The Alan, Manchester


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 building itself 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 Festival 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 Beesley and Manuel Salazar – the overall feel is one of a vibrant and stylish bolthole.

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 hour (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. For more information, please visit

The Manchester Jazz Festival runs from 17th-26th May. For more information, programme details and events, please visit