Short break - King Street Townhouse, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 17:08 01 March 2016 | UPDATED: 17:09 01 March 2016
Manchester's newest boutique hotel is King Street Townhouse, tucked away in what was once the city's banking district, writes Louise Allen-Taylor
Now this is what I call a room with a view. We are on the glassy South Terrace of King Street Townhouse, staring across a cityscape dominated by Manchester Town Hall with - a trick of perspective - the Beetham Tower standing cheekily at its shoulder. Before my visit, I did wonder if there was room for another new hotel in the city centre. There is definitely room for King Street Townhouse.
When word gets out, and when the weather is kinder, this rooftop terrace is going to be the place to be, watching the sun go down over the city before repairing to the hotel’s King Street Tavern restaurant and thence to one of the 40 individually-styled rooms in this Italian Renaissance-style 1872 building.
Above South Terrace, an infinity spa pool has been taking shape on the seventh floor, where bathers can languish, peeping down into the city streets, telling the time by the Town Hall clock. Oh, the decadence.
As with Hotel Gotham, just around the corner, King Street Townhouse has been created in a former bank - a belated and unexpected dividend being paid on the architectural ambition of that generation of Mancunians whose industry led the world.
It is part of the Eclectic Hotels collection, owned by Eamonn and Sally O’Loughlin, others including city centre Great John Street, Didsbury House and Eleven Didsbury Park. And eclectic is the word for the decor: splashes of art deco, apparent antique shop finds like the set of scales at the entrance to the Mezzanine Lounge, quirky artworks, mirrors with slightly foxed glass, bold monochrome tiling, striking bird-themed wallpaper and yet an overall feeling of timeless opulence tempered by comfort. It certainly doesn’t look new, which is intended as a compliment.
As for King Street Tavern, the red upholstery and dark wood has a whiff of the gentlemen’s club about it, and the menu is a concise and no-nonsense array of staples - chicken pâté, shepherd’s pie, lamb shank, coq au vin, steaks - along with salads and sandwiches. Daily specials, including braised ox cheek, fish and chips and sausage and mash surely recall the kind of unpretentious fare which would have been enjoyed by those who came to this place in its heyday as a bank.
I chose a starter of Tavern superfood salad (£8.50), a citrusy, zingy, health-imbuing, apparently salt-free combination of roasted butternut squash, feta, cous cous, pumpkin seeds and mint. My companion started with moules marinière (£7.50) - pretty much perfect. His main course of fish pie (£16) was a densely fishy affair - if anything, it could have used a bit more padding-out with potato - while my lamb shank (£18) was as friable and flavoursome as you’d hope for. Superb. An ice cream sundae (£6) was chocolately and packed with toffee popcorn, while the winter fruit Eton mess (£4.50) was spot on.
It’s tucked away on unprepossessing Booth Street - and not, confusingly, the King Street of its name - so you are unlikely just to happen upon this charming hotel and restaurant. So seek it out; it’s worth the effort. w
King Street Townhouse, 10 Booth Street, Manchester, M2 4AW, tel 0161 667 0707, www.eclectichotels.co.uk