Manchester was a world-leading city back when New York City was still in short trousers; the neo-gothic architecture of Cottonopolis prefigures the skyscrapers of the Big Apple. Today, both have a similarly brooding atmosphere. But now, as the jewel in the crown of George Osborne’s multibillion-pound “northern powerhouse” plan, a bright new sun is rising over the River Irwell. All of which left me baffled as to why Hotel Gotham has taken 1920s Manhattan as its theme. Is a theme ever necessary?
Hotel Gotham is housed in the top six floors of 100 King Street, one of the city’s most impressive buildings, designed by Edwin Lutyens. There is the Batman reference in the name (his motif is on the do-not-disturb signs) but the theme owes more to Baz Lurhmann’s interpretation of The Great Gatsby. Rooms are furnished with period travel chests, while Art Deco metalwork adorns the top-floor bar. Fictional characters, including Lady Didsbury and Tony Trafford, crop up in the hotel’s literature, including a daily newspaper left in the room. Which is, to be frank, infantile
Thankfully, these gripes are aesthetic. The basics are as sturdy as the building itself. The service is top-drawer Mancunian: dedicated and ebullient. With perfectly twizzled moustache and a bounce in his step, the concierge is a particular asset. Honey, the hotel’s seventh-floor restaurant, is another. Our window table gives ringside views of gargoyles and mansard roofs, while out over the buildings, lie the rolling hills of Lancashire. The floor above hosts a private members’ club, open to £500-a-year membership holders and hotel guests. It has two terraces to take in the views.
Hotel Gotham, which opened last April, is only the city’s second five-star hotel and is particularly welcome at the boutique end of the market. It sits in a district known for two Fs that are essential for any city on the up: finance and fashion. The building, known as the King of King Street for its imposing stature, used to be a Midland bank – a history that’s referenced in swag bags and bullion bars in the rooms.
Hotel Gotham’s ritziness will appeal to moneyed Manchester – a demographic that likes to flash its cash and is, all going to plan, set to grow. However, 800 hotel rooms opened in the city last year, with plenty more planned. This means competition. If times get tough, I’d suggest taking down the Manhattan photos and giving those patronising characters the boot. In their place, the hotel could foreground its strengths: great staff, a fantastic building and a prime location.
It takes little more than 20 minutes to walk from one side of Manchester’s centre to the other. The brilliant Manchester Art Gallery is two minutes from Gotham. The Northern Quarter is a 10-minute walk; a hub of the Eighties and Nineties music scene, it is still first port of call for those wanting a night out.
For upmarket shopping, Deansgate is five minutes’ walk away. Nearby, Simon Rogan’s The French is probably the city’s best restaurant, and a sunset drink at Cloud 23 at the Beetham Tower is a must.
Hotel Gotham has 60 bedrooms, five of which are “inner sanctum suites”, with prices ranging from £150 to £1,000 a night. The design is bold: zig-zagged carpets, leather headboards, faux fur throws and bright, button-backed chairs.
Our standard room feels a little pokey, partly due to the combination of grey walls and heavy curtains. A TV sits atop a low wall at the foot of the bed. This dividing island makes the end section of the room a little redundant. But the bathroom is spacious and the bed is as comfortable as any you’d expect at a hotel of this calibre. Room service is speedy and the fry-up exemplary. The perfect way to say “good morning” to Manchester 2.0.
Hotel Gotham, 100 King Street, Manchester, M2 4WU (0161 413 0000; hotelgotham.co.uk).
Doubles from £150, room only.