Some more restaurants, hotels and sights in Manchester.
by jipp05 on January 22, 2013
Cloud 23 is in my opinion the best place to go for drinks in the whole of Manchester. Other than the fact that they serve up some amazing cocktails the main reason is because of the view that the bar has out over the Manchester skyline. The bar is located on the 23 floor of The Hilton Hotel in the Deansgate area of the city. Depending on when you want to visit you may have to queue to be able to get in the bar. This might seem like a pain but it is definitely worth it. The bar has a capacity of 200 and residents get to queue jump so on Saturday and Sunday nights it can be very busy. You can put your name down on the guest list but this is usually full for months in advance. If you get there early enough then the chances are that there will be no queue but it’s something worth considering if time is short. Entry to the bar is by way of a private elevator which is spacious and super-fast. Once you come out of the elevator a member of staff usually seats you. If possible try and get a window seat as the floor to ceiling windows offer an amazing view out of the city and it is worth coming to the bar for this alone. The view really is spectacular. The décor of the bar is pretty plush as you might imagine and it has a really sophisticated air without being too pretentious. There is even a glass part to the floor where you can look down to the swimming pool 23 floors down. Service has always been fantastic when I have visited and as it is table service there is no long queues to manoeuvre at the bar. The wait staff have always been really friendly and attentive and I have never sat for ages trying to get someone’s attention to get a drink. The drinks menu is decent with plenty of choice. As Cloud 23 has won the Manchester cocktail bar of the year award a few times you should definitely try the cocktails on offer. They are expensive but really good quality and more unusual than a lot of the cocktails you find in a lot of bars. All the liquor used in them is premium branded and some of the mixing ingredients are really unusual and exotic. There is even a selection of non alcoholic mocktails that although I haven’t actually tried sound delicious. Expect to pay in the region of £10 for the plainer cocktails and more for the more exotic ones and the champagne based ones but although this is expensive they really are some of the nicest that I have ever tasted anywhere. Most of the other drinks are also expensive and cost more than they would in another bar but you are paying a premium for the view and the ambiance at Cloud 23 and for me personally I really think it is worth this extra. As well as serving drinks in the evening you can come for afternoon tea. This is something that I haven’t done yet but I definitely plan on my next trip to Manchester coming back to Cloud 23 and having the afternoon tea. The toilets aren’t something which I normally discuss when visiting somewhere but the ones at Cloud 23 are amazing and the nicest toilets I have ever used. In the men’s toilets there also floor to ceiling windows next to the urinals and I can honestly say that I have never before used a urinal with such a brilliant view. Cloud 23 is definitely somewhere that is more of a destination than somewhere you just randomly decide to go. It is very popular and with good reason. The drinks are good and the service is fantastic but the reason to go is to just experience it. You never know you might get lucky and see a premiership footballer as apparently this is one of their favourite haunts.
The last time that I was in Manchester was for a concert at the MEN arena and we stayed overnight so the next day we decided to do some shopping in the city centre. We ended up close to the Printworks and decided to look there to see where to have lunch and settled on The Hard Rock Café as I personally had never been to one before and wanted to see what it was like. It is located right at the entrance to the Printworks so you can’t really miss it. I was surprised by just how dark the whole complex was though and we actually had to push the door open to make sure it was open as it was so dark that we really were unsure. Once we had seen that it was open we went in and waited at the door for a server to come and show us to our table. As it was pretty quiet we were allowed to choose where we wanted to sit and we decided on a booth near the back as they looked the most comfortable. The seating is made up of both tables and booths and as well as the ground floor there is also another floor above so there are a lot of tables and even if it is a busy day such as a Saturday you should be able to get a table ok without a long wait. The whole restaurant is themed around music especially Rock and Roll with loads of items from famous musicians adorning the walls. I spent most of my time in the restaurant while we were waiting for our food looking at the items and trying to see if there was anything that I might recognise. Unfortunately there wasn’t really a lot that I would know as I imagine that the more famous items are housed in bigger Hard Rock Cafes but there was some interesting memorabilia especially of older Rock and Roll stars such as a shirt belonging to