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My Manchester in 2017 – in pictures

The highs, the lows and the love that stemmed. Beautiful Manchester.

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Hotels Manchester Photography Popular culture Preview/review Travel Uncategorized

Bowled over by the Hilton

Brought up by cricket-loving parents. I can boast that I was there at the infamous Headingley Test in 1981. I was barely stringing a sentence together given my young years

what’s new?

(Good one, me. Who just wrote that too. About me)

… but I was there.

img_1756

And so with that grounding, I had no choice but to have a fondness for the game. I have to admit that my love lies more in the memories that it brings for me than the stats and quality of that day’s fielding…

My Dad in the garden, listening to test match special with its permanently crackly, radio interference against the dulcet tones of RP voices, detailing that day’s play.

I might not be able to tell you all the intricacies of the game, but I’ve seen Warne bowl and I’ve seen Beefy bat. And I like Boycott’s bonkers bantz.

And for those who have no interest in the game whatsoever I’ll get to the point which involves one of the newest hotels to hit Greater Manchester;  Hilton Garden Inn, at Old Trafford Cricket Ground (aka the Emirates Stadium).

Just celebrating its 3 month birthday, I recently checked both myself and husband in to celebrate our 9 year anniversary.

We do that thing where we try and come up with some sort of genius yet tenuous link of a gift, according to what anniversary it is that year; i.e. paper, pottery, copper, ketchup, Pot Noodle, titanium and so on and so forth.

To help our quest, we open up the options to both the modern list and the traditional list (we cheat, essentially, as it can be a ball-ache).

This year I went with ‘willow’. We’d both wanted to check out the new hotel on the block at some point and so I forced a link with cricket – (willow being the bat, those who aren’t au fait with the romantic cricketing description…

the sound of leather on willow

Unfortunately our wedding anniversary inconveniently lies outside of the cricket season (or, more accurately, those games played at Old Trafford Cricket Ground this year.

No matter, this could be a recce for next summer.

Booking a room that faced the pitch (imagining dropping the ball on that one), the view was fantastic enough to please any cricket fan (again, play or no play) and impressive enough for those who don’t know their googly from their search engine).

Throwing open the curtains and french doors alike (it admittedly took a number of goes – reassuringly stiff), your balcony is there waiting for you, the pitch opening up from your privileged vantage point.

On this occasion it was the perfect position to watch the sun go down over Greater Manchester.

One can only imagine the thrill of sitting there watching play on a summer’s day, from your room.

With your little fridge available in the room for cold beverages at will, and a bathroom that doesn’t involve queuing with your fellow fans, you could be forgiven for feeling positively like an MCC member (basically fancy-pants cricket-goer decked out in mustard and maroon).

Away from the view, for a second, The hotel itself is modern and stylish. The rooms comfortable, and the members of staff warm and welcoming.

There was brief hilarity in the hotel bar and restaurant when my request for a margarita cocktail was misunderstood for a margherita pizza (to be fair, it’d be a cold day in hell when I rejected either), but a good night was had by all (both).

Throw those curtains wide (making sure you’re decent first)
So your trip to Trafford be for cricket, football, music or just for the sunsets, I recommend the Hilton Garden Inn at the Emirates Stadium.

Howzat!

Well very good, since you asked. And we’ll be back next summer.

And he’s out
And he’s out!
All the deets.

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Celebrity Culture Food and Drink Hotels Manchester Photography Popular culture Uncategorized

Brasserie Abode – bringing it home.

It was on a balmy night in Manchester when Brasserie Abode threw open its doors, banged on its bongos and welcomed Manchester into its loving, refurbished arms.

If the recently rebranded bar and restaurant is anything like its welcome party, us mancs (born and honorary) are in for a treat.

Last Thursday I got a glimpse into the mirrored spectacle that is the new Brasserie Abode. On Piccadilly, it’s the bar and restaurant of, yes, Abode Manchester.

My first foray into the Manchester hotel bar ‘scene’ (pretty sure it’s a scene), was back in 2000 and the bar at the V&A hotel (Manchester Marriot) when I worked for Granada TV. A shooting schedule’s throw from the studios, the bar was oft frequented by those who both did and didn’t have homes to go to, after a hard day’s media-ing.
Seeing as you didn’t ask, my top 5 hotel bar moments:

  • seeing Hank Marvin (Malmaison – he looked hungry);
  • being given drinks on the house because the owners were having a dinner party ‘out back’ (B&B in Edinburgh);
  • seeing Tilda Swinton with one of her two infamous (at the time) other halves..or quarters, I suppose (The Mandeville, London);
  • watching a man stand on stage holding an eagle aloft for 15 minutes,saying nothing. absolutely nothing. then eventually walking off again leaving the audience, and eagle, equally confused (Tenerife, obvs); and
  • I can’t think of a fifth.

Despite these examples, I’ve always been a bit dubious about hotel bars – they can sometimes feel a lonely place and a bit of an add-on.

Cliche checklist:

  • Lonely travelling salesman
  • Lonely travelling for work to the other office person
  • Lonely can’t get a drink anywhere else person
  • Lonely person
  • Person
  • Lonely
  • Bit seedy?
  • Lonely
  • The Major ordering his sherry in Fawlty Towers (six o’clock Fawlty!)


Brasserie Abode is NOT that place.


Whilst they don’t guarantee Hollywood stars with unusual spousal arrangements or perplexed birds of prey, they do bring a stylish, French themed, smart and sophisticated destination bar and brasserie to Manchester.

Previous incarnations included Michael Caines fine dining restaurant (not a lot of people know that – they do actually) and a Hotel called the Rosetti. 

Another tick on its mancunian credentials (the main one being actually being in Manchester, of course) which the building brings, is in its DJ history. Amongst others, one Mr Dave Haslam used to play down in the basement (now the restaurant) – legendary night Chica Chica Boom, 2003?

Well the DJs are back on the menu, including VIVA Ems, recently returned from up and coming festival Glastonbury.

Along with some fine friends on the bongos and trumpet, she entertained with a fantastic set at the launch. I understand it’s vocal house and tech house. 

I can confidently say that her house brought the launch night home at Abode.

House puns. Right there ⬆️

I’m yet to sample the restaurant side aside from some fine canapés – oysters. I managed to eat my third lifetime oyster which was a pleasure.The first two, some years back, were taken in the safety of my own home. There was carnage and drama on that occasion. I won’t go into details but think choking, tears and recriminations.

But for now, I can give my two penneth on  Brasserie Abode as a bar –

 Spacious yet divided into areas which feel intimate, the lights are low and the quality of the service, high. 

I think the biggest compliment I can give it (purely in the context of my above musings, you understand ), is that you definitely wouldn’t be depressed here, or here out of desperation. You wouldn’t know it was a hotel bar. And by that I only mean good things. 

Definitely a destination bar, there’s no place like Brasserie Abode.
Another house pun ⬆️

All the deets

All the visuals 

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Manchester Travel Uncategorized

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.

Rude.