Background Opened by Blackburn brewers and pub owners Thwaites in the 1980s, Cottons was the Shire hotel and spa brand’s second property. The company went on to buy several new build properties and now has six in total. Although they are well-kept, their age means ongoing investment is necessary.
What’s it like? The décor is a little dated in parts, but is generally fresh and smart, with neutral colours and ample space in the public areas. Staff at the four-star hotel were helpful and pointed out all the facilities en-route to my room and check-in was hassle free and quick.
Where is it? Located on the busy A50 outside Manchester, the hotel is technically in Knutsford, a quaint Cheshire village, however it is a treacherous walk along the main road or a five-minute drive to the village from the hotel. It’s an excellent alternative to large chain airport hotels at a ten-minute drive from the terminals, but traffic can significantly affect the journey at rush hour so if you are taking a taxi, be sure to tell them you’re in a rush and they will take an alternative countryside route to avoid congestion.
Room facilities The 109 rooms are split between doubles or twins and executive or classic. There are also some family rooms with sofa beds and two suites. All rooms are air conditioned and come with a small fridge stocked with complimentary milk and mineral water, a flat screen TV, trouser press, iron and ironing board, hairdryer (conveniently stowed in the work desk, with a mirror), free wifi (a login and password is provided at check-in), en-suites with Pecksniff’s toiletries and tea, coffee and biscuits.
I stayed in an executive room, which was spacious, with a step up to a seating area with a sofa, coffee table and long work desk. My window overlooked the car park and main road, but double-glazing kept the noise to a minimum. The 1983 extension houses the two suites, which have more space, beige and red interiors, Nespresso machines and complimentary wine and beer. Three guest rooms have recently been refurbished to double as meeting spaces. The beds fold up and when setup, the room seats 10 delegates.
Restaurants and Bars The Magnolia restaurant left of reception hosts an excellent full English breakfast and a la carte evening menu (from 7-9.30pm). Locally sourced food is an important feature of the menu, which includes traditional dishes with a contemporary twist like the deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie. Portions are big all round, and I struggled to finish my three courses. The menus change every six weeks, and there is an area seating 20 which can be separated for private dining. There is a small outdoor terrace at the back, which is used in good weather. The lounge bar opposite serves all-day snacks and drinks, and the main bar to the right of reception has a wider selection of hot food and sandwiches.
Business and meeting facilities There are 12 meeting rooms in total, with the largest and most impressive being the Verandah Suite, which underwent a £1m refurbishment last year. Seating a maximum of 200 theatre-style, the room can be split into two if necessary. There is free wifi throughout – as with the rest of the hotel – as well as air conditioning, LCD TVs, a state-of-the-art lighting system, a projector and built-in speakers, which can be synched with an iPod. There is also a balcony situated at one end, but it looks out onto the main road and despite the fields behind, it is not the best view. Capacity in the other rooms range from between ten and 80 guests and all have their own breakout areas where refreshments, including fresh smoothies, are supplied by the Conference Café.
Leisure facilities The hotel’s gym has 2,000 members and is well equipped with up to date machines. There is also a dance studio for exercise classes, two tennis courts, a 13m pool (which gets very busy), an outdoor hot tub, a sauna and a lounge area serving snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. The spa area downstairs is a quiet haven with seven private treatment rooms and a spacious relaxation area. (Open Mon-Fri 6.30am-9.30pm; Sat 7am-8pm; Sun 8am-9pm.)
Verdict It’s vicinity to the airport and upgraded meeting rooms make it a good option for those not wanting to venture into the city.
How many rooms? 109 rooms split between classic, executive and two suites.
Room highlights The large work desks and sofas.
Price From £130.
Contact Manchester Road, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 0SU; tel: +44 (0)1565 650333; cottonshotel.com