Elvis and some Beatles memorabilia. Being in Manchester there was of course some Oasis memorabilia too but nothing too famous. I honestly think that it was too dark though as I had trouble even making out what a lot of the items were supposed to be. The service was pretty good. Our server was friendly and took our drink order straight away and while she got our drinks she left us to peruse the menu. The menu itself is very American themed as you might expect with a strong emphasis on burgers. The burgers on the menu are called ‘legendary’ so I was expecting something special especially as they were quite expensive for what is essentially a burger and chips. I ordered a Mushroom and Swiss burger which comes with Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms while other members of our party ordered more exotic sounding burgers such as the S.O.B burger which comes with spicy Chipotle pepper puree and Montery Jack cheese. The menu does a really good job of making the burgers sound delicious and I was really looking forward to mine arriving. Unfortunately the description was much better than the actual burger as when it arrived it was dry and had the tiniest amount of mushrooms on it and the chips were just frozen chips. It tasted ok but was nothing special and I have had much nicer burgers in pubs for a fraction of the price that The Hard Rock Café charges. Everyone else agreed that their food was ok but nothing special and certainly not worth the premium that the restaurant charges. I wouldn’t go back to The Hard rock Café in Manchester as the food was just ok and the memorabilia wasn’t interesting enough for me personally. It serves up pub food but tries to make it sound more appealing that it actually is in reality. The servers were really nice and I can’t fault this aspect but I would probably just find a local pub next time if I fancied a burger and chips.
I was in Manchester for a concert at the MEN Arena a few weeks ago and we decided to make the most of it and spend the night. Leaving it a bit late in the day to book meant that we didn’t have the greatest or cheapest choices of places to stay but we did manage to find a room at the Premiere Inn which was selling for £80. As this was literally the cheapest room in central Manchester that we could find for this particular Saturday night we booked it straight away.~~~~~~~~~~ Location ~~~~~~~~~~This particular Premier Inn was located in the city centre of Manchester on Portland Street which was a couple of minutes walking from Oxford Road train station. It was also conveniently located if you were coming from Piccadilly as this was only a 5 to 10 minute walk away from the hotel. The location was one of the things that appealed about this hotel as it was really central for the city centre. It wasn’t the closest to the MEN Arena but it was an easy 15 minute walk to it. All the shops and the Arndale Centre were about 10 minutes away and the hotel is surrounded by loads of restaurants and bars.~~~~~~~~~~ Check in ~~~~~~~~~~As we arrived on a Saturday afternoon there were loads of people waiting to check in. The reception area of the hotel was a bit on the small side and it definitely felt a little cramped. There is only one small reception desk and there was only one receptionist on it checking people in so it could have taken ages to actually check in and get our room key but luckily they also had some self-service check in kiosks.There were three of these and the check in process was a simple one. It just involved keying in my details and then the computer finding our details. Once I had used my card to pay the computer printed off an invoice and dispatched our keys. I found the whole process much easier and speedier than queuing to check in with the receptionist.~~~~~~~~~~ The Room ~~~~~~~~~~The room was pretty much as I was expecting from a Premier Inn. It wasn’t fancy but it was clean and perfectly functional. For some reason the machine had allocated us a disabled room but other than the bathroom having some aides to help with going to the toilet and showering it resembled pretty much every other Premier Inn I’ve ever stayed at. The room had a double bed which was actually really comfortable. It also had four pillow two firmer ones and two softer ones so you could choose which one suited you better. There was the usual TV, desk area, mirror and wardrobe as well as a couple of seats. Tea and coffee making facilities were provided but were a bit on the stingy side with only one tea and coffee sachet each.The bathroom had a bath and a shower and there were two bath and hand towels each. The bathroom was clean but in need of updating and was starting to look a bit grubby around the seals etc.