I expected more from this hotel
This weekend my husband and i had a very rare weekend. for the first time since having our children we had a night away without them! because we haven't had a night away sans children since our honeymoon over 5 years ago we really wanted to make the most of it and do something really special. it also marked our 10th anniversary of having met so it was a really special weekend. we toyed with lots of ideas before deciding to have a night at the midland hotel.
choice choice choice!
we live 20 minutes away from manchester and thought having an overnight stay in a city we knew would be a great idea so we didn't waste our precious time travelling anywhere and we would get to see it from a different prospective not having to worry about getting the last train home and so forth. once we had decided that we would stay in manchester the next choice was which hotel and as you can imagine there is ample choice of hotels in manchester. we were literally overwhelmed with choice and spent about a week reading reviews and looking at websites and photographs trying to establish what it was we wanted and which hotel seemed to have it. we eventually chose the midland as we know it has a very grand reputation with it being on a pedestal somewhat and so we would expect a really grand time with being waited on and in luxurious surroundings. we liked the idea of the fact royalty stay here, that it has such a history to it, that the majority of reviews on this place are extremely favourable and the formality of having doormen that carry your bags and so forth. we then searched around for the best deal and managed to find it through a price comparison website which showed if we bought it through hotelsclick.com it would be £89 for a room which was a huge saving as if you booked through midland direct it was £149! this is just for the room, if you want breakfast you pay another £30 on top (£15 each) and if you wanted dinner it was £225 so we just opted for the room only option. we were really excited about our stay and couldn't wait to have some time just the two of us and in a really wonderful hotel.
the midland hotel is situated in the city centre but not on the main shopping strip or right against the stations. it is probably nearest to deansgate station but it's really only a 10-15 minute average-paced walk to piccadilly and it's right next to the metrolink station. there are lots of ways to get here and we found it no problem whatsoever. when we arrived we were really excited. we were told check in was at 3 but we arrived at 2:30. when we got there the red carpet was out with little ballards on so we couldn't walk up it so someone must have been expected to arrive soon, this was quite exciting! there were about 5 men on the door wearing their smart gear but not one of them offered to take our suitcase we were carrying. one did open the door for us though and wished us a good stay which was nice.
first impressions were that it was a grand hotel! there was marble flooring and a very spacious reception area with concierge staff standing by ready to help. to the left was what looked like a bar area and there was seating around in the reception area but it wasn't all that ample really. there were three reception desks and we checked in at the middle one. the lady on the desk was quite young and had a less formal manner than the other staff members. she said she would upgrade our room seeing as it was for our anniversary and that was lovely of her. she then advised us on places we could go in the evening. what surprised me in hindsight is that she didn't explain the hotel to us. she didn't tell us where the evening meals could be served or where the breakfast would be or the pool or spa... it was a mystery!
our room was on the 6th floor which was good, this meant the noise from traffic couldn't reach us... it couldn't anyway as we were at the back of the hotel so the view from our window was of the rest of the hotel! our room had a little hallway area with ample wardrobe space and a trouser press. opposite this was the ensuite and then through the hallway and to the right was our room. we were really impressed by the size! it had a huge double bed- which was actually two twin beds pushed together but with a mattress on top so that it wasn't like you had a big gap to fall down! the bed had lots of cushions on it. there was a seating area to the left which had a sofa and an arm chair, by this was a large coffee table and a smart tv. we also had a dressing table which doubled up as a desk, two bedside tables and a mini bar with tea making facilities on top.
