We often stay in Manchester for business or family reasons and try to sample as many of the hotels as we can, but we recently realised we are being drawn back to the same one each time. So, what has become our favourite and why?
Innside, part of the Melia group, may not be everyone’s immediate first choice. Situated in the First Street area -it’s about 10 minutes’ walk from the city centre, close to Deansgate train station and Deansgate/Castlefield Metrolink stop, adjacent to the entertainment venue Home and next to the site of the world famous Hacienda (that’s now an apartment block). It’s relatively new to the Manchester Hotel scene having just celebrated its 2nd birthday.
It is clean and modern, with good sized rooms, comfy beds, a great restaurant and bar, but lots of the Manchester hotels have these things so what is it that makes Innside special?
The one thing which makes them stand head and shoulders above the others is the standard of their customer service and the friendliness and helpfulness of all their staff. Not one member of staff ever passes you without enquiring how are you and can they help you. They are friendly and approachable and have obviously been very well trained. From the waitress at breakfast who offers to get your coffees – the buffet is serve yourself including the drinks – to the check in and out staff, the bar staff, in fact in all the times we have stayed with them we have never encountered any member of staff who did not display their obviously high standards of customer service.
Innside is a new hotel on the fantastic First street development in Manchester. It's part of the Melia group and there's no doubt it aims to be quite contemporary and fit right into the whole Manchester vibe.
However when we checked in we did wonder whether we had stepped into a giant Monopoly game looking at some fantastic decorations in the lobby. We think they were part of a conference going on that day but even so it certainly added something different.
Check in was smooth as we had priority status having joined the Melia Rewards scheme and we were soon in our room which I have to say is one of the smartest and largest we've been in recently - free soft drinks in the mini bar, a clever use of space for wardrobes and bathroom and one of the coolest headboards we've seen.I did feel like I should have had my colouring pencils with me when I looked at it though!
The next day saw us up early and enjoying a fantastic choice from the buffet breakfast at Innside. With the usual array of fruit, pastries, cooked breakfast, cereal juices and hot drinks. Plus some festive table decorations too - oh and some cake!
After checking out and dumping our bags at the car we walked across the city to start at the cathedral end and work our way back. As ever there is a wide variety of stalls selling a mixture of hand made goods, food and all sorts of very attractive looking gifts and potential presents.
The market coupled with the addition of the "regular" Christmas decorations really does make a fantastic festive setting and theres no surprise that it does get very busy.
So a quick tip - get there as early as possible and try and visit the Albert Square section first (in front of the town hall - the bit with Zippy Santa). This gets rammed as it is enclosed by fencing due to the licensing laws and controlling people taking alcohol away from the site. So by 11.00am at weekends, especially in good weather it can become a bit of physical test of stamina especially if you are wanting to actually buy anything!
There are loads of other sites with stalls throughout the city centre and loads to see so if it is a bit too crowded in one place just move on to the next.
Another great weekend in Manchester at Christmas market time. Definitely worth a visit if you havent been and if you do plan on going make sure you give yourself plenty time.
More details for Innside Manchester can be found here.
More info on Manchester's Christmas Markets can be found here.
Don't expect globe-trotting reports from the Himalayas. We do like a good holiday and break every now and then and also some simple days out not too far away from home. No bucket lists just some common places done differently.....