A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, the five-star Lowry opened in 2001. Last September, its owner, Rocco Forte Hotels, sold it to US company Westmont Hospitality Group in a multimillion-pound deal.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The Lowry is a shiny metal and glass construction with a big open lobby where receptions desks are located to the right, when entering from the front. The view below is from the back – there are also doors here for those entering or exiting via the footbridge over the river.
The Lowry is fairly neutral in terms of design, but not soulless – a smart business hotel with good facilities and the odd bit of abstract art dotted about. A full revamp is on the horizon but it still looks bright and modern inside. Staff were very welcoming on my arrival, asking how my journey was and telling me about the facilities available on-site.
WHERE IS IT?
About 15-minutes’ drive from Manchester Piccadilly station and a short walk from Salford Central. It is located on the River Irwell in Chapel Wharf, between Salford and Manchester. As the city is quite compact, it only takes about ten minutes to stroll into the city centre over the nearby footbridge at the back of the hotel by the river. But there isn’t much going on in the immediate vicinity – opposite the main entrance to the hotel is a big car park.
Standard category Deluxe City View rooms have super-king-size beds, leather chaise lounges, workdesks, walk-in wardrobes with trouser presses, minibars, safes, full-length mirrors, robes and slippers, tea and coffee-making facilities, plasma TVs, iPod docks, air conditioning (windows don’t open) and wifi. (Irons and ironing boards are on request.)
The colour schemes vary between grey and blue, orange or moss green. There are random fake slabs of Rosetta stone above the beds for decoration. En suite bathrooms are tiled not marble, but very fresh and clean. Mine had a combined bath and power shower.
Higher category rooms offer more space and views of the river. (I was staying in an attractive Superior Deluxe River View room.) The only thing I found inconvenient was the lack of normal UK plug sockets by the side of the bed – there were lamps plugged in to the left and right but these had sockets with an unusual thick round hole at the top so I couldn’t use them. This meant I had to charge my devices on the other side of the room on the workbench.
One evening I ordered room service (available 24 hours) – just a simple pasta with rich tomato sauce and rocket but it was excellent. Really delicious. I would have been pleased to be served this in a restaurant.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The River Bar and Grill, on the level above reception, operates all day serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. I came for breakfast at 10.30am one Sunday morning and found it to be extremely busy – I had to wait 30 minutes for a table, although there was free juice and croissants in the bar adjacent.
Staff were quite abrupt (though probably very rushed). There was a generous buffet laid out with both hot and cold items, as well as an a la carte menu. Newspapers were also available. Here is a link to the main menu for lunch and dinner – much of the food is cooked on a Josper grill. The first floor also has a large al fresco terrace for drinks.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
There is a ballroom with natural daylight and capacity for up to 600 people standing or 400 theatre-style. It can also be divided in two for smaller events, and there is a dedicated bar, pre-function area and lobby for arrivals.
There are a further eight meeting rooms for 18 people each in a classroom set up, although two or three of them can be combined to create enough space for 60 guests banquet-style. There is on-site parking and high-tech support including video-conferencing and projectors.
The first floor features a spa with six treatment cabins, as well as two relaxation rooms, a sauna and a hair salon. Unusually, colonic hydrotherapy is provided three days a week (I didn’t try this). The spa is open 7am-10pm Mon-Fri and 8am-8pm weekends.
There is a modest gym open at the same times (24 hours would be more convenient) with windows looking out on to the river, free weights, kettle bells, mats, a rowing machine and a couple of Technogym treadmills, bikes and cross-trainers.
There is a water machine, and headphones and towels are provided, but there were no anti-bacterial wipes to clean the machines after using them, which I thought was unhygienic. It was also a bit stuffy. The hotel can advise on local jogging routes. There is no swimming pool.
VERDICT One of Manchester’s top business hotels. I had a very comfortable stay.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 165 including six Riverside suites and one Presidential suite.
- HIGHLIGHTS The floor-to-ceiling windows that let in plenty of light, the friendly staff, smart interiors and tasty room service.
- PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in March started from £169 for a Deluxe City View room.
- CONTACT 50 Dearmans Place, Chapel Wharf, Manchester, +44 (0)161 827 4000; lhw.com