Manchester’s Park Inn: a four star experience?
To say that Park Inn’s location is a double-edged sword is something of an understatement.
Situated on the side of a busy interchange in Manchester between Cheetham Hill Road and Trinity Way, it’s a less than attractive approach. But the hotel’s design is well thought-out in that most of the public areas look out onto the much more pleasing, futuristic Green Quarter, complete with fountains and greenery – something other city centre hotels envy.
Once inside the property, the memories of the road outside are quickly forgotten. The reception is clean and easy to navigate and the staff are incredibly friendly (this is not something you can take for granted when choosing a hotel).
My check-in was swift although I was fairly early. When I came back down later on there was a queue at the desk but this was dealt with this as quickly as possible and no-one seemed particularly perturbed.
One thing I do tend to judge hotels on is how easy it is to find your room. In some venues it’s necessary to fall back on orienteering skills from school as you negotiate stairways, numerical clues and other equally lost guests, all the while juggling a wheelie suitcase and suit carrier. I am pleased to report that thanks to Park Inn‘s simple L-shape and wide, really well-lit corridors, it was a cinch to navigate.
The room was a pleasant surprise. It’s not that I had a pre-conception about the hotel but I wasn’t expecting a room of such a good size. At first glance, the bed seemed huge. However, although the room was billed as an executive king, when I got into bed later on I was disappointed to find it was two single beds bolted together. Many hoteliers employ this device to maintain flexibility but two singles bed do not a king make and I found myself sleeping on one side with the other barely touched. Other hotels I’ve visited have got round this by providing two divans and a king size mattress with two singles in store, should the need arise. This seems a better solution to the problem but being able to make star shapes in your sleep is not a deal breaker.
One major plus point for me was the milk supply – the luxury of eight portions backed up by a good selection of hot drinks meant you didn’t have to ring down for more supplies and out yourself as a brew junkie. In addition, the Wi-Fi was incredibly easy to use and the workspace was ample. What felt a little small was the TV; the room is pretty big and the TV was quite a way from the bed, I presume it’s a ‘one model fits all’ for the hotel.
I’m a bit particular about bathrooms and Park Inn’s was a bit disappointing. There was nothing wrong with it – the walk-in shower was nice and had all the necessary features – but it felt a little sterile. And with the pump action dispensers on the wall and harsh lighting, it gave the impression of a service station rather than a hotel.
Having said that, Park Inn excels in providing the extra services travellers that want: there’s room service, wake up calls, laundry service and extensive TV and radio. You can’t help but see parent company Radisson’s touches here and there, and that is welcome.
The jewel in the crown for Park Inn is the spa. The fabulous huge black tiled pool is incredibly inviting. Loungers surround it and there’s a selection of magazines allowing you to while away some time before returning to your room. There’s also a sauna, steam room, gym and reasonably priced spa (which is receiving great reviews in local media).
The other public areas are just as pleasant. The bar area is bright but well zoned so if you’re a lone traveller there are plenty of places to sit and have a quiet drink but, if you’re a party, you can sit together.
The grill-style restaurant offers a regular menu of burgers and salads or you can choose the brilliantly priced table d’hôte menu with two courses at £16 or three at £18. I went for the sea bass with sautéed new potatoes, broccoli and tomato salsa followed by an amazing glazed lemon tart with raspberry sorbet. The restaurant takes outside bookings and, bearing in mind its proximity to the Manchester Arena, it’s a great place to kick off an evening out. And a special mention has to go to all the staff, particularly Danielle in the restaurant, who were incredibly friendly and approachable.
Breakfast the next day was a lavish affair with full English or a huge array of continental options from breads, cheeses, cold meats and pastries. The only grumble was not being offered any coffee until I was just about to leave but that is a minor gripe.
Overall the hotel is a great experience which I was pleasantly surprised by in a Manchester market that is saturated by 4 star venues. It may not be in the heart of the city centre but it’s perfect for a concert night out and a stone’s throw from the Printworks or the Northern Quarter if you’re aiming to make the most of Manchester’s nightlife.
By Chris Park
Freerange Comedy Festival at Brewery Arts Centre Kendal
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