Serviced apartments are having a real moment in the UK, and that certainly rings true in Manchester. Recent openings in the city include Supercity Aparthotels and Locke by Saco, with Native and Wilde by Staycity coming later this year. See our September issue for a detailed look at what’s new around the country.
Staybridge Suites is an Intercontinental Hotels Group extended-stay brand with 282 properties around the world, 265 of which are in the Americas. There are eight in the UK, across London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham and Dundee.
Its most recent UK launch was a property near Heathrow, which we reviewed here. Like that branch, the Manchester Staybridge is a dual-branded development, but instead of a Holiday Inn it shares a building with a 212-room Crowne Plaza. They are the sole occupants of a sleek new-build called the Lume on Manchester’s fast-developing Oxford Road. The Lume opened along with the hotels in September 2018.
What’s it like?
The Lume sits on a smart new square alongside offices and university buildings, and the entrance spaces are bright and airy. The main road leads onto the Crowne Plaza entrance, which has a large reception area extending into a bar and restaurant. You can get through here to the lifts which lead up to Staybridge Suites on the 18th floor, or use a separate side entrance which is unmanned and locked during the night.
A standout feature throughout the property is the floor-to-ceiling windows which surround the guest rooms, public spaces, restaurants and meeting rooms. These give the Staybridge Suites reception up on the 18th floor a gorgeous view and flood the space with light (at least they did on the sunny day I was there). There is a corner sofa opposite the reception desk where you can sit and look across the flat landscape to the south.
It was quiet when I arrived at just after 1700 on a Tuesday, and the space was cool despite the roasting temperature outside. I was talked through the Lume’s layout, which is straightforward – the Staybridge reception leads onto ‘the Hub’ and ‘the Den’, the aparthotel’s main public spaces (which are really one open-plan area).
My suite was less than a minute’s walk away back towards the lift, where there were only about five other rooms. Floors 12 to 17 contain more Staybridge rooms, and guests can access the gym on the first floor and the bar and restaurant on the ground floor. The remaining floors are Crowne Plaza rooms.
The lounge area is spacious and has a relaxed vibe. The furniture is an eclectic collection of colours and styles, but the aesthetic is tied together by generally being on-trend, with Scandi-inspired seating and marble-effect table tops.
The hotel wants guests to see this as their living room, and there are board games and an x-box as well as a mix of sofas, armchairs and dining tables. Again, the great view surrounds you. The space is open 24-7 and the reception is always manned.
The Hub is where breakfast is served, which is a hot and cold buffet complimentary for all guests. In common with all Staybridge properties, it’s also where an evening “social hour” is held from Monday to Wednesday, which provides free drinks and a buffet with bread, meats, cheeses and various other snacks.
The awkward Brit in me is always a bit sceptical about these kinds of nights, but when I attended it seemed to be working really well – staff knew and were chatting with the regular guests, some of whom were also mingling with each other. Even if you don’t want to socialise, you can’t argue with a free drink.
Staybridge Suites are all supposed to have an outdoor space, but being 18 floors up that proved a bit of a challenge for the Manchester property. Their solution was to put four tables in a little “terrace” which is sealed off from the main room by glass walls and has small gaps between the outer window panes in order to let in fresh air. It also means guests can sit in an enclosed space to have a private conversation.
Other standard Staybridge features include a laundry room (which here is on the seventeenth floor) and a ‘pantry’ behind the reception with a selection of snacks, drinks and ready meals. Full-sized toiletries are available to buy, but they don’t provide hotel-sized amenities like dental kits or combs.
Where is it?
Oxford Road, directly between the city’s two universities and opposite the Alliance Business School. I walked from Manchester Piccadilly station, which took about 20 minutes. It was along a main road but there were crossings the whole way. You could also get the train to Oxford Road station, which cuts the walk to ten minutes.
Later I took an Uber into the city centre, which cost £3.50. An Uber to the airport would cost around £20. There are also several bus stops around the hotel.
There are 116 rooms, split between 35 sqm studios and 45 sqm-55 sqm one-bedroom suites. You can see a floor plan of each here. Every room has a sofa and TV, a dining table/desk, a kitchen with a hob, toaster, coffee maker, microwave, dishwasher and fridge, and standard hotel amenities like a robe, ironing board and hairdryer. Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner and body-wash) are full-sized bottles by Essentiel Elements.
My one-bedroom suite had large windows with a view towards the city. My initial impression was that it looked homely – the corner sofa looked and turned out to be comfortable, and was next to a large coffee table and TV, above which there were a couple of prints. The grey carpet felt plush.
The first space you enter is the kitchen/dining area, which in my room had space for four people. As I was on a short stay I didn’t have time to try out the kitchen but it looked well-equipped, with two saucepans, four knives, kitchen roll, a colander, measuring jug and enough cutlery for four. Again it looked trend-conscious, especially the white-tiled backsplash. On a pinboard there was a calendar with some evening activity suggestions and information about room service, which includes pizzas, burgers and curries.
A door next to the TV leads into the bedroom, with a continued colour scheme of muted greens and greys. There was nothing fancy going on in here – there was another large TV on the wall, two built-in wardrobes providing a fair amount of space, a full-length mirror, two side-tables with lampshades and an alarm clock. There were also plug sockets and USB ports next to each side of the bed.
The bathroom was smart and very clean. I did have a bit of trouble with the shower, which had fluctuating pressure and sent a lot of spray over the bathroom floor.
One thing that strikes you throughout the property is how spotless everything looks. Of course it’s less than a year old so nothing has aged much, but the standard of the fittings throughout is very high and it’s clearly being well looked after.
Food and drink
The main meal offering is breakfast, which comes with every room rate. There was a solid mix of cereals, bread and spreads, fruit, hot dishes and pastries. There was also a pancake-maker and a range of juices in the fridge. The scrambled eggs were a bit watery but everything else I tried was good. There are takeaway cups so you can make yourself a coffee to-go. Free hot drinks are available from this area all day.
For an evening drink or meal (beyond social hour from 6pm-7pm) you’ll need to head to the Crowne Plaza’s ground floor. This has a bar/lounge called the Graduate, which also serves food (see the menu here) and an a la carte restaurant called the Laureate (menu here). Room service from the restaurant can be ordered to your room.
This is also where breakfast is served for Crowne Plaza guests. The space is bigger, but they don’t get the view.
The Hub has a small meeting area with a presentation screen that can be booked out. Sliding doors mean it can be kept open-plan or shut off from the main space. There is also an iMac available to use as well as printing and scanning services. Wifi throughout was fast and easy to connect to.
The Crowne Plaza has more extensive facilities downstairs, with seven meeting rooms of various sizes, plus a large break-out room. All meeting rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows.
The gym is on the first floor and operates on a 24-hour keycard entry system.
This is definitely a memorable property thanks to its striking views, stylish design and welcoming staff. It’s also pretty immaculate, both because it’s relatively new and because staff are clearly doing a good job at keeping it so.
Best for The natural market is obviously guests staying for a longer period, with comfortable and well-equipped rooms, the large Den space to hang out in to avoid claustrophobia, and easy access to the centre. However it would also suit those on shorter stays who want to prepare their own meals, or be right next to the main Manchester university buildings.
Don’t miss A free glass of wine during social hour as you watch the sunset over Manchester and the surrounding countryside
Price Rates reduce the longer you stay, but a one-night stay in August started from £82, or £109 for a flexible booking
Contact ihg.com/staybridge; +44 (0)371 221 2478