Review: We Stay in Manchester's Iconic The Midland Hotel
One of Manchester's most iconic hotels is our base for the night
The Midland Hotel has been charming its guests since 1903 and we’re excited to see what all the fuss is about, but first we’ve got a morning of sight-seeing planned.
We begin the day by fuelling up on smashed avo, poached eggs and bacon on sourdough (for me) and sirloin steak and eggs with speciality sauce (for him) at Federal – an Antipodean coffee bar where the queue of customers is ever-growing. Street performers keep us entertained outside. A short stroll along Peter Street leads us to The Midland which dominates this buzzy part of the city, and we congratulate a bride and groom having their wedding photos taken outside the town hall as we pass. Just around the corner within Manchester Art Gallery we discover various exhibitions tackling the climate crisis and gender inequality before continuing our tour of the city and stopping by Arndale – one of the UK's largest city-centre shopping centres – to browse the shops.
On our way to the cathedral we take a peek into the pop-up Mediterranean-style Capri Beach Club, and as we cross from Selfridges to The Old Wellington (the oldest building of its kind in the city) we begin to feel like time travellers. The clouds turn grey so we head inside the People’s History Museum which offers plenty of food for thought (and the opportunity for a quick game of ping pong), and take time to reflect on the day so far in the pretty St John's Gardens before playing scientists at the Science and Industry Museum. By far the highlight of our whistle-stop tour is our final stop, which we stumble across on our way to The Midland – Castlefield Viaduct, a disused railway viaduct built in 1892, which the National Trust are transforming into a green ‘sky park’. A short detour along Rochdale Canal Towpath leads us to the lake and back to the hotel.
Originally built to serve rail travellers from London, over the years The Midland has hosted everyone who’s anyone, from rock stars to royalty. It’s allegedly where Charles Rolls met Frederick Royce for their first meeting in 1904, which explains the magnificent vintage Rolls-Royce which takes pride of place at the hotel’s entrance. Upon entering we leave the hustle and bustle of the city streets behind us and relaxation is the plan for the rest of the day. That’ll prove easy – our room (one of 312 here) is spacious yet cosy, with cool grey furnishings and black and white railway-themed artwork. Back downstairs, we take a seat in the already lively and oh-so-chic Midland Lounge, where fairy-lit olive trees make for Insta-worthy snaps. I sip a South African white wine while my partner tries the Salford Dark Spice Rum and we watch the barmen shake cocktails at The Champagne Bar for the other guests. We could happily sit there all evening, but the award-winning Rena Spa is calling, so we head back to our room to change.
From its sleep chambers to its heated relaxation pool (with a swan neck fountain to ease shoulder and neck tension), the spa is a welcoming sanctuary – just what we need after a busy morning. I swim a few laps of the pool while my partner disappears into the steam room. I join him in the sauna before we unwind in the jacuzzi. An hour passes by in a blink and we try out the Caribbean Storm and Arctic Rain shower experiences (designed to rapidly heat up or cool down your body, depending on which option you choose). My partner takes a peek inside the gym, but we’re far too relaxed to consider a workout. Instead we head back to our room to get ready for dinner.
We’ve booked a table in the railway-themed Mount Street restaurant within the hotel, where the menu offers a modern take on British classics with a focus on Northern suppliers. I’ve been looking forward to another glass of the wine I enjoyed earlier and my partner swigs a refreshing glass of Modelo beer. The high ceilings, patterned floor, gold accents and upbeat music here transport us to the 1920s. My partner tucks into his pea and watercress soup with almond panna cotta while I savour my burrata with heritage tomatoes, balsamic and basil. More peas come my partner’s way when he’s served his cod fishcake with poached egg and lemon butter sauce, and I’m feeling full after a substantial slice of spinach and feta pie with red pepper sauce. We take a break before sharing two very different desserts – a nutty chocolate brownie served with cream and raspberries, and a soft and light carrot cake with a sweet carrot sorbet (which goes down a treat). Gazing out of the window we consider exploring more of the city, but The Midland has everything we need, and we have an undisturbed night’s sleep.
An excellent buffet-style breakfast is served at Mount Street. I’m drawn to the rows upon rows of pastries the following morning while my partner brings tea, coffee and juice to the table. As I tuck into a pain au chocolat and an almond croissant he plates himself up an English (or Mancunian) breakfast. Having let greed get the better of me, I make myself a Cumberland sausage sandwich with seeded sourdough and make small talk with the chefs. I’m pretty gutted when my partner digs into his pancakes and I’m too stuffed to try even a sliver.
We’re sad to be leaving so soon but there are so many reasons to return, of course to see more of this colourful city but also to try the afternoon tea (a highlight of the Manchester social scene since this hotel opened) and experience the culinary talents of Manchester’s own Adam Reid in The French. But for now, we head home dreaming of driving a Rolls-Royce.