A historical icon in Manchester: The Stock Exchange Hotel
It’s certainly not unusual these days to go to a bar or restaurant housed in a beautiful old banking hall, but it’s a bit of a coup to spend a weekend in a hotel that was a former stock exchange. Hence the name, and actually very much more than that, as the Stock Exchange Hotel has lovingly embraced its history and used it to its advantage in an extremely well thought out way.
Located in the heart of Manchester, this former Grade II listed building stood empty for decades. In its previous incarnations as the Manchester, then Northern Stock Exchange, the building would have been a testament to the thriving financial confidence of the post industrial revolution. Now, the old lady of Norfolk Street has been carefully restored and returned to its former glory in 2019 as an exclusive, luxury boutique hotel.
The entrance to the hotel is subtle and understated; marble floors, dark wood and an elegant reception area decorated in green and gold. The Edwardian baroque architecture is stunning and runs through the core of the building, with its high ceilings, marble pillars and beautiful stained glass windows. There are 40 rooms including three private suites in the hotel, the most luxurious on the top floor – a fully serviced residence named ‘The House’, plus other private spaces. We were ushered into the lounge off the main hall and immediately noted how warm, stylish and chic the décor was, we felt cocooned as the rain fell outside on the Manchester streets. To buoy our spirits further we were poured a welcome glass of champagne each as our bags were spirited off to our bedroom.
We were taken up to our room 303, and noted the quietness of the hallways with luxurious deep carpet and the gentle click of the doors as they closed behind us, eliminating all noise whatsoever. Our room continued in the same vein as downstairs with Art Deco style beautifully made furniture and shades of dark wood and marble tops against olive green furnishings. There are modern touches too in the white slatted wooden window blinds, the yoga mat ready for use and the entertainment system complete with every satellite and terrestrial channels you could want. A luxurious push button shower was appreciated, along with a super large and comfortable bed that I gratefully sank into at the end of the day.
The framed pictures on the wall took my eye, they were copies of the original photographs of the stock exchange and the people who worked there – a fascinating mixture of their daily life and how they lived. In the hallway was a framed menu from the 1913 Council of Stock Exchanges Annual Dinner, a grand affair by the look of it, and part of the carefully curated look backwards as well as forwards. We watched a short video from the hotels archivist detailing the founding vision of this hotels renovation – to treat this Grade 11 listed building with the respect it deserved, celebrating and showcasing its heritage with care.
The new brasserie team
The Stock Market Grill is run by Joe and Daniel Schofield, the team who already have proven success at other Manchester venues including the STERLING bar in this hotel. The new restaurant had only been open a few weeks when we were there, but I would never have known, service was confident and assured, competent and charming. The dining room itself is jaw droppingly beautiful, from the mammoth domed ceiling, to the gold and white décor and the two glorious floral displays which almost touched the ceiling. This was the original stock exchange trading floor. I especially loved the oyster shell- like side lights, which were perfect in this glamorous location.
We were here on a Sunday so the menu featured some English classics, elevated to the highest level with the very best ingredients and masterful cooking skills. We started with some small plates of Manzanilla olives, delicious sour dough bread with Ampersand butter and the very best Montgomery Cheddar and Anchovy straws you could ever hope to eat. My partner opted for the Elderflower Sbagliato cocktail and I chose an Orange Blossom Lemonade from the temperance drinks menu – both were delightful.
Then onto the main courses where my partner couldn’t resist the Roast Beef with Horseradish Cream, Pressed Potato and Yorkshire Pudding – it was declared to be fantastic. I went for the Rotisserie Chicken with Chicken fat Jersey Potatoes, which could be viewed as a mundane choice, but was anything but. Both plates were accompanied with Creamed Leeks, Glazed Carrots and Gravy, all beautifully cooked and presented, highlighting British cuisine at its very best. We opted for a smooth, buttery Burgundy white from the interesting wine list and finished on a plate of British cheeses which were the perfect end notes to an extremely satisfying lunch. Our waitress was from the Extramadura region of Spain and we talked about that and our mutual love of the country – she was utterly charming.
Go down one level and enter STERLING, a luxurious bar which inhabits what was the original vaults of the stock exchange. The first clue is the replica heavy iron vault door and other nods are present throughout though not in any way that dominates. The bar is stunning with a low ceiling, dark wood panelling, art deco vibe and the feeling of a serious place that knows what it is doing. The drinks menu backs this up with carefully crafted cocktails and fine wines – I had a glass of the house STERLING champagne, made from 100% chardonnay grapes and with a beautiful nutty taste.
My partner went for the cocktails and started off with a long ice drenched Champagne cocktail followed by the Raffles Hotel created Singapore Sling. I remembered ordering the latter in the bar at Raffles Hotel, Singapore and can truthfully say that this was more than a match for the original. A pianist played in the background as our bar tender Sam talked us through the cocktail and vintage spirits list with enthusiasm and knowledge. There is also a small private wine room where you can enjoy an intimate wine experience if you so wish.
Sad we had to leave
We had to leave sadly and came out blinking into the light of a busy city centre and a cacophony of traffic and voices. It was a sharp reminder that the world has moved on but we very much enjoyed this hotel that so lovingly embraces and celebrates its heritage.
To discover more, visit: stockexchangehotel.co.uk
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All imagery courtesy of The Stock Exchange Hotel.