Those of you who regularly watch ITV1 may recall the trailers advertising the return of Bet Lynch to Coronation Street some years ago. In the trailers, we saw Bet garbed in full leopard skin splendour, descending a rather ornate looking staircase. At first glance, the location looked not unlike a stately home - but I knew better. As soon as I saw the trailer, I recognised the staircase immediately. It was actually the main staircase for the Britannia Hotel, which is situated in Central Manchester.
A few years ago, I chaired a recognition event in Manchester for a project team. As a number of members of the team had travelled a long way, I also arranged overnight hotel accommodation through my normal travel agent. One of the few hotels that could manage a sizeable group booking was the Britannia.
The Britannia Hotel is situated in an excellent position for most city centre attractions. Half-way down Portland Street, the hotel is close to bars, pubs, theatres and shops, and is as close to "central" as you can probably get. As stated, my main reason for choosing the hotel was the availability of multiple rooms, but in terms of location, this hotel would score top marks. The main entrance opens out onto a busy street, and the building is not as imposing in real life as it looks in the picture. Indeed some guests who were not familiar with the area drove past without realising. The hotel is about five or ten minutes' walk from Piccadilly station and about the same from Oxford Road station. The hotel does not have dedicated car parking, but a large and relatively economical NCP car park is located just behind the hotel. Princess Street is very close by, which houses a number of fine restaurants as well as Canal Street with all its bars and clubs. The newly opened Piccadilly Gardens are just a stone's throw away, with the main shopping centre about ten to fifteen minutes away.
The first thing that strikes you, as you enter the building, is the very grand staircase and lobby. Apparently, the building is a former warehouse and as such comprises a large central staircase, with a number of floors of guestrooms arranged around it. The décor is relatively sumptuous. In the large lobby area, a number of leather sofas are arranged around tables and chairs, and the walls are decorated in rich colours. The staircase is covered in a deep pile, red carpet that would not be out of place in Buckingham Palace and there is plenty of gold painted woodwork and elaborate paintings. Hanging from the ceiling is an enormous gold chandelier that draws all the attention from the rest of the room. It's certainly an entrance quite unlike any other I've seen in a hotel. Each of the floors is decorated according to a different taste (for example, there is an Indian floor and a Chinese floor) and the effect is quite dazzling.
All the individual members of my party checked into the hotel at different times, and we all found the checking in process to be relatively efficient. Despite my meticulous (almost military) planning, the hotel had booked two rooms in my name, and had not booked a room for one of my colleagues, but this was soon rectified. The receptionist was rather quiet and staid. There were a lot of Japanese and Saudi Arabian tourists in the hotel, who didn't speak a word of English, and this clearly frustrated her. Once they had gone, she managed a smile for me and processed my details. When I first entered my room, I was horrified to discover that I had been allocated a single room, which I quickly swapped for a double room. This was to be my biggest mistake.
The hotel has a total of 363 bedrooms, all of which are en-suite. There are six different room types, namely Budget Double; Standard Double; Family Suite; Four Poster Suite; Standard Single; and Twin. Sadly, my room was one of the budget rooms, although I was not made aware of this at reception. The greatest disadvantage that the budget rooms suffer from lies within the basic design and construct of the building. The central staircase occupies an enormous area, and the rooms are arranged in corridors around this central staircase. The drawback of this is that only some of the rooms have windows. Rooms to the sides and to the rear are often completely enclosed by walls. This means that the budget rooms are very unpleasant indeed.
As I unlocked my bedroom door, the first thing that struck me was the heat. Despite the time of year (it was early April) the room was inordinately hot - due mainly to the lack of ventilation. There was a feeble air-conditioning unit that spluttered and whirred into life, but it was hardly able to perform the task. The next item of interest was the far wall. Where there would normally have been a large window, there was in fact a picture wall. I was treated to an enormous photographic representation of the New York City skyline at night. If that sounds horrendously tacky, you should see the real thing. It made Quincy look positively modern. To add insult to injury, the revolting city landscape was peeling and frayed at the ages, where years of inquisition had led to thousand of little fingers picking away at the edges to see what was behind.
