Open since late 2016, The Principal Manchester is a luxury 4-star hotel with 270 rooms spread over 5 floors, plus a large bar and restaurant. The hotel is housed in a fully refurbished 19th-century insurance/banking building on a busy street opposite Manchester Oxford Road train station. I stayed here for 2 nights in March 2017. I’ve mixed some of the hotel’s press pictures with my own video review above and images below so you can get a real feel for the hotel.
The hotel is located opposite Manchester Oxford Rd station and an easy 10-minute walk from the main station, Manchester Piccadilly. It’s just across the canal from the famous Gay Village around Canal Street, and a 15-minute stroll from the Northern Quarter, which was my favourite part of the city. It may have been nicer to stay closer to the NQ, but then I probably would never have left this area so it was nice to stay just outside of it. The centre of Manchester really isn’t that large so everything was within a very easy walking distance from the hotel.
The area around the hotel was very busy. There were a couple of clubs and music venues nearby which meant there are people out on the streets in the early hours of the morning on weekends. I’m quite a light sleeper and was staying on one of the lower floors, yet this never disturbed me. It did bother Kia, who was staying with me, a little plus I overheard some other guests commenting about the street noise at breakfast, but considering how large the hotel is I imagine this would only affect a few guests on particularly bad nights. Otherwise, I found the hotel’s location to be perfectly fine and well worth the extra couple of minutes walk from the NQ.
We stayed in a Deluxe Double room, which I thought when making my video review above was their standard room type but their Guest and Superior room types are slightly cheaper. I couldn’t believe how gorgeous our room was on arrival! It was so well put together and the style worked beautifully with the building’s original design (it’s a Grade II listed building that was built for the Refuge Assurance insurance company in 1891). This meant the room was huge and had ceilings so high that I spent most of my stay looking up at all the space above me. This did make it a little difficult to keep the room warm even with the heating on high but it was still lovely albeit a little chilly.
Our double bed was equally large with and divinely comfortable. There was two of us staying in the room but we could have comfortably fit a third person between us (oh la la!). Speaking of which, this hotel would make the perfect location for a dirty weekend away: gorgeous bed, spacious room and very thick walls, I could have happily stayed inside all weekend. Unfortunately for me, I was actually really unwell on my trip to Manchester (as you can tell by my croaky voice on my video review above) and so I was equally delighted to have a fantastic room to recover in.
One of my favourite parts of the room was the candy box which came with free treats that were impossible to resist and were refreshed every day. In fact, there was no mini-bar but the room still had a fridge, which was stocked with free bottles of water and milk for tea and coffee.
I was really impressed with our room and would definitely recommend booking a Deluxe room if you can afford the little extra.
The bathroom in my room was lovely: a sparkling clean tiled space with a rainfall shower that was just heavenly. I honestly did not want to get out of the shower each time I used it, especially as the water pressure was fantastic. The towels were good quality and all the toiletries were Elemis, which was a luxurious addition.
The hotel breakfast costs around £15 per person each morning but this price may be discounted when booking a bed and breakfast package. Breakfast is served in the hotel’s palatial restaurant every morning from 6:30am – 10am. You can also order breakfast to your room (but I wasn’t sure if this was an additional charge).
The plush restaurant is sizeable with a number of booths and large tables, so that could sit comfortably on your own or with all your friends. There was ample staff on hand to assist with any questions, coffee or additional orders. The menu is split between a buffet and food cooked to order. The buffet was really impressive, with a huge selection of hot food (eggs, bacon, bean, tomatoes etc) plus chilled yoghurts and fruit, pastries and muffins, cereals and juices. I would have been happy with this range of options alone but in addition, you can order some classic brunch dishes from the kitchen such as omelettes, porridge or smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.
I was really impressed by how gluten-free friendly the restaurant was. There was a sign on the buffet saying to ask the staff about gluten-free options, and when I did the quickly provided me with toast and two cereal options. There were also plenty of vegetarian options, including smashed avocado and poached eggs and I genuinely felt the staff would be able to assist with any allergies or food issues.
I usually avoid brunching at a hotel because it’s rarely better than going out to a local cafe, but this was one of the best brunches I ever had – at a hotel or anywhere. I would strongly recommend having breakfast here at least one morning of your staff as it is worth every penny.
The hotel has over 10,000 sq ft of public spaces, including a restaurant, bar and private dining room. As detailed above, there is a large restaurant which is open to the public after breakfast each day. The Refuge by Volta, as it is called, was busy and bustling each evening. Attached to it is a gorgeous Winter Garden with a skylight and trees filled with fairy lights, which is where Afternoon Tea is served in the day and cocktails in the evening. Adjoining these spaces is a large bar that was packed out on Saturday night. This is a great reason to stay at this at The Principal Manchester: a hotel bar is actually worth hanging out in!
Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel and very strong throughout, making it perfect for business travellers (and bloggers!). There is also a 24-hour reception and the staff were always very friendly and helpful.
The bottom line
I struggled to find a decent hotel in central Manchester that was reasonably priced. Everything was either gorgeous but outrageously expensive or pretty crummy. Thankfully, the Principal Manchester manages to be absolutely stunning and an easy walking distance from the key parts of the city. It is probably a little above what I would normally spend on a hotel but it is absolutely worth it – and nowhere near as pricey as some other options in Manchester.
For me, the hotel was all about space. Our room was so palatial, the ceilings so high, the bar and restaurant spacious, and the hotel itself was so huge that it was easy to get lost as you wandered around it.
I really enjoyed my stay at The Principal Manchester and found it difficult to fault. I would highly recommend this hotel and would definitely check out the other Principal hotels across the UK.
Disclaimer: This hotel kindly offered me their press rate in exchange for writing a review and featuring it on my social media accounts. Their PR team made no editorial demands on me and this is a completely honest account of how I felt about my stay. As a general rule, I don’t write negative reviews: if I don’t like a hotel or hostel, I won’t feature it. So I obviously really liked this one.