Melia Hotels International’s “urban lifestyle” brand Innside made its UK debut in Manchester in May 2015. Glasgow and Birmingham hotels are due to follow next year. There are several Innside hotels in Germany as well as properties in Madrid, Mallorca and New York.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Housed in a striking red ten-floor new-build, the 208-room Innside is modern and minimalist in design. The open-plan ground floor flows from a double-height lobby area through to the bar and restaurant and, round to the side, an attractive outdoor terrace overlooking the new Home arts centre. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of light, while stairs in reception lead up to the event space.
The meeting floor features quotes by famous Mancunians on the walls – most notably, Tony Wilson’s assertion: “This is Manchester – we do things differently here.” The reference to the late Factory Records boss is apt considering the hotel is opposite the site of his Hacienda club (now apartments). Back on the ground floor, you’ll see another tribute – a large purple British bulldog sculpture, which has duly been named Wilson, and also appears on the doors to the lifts, which are operated by keycard. Staff are friendly and helpful.
WHERE IS IT?
In the new eight-hectare First Street development at the southern end of the city centre, which, as well as Home, also includes restaurants and offices. It’s a few minutes’ walk from Deansgate station and a 15- to 20-minute walk from Manchester Piccadilly. Guests get 25 per cent off car parking in the nearby Q Park.
Rooms come in three categories – Innside King/Twin (24.5 sqm), Premium King (33.5 sqm) and Lifestyle suite (51 sqm). They feature Innside’s open-plan bathroom concept, which gives a spacious feel although doesn’t offer the privacy of a typical bathroom – something to bear in mind if you are travelling with someone. Premium Kings also have a sofa bed, while suites are on the top two floors and have a living/working area separated from the bedroom by a sliding door.
All rooms offer free wifi, LG flatscreen TVs (from 32 inches) with Freeview, good-sized workdesks with plug sockets and USB ports, fridges with complimentary mineral water and soft drinks, tea and coffee facilities (Illy coffee machines in suites), safes, robes and slippers, iron/ironing boards and either a walk-in rainshower or a shower over a bath (suites have both a tub and shower), with Innside-branded toiletries.
Standard rooms have a purple feature wall, while suites are grey and white, and sleek, if a little sparse – an artwork or two would have added some character.
My top-floor suite was spacious and peaceful and had a comfortable king bed. A sliding door separated the toilet and shower from the rest of the open-plan bathroom, which had extra amenities such as dental and shaving kits. There was plenty of hanging space, although it wasn’t very deep. The hairdryer was decent and the shower powerful.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Street on First is the hotel’s restaurant and bar, offering international dining, with numerous nods to Spanish cuisine, reflecting Melia’s heritage. I stayed on a Saturday night – there was a DJ playing in the bar, which was reasonably lively, although the restaurant was quiet.
I enjoyed some well prepared and imaginatively presented dishes here, sharing a pretty watermelon, feta and beetroot salad (£9.50) and a generous board of Iberian ham with Catalan bread to start (£12), and enjoying a flavoursome (if not huge) main of crispy pork belly with mojo sauce (£21). Wines costs from £5 by the glass and from £18 by the bottle.
A buffet breakfast was served the following morning – it was very busy but well organised and there was a decent range of hot and cold items. Drinks were all self-service.
There is 300 sqm of event space with daylight on the first floor. The largest room holds 250 people theatre-style and divides into three, and there is also a brightly decorated “creative room” for brainstorming, with walls you can write on, a smart TV and projector screen (plus a dartboard and Rubik’s cubes).
These are also on the first floor and comprise a 24-hour gym with Technogym kit, a sauna, steam room and treatment room. If there is extra demand, one of the meeting rooms can also be used for treatments.
An impressive four-star option in a fast-developing area of the city centre, with spacious, well-equipped guestrooms and a friendly feel.
Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in September started from £99 for an Innside King room.