Sunday, 22 July 2012

A Tale of Two Manchester Hotels

Recently I was invited to trial the facilities in the Malmaison Hotel in Manchester for an overnight stay as well as trying a meal at the adjoining Smoak Restaurant.
As I studied English in the city of Manchester, it’s a place I’m extremely fond of, and so was keen to extend this for more than 1 evening. I’ve stayed before in the Midland Hotel and also the Radisson Edwardian and so we decided to give the Macdonald Hotel a try for the second evening.
We arrived on a Sunday evening into Manchester Piccadilly train station to the weather that I became very accustomed to in my three-year stay in Manchester – grey skies and pouring rain. Not a great start but as the hotel is a mere couple of minutes’ walk from the station we didn’t allow it to dampen (excuse the pun) our spirits.

On arrival we took in the modern and opulent d├ęcor of the Malmaison Hotel with delight, this looked very promising indeed. We checked in, had our bags taken to our room and made our way to the bar where we enjoyed a Champagne cocktail each, to toast our arrival for a couple of days of gluttony and enjoyment.

When we made our way up to the room it was to a gorgeously decorated and spacious room made out in luxurious silvery grey fabrics, with a comfortable double bed and chaise lounge with a clean and shiny new bathroom in black marble, fabulous.

With a few hours before dinner, we walked into the city centre and indulged in some retail therapy. When we returned to the hotel, I thought it would be rude not to partake in trying out a treatment at La Petit Spa, which is situated in the basement of the hotel. I booked myself in for an hour-long Deep Tissue Massage which cost £65, and which was frankly worth every penny and more. I was welcomed into the spa, given a fluffy bath-robe, as is the norm, and invited to a beverage. The treatment itself was one of the best massages I’ve had before, and I would gladly pay again for this treatment.  

We enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Smoak Restaurant – which you can read about soon in a further post – and then enjoyed a Bloody Mary or two in the bar before retiring for a very comfortable stay in the room. Breakfast was good with a wide choice of options available that were brought to your table for you as well as a buffet for the more continental options.

Overall our stay at Malmaison Hotel, Manchester was superb. The room was comfortable, luxurious and welcoming as were the communal areas which were full of squishy armchairs and sofas. The hotel manages to balance contemporary style with good old-fashioned comfort to offer a welcome mix to any guest. We were guests of the hotel, however, you can book a room with breakfast for an overnight for two people for £123, which I think offers great value considering the standard of this hotel.

On our second day we checked into the Macdonald Hotel and after such enjoyment at Malmaison Hotel, I was quite sad to leave the place, but was soon reassured as we popped to the Macdonald Hotel early wondering if we could leave our bags there until check-in much later that day. The reception staff asked us to wait a moment and the next minute we were offered early check-in at no extra cost so this was a good start too.

The hotel room was comfortable enough and decorated to a standard which I’ve come to expect at most UK hotels, although basically adorned, it was spotlessly clean and very roomy.

After the opulence and shiny-new feel to the Malmaison Hotel, I must admit the Macdonald Hotel did seem a little bare and under-whelming, however had I came for a stay and not stayed at the Mal the night before, then this wouldn’t have been the case. The Macdonald Hotel was more than adequate and was certainly comfortable enough for an overnight stay.

Once again keen to try out all of the facilities I treated myself to a massage at the Macdonald Hotel Spa. This time I had a Decleor Aroma Ultimate Body Massage which was one hour long and was hour of pure bliss and relaxation – after my massage the day before, I certainly felt relaxed and knot-free by the end of this. This cost £57 and again I would highly recommend it. With tranquil music playing and an incredibly friendly and bubbly therapist who knew when to be quiet (when I’m being massaged I don’t want mindless chit-chat) I thought this offered fantastic value for the level of massage. The only small drawback of this, was that as the Macdonald Hotel l is so vast, I had to walk quite far from our hotel room and up and down lots of stairs to get there, but this is, as I say a minor discrepancy and wouldn’t deter me from enjoying this wonderful treatment again.

The rain continued to pour and so we decided to try our our evening meal in the hotel’s in-house eatery, the Scottish Steak Restaurant, which has Two Rosettes, rather than brave the cold, wet and windy outdoors.  Scottish Steak Restaurant has an open Josper Grill which is in the centre of the restaurant so you can watch all of the kitchen action. Although the atmosphere was great in this restaurant, especially for a Monday evening, the food wasn’t quite up to the standards I would have expected for Two Rosette s, nor for the prices charged. Although the meal we had was more than acceptable, the food was on a par with a good gastro pub, and as such I would have expected the same sort of prices.

Presentation of the evening meal was also interesting – some of the dishes looked superb on the plate, my boyfriend’s main meal of pork fillet and fondant potato for example, but my main, which was a fish fillet with a creamy prawn sauce and mashed potatoes, just didn’t look great and certainly not appetising. The mash also had lumps in it which I wouldn’t expect of any restaurant. It was presented as a big, oval dollop, there are no other words to describe it, and I’ve included an image to demonstrate this.

Breakfast the next morning was actually fantastic – with an excellent array of continental and English fried breakfast foods available at the buffet counter, I enjoyed a full English of my own design which went down well.

We paid £110 for our stay at the hotel which included our breakfast, and once again I think this does offer good value for a city centre hotel and I would highly recommend the spa facilities as these were excellent. Our evening meal with a bottle of wine and two courses was around the £80-£90 mark, and as I mentioned I think this is a little high given the quality of the food, and so I would suggest if staying at the Macdonald Hotel, trying one of the many great restaurants in the city of Manchester rather than opting to try the hotel’s offering.

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