Travel: Discover a hotel at the heart of Manchester

Afternoon tea is a luxurious treat
Afternoon tea is a luxurious treat

Ruth Brindle takes a first-time trip to the city and uncovers a wealth of history

The truly iconic and magnificent Midland Hotel in the centre of Manchester can lay claim to some very memorable and historic guests and events.

It’s where Mr Rolls first met Mr Royce and decided to make cars together; Posh and Becks had their first date here in the renowned French restaurant and they still say it’s one of their favourite UK hotels; actor Jack Howarth of Albert Tatlock and Coronation Street fame lived here and it has played host to celebrities and political figures such as Winston Churchill, Princess Anne, Liberace and many other current celebrities who come to perform in the city including the Rolling Stones.

The hotel was even a star in its own right in a behind-the-scenes TV documentary a few years ago.

Its Edwardian beauty has attracted filmmakers who have used the vast banqueting rooms in the likes of Brideshead Revisited and Cold Feet.

You can feel the history as you enter the vast entrance lobby to be greeted by the sort of attentive staff you might expect at any top-rated establishment around the world.

Built in 1903 for rail travellers it has always been a mainstay of city life. The Grade II Listed four star hotel with 312 bedrooms is now owned by the Leonardo group of hotels and has been extensively upgraded and renovated over the years and its spa is a city centre marvel with a swimming pool.

It is a great location from which to explore the city and on my first visit here I was very impressed with the array of different public transport options on offer from trams to free buses to trains. The hotel is minutes from Piccadilly train station and a walk to the huge Arndale shopping centre. Just around the corner is the first (and last) stop of the Sightseeing Manchester hop-on-hop-off city tour. The one-hour trip I tried took in sites such as Old Trafford, home to Manchester United; Salford Quays, home to the BBC, and attractions such as the Museum of Science and Industry and the National Football Museum. It gives a good overview of the city.

Across the road from the hotel is the Central Library, which is well worth a visit as interactive exhibits help you to get an insight into the city’s industrial past.

But while my tour was fun I was looking forward to a relaxing stay in the Midland’s spa. My treatment was, aptly named: Relax in Manchester – and included a gentle exfoliation and relaxing aromatherapy back massage, with a face and scalp massage. There’s also a pool, which is unusual in city spas.

While The French restaurant has a long and enviable history and reputation, for those who may not want to fine dine, the Midland’s other eaterie Mr Cooper’s is also an award-winning and cool hang-out.

With its high ceilings and light and airy atmosphere it is a buzzy place to eat with, again, great staff. I sat under a real tree in the main dining room and enjoyed a great, imaginative meal before retiring to my vast room to relax.

Luckily I wasn’t woken by the hotel’s ghost The Lady In Grey. I was too content enjoying myself.

For more information, or to book a room, visit www.themidlandhotel.co.uk or call 0161 7747051