Places to Stay: The Alan, Manchester

Art, City Break, Hotel, UK / Saturday, May 4th, 2024

This creative boutique hotel was designed with the help of a group of “makers” – artists and craftspeople who added a touch of individuality to the property. Located directed opposite Manchester Art Gallery, it’s a great place to base yourself for a city break.

Manchester has so many excellent hotels that it can be hard to know where to stay
in the city. The Alan is not only very central, but the handsome building dates back to
1887, and thus oozes history and character. Located opposite the Manchester Art
Gallery, it’s the ideal base for a creative break, especially with the Manchester Jazz
coming up in May.

Although the building is historic, the interior is ultra modern. Exposed brickwork,
metal beams and piping sit alongside curvaceous retro furniture and upcycled pieces
for an industrial-chic aesthetic.

Various makers, artists and craftspeople have lent their hands to uplift the space.
From the lampshades by Nicola Moreland, recycled marble and resin countertops by
Robin Grasby, light fittings by Mika Kaski and abstract paintings by Kimberley
and Manuel Salazar – the overall feel is one of a vibrant and stylish bolthole.

Nicola Moreland lampshades
Nicola Morland’s bedside lampshades
Kimberley Beesley’s art

My city-view Signature Suite was a generous size, with high ceilings and wraparound
windows looking onto Princess Street. Industrial pieces were combined with Art
Deco-inspired design, plush furnishings and wooden floors to great effect. The
bathroom area featured a black-and-gold rainfall shower, handmade vanity unit and
mint green paintwork that added a playful touch. The addition of a yoga mat was a
very welcome treat. But the highlight for me was the Emperor-size double bed, with
silky 200 thread count Egyptian cotton linen – an absolute dream to sink into after a
long flight.

Downstairs, the open-plan lobby, restaurant, bar and co-working space all blend
seamlessly, and the central atrium floods the space with natural light. I narrowly
missed happy our (two for £12 on cocktails) so went straight through for dinner. The
menu was a mix of small plates and mains to suit all appetites. I opted for the plump
tiger prawn tagliatelle in a garlic, chilli, and lemon butter; two sides of crunchy
sautéed greens with chilli and garlic and some moreish truffle parmesan fries, and a
glass of zesty vinho verde from Portugal – all delicious.
Breakfast was a combined buffet and a la carte affair, with one hot dish and a hot
drink included in the room price. My veggie full English came piping hot and
definitely set me up for the day.

Just across from The Alan is the wonderful Manchester Art Gallery (free entry),
which celebrated its 200th anniversary just last year. It also has the oldest gallery
café in the world – established in 1887. The café was known for its afternoon teas
that attracted artists, writers and intellectuals of the day, and was a regular meeting
place for prominent members of the Manchester Literary Club, such as Anthony
Burgess and Elizabeth Gaskell. If you’re in the area, especially if you’re staying at
The Alan, it would be a crime not to pay both the gallery and its cosy café a visit
before you leave.

Signature Rooms from £130, including breakfast. Signature Suites, from £180
including breakfast. 18 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 4LG, +44 161 236 8999,

Originally published on The Arbuturian.

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