The general standard of the furniture and fittings was poor; worn wood, threadbare upholstery and cheap appliances were the order of the day. The dark and gloomy furniture exacerbated the lack of natural light and the whole room was sombre and depressing. The television was cheap, small and on a low trolley, which meant that you had to crook your neck to be able to watch it in bed. The picture reception was also very poor. The bathroom was small and fitted only to a basic standard. The bath was too small to lie in but fortunately the shower was relatively efficient. Sadly, the shower curtain was woefully inadequate and before I knew what was happening, I had a mini-flood on my hands.
One of the hotel bars is also very popular with the public. Bar-roque is decorated out not unlike a Wetherspoon's pub and has a similar ambience. To our amusement, the bar descended downwards into a little alcove, through which there was a dance floor and disco, reminiscent of my days at school. Drinks prices were relatively competitive, although the bar man was as miserable as sin and I had to fight to get a few peanuts in a dish to keep us going until we ate elsewhere. At 8 p.m. it has to be said that the place was dead; we were assured it would liven up, but I wasn't convinced.
There is a choice of places to eat. Cromptons is a French restaurant, with a relatively intimate ambience and a select menu of dishes. Cromptons Bar is a late-opening cocktail bar, with comfy seats and sofas in which to sink after a hearty dinner. We returned here, after our meal, and were surprised at how lively it was, even after midnight. The main restaurant - Jenny's - is more popular than Crompton's and offers more traditional foods as it has much more of a family appeal. This is where breakfast was served, which I must admit was very tasty and contained a good choice of items. The web site also mentions a pizzeria, but I must confess I didn't spot this during my visit. For sure, the Britannia certainly isn't a bad hotel for food and drink, with a good variety of food on offer but I still wanted to go out in the city instead.
The best place to make a booking is online, using the Hot Deals link on the Britannia web site the web site offers some excellent discounts, particularly at weekends. Rates are subject to dates and availability. I would question whether the Britannia is worth the full rates but the discounted rates are reasonably good value.
The Britannia Hotel
Tel: 0161 228 2288
Fax: 0161 236 9154
Generally, this hotel is certainly worth considering. Avoid the budget rooms completely - £5 a night would be too much - and make sure you book online to get the best deals. The hotel is quite popular so book with plenty of advance notice - especially when Manchester United are playing.
The most prominent and beautiful building on Portland Street. With a sweeping movie like stair case, Chaise longes scattered on each landing area, crystal chandeliers inside a Grade II listed builsing, 363 bedrooms, conference facilities, a night club, bars and restaurants, cheap advance room rates, what better place to use as a base to explore Manchester from?
The Britannia, Manchester, is located on Portland Street. It is situation around 5 minutes leisurely walk from Piccadilly Gardens / Station, with excellent Tram, Train and Bus Links. The National Express station is next door, and it is very easy to find if you go to Manchester by car. As it is a City Centre hotel, it is not the best choice for the Airport (which is around 8 miles away), although trains go from Piccadilly to the Airport on a regular basis. Shopping couldn't be closer, with the fantastic Selfridges and John Lewis being close by, you are also in walking distance of the Printworks (various eateries, cinema, etc) as well as the Manchester Wheel (like the London Eye but smaller!). You also have the Arndale Centre 10 minutes away and are close to bus routes to take you to the Trafford Centre too. China Town, Canal Street and the Village as well as the G-Mex and city financial sector are also situated near by.
If you book online prior to your visit, you can pick up a budget / city double room from around £40+ excluding breakfast (see notes about restaurants). This represents great value accomodation for a city centre. If your trip is for business you may want to consider paying extra, as the city doubles are generally located in the basement, or lower levels, and mobile reception tends to be quite poor. If you are visiting Manchester for leisure, i.e. shopping, concerts, nights out, tourism etc then this hotel is absolutely ideal as a clean comfortable tidy place to get cleaned up and get your head down in between activities.
