Manchester's hotels just get more interesting and more ambitious. A rich industrial heritage means there are plenty of impressive but redundant buildings ready to be transformed into present-day lodgings, from small boutique offerings to twenty-first century grande dames. Even if you're not staying in an upmarket hotel such as the Principal or the Midland - and you've tried most of the city's best bars and best pubs - it's worth popping in for a drink just to have a look at some of the loveliest public spaces in Manchester. And while the city might lack some classy modern B&Bs, budget travellers are well served by a huge range of well-run chain hotels.
This red-brick boutique hotel was once a school, but now it holds a richly decorated set of bedrooms and suites, two bars (one of them rooftop) and some interesting event spaces. The afternoon teas are worth noting: there's one for children, and another for 'gents', which includes a Scotch egg and a mini burger. Handy for the Spinningfields area, and close to the Opera House.
Best for: an afternoon tea odyssey
Slap bang in the Northern Quarter, the Abel Heywood is a gastropub with boutique hotel-style rooms. These are small but well appointed, and there's free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is extra (though a bargain), and is worth having – a big choice includes the Manchester fry-up, featuring Bury black pudding. What's more, it's served until noon. It's an easy walk to most of central Manchester from the hotel, including music venues such as Manchester Arena.
Best for: gastropub aficionados
The Townhouse describes itself as a 'baby grand hotel', an apt moniker for an upmarket establishment with just 40 bedrooms. What was once the Manchester Salford Trustees Bank (built in 1872) has been transformed into one of the city's most charming hotels. The central location, stylish decor and the atmospheric King Street Tavern restaurant – not to mention the little infinity pool in the spa area – together make for an alluring package.
Best for: an intimate stay in the centre of town
Situated close to Old Trafford football stadium, Hotel Football is the brainchild of ex-Manchester United players Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs. It’s an ultra-modern space; unsurprisingly the decor is masculine – fairly bare and monochrome, with splashes of strong colour. Equally unsurprisingly, in-room TVs have all the Sky Sports and BT Sports channels.
Best for: Old Trafford attendees
The 27 bedrooms in this modernised Victorian villa are individually decorated, in classic boutique-hotel-chic style. The smaller bedrooms have standalone baths in the rooms, while the largest suites are more like small flats – the biggest is 720sq ft. As well as a residents’ bar, a couple of lounges and a terrace, there's also a small gym. The hotel is part of the Electic Hotels group, which has three other hotels in Manchester.
Best for: green space and a slow pace
Nicely placed for Manchester Piccadilly station and the shopping and drinking delights of the Northern Quarter, Abode hotel is housed in a nineteenth century textile factory and retains some handsome period features. Bedrooms and suites are decorated in a quietly quirky, modern style; suites come with extras such as Nespresso machines and Bose sound systems. There are two bars and a modern European restaurant.
Best for: Northern Quarter shoppers
The grande dame of Manchester hotels, the Midland opened in 1903 and was thoroughly revamped a few years ago. The public spaces look a treat, and the rooms are luxurious but contemporary. Two well-regarded restaurants - afternoon tea here is something of a tradition - and a state-of-the-art spa opened in 2015 complete the picture. A carving in the entrance commemorates this as the place where Mr Rolls met Mr Royce.
Best for: a slap-up treat
This branch of the UK chain was one of the first boutique-style hotels to open in the city. Carved out of an Edwardian warehouse, it's a handsome building, and even though the hotel holds 180 rooms (some of them suites), it manages to retain a slightly alternative vibe, with splashes of colour enlivening the decor. There's a bar and a brasserie on the premises, as well as a small spa.
Best for: indulgent weekend breaks on a budget
Even in a city with no shortage of monumental buildings, Hotel Gotham has a head start, glamour-wise, as it's housed in an ex-Midland Bank designed by Edwin Lutyens. The 60 rooms (five of them suites) are spacious, and decked out with a heady mix of faux fur throws, brass fittings and jewel-coloured soft furnishings. There's a restaurant, and a club-bar (open to hotel guests) with a roof terrace.
