on August 22, 2007
The Britannia is a Grade II listed building and its lobby is particularly grand with a magnificent chandelier that would not be misplaced in the grandest of theatre auditorium. On checking in, with a decent Internet deal, I was given a card to cash in for a complimentary bottle of house wine. At the time of writing this journal I haven’t tried the wine, but I’m guessing it’s going to be a fairly average bottle of house “plonk”. Still, perhaps with one of my “special lasagnes” the Italian red will drip down a treat.I had great difficulty understanding the hotel receptionist and he volunteered little, so I had to ask for a receipt and the time and place of breakfast. That achieved I climbed the grand balconied staircase to the first floor and strolled down the broad corridors to my bedroom, which was at the furthest point from the reception. The corridor walls were covered with pictures and period furniture dotted the length of the hall set amongst the original ornate pillars of this Victorian (1858) cotton Cash-and-Carry warehouse. This clearly is a grand building although it soon became clear that it had seen much better days – the paintwork is scuffed, the carpets threadbare in places and the bedroom (to be kind) is shabby chic. I have to say none of it was “offensive” and it wasn’t too hard to look through the shabbiness and just appreciate the decadent splendour of that impressive reception.The hotel is well-placed closed to the tram terminus, bus station, Piccadilly station , China Town and Manchester’s Arndale Shopping Centre and although this makes it “handy” it also makes it very noisy. Indeed the “paper thin” bedroom walls and inadequate secondary double glazing ensured that I had one of my worst night’s sleep in a British hotel. I reckon the next room were holding a rave and when the clock reached 1am I did ring reception to ask them to intervene. They responded quickly and effectively and soon a silence descended on the room – other than the noise from outside. This place will be hell when the students return to this University town and start their partying.However, after my poor night’s sleep on a fairly lumpy single bed (with a posh “Art Noveau” headboard) I made my way down to the basement restaurant. Although the tables offered limited space (a bit too close to fellow diners for my comfort) the breakfast itself was superb. There was a great selection of fresh fruits, cold meats, salads, and cereals (including a pot of porridge) for starters followed by an appetizing range of hot food. Making up my cooked breakfast was a challenge as I didn’t want to over-indulge (how wrong can I be) with fried bread, eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomato, and fried sliced potatoes. But I still left room for croissants (rather than toast) with lashings of marmalade. Do I forgive them my sleepless night? No! But it WAS a great breakfast.
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