The Principal

Hotels, Luxury hotels Central Manchester
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The Principal

A hotel with serious wow factor, the lobby worth the visit alone

After a £25 million revamp, what was the Palace hotel relaunched as the Principal at the end of 2016. The splendid Victorian red-brick edifice, once the HQ of the Refuge Assurance Company, has magnificent features (including a ballroom) and 271 elegant bedrooms. A big attraction is Refuge, a bar-restaurant collaboration with Manchester's Volta, a huge space which manages to be both imposing and inclusive. It's handy for the Palace Theatre and Oxford Road railway station. Pricey but impressive.

By: Time Out editors


Venue name: The Principal
Address: Oxford Street
M60 7HA
Price: £69.00 to £215.00 per night
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Staying in the Principal Hotel was, for me, like being gifted a beautiful box of chocolates only to find that every last one of them was, in fact, a coffee cream. Not disappointing for everyone true, but certainly not what I was expecting. Also, if I’d had a £25m face-lift barely 12 months ago, you can bet your last tube of wrinkle cream that I’d be expecting perfection a year later.

Stepping inside is impressive – the lobby has a real wow factor, not least of all from the stunning glass domed ceiling and the simultaneously majestic – naff metal horse who’s been caught & forever immortalized mid canter. There’s a bar that’s truly spectacular and full of glorious Art Deco details which are equally gorgeous in the low lights of a post-dinner drink or the daylight that streams through the nearby breakfast room the next morning and on a mid-week evening, the crowds were taking full advantage of it until last orders.

The let-down was sadly in the room itself. Key-card activated lights which had worked perfectly the previous evening, failed to turn on at all the following day giving make-up application a thrilling sense of danger. Taps were loose and the shower – a beast with more twiddly knobs & dials than NASA command centre – was apparently designed to turn the bathroom into a wet-room because there can surely be no other explanation for the amount of water that escaped from all angles. Décor wise it was lovely and the ‘tuck box’ with such nostalgic treats as Penguin biscuits was a nice touch but I think, upon careful reflection, I’d rather have forsaken the childhood treat for an experience worthy of its well-publicised renovations.