Best for: lovers of glitz and Art Deco
Across the road from Manchester Piccadilly station (and connected to it by a walkway) the Doubletree is a super-comfortable, modern hotel. Decor is international-chain-hotel-bland, but the floor to ceiling windows mean the bedrooms are full of light, and the views from the upper floors are spectacular. There's an in-house bar and a restaurant, plus a fitness centre, and both the Northern Quarter and Canal Street are an easy walk away.
Best for: rail travellers in a hurry
Situated midway between Deansgate and Oxford Road stations, Innside is a shiny new hotel in a revamped area, with big modern rooms and suites. There's a restaurant, and a Wellness Suite which holds a sauna, a steam room and a gym. It won't suit fans of historic buildings, but prices are keen, and the location is walking distance from most central Manchester attractions.
Best for: a no-fuss room for the night
The Hilton occupies the lower 23 floors of Manchester's tallest building, Beetham Tower. It's a swanky option, right in the centre of the city, at a sweeter price than you’d expect (though note that there's a charge for Wi-Fi). Bedrooms are sleekly corporate. Amenities include a pool, sauna and steam room, but the big attraction is Cloud 23, a sky bar with wow factor and knockout views.
Best for: glamour pusses and panoramic views
Santiago Calatrava's Trinity Bridge offers an elegant introduction to this striking waterside hotel, which is situated just across the River Irwell in Salford. Built in 2001 and refurbished in 2015-16, it holds 165 rooms, all furnished to a five-star standard, as well as glamorous restaurants and bars, a spa, a gym and a hair salon. Every guest is guaranteed a parking space, but it's a short walk (under ten minutes) to Manchester city centre.
Best for: drivers with expensive tastes
It couldn't be described as cosy, but the 338 rooms here are a decent size, and come with little extras such as iPod docking stations and free Wi-Fi, as well as all the usual amenities expected from a four-star hotel. The spa is a big draw, with a steam room, sauna and roster of therapies and massages, but note that unless you've booked a treatment, there's an entry fee (£10 Monday-Thursday, £20 Friday-Sunday).
Best for: spa-focused city breaks
Yet another magnificent Manchester building – in this case, the former Free Trade Hall – now houses a top-notch hotel. The Radisson Blu Edwardian offers five-star luxury without pretension. It's huge: 260 or so bedrooms and suites, two restaurants and a champagne bar. There's also a spa, with a gym, pool, sauna, steam room and whirlpool bath. The suites offer far-reaching views.
Best for: fans of luxurious anonymity
A well priced hotel in Manchester's Chinatown. It's part of an international chain, and has a clean, corporate look, but it's actually a good place for children and pets to stay. Dogs are charged at £15 a night, while families (up to two adults and two children) can sleep over for under £100. There's free Wi-Fi, a restaurant and bar, and a fitness centre.
Best for: families and pets
Velvet hotel grew out of the already existing Velvet bar and restaurant, and is an established favourite in Manchester's Gay Village. Decor throughout is OTT, creating an opulent but fun vibe. Velvet is independent and has just 19 bedrooms, making this a great choice for anyone bored with big, bland chain hotels; it's also an easy walk from Manchester Piccadilly station.
Best for: Canal Street nightlife
An 'aparthotel', Roomzzz offers serviced rooms and suites with kitchenettes in the city centre. Decor is pared-down and contemporary; facilities include a microwave and a dishwasher. There are communal washer-dryers too. The larger suites are more like apartments, mostly on two levels. Continental breakfast is included in the price, as is Wi-Fi, and guests can also access deals on parking and local gym day membership.
Best for: self-caterers who like staying in hotels
This Marriott-owned hotel in Salford ticks a lot of boxes. The reasonably priced rooms are a decent size, and come with free Wi-Fi and breakfast. There's a fitness centre, a restaurant and bar, and various parking options. It's also very handily placed if you're visiting Old Trafford, the Lowry Arts Centre or the Imperial War Museum North, or working in MediaCity, all of which are walking distance from the hotel.
Best for: media types