on September 30, 2008
I’d done my usual trick of checking laterooms.com and the hotel’s own web site before ringing up to negotiate a deal. As usual the hotel room rate was more than the web site but when challenged they agreed a price match and a room upgrade to a bigger apartment. The deal at £87 for a two room apartment together with breakfast seemed good to me and the advantage of a direct booking is that there’s no advance charge and the cancellation could be up to 12 noon on the day of arrival.I arrived at The Place just after 18 hrs. It’s really conveniently sited an a quiet road close to Piccadilly Station and only a 15 minute walk up to China town and 10 minutes to the centre of town. It’s an old warehouse that been nicely converted to an apartment hotel. I’ve only stayed once before in an apartment hotel and of course the advantage is that you get much more room for your money with facilities to cook for yourself (if you’re that way inclined) and a pleasant seating areaChecking in was efficiently laid back and fairly painless. The usual swipe of the credit card for the hotel’s protection and I was swiftly moving to the fourth floor to my room. The Place was originally known as "the London Warehouse" and when built, in the mid 1800’s, was one of four huge cloth warehouses. It’s the only one that has survived and is now a grade II listed building that, lying dormant after the Great Depression for over 30 years, was acquired by the current owners and converted into the Place Hotel. The seven storey building is dominated by massive cast iron columns supporting box riveted iron girders which in turn carry cast floor joints of huge dimensions. This design enabled large uninterrupted floor space crucial for the effective storage and movement of the cloth in, out and around the building. The cloth had arrived by canal to Manchester and the warehouse acted as a resting place for the goods until they were ordered and then efficiently dispatched via the railway system to anywhere in the UK. It’s great to see such an historical building being "re-cycled" – it is, after all part of our heritage. All rooms face onto an internal courtyard with palm trees and water features and the huge supporting metal columns soar to the skylight, well above my floor. My upgraded room was huge with a large lounge looking onto the courtyard and equipped with a large TV, DVD and CD player a comfortable settee and easy chair and a dining table for four. Off the lounge diner was a small but well equipped kitchen with a dish washer fridge, microwave, and cooker. There was a plentiful supply of complimentary beverages and a small container of fresh milk – more than enough for a single night’s stay. The shortbread biscuits were also very tasty!The two bedrooms were both en-suite with a good range of toiletries. Overall the Place Apartment was well presented and would pander to the needs of all but the most picky of travellers. Personally I liked the charm of the conversion that had left the original features intact. Iron girders ran along the bricked barrelled ceiling of the apartment and the lack of plaster work had left the original bricks on view. In places they’d obviously been relayed but sections appeared to be the original work of the 1800’s. You can’t beat raw history and I momentarily imagined the hustle and bustle that would have been in the heyday of this huge warehouse.After a spot of relaxation I headed down to the ground floor bar and lounge. The dining room is only open for breakfast during the week and food can be ordered for your apartment or consumed in the bar area. There are half a dozen small dining tables and large comfortable chairs for "chilling out in". Certainly I didn’t intend to venture far as the Manchester weather was once again inclement (it was pouring with rain), Having ordered my rib eyed steak I caught up on the day’s newspapers (there are plenty of free ones lying around) and the depressing breaking news of the US efforts to support the economy. It was certainly no fun watching the trading figured of the stock market as it spiralled down by over 6% in as many minutes. Thankfully my meal arrived to distract me before I could become too depressed but I was to be disappointed as the steak was tough and in my view unacceptable. I complained and without fuss it was returned to the kitchen and I opted for the safer option of beer battered fish with chunky chips and a "healthy salad". It should have been served with mushy peas but as I’d complained once already I didn’t feel up to yet another one, but the salad did look and indeed was very tasty. As a sign of goodwill I was also "treated to" another pint of Boddington’s Ale. It’s not the best draught ale around but it’s marginally better than lager and this one was free!I have to say I did enjoy the fish and I took the residue of my beer up to the bedroom where I could settle down into the comfort of the comfy armchair and enjoy a bit of TV.The bedroom was very quiet and I was asleep almost as soon as "my head hit the pillow". It was probably the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a hotel and I was awakened promptly at 7.15 with my early morning call. Suitably refreshed, showered and dressed I headed down to the restaurant to have my breakfast. I wasn’t sure what to expect but the breakfast was excellent. The restaurant is "urban" in appearance and as I was greeted at the door the waitress took my order for tea and toast (coffee if I preferred it) and asked if I wanted a cooked breakfast or just the buffet. It makes no difference to the price (Breakfast is £10 a head) and I opted for a small cooked breakfast (egg, bacon, sausage and beans) preceded by orange juice and cereal. There’s plenty to choose from with probably half-a-dozen cereal, 4 juices, fresh meat, cheese, fruit, croissants, fresh bread to name but a few of the options. A great breakfast to set me up for the rest of the day!My stay at the Place was generally good (despite the disappointing evening meal) and before I left I booked myself in for the following week at the same price as this one (a bargain I reckon as I have seen rooms here at over £100 for room only).
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009