With Manchester a strong contender for ‘powerhouse of the North’ status the city is full of trendy new bars, funky residential developments and high-end shopping opportunities. But nestled among all that is one of the city’s stalwarts – The Midland Hotel.
The Midland first opened its doors in 1903 and has even welcomed the Queen Mother as one of its guests. It was also where Mr Rolls and Mr Royce famously formed their legendary car brand.
So in a city in a state of great change, The Midland is a constant.
Ideally located near Piccadilly Station and Oxford Road, this Grade II listed building still has lashings of old-fashioned charm but has been beautifully modernised to cater for a traveller’s every need – including a luxury subterranean spa.
The Midland’s foyer is your first impression and its impressive. Vast, flower-filled and with a sort of New York feel – all discreet staff and highly polished surfaces.
The Tea Room is just off this where elegant afternoon teas are served and it also links directly to the hotel’s Mr Cooper’s restaurant.
The hotel is large – it has 312 rooms – and we stayed in a Superior. It had charmingly old-school decor – think heavy drape curtains, an enormous antique wardrobe and a view of the site of the Battle of Peterloo.
The bathroom was spacious and had everything you would expect in a four-star experience including luxe toiletries and heaps of towels.
If the hotel proper is olde-worlde glam then the spa is pure state-of-the-art. Located under the main building The Spa at the Midland is a true sanctuary. Everything smells divine, guests in a zen-like state glide about and there’s even a private little area for champagne afternoon tea so you can enjoy this gustatory treat in a robe and slippers.
And that’s what we did. Plump scones with clotted cream, delicate pastries including Manchester ‘tart’ gateaux and dark chocolate and salted caramel mousse and sandwiches like prawn and crayfish Rockefeller on spinach bread and roasted courgette, pine nut and Montgomery cheddar on Brioche. All accompanied by high quality loose leaf Earl Grey and of course, a few glasses of fizz.
Afterwards, there’s a whole room dedicated to relaxation including private sleep chambers and pods where you can curl up and doze off lunch until it’s time for your treatment.
The spa also features a full ‘thermal experience’ with a heated relaxation pool with a swan neck fountain to ease shoulder and back pain, an aromatherapy steam room, Himalayan rock salt sauna and an experience shower with Caribbean Storm and Arctic Rain settings. It’s easy to while away quite a few hours here.
For our treatments my guest and I went for a Deluxe Pedicure with Jessica Colour which we had together in a beautiful and tranquil private room with two lovely, chatty therapists. After that it was back to the snooze chambers for a cup of salted caramel green tea before getting ready for supper.
We dined at the hotel’s adjoining restaurant, Mr Cooper’s. The name comes from a well-known gentleman and keen horticulturist who had a house and garden on the eatery’s site in 1819. In a fitting tribute to him, the space features a 30-foot tree and stunning ornamental plants and has been described as one of Manchester’s ‘most quietly impressive restaurants’.
The space is also divided into different sections to represent Mr Cooper’s old abode – the study, library and dining room.
We began with a Negroni at the bar. You can’t go wrong with this pre-dinner Italian favourite and this didn’t disappoint – potent and ice cold.
For starters we had pan fried scallops with shallot puree, hazelnut and caper crumb and the Jerusalem artichoke soup with trompette mushrooms and Winchester cheese. The scallops were sweet and buttery and the nuts gave some extra crunch while the soup was light and refreshing with the added loveliness of rich, tangy cheese.
Then on to main. We opted for sea bass with samphire bacon, crushed Jersey Royals and chive butter sauce – this was heavenly. This fish is surely one of the superstars of the sea. Meaty, flavoursome but low in calories and packed with good oils. As it is a mild tasting fish, the samphire and bacon added a bit of depth and the sauce was perfect.
My dining companion went for a 10oz Ribeye with mashed potatoes and wilted kale with garlic and bacon. The restaurant’s butcher is actually in-house so only the finest cuts are served and the meat was so tender not even a steak knife was needed.
Pudding was extra special. I was recommended ‘The Allotment’ – chocolate soil, chocolate cherry kirsch mouse, marzipan carrots, strawberry sorbet, baby toffee apples and micro basil mint. It was almost too adorable to eat. But don’t worry, we did.
We also went for caramel tart with vanilla ice – a proper British, stodge pudding. Extremely tasty but extremely filling. But we are hard workers here at Luxuriate so did our very best to finish every mouthful.
When we visited the Midland it was a wet, blustery weekend so we were more than happy to cocoon ourselves in the hotel and not leave. So as the temperatures starts to drop and the nights draw in, it’s a terrific place for a pampering, food-filled few days. The staff are delightful, the hotel is big enough that you don’t get bored and it is glorious to immerse yourself in such an iconic Manchester institution, so rich with memories.
Midland, we will be back!
By Hayley Coyle