Palace Hotel – put on the red light 

The clock tower and red neon is synonymous with sweeping camera shots of Manchester. It used to be, anyway. Whistling Beetham Tower has taken over. And soon, its sister. Its massive sister.

In fact red neon adorned buildings used to be the thing. My old employer and first love Granada TV and its lettering used to welcome you into the city (assuming you were arriving on the train. From a certain direction).

Now that’s gone (sniff).

However the Palace Hotel and its neon and its tower remains and has a new lease of life.

credit : PH Hotels


Bit of brief history (thanks Wiki) on the building which the hotel is nicely bringing to the fore in its rebrand and furbishment:

  • Originally built as offices for Refuge Assurance
  • Opened in 1895
  • Grade II listed
  • Removated in 1912 and 1932
  • Refuge Assurance went away
  • 1994 PH Hotels bought the buildings and away they went

all the deets

Honorary Manc didn’t infiltrate the city proper until 2000. This is my excuse for not actually realising that the building hasn’t always been a hotel. Maybe not always but definitely for at least longer than just over 20 years. My actual Manc husband apparently did know this, highlighting his authenticity and my own outsider status.

Anyway I’ve stayed in my share of hotels in Manchester, but never here. And to be honest, it was getting a reputation for being a bit tired and little more than a hub for conveyer belt office Christmas parties.

But it’s had a £7 million makeover befitting of its architectural beauty and it’s just lovely.

Two things struck me from my night’s stay; the service and the lighting but more about the latter later (more being some pictures, basically).

They’ve kept the doorman who is bedecked in tweed and flat cappage which, don’t worry, is a nod to its Victorian heritage rather than to being grim up north and pigeons and to quote Partridge;

cotton and guns

The lobby is grand and the welcome is to match.

I’ve stayed in hotels where my bags have been taken to my room both accompanying me and arriving later. The loveliness and convenience oft in direct relation to my usual tipping tensions – is it enough? Is it too much? Am I meant to do a silly secret handshake to secrete said tip?

Anyway, on this occasion, I was accompanied in the lift and all the way to my room by a lady. Despite my usual concerns over whether I should speak to her and, if so, what about…

Do you like cheese?

Ooh that ruddy rain, eh

Anyway I had no bag to carry, no awkward exchange in the room – I was simply shown to it, door opened, left to enjoy my stay.

On that theme our friends, upon arrival, were shown to the bar where we were waiting (research), upon leaving we were shown out (consensually).

The rooms are Victorian luggage chic. They just are. It’s a thing. I reckon.

There’s a fridge containing complimentary water and fresh milk and enough room to store your bottle of champagne – granted we had to remove a shelf (carefully and yes it twas though it had never been removed by checking out time – I’m not an animal) 

I really enjoyed the lighting, good lighting.

The bathroom; a masterclass in Victorian elegance (granted the discretionary 21st century necessity thrown in, courtesy of Neal’s Yard and the shower):

the royal wee – sorry my level of taste will always give way to a good pun opp

The Palace Hotel actually does three things well: showing, lighting and water.

Upon check-out we were asked if we would like to take a bottle of water with us. Would I? The previous night I had forgotten myself attending an indie disco until 4am, if you please.

Yes. Yes I would.

Reader? It was cold. Water never tasted so good.

As with all good amateur writers and reviewers, I timed my stay to coincide with the new bar and restaurant not yet being open for a couple of weeks. However, the bar that was open was lovely, grand and you could spend hours choosing between the various styles of sofas and chairs.

Naturally I chose the sofa that I was later to awkwardly depart with the grace of Bernard Bresslaw in drag.

So I’ve ticked off my second red neoned building in my career as a Manchester  dweller.

Any talk of my having ticked off a third are pure rumour and heed should not be paid.


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