There is no on site parking. You have to use Chorlton Street NCP and for 24 hours it costs £16, which includes your 20% discount which the hotel gives you by swiping your parking ticket from the NCP. Factor this cost in, when choosing your hotel.
Amenities / Restaurants
There is high-speed wi-fi throughout the hotel, and a charge is payable. I have never used this as when I go shopping in Manchester, I don't take my laptop. There are Wave and Rogue bars, both of which get very busy, and are staffed by door personnel on a night. Quite often there are DJs on, and there is sometimes a pianist playing in the ground floor bar. There is a pizzeria, Jenny's restaurant and Crompton's French restaurant and bar. I will say that in my opinion, although all of these outlets offer convenience and nice food, they are very expensive. You would be better off venturing out and sampling China Town, or some of the other numerous eateries. There are various conference suites available in the hotel for business, and you can use the leisure facilities in the nearby sister hotel Britannia Sachas, although I haven't ever taken advantage of these, as an early morning swim to me does not need to be preceeded with a 15 minute trot across Piccadilly!
In each room you get tea and coffee making facilities, a TV, hair dryer and telephone. Bedding is clean, fresh and comfortable, with extra pillows and blankets in the wardrobe. There are no ironing boards, you have to go to an ironing room to use them. This is quite accessible and normally very quiet. But my tip is to take an iron with you, or iron before you go! The bathrooms are clean and smart too. You usually only get 2 large towels, and 2 small (smaller than handsize) towels. Think the correct term for them is guest towels. If you are two women getting ready in there, take some extra towels for your hair, or be prepared to share! You get a key card for your room and on an evening you have to present this and be checked off a list to get access in to the hotel. This is just a security measure, and stops unwanted visitors in the hotel.
There are lifts to floors and lift access to the reception area and some of the bars, including Jenny's. Staff and duty managers are happy to help Wheelchair users access bars and restaurants. Rooms are quite small for Wheelchair users, suites are larger, but they have 2 steps down to the lounge (and are quite expensive!). The hotel is happy to welcome Guide Dogs, and I discovered from their website, they are happy to provide a small fridge for medications if required. There is a full disabled access statement on their website, which I would recommend reading if you plan to visit the hotel.
Excellent value accomodation in a central location, by no means 5 star, but as we all know, you do get what you pay for!
I stayed here in the lead up to Christmas 08 and the hotel is simply ok. Its not the worst hotel I have stayed in in Manchester but it certainly is no where near the best. I had heard good reviews so I was dissapointed when I arrived to find the rooms were slightly old and tired. Could do with a lick of paint and some renovations. The bathroom was also not entirely clean , however when i pointed this out to reception they moved me.
What lets down the hotel is the service and staff. Leave plenty of time for the check in and check out. I spoke to a friend on my return who also experienced similar issues.
The positive of the hotel is the location, next to bars, restaurants, shopping and the train station.... but parking isnt that great so be aware when you book.
On reflection simply ok value for money but I would reccomend a travel lodge for that!
This review is mainly about the hotel building and it's local amenities (there are some other reviews on here detailing visitors experiences).
If you are looking for affordable accommodation in a perfect location in Manchester City Centre, then the Britannia Hotel in Manchester cit centre seems to fit the bill. Unfortunately however, the rooms, atmosphere and general politeness of staff are somewhat lacking. I would recommend staying somwehere else, such as the Portland Thistle hotel next door, or the Piccadilly Gardens hotel (a short walk away). The Britannia does seem to attract most of the stag do's in town and irish football fans when Manchester United are playing at home. As beer on the hotel premises is so cheap, the hotel is very noisy at weekends into the early hours and there can be occasional bouts of trouble (the hotel has bouncers - enough said)
The building itself is one of Manchester's finest architectural buildings and is Grade II listed and has some outstanding details including a balconied stairway throughout the building.
