You know me, I love a beautiful old building with an interesting history and plenty of original details. And if it includes a fab place to lay my head with all the mod cons, in a central city location, then I’m there!
As a northerner born and bred, one of the things I’ve always been proud of is the wealth of traditional architecture in cities like Leeds, York, Liverpool and of course Manchester – it’s right up there! Coupled with the fact that I went to university in Manchester, the place will always hold a special interest for me. I’ll admit, we don’t visit as often as we should (just because Leeds and York are closer) but we usually get across a couple of times a year. In fact we went a little while ago to see Blondie play live for my birthday! And whenever we do I’m always reminded of how varied and vibrant the independent scene is; shops, venues, bars, restaurants and of course the coffee culture!
We were invited to try out the new Roomzzz ‘Aparthotel’ recently, which inhabits the old Corn Exchange building in Manchester. This iconic building has a long and varied history. I remember it as a student in the 90s but it was then given an overhaul and became the Triangle shopping centre, although many of the original details were obscured during this process. Thankfully, when Roomzzz took over the space to convert the building in to a hotel, they uncovered and renovated the original period features and the impressive central staircase is the result. I love the Art Deco vibes, original tiling and marble, beautifully accented by the modern light fittings.It’s a great example of modern meets trad and business meets pleasure. The rooms themselves are purpose-built with all the modern conveniences you could wish for. We had two rooms which adjoined with a connecting door and central lounge area, which was perfect for a family of five. The kids loved the fact they had their own sleeping and living area with its own bathroom, TV and kitchenette but we could also hang out together in the central living space. Added to this, Greig and I also had a room to ourselves with our own TV and separate bathroom.While we made sure we kept the connecting door open at all times, we all still had plenty of space to enjoy ourselves in (relative) peace and quiet. This set up would work well for families and friends such as relatives or couples who want the freedom to socialise together but also want their own privacy. With a kitchen apiece, you could even cook your own meals.
As it happens we were also treated to a lovely meal at local Italian restaurant Sassi’s, which is one of the many great venues available right on your doorstep in the Corn Exchange. We all love Italian food and this place was really authentic with lovely staff who let the kids decorate their own pizzas before they were oven-fired. I had the best spaghetti vongole I’ve eaten in a long while, washed down with some prosecco. The best bit is you haven’t got far to walk to get back to the comfort of your own room (which was especially welcome during the arctic weather conditions we were experiencing at the time). The proximity to Exchange Square is amazing – you’re right in the thick of it – and yet the rooms were totally sound-proofed, with black out curtains too and we had a perfect nights’ sleep.
When we returned to the hotel, the kids changed into their personalised robes c/o Roomzzz (how cute was that?) and I settled in for a bath with some pampering treats the staff had generously left in the room. It’s little touches like that which mark hotels out from the rest isn’t it? The great thing about having so much space (and 3 x TVs – the kids’ minds were a bit blown by that) was that Greig and I could watch a film in our room while the kids tucked up in their room with popcorn and a movie of their own choice. Or you could all hunker down on the sofa and watch a film in the lounge together – it’s up to you. I guess that’s why it’s known as an Aparthotel, as you have so much more living space and flexibility.
On Sunday morning, we availed ourselves of the ‘Grab & Go’ breakfast downstairs which allows you to help yourselves to tea, coffee and pastries which you can take back to your room to eat at leisure or pack up like a picnic and take with you if you’re heading out. Again, I love this flexibility which works for everyone whether you’re having a lazy morning or need to get cracking. The lovely people at Roomzzz had organised one more treat for us, having booked tickets for the fab Robots exhibition at the local Science & Industry museum.
While Greig took the kids off to that I had a wander around the city, reacquainting myself with familiar haunts and new ones while indulging in a bit of retail therapy. I also scouted out a nice independent where we could meet up for brunch before heading home. Pot, Kettle, Black – based in the beautiful Victorian surroundings of the original Barton Arcade – is a great place for slow Sundays, serving all day breakfasts and great coffee. Again, it was the perfect mix of new meets old, which is what I love best about Northern cities.
Thanks so much to Roomzzz for the complimentary stay. It was the perfect city mini-break!
For more details on available locations including the new Manchester Corn Exchange