Nov 27, 2011

Review: Malmaison Manchester hotel, Smoak bar & grill, and Ember Lounge

Manchester Malmaison

Manchester Christmas Markets were on my mind from mid-September and I’m a big fan of staycations, so after a delightful night at the Malmaison hotel in London we decided to stay at the Manchester Malmaison and made the short train journey up north last Thursday.

(N.B. If you don’t fancy doing much reading this lazy Sunday evening there is a video at the end of this post covering most of the same aspects.  It’s my first attempt at vlogging so please be kind!)

The location

The nearest train stations is Piccadilly, the city’s main transport hub with rail links to major towns and cities all over the UK, as well as to Manchester Airport.  The Metrolink (‘Met’, tram system) and free shuttle buses also stop here so even if you arrive at one of the alternative train stations it’s easy to find or if you’d prefer to jump in a cab it shouldn’t cost much as the city centre is relatively small.  If you haven’t much luggage you could even walk to get your bearings (weather permitting!).


On my frequent trips to and from Piccadilly the Malmaison is a building I’ve passed many times but never actually been into.  My impressions of the hotel have always been favourable; with simple white fairy lights at the entrance year-round the hotel looks both welcoming and fun.  The interior is very different, though no less inviting.

As with the London hotel, the lighting in the reception area is subdued with plenty of plush chairs dotted around.  Whilst the area is, of course, busy with a steady stream of visitors and day-guests (to the spa, bar or restaurant) it feels relaxing and cosy.  Our check-in was smooth with the offer of a map and some info about Manchester (which, as a native, I politely declined).  We were then greeted by a friendly duty manager who efficiently whisked us up to our suite, ‘The Best’, before leaving us to explore.


Manchester Malmaison bedroom

Manchester Malmaison - view from the bedroom

The morning after our stay I tweeted that the bed was so comfortable it was “like sleeping inside a giant marshmallow”.  Not only that but we didn’t hear one single peep of noise all night.  Both of things resulted in probably the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had in a hotel.  I thought the velvet-tasselled headboard was a little bit OTT but whilst it’s not to my taste it’s just a bit of fun.

The bedroom (and lounge) was equipped with a decent-sized flatscreen TV and a DVD player.  Free wifi also runs throughout the hotel, which in my opinion is as necessary as running water nowadays.  High-speed internet is available at an extra charge.

In this shot taken out of the bedroom window you can see just how close Piccadilly is – literally a 2-minute walk, even lugging a case.


Manchester Malmaison Lounge

Manchester Malmaison Lounge

Manchester Malmaison Lounge - desk

Manchester Malmaison Lounge - mini bar

Manchester Malmaison Lounge - magazines

The lounge area was super-spacious and had a theme that, at first, surprised us and then delighted Chris.  We’d presumed that the suite’s name of “The Best” literally meant the best room however it’s actually after footballer George Best (the football-shaped iPod/iPhone dock seen above should make sense now).  The red, black, and white colour-scheme is inspired by Manchester United, the club where George experienced the most success, and there were a couple of pop art-style canvases depicting George on one wall.

I really liked the feel of the lounge, immediately plonking myself on the sofa for a 2-minute recharge before we headed out into the city.

Along with the usual mini bar refreshments the room is also stocked with beauty products such as an eye mask and hand cream, all priced very reasonably at £1.75 or less.  There were also 4 women’s magazines to flick through, as well as Condé Nast Traveller in the bedroom and a complimentary copy of The Independent delivered in the morning.


Manchester Malmaison bathroom

Manchester Malmaison - bathroom products

The bathroom was sleek and stylish with a monochrome colour scheme finished with shiny silvery hardware.  There was both a bath and a walk-in shower (drench!).  I can only wish that I had time for a bath but that luxury unfortunately escaped me.

Malmaison’s like their products, which range from the basics to the more unexpected – massage oil anyone?  No shampoo, which is surprising, but I used the body wash as I find in hotels they’re often labelled as a 2-in-1 product and it did the trick.

For me the major negative point of this bathroom was the layout.  The mirror is directly above the sink and toilet so it’s hard to use without having to lean right over either, which isn’t comfortable and nearly ended in tears after I knocked my cosmetic case down the loo (luckily it wedged itself halfway without falling into the water).  Whilst not a small room I can’t see how this could have been set out any better, however, without sacrificing the separate shower or bath.

Dinner at Smoak Bar & Grill

Smoak dinner

Malmaison peach melba

Smoak Bar & Grill is reminiscent of an upmarket American diner, with meat taking up most of the focus on the menu.  After a delicious starter of a three sausage sampler and goats cheese and apple hush puppies (something I’d never heard of before but absolutely loved), we both opted for steaks, myself onglet steak frite with garlic butter.  I really enjoyed mine but Chris had asked for his medium to well-done and parts of it were quite burnt.

We had to leave just before 9pm to be at an event at Emporio Armani (more on that later) so we asked if it’d be possible to order dessert and have it delivered up to our room later; a very odd request but one the staff were more than happy to oblige.  So I enjoyed my first ever peach melba in bed and it was superb, by far my favourite of the 3 courses.

Cocktails at Ember Lounge

Ember Lounge cocktails

It was immediately obvious that our bartender, Nathan, knew exactly what he was doing (although he did mention that he’s only been at the hotel for a week).  After asking us what we liked to drink he rustled up a ‘BBC’ for me, which contained, amongst other things bramley apple sauce (really) and basil – super-refreshing.  Chris had a delicious berry and whiskey combination.


Malmaison breakfast

After begrudgingly dragging ourselves out of bed Chris and I sampled the Big Mal Breakfast, essentially a fry-up.  I have to say considering the name and the price (£14.50) we were expecting more food.  However the continental breakfast is free with lots of choice (pastries, fruit, cereal, bagels, etc.) so we also helped ourselves to some of that too.

We’d organised a late check-out so we headed back to the room to relax for a while, and I also made this video showing you round our suite.  It’s my first foray into vlogging  (sorry for all the ‘ers’ and the fact it’s in portrait rather than landscape!), I hope it’s ok …


Thanks so much to the staff at Malmaison Manchester for a wonderful staycation!  I’ll post a photo diary featuring the aforementioned Christmas Markets soon, in the meantime (in case you missed it) I also did a little post documenting my day

Malmaison Manchester

Gore St, Manchester, M1 3AQ

+44(0)161 278 1000

Disclaimer: Chris and I were very happy guests of the Malmaison Manchester.



  • Wow looks like a fab hotel and sounds like you had a fab stay, will definitely check it out when Im in Manchester
    Reena Rai recently posted…Friday Fashion Fix

  • Love the little areas to your hotel room & the sumptuous looking colour scheme xoxo
    adele recently posted…Birthday Gifts

  • Sounds like a fab few days, I love the Manchester Christmas markets – think I’m going up there to visit a friend at uni in December so the markets will be on my to-see list! They have some fab Christmas markets here in Edinburgh too xx
    Louise recently posted…Camera Obscura

  • This looks great, always nervous of chain hotels so good to know not to avoid this one! xxx

  • I am glad to learn about this hotel. It looks like a perfect place to visit when on my future trips someday. Base on the review, I find the place excellent. Thank you for the recommendation.
    Kimberly recently posted…how to meet women

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