now we were impressed with the amount of space we had and it was very clean with quite retro-style furniture which certainly gave it character but there were several disappointments where you would expect better from this hotel. the bathroom was only just slightly bigger than a premier inn and the bath was just normal, nothing fancy. you did get some nice toiletries but there was nothing extra like cotton wool or things like that which would be useful. i had been hoping to treat myself to a relaxing bath in luxurious surroundings but this bathroom was certainly nothing special at all. the tea-making facilities were also somewhat lacking. when we have stayed in much, much less expensive hotels we have had a variety of tea and coffee and hot chocolate but on offer here was just tea, coffee and decaf coffee. i was really expecting to see hot chocolate and de-caf tea. i only drink decaf so we had to go to the shop and buy our own teabags. the mini bar buzzed away but we couldn't even open it to see what was inside! i have no idea how it was supposed to open, we kept trying it but it just would not open whatsoever no matter what we did! there was a note on the bar saying that if we removed anything from it it would automatically be added to our account. i'm not sure if that meant if we just lifted it out of the fridge to read the ingredients and then put it back it would be charged but it was worded in that manner... like i say we couldn't open it anyway so have no idea what would happen or what was in there!
when it came to working the television it was a bit complicated because it was a smart tv so was really fancy but when you haven't used one before it takes some getting used to and when you're in a rush as you just have the one night together you don't want to spend 30 minutes getting acquainted with the workings of your television!
i wish i could tell you about the facilities this hotel offers but i'm afraid to say my knowledge of them is extremely lacking thanks to... well simply not being aware of them! we knew there was a bar-type area so we went to sit there. this was up some nice steps and seemed to be broken into sections which i assume were all the same bar. we were expecting a waiter to come and seat us but all the staff just seemed to walk past us. having not been here before we weren't sure what the etiquette was. in the end we just sat down on a sofa and i had to send my husband over to ask a member of staff for a menu. it is all very secretive and mysterious as the menus are very mysterious- the staff seem to want them back right away and only give you the first basic menu. the menu was rather sparse with a few selections of sandwiches which were quite nice sounding and some soup. there were some meals on it too which didn't include much to choose from but that is what you expect. there were a few desserts which sounded nice and then a choice of drinks some alcoholic-some not.
nobody came back to take our order so again i had to send my husband up to get a waiter's attention. we ordered a de-caf tea and a cappuccino. this was served after about 10 minutes along with some nice biscuits, however, the waiter forgot the milk with my tea so went off to get it and it took another 5 minutes to bring it back. one thing i realised is that on the menu it said 'leaf tea' but the tea i got was just a tea bag of a brand you can get anywhere. this was disappointing again. we asked the waiter for the wine menu as when we looked at the menu we had been given we realised it only listed various alcoholic drinks but there was no sign of wine or cocktails. when he brought the wine menu over he apologised that it was a sticky menu- yuck! there were lots of cocktails and wines to choose from, you could get a cocktail for around £8 which we thought was actually quite reasonable.
when it came to paying the bill again we had to wait for a long time for a member of staff. this was so frustrating. they seemed to be busy talking to other guests whilst we lingered around the till area. i really was disappointed by this service but whilst we were waiting to pay we could see other diners having what looked like a platter of little cakes and other things that we hadn't seen on the menu. i have no idea if they had a different menu to us or what but it looked lovely and it was such a shame that we didn't know about it. again another mystery of the midland!
we opted to eat out in the evening but i'm not sure if we would have done or not if we had known anything about the restaurant for the evening meal. i still don't have a clue where it was or what was on the menu as nothing was advertised anywhere in the foyer. it may have been in the instruction book in our room but we didn't do much more than a quick flick through it. i do feel like the receptionist upon check in should have said something about it and you would expect there to at least be a menu on display in the foyer or something but we don't even know where the restaurant was situated let alone what it served!
there was a sign on the lift to the spa/swimming pool but we didn't go there as we wanted to go to the shops and things but we don't know if any of it was included in the price we paid or what was offered there. i don't know if there are any other facilities as that all seems to be a mystery too!
there is plenty to do around manchester so you won't be bored! the hotel is well situated for going to the shops and looking at tourist attractions and because of the metro link it's easy to get around to places which are a bit further afield. we just visited the shops and restaurants of which there are plenty! the staff in the hotel were very helpful with suggestions of where to go so if you don't know the area then there will be plenty of advice given. there were leaflets available too in the foyer but to be honest some of them were a bit far out like the yorkshire sculpture park which is a good 50 minute drive away. there are theatres, comedy clubs, cathedrals, museums and lots of other places all within walking distance for you to acquaint yourself with so you won't be bored here!
