we first arrived I wasn’t convinced by the open plan bathroom design. After using it however it actually wasn’t that bad.
The only truly open plan bit is the actual sink and I’m still not overly sold on it to be honest, but I got used to it and it didn’t detract from the room at all. My biggest concerns were the privacy aspect of the toilet and shower, and the shower was at least was tucked away slightly from most angles and the glass door was truly frosted. I’ve stayed in many hotels were the concept of opaqueness was missed completely where you really had to be very intimate with anyone you happened to be travelling with when the shower and toilet is in full view of the room! Thankfully the toilet itself is still completely closed off with a thick solid door, call me old fashioned but some things should always be private!
If you are travelling and sharing a room with a friend or colleague then this is something you will always have to keep in mind and may not be entirely appropriate depending on the relationship, but realistically the only part of the bathroom where you can’t get privacy here is the sink for when you have to wash your hands and brush your teeth so it isn’t that bad at all. I have certainly been in a lot worse!
Despite that the bathrooms themselves were really high quality, with awesome (and powerful) rainfall showers and high end fittings throughout. The sink was huge and actually had more than enough room, plus a little shelf, to keep anything you may need on there safe, which again is something that a lot of lesser hotels overlook, and the walk in shower had refillable shower gel and shampoo dispensers on the wall which is always a good sustainable touch and always appreciated.
But let’s talk about one of my favourite things about the room. The view. Okay, it’s Manchester at the end of the day and perhaps not the prettiest of cities to look at, but full length windows framed the view from the top floor perfectly and gave a stunning vista of the cityscape below. Sitting and enjoying the view, especially at night when everything was lit up, was a genuine highlight of the stay and made staying in the room an absolute pleasure and an experience in and of itself.
Some amenities may not be currently available or amended slightly due to an increased focus on infection control and the Stay Safe With Melia policy.
The room itself has some nice little touches for guests that put INNSiDE above most hotels. From free soft drinks at the minibar (a very welcome touch) and a fancy coffee maker to bespoke toiletries it really feels like you are being looked after as a guest here.
Sealed, sterilised TV remote controls and sealed bathroom cups are a testament to the hotel’s strong infection prevention and control policy, and where room amenities have been amended in this way it is largely non obtrusive and actually very reassuring.
The attention to detail is very impressive at INNSiDE, and I will mention it again because I thought it was so important, even down to the fact that there were multiple plug sockets available with some actually accessible from the bed! Something most hotels get wrong! The fact I could charge my camera, my laptop and my phone all at the same time, and keep my phone by the bedside while I was doing so was a really nice touch.
The fitness centre is basic and functional, nothing overly fancy but is large enough to have everything you need and more than large enough to get a real workout in. It actually feels like a real purpose built gym rather than a tiny room with a treadmill and a free weight shoved in like you tend to get in many hotels. The wellness centre, with sauna and steam room is excellent and of a very high quality and although I never used it there is also an on site spa available for anyone who does want to take advantage.
The hotels attached restaurant, The newly opened Hideout Bar and Grill bills itself as a lifestyle destination and has a simple but perfectly formed menu that gives you a solid choice without being overbearing and trying to do too much.
The restaurant itself lives up to its name and feels like a quiet escape away from the hustle and bustle, the cavernous space is minimalist in design and gives you that sense of serene solace where you can enjoy your food and company, in contrast to the attached cocktail bar and lounge which is bright, colourful and adds a more exuberant edge to the dining experience.
The highlight though was the food. The restaurant is definitely on the expensive side of your midrange budget so will be more of a one off treat or special occassion experience, but the food is out of this world! Seriously the chef is an absolute genius! Try the duck starter and the steak, just trust me! And of course being in Manchester you have to try the Manchester Tart! It is one of the best deserts I have had for a long time! It was so good that I felt really full after the meal but was still so torn about wanting seconds!
I know this review is for the hotel and the attached restaurant is a part of that, but if you were visiting Manchester and weren’t staying at the hotel it is still worth coming and having a meal here. The Hideout Bar and Grill is one of the collection of independent restaurants on the first street development area and in all honesty is so good it deserves its own review. You can couple this with a visit to the independent cinema next door, and I’ll definitely be coming back just to try out their newly opened outside terrace area when the weather cooperates a little more.
The hotel breakfast in the same restaurant was equally as impressive. Served until 11, which was a nice touch since noone wants to get up early on a city break or staycation.
No buffet was on offer during my visit due to increased infection control measures but honestly the table service was so much better. You still had the same choices as you would have had at the buffet they were just bought to you fresh as you ordered them, and the cooked options were all made fresh to order and were as good as the dinners in the restaurant! Seriously, I can not stress this enough, The food was out of this world! whether you opt for the simple cooked breakfast or a fancier eggs benedict you won’t be disapointed! And try the poached egg on avacado and spinach. The avacado came with just a touch of fresh chilli which is a unique twist I absolutely loved!
Can you tell I loved the food here?
And again the options for anyone who has allergies or intolerances was impressive, to the point they went out of their way to accommodate changes to the options where it was practical and the staff were really very good about it too. The hotel deserves a sole, extra star on top of its current rating just for the restaurant and the food!
Overall, INNSiDE Manchester is a solidly impressive four star hotel, located in an achingly trendy, independent and up and coming area that is perfect for any city break or staycation in Manchester. At the higher end of a mid range travel budget it manages to offer extreme value for money and gives a significantly higher end experience than you would expect at this price point. Spacious, perfectly appointed rooms and amazing, friendly service makes this hotel a valuable asset to Manchester’s tourism industry, and deserves any travellers attention when visiting the city. If you are planning a staycation or city break in Manchester, you can’t go wrong here.
The INNSIDE Manchester Hotel is located at 1 First Street, Manchester, M15 4RP.
Bemused Backpacker always recommends booking directly where it is possible. Ready to book? The INNSiDE Manchester website can be found here.