~~~~~~~~~~ A good night’s sleep? ~~~~~~~~~~Did I sleep well while staying at the Premier Inn on Portland Street? In a word no. Staying here was the exact same experience as within every other budget hotel that I’ve stayed in that is located within a city centre. All throughout the night there were drunk people coming back from nights out who seemed to forget every common courtesy that they might normally have. At one point there was a group of girls who seemed to be holding their own party in the corridor instead of taking it back in to their rooms. The hotel has security but not once did they appear to try and quieten people down. The soundproofing in the rooms was almost non-existent and we could hear absolutely everything. This went on from around about midnight until after 5 in the morning.I knew when booking the hotel that this would probably be the experience but it still amazes me when it happens every time. When I am staying at a hotel and have been for a night out I still try to come back and go to my room quietly so as to not disturb the other guests. I could just be bitter though as I was a little bit ill and couldn’t drink that night.~~~~~~~~~~ The staff ~~~~~~~~~~With only one exception the majority of the staff that we encountered were pleasant and professional. To be honest staff were a little thin on the ground and we only really interacted with them when we were leaving but the girls we did see were nice and friendly. When we checked out we asked to leave our bags until later on in the day so that we could go and have a wander round the city and do some shopping and they had a luggage room. The girl that took our bags chatted to us and asked all about our stay. The one exception that I mentioned happened when we returned to the hotel after the concert and were waiting for the lift to our room. The receptionist and the security guards were talking about some girl who was staying at the hotel and were slagging off her outfit and making fun of her. They did this blatantly when we were standing only a few feet away from them and I thought it was really unprofessional and rude and I actually wish now that I had said something at the time to them.~~~~~~~~~~ Food ~~~~~~~~~~We didn’t actually have breakfast as this was a chargeable extra but in our room there was a menu so they must have also had a restaurant. I’m not sure where this was actually located as normally at these places it is adjacent to the reception but here the reception area was far too small to also contain a restaurant so it must have been located elsewhere. As I said there are loads of cheaper places that surround the hotel to get a meal or breakfast and there are also several take aways close by including a 24 hour McDonalds.~~~~~~~~~~ Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~If you choose to stay at this particular Premier inn you know pretty much what you are going to be getting as it is so similar to the rest of them. The city centre location does make it ideal for seeing everything that Manchester has to offer but at the same time you have to remember that if you choose to stay here on a weekend then you are going to be sharing the hotel with a bunch of people who are there to party and you aren’t going to get much in the way of sleep. It did offer decent value especially in comparison with the prices other hotels were asking for this particular night but to be honest I will probably try and book somewhere earlier so that I have a better chance of getting a better hotel cheaper and would only really stay here again if I didn’t really have any other option.
by jipp05 on December 20, 2010
Even since I returned from a trip to Thailand a couple of years ago I have been craving authentic Thai food. Unfortunately my cooking skills only really extend to green curry from a jar so when I was visiting Manchester friends told me about a Thai restaurant that had a good reputation within the city and we decided to treat ourselves to a meal. The restaurant is called Chaophraya and the owner opened the Manchester one after originally opening one in Leeds that was a big success. The restaurant is located in Chapel Walks which is in the vicinity of the city centre. Although I do not know Manchester all that well and we went to the restaurant with friends from the city it didn't look difficult to find and if you get lost then as it is so popular just ask someone where it is and they will be able to point you in the right direction. When we arrived at the restaurant the first thing I noticed was the gorgeous decor which really had a sort of perfect Thai feel to it like the pictures of Thailand in magazines. Ok so maybe it isn't the most authentic decor but this is Manchester not Thailand and it is stunning looking and has a real sophistication to it that is exactly what I want when I am paying a lot of money for a special meal. Downstairs appeared to be a bar area but we were shown straight to our table upstairs. As we were flying from Manchester airport early the next morning we didn't want to make it a late night so we booked the table for 7:00pm thinking the restaurant would be empty at that time. However it was already exremely busy and although it is a large resturant there were not many tables that were empty even at 7:00pm. Like the rest of the decor upstairs was lovely and the tables were solid wood and everything was beautiful quality and it was clear to see that someone had spent a lot of money on this restaurant. For our starers my partner and I ordered the selection of starters for two to share and this consisted of the more popular starters you would expect such as chicken satay, different preperations of prawns, dumplings, prawn toast etc. Everything was beautifully presented and absolutely delicious and although it was for two there was such a lot on the platter