The behemoth of a building that houses Principal Manchester began life over 300 years ago. A cotton factory at the turn of the 20th century, the space was once a centre of industry and activity. The goods might have changed but the buzz remains today. Manchester's newest luxury hotel is a happening hub for the local community and visitors alike. It wasn't always this way. Until the end of last year, Principal Manchester was called The Palace Hotel and was more than a little rough around the edges.
Enter the Principal brand (part of Starwood Capital), which has picked up and thoughtfully restored the pieces, creating a chain hotel with a creative heart. The building's heritage is still very much at the fore. Staff here have a genuine interest in its history and are committed to the community - a local florist has set up shop in the lobby. The famous clock tower remains at centre stage, while distinctive ceramic tiles - originally built in the 19890s by Alfred Waterhouse - shine against Victorian red brick walls. And history here has also left space for modern creativity.
The dining area called The Refuge by Volta stretches over a 10,000sq ft space which was once a former typing pool. There's a co-working area, verdant conservatory and a den with a billiards and table football set-up which is alive around the clock with business men, curious travellers and students from the university nearby. The diversity of the Principal's clientele is surely a symbol of its currency; this is a hotel with history that has ensured its future for years to come.
There are 270 loft-style bedrooms, all with muted grey palettes and dizzying high ceilings. They make use of original tiling and wood paneling, which is complemented by revamped travelling trunks and vintage telephones. Bathrooms come stashed with Neil's Yard products. Rooms from £85.
What's for breakfast?
A continental buffet is included in the price of rooms, and is served in the light and airy Refuge restaurant.
What about lunch a dinner?
Tapas-style sharing plates stretch across both menus. Expects small plates salt cod croquettes, black daal and Lebanese lamb chops.
What about a bar?
The colossal Refuge Bar has achieved the ultimate goal of being a meeting point for hotel residents and locals. People tend to stop by for a sophisticated drink before dinner, and there are live DJ sets on Friday and Saturday nights to get things going. There's also an outdoor patio area strung up with fairy lights.
Florist, ballroom, coffee bar, conference rooms, free wifi, co-working space.
Within a short walk you can find
Manchester's city centre.
Things you should know
Light sleepers should avoid a room facing out onto Oxford Street.