Short Break - The Palace Hotel, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 January 2015
The Palace Hotel is a landmark not to be missed
After a long, tiresome train journey from Norwich, it was much to my delight that the first thing I saw as I stepped off the train at Oxford Road was The Palace Hotel’s famous clock tower peering over the station roof.
Designed in 1891 by Alfred Waterhouse, a celebrated architect whose work includes London’s Natural History Museum and several prestigious universities, I was blown away by the expanse of ornate gothic architecture standing proudly on the corner.
The inside of the hotel is no less of a spectacle, with its grand marble reception area and exquisitely decorated bar and restaurant. My room – a deluxe double – was exactly what you would expect from a 4 star hotel with a modern bathroom and luxurious bedding. The seemingly double height ceiling gave an incredible sense of space to an already ample sized room.
Candles lit the reception hall keeping the light to a dusky hue, which gave a relaxed evening atmosphere and enhanced the gothic style of the hotel. A violinist played as we sat down for dinner in the Tempus restaurant and bar. The wide-ranging menu had something for everyone so I was spoilt for choice. The highlights of the meal were the cumin roasted sustainable cod loin with sweet potato wedges and salsa, (£££?) followed by a cheeky cherry bakewell cocktail (£??)
The breakfast was an easygoing experience, offering a buffet serving and both an English and continental breakfasts. The athletes of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix seemed to be enjoying themselves too.
The grade 2 listed building is best known for being the home of the Refuge Assurance Company for many years from 1890. It was the directors who approached Alfred Waterhouse to design the first part of the building we see today. Waterhouse’s son Paul was commissioned in 1905 to expand the building in his late father’s style. The sections are connected by the landmark clock tower, which soars 217 feet into the sky becoming a reliable point of reference for the local people. A local architect, Stanley Birkett designed the third and final section 20 years later.
The Refuge Assurance Company moved to a new building in 1987 but echoes of this company remain in the hotel with R.A. Co found atop many of the pillars and fireplaces. Despite plans for the exquisite building to become a high tech business centre, Richard Newman converted the building into a hotel in 1996.
The Palace hotel is a part of Principle Hayley Hotels’ 22 landmark hotels across the UK and Europe. Prices for rooms start from £119 per night. For more details visit www.palacehotelmanchestercity.co.uk.