it could easily be shared by more people. I am always a fan of starters in restaurants and I would have happily had the platter to myself instead of a main course as it was that good. For my main I had a dish from the chefs recommendation which I forget the name but it was lamb and slow cooked in Thai spices. This again was delicious and although they have some warning on the menu as to which dishes are spicy and which aren't I was surprised this was not menioned as I found it to be quite hot. This didn't bother me as I like spicy dishes but I am curious as to how hot the dishes that are classed as spicy must be. My partner had boring old Thai green curry but to be fair this was delicious also and tasted nothing like my one from a jar. We also got a selection of different rices and the best of these was the sticky rice which was better than any I ate in Thailand. For desert I just had ice cream which was nice but nothing special. For a menu so extensive tere wasn't a whole lot to choose from in the desert section. The service was first class and we never had any trouble getting the serving staffs attention when we wanted something and they always had a smile which made a nice change from some of the places I have been to lately where teenagers take your order with all the charm of Lauren from Little Britain. I really cannot fault Chaophraya in any way from the food to the service everyhing was absolutely first class and I would highly recommend that you visit if you get a chance. It cost us over £200 for the four of us so around £50 per person which really isn't bad actually considering the surroundings and the quality of the food and it is somewhere that I would definately go back to.
by jipp05 on December 13, 2010
when we Visited Copenhagen to go to the Christmas markets in Tivoli we had an very early flight meaning that we needed to spend the night in Manchester. Instead of just staying the one night we thought it would be a good idea to combine a visit with friends and stay a couple of nights. Since we still had that really early flight it made sense to stay at an airport hotel instead of in the city centre so we wouldn't have to worry about having to get to the airport. We decided on the travel lodge on the basis that it was pretty much the cheapest place to stay and it was close to the airport. Unfortunately we weren't driving so we had to make our own way to the hotel from the airport. There is a shuttle you can get which costs £5 per person and will pick you up in front of the airport but I wasn't going to pay for that so directions in hand we set off to find the hotel. Unfortunately it was slightly further than I thought and it took us a good 45 minutes walking to reach the hotel. It is actually a couple of miles outside the airport complex whihc means to me that they shouldn't be advertising it as an airport hotel as I think an airport hotel should be a walkable between the terminales and the hotel. Once we arrived we tried to check in with the self service machine but even though we did everything it asked for it still wouldn't check us in and eventually we had to ask a member of staff for help. To give the reception staff credit they were very nice and tried their best to help but it wouldn't work for them either so they had to check us in manually. Once checked in we were given the keys to our room which is basically the same as every other travel lodge. There was a double bed, a desk, TV, and a chair and this was pretty much it. There are no luxeries such as a mini bar or safe. The decor is very plain and innofensive and you can definately tell you are staying in a budge hotel but it is absolutely fine for a night or two. The bathroom was a bit dated and in need of a refurbishment but there was a bath with a shower overhead and plenty of hot water and towels on demand. The plumbing was extremely loud though and we could hear the neighbours flushing their toilet. The walls are also paper thin and we could hear the neighbours next door and also everytime anyone was in the hall it would wake us up. As we were going into Manchester city centre we didn't want to walk the 45 minutes to the train station at the airport so we ended up having to get a axi everytime instead which ended up costing us quite a lot of money. When we left to catch our flight we decided to get the shuttle instead of walk since it was so far and we checked the website before to find out the price and it stated that payment was made direct to the hotel. However when we went to pay for it they told us that you had to pay the driver and they would only accept cash. We had no cash on us and had planned on paying with a debit card and the hotel had no cash machines so we weren't able to get the shuttle and ended up having to walk. Luckily we had left plenty of time so we were able to make check in in plenty of time. I really think the hotel should mention this fact and not state the opposite on their website. Overall we had an extremely dissapointing stay at the travel lodge Manchester airport and it isn't one that I would recommend unless you have no alternative. If you do decide to stay here just make sue that you realise how far away from the airport it actually is.
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