the staff here seem to vary enormously. when we arrived we had expected a bit more of a welcome with bags being taken and so forth but i think the staff were too preoccupied waiting for the red carpet guest. the staff in the bar area were really lacking and this let us down hugely. the concierge staff, however, were really on the ball in a way which was a little bit too much if i'm honest! when my husband and i had checked in we stepped aside and discussed whether or not we were going to go to our room first or go straight to the bar area and a concierge member of staff interrupted our conversation to ask what we were planning on doing. i'm not sure if he thought we were making the foyer look untidy or if he was just trying to be helpful but it was a bit much really and the next morning he was the same when we had checked out he tried to get us to check out again when we said we were leaving. so in our experience it seems like we only got one extreme or the other.
we slept really well in this hotel. the bed was extremely comfortable. i have no idea what they put in their pillows but they are a perfect density and so, so comfortable. the curtains are really thick too so no light came through which meant for the first time in years we slept in until gone 8am which was amazing! we really enjoyed our sleep and were surprised by how quiet the hotel was, we didn't hear a noise from any other rooms and i guess being on the top floor had that going for it as it meant nobody was above us.
what a big disappointment breakfast was! i can honestly say that a premier inn breakfast is way better than this. when we went downstairs in the morning we were escorted into the breakfast suite which was downstairs and again it was rather mysterious- you weren't told how much it was or what options you have we were just taken to a table. we then realised it was buffet-style and that we automatically had to pay £15 a head even though i don't eat hot breakfast. i felt like this was rather unfair and it was disappointing to have to serve ourselves especially when paying such a lot of money per head. cereals were terrible! you had a choice of several but they had 'watered them down' - the frosties were mixed with cornflakes! i mean that is just really poor when you're paying so much money! there were various kinds of bread and croissants and there were little pots of dried fruit you could sprinkle on your cereal but these pots were tiny so you kind of felt like you could only have a tiny bit. hot breakfast wise it was all kept in big metal containers so the hashbrowns were soggy and the eggs had gone a bit congealed. my husband said the sausages tasted really cheap and that he much preferred the premier inn. i tried to enjoy my bowl of cereal which was absolutely nothing special so looked around the room to try to appreciate the atmosphere but it was rather lacking. we could have been in any large room having breakfast. i can imagine if the room was done up for an event it could look quite good but there was nothing special about it bar some carvings on the wall- the lights were really standard ones and the tables nothing special at all. i was so let down by this. we would have given it 4 stars if it hadn't been for this poor breakfast experience.
i had high expectations about this place and sometimes that's the problem- that you think of something to be amazing and then you're let down but i had hoped that this wouldn't be the case for a hotel which has such good reports. perhaps if we had celebrity status we would have been told about the restaurant in the hotel and we wouldn't have had to stand around for ages wondering if we seated ourselves or if someone would show us to a table in the bar, maybe that's the problem here we're just 'ordinary'. i really was let down i was hoping for much better. there is no denying the room was a lovely size and was furnished and the bed extremely comfortable but the really standard bathroom and the lack of special touches- fresh flowers, a welcome note, de-caf tea... did let it down.
if we ever get the chance to have a night away child-free again i don't think we would stay here again. part of me wants to to see if we just had a bad weekend of poor staff who liked to keep menus and facilities secret but i wouldn't risk paying another £90-£150 to do so and we certainly wouldn't have breakfast again that's for sure! we paid £120 in total when you include breakfast and i don't think it was worth that and i certainly would not have been happy if we had paid full price. if the service had been better and we were really welcomed like you would expect with a breakfast that wasn't so poor then we would have been happy but there were just so many little faults that really let this down. i really do feel disappointed as we had saved up and spent a long time looking forward to this.