Returning to Manchester, England after living there for many years has made us picky hotel guests. We couldn’t wait to stay at the newly acquired Principal Manchester, now a Kimpton (IHG) property. The property, the staff, everything was perfect.
Take it from a former resident, the location of the Principal Hotel is perfect. Quick links to via the train at Oxford Station across the road, a short drive to the motorway or three blocks from a tram stop – no matter how you prefer to arrive or depart the hotel, it’s as easy as can be.
Address: Oxford St, Manchester M60 7HA, UK
Phone: +44 161 288 1111
Some visitors to Manchester may not be able to place this hotel from memory but that’s because for many years it was the Palace Hotel. When Starwood Hotels (not that Starwood) purchased the Palace and began their extensive renovation project, they wanted the hotel’s name to reflect the new design of the property. After just two years following the acquisition, IHG scooped up the property along with another 18 from Starwood Hotels to integrate into the Kimpton Brand.
There are myths and rumors that have cropped up about the property over the last century and a half. Some were true (confirmed by previous employees) and some remain unconfirmed… officially, like paranormal activity.
What can be guaranteed about the hotel is that there are only two such iconic, classic, Mancunian properties and the Palace, then Principal, soon Kimpton Manchester is one such hotel.
The glazed stone and tile of the Victorian era is a hallmark of Manchester architecture and the Principal Manchester is perhaps the quintessential Mancunian building. The hotel does not feature a pool (many European properties do not) but does offer a gym.
The hotel is a sprawling facility that covers several buildings including the clocktower. More than 260 rooms on site including suites, all are well appointed.
The bathroom was perfectly executed with modern updates in a classic style. White subway tiles in a clever pattern wrap the walls surrounding the oversized tub. This is the one exception to my preference for a stand-alone shower instead of shower over tub. A rain showerhead, as well as a handheld sprayer, kept everyone happy, the one drawback was a British tradition, the half glass door. Even after living in England for several years, I have yet to hear a good answer as to why the door is half and opens. I have heard answers, just none of them satisfactory.
The Principal Manchester offers large vaulted ceiling bedrooms in a country where space is a luxury. A huge wardrobe greeted us to our left upon entry and opposite the bathroom. While the room was not a suite, there was plenty of room for the desk, a sitting area, dressing loungers at the foot of the bed and two very large queen beds.
We have stayed at many hotels throughout the UK during our previous visits and while we lived in Manchester. We had even stayed at this particular property when it was still the Palace Hotel. The rooms have gone through a major renovation and are some of the best we have stayed at in the UK.
Snacks, drinks, and liquor await guests in the Tuck box and minifridge. It’s amazing that more hotels don’t do this given the tremendous value-add for the guest for a relatively low cost. It was filled with chocolates, “crisps” (chips), and other goodies that made my daughter’s day. We also liked the daily water and Cokes replaced in the fridge.
In addition to the Tuck Box, we were provided a couple of welcome amenities (including a snack basket separate from the Tuck Box.) One welcome amenity was provided for Lucy, a strawberry milkshake and cookies and coloring books with stickers. For the adults, we were provided some wine for which we did not partake and instead gave to some friends.
The property really was well managed. Service at all levels was exemplary from the front desk to management to housekeeping. Staff members learned our names and, by the end of the week, they were asking what our daughter got up to that day. More than anything else, they all seemed to have a pride in the hotel and the service that was delivered. I can say that this is a real change from the days of the Palace hotel.
I hope that as the Kimpton brand is integrated into the property, that the service will be maintained at the same high level.
Apparently, hotel guests are offered complimentary breakfast when staying at the hotel. There was a Breakfast Room with a selection of breads, cereals, hot English breakfast items (fried eggs, beans, sausage, bacon, mushrooms.) A menu was available but we did not see any American breakfast items (understandable as it is in England) but our daughter was hoping for pancakes. We requested some and there was some confusion. In the end, though pancakes were not available on the included free menu, the staff still graciously delivered some.
Our friends are in the service industry (shameless plug for their awesome bars Noho, Dusk Til Pawn, Cooper Hall and Wood and Co.). As such, they are plugged in and always take us to the “it” spots of which Refuge was high on the list when we visited last year.
Refuge is split into four areas, a sit-down restaurant, a large open bar, an atrium, and a game/billiards area. The bar was packed around lunch and every evening we stopped by. The atrium offers seating that offers tables and chairs lending itself to dates.
A Turn For The Better From IHG
Finally, perhaps, not all IHG hotels hate their elites. In fact, this property has a dedicated IHG representative on site who is responsible for ensuring a good experience at the property. The price per night was a good value for money considering the nightly rate of about £280 or $350 (at the time of publication). If you have IHG points, you would part with just 40,000 on the nights we stayed which seemed like a good redemption to us.
Right now, you can earn a free night at any IHG property when you stay two nights at the Principal Hotel or one of several others new to the brand.
Have you stayed at the Principal Hotel Manchester (Kimpton)? What did you think about your stay?