The Hotel is a famous landmark and a tourist attraction in itself, it was once home to the cotton industry's most famous warehouse. The building dates back to 1858 when it opened as the worlds first "Cash and Carry" (as we know them today).
There are two bars at the Britannia Hotel - WAVE bar and Bar-Rogue, I would reccomend avoiding WAVE bar and Bar Rogue on a weekend night as it does attract a lot of unsavoury characters and trouble is commonplace at weekends, the drinks offers are superb though, with many £1 a pint promotions on throughout the week. Both bars offer food all day long at affordable prices and there is music provided by the in-house DJ's. Also located within the hotel complex is Jenny's Carvery, the restyled Pizzeria and the traditional and comfortable Crompton's French Restaurant and Bar.
Location wise, the Hotel is close to the city's financial sector (Mosley Street, King Streeat), shopping, two theatres and the G-Mex centre. The famous Chinatown and The Gay Village, with their dozens of bars and restaurants are also only a few minutes walk away.
There are excellent transport links right outside the hotel, which can enable any visitors easy access to most of Manchesters most famous attractions. The City of Manchester Stadium (see my review on this) and Sportcity is only 2 miles from the Hotel. Manchester Airport is only 8 miles away and Piccadilly Station which has a direct line to the airport is a 5 minute walk. Victoria Station which is the hub for most regional trains is about a 15 minute walk away. The Metrolink tram system is right outsideand can transport you, if need to Altrincham, Bury, Old Trafford and Salford Quays. Manchester's main coach station is next door to the hotel and all National Express coaches depart from here. There are numerous multi storey Car Parks within a 5 minute walk if you are visiting by car
The Britannia Hotel has a High-Speed Wireless Internet Access for anyone taking a laptop with them
All in all - a lovely building to visit and look around, but not a very good hotel at all
If you like this review and have the time, a rating would be nice ;-)
To sum up what happened upon my arrival, it began going wrong when the doorman put his arm across my throat as I went to check in. "Are you a guest?" he asked. A bit rude and physical I thought but I let it pass without comment. Then at reception I spoke to two people about my reservation who could barely speak English. Worst of all was the duty manager who refused to speak to us, as he had to fix a printing machine first. We watched in stunned silence from the other side of the counter. Somebody was complaining and getting nowhere so I decided to give up waiting as we'd been left unattended for quite a while (i.e. 20 minutes or more). We had to make other arrangements, which wasn't so easy at 11pm on a Friday night. I hoped the hotel complaints department would be able to put things right and once again I was disappointed. I phoned the hotel on Monday and was told that the reference number was only to confirm my booking with your company. They said it was nothing to do with the hotel. They told me I'd be charged for a "no show" but admitted that I must have turned up, as I'd accurately described the staff on duty. They called me back later to tell me my money would be refunded. I expected the hotel to do more to try to keep their customers happy, but they seem intent on harming their reputation further. I've asked around since and not found anyone with a positive experience at that hotel. I'm not normally in the habit of complaining about anything, but I don't believe hotels should be allowed to treat people like that. I've always booked hotels online before and this my first negative experience.
This is a formal complaint sent to the Manchester local Authorities. To the Manchester Advice's Consumer Service We have decided to write to you to inform of a hotel found in the centre of Manchester, named The Britannia. After living abroad more than 25 years I was looking forward to going back to my home town. To our disappointment we booked by e-mail a room in this hotel for 5 nights. On arrival the first room (247) they offered us was dirty, smelly, hairs in the bathroom, holes in the walls, rotten door frames, window broken, carpet, blankets and bed cover filthy, on which we asked to be changed, of course the second room (305) was just as bad. Having already paid we had no alternative but to stay. The receptionist said they were waiting for a permit to refurbish the hotel, but that does not mean it could not be cleaned. These are some of the thing that happened during our stay: Heater didn?t work. We complained and all they could say Awe will send you another blanket@. Next day it was working but the 3rd, 4th and 5th night did not work. As a result I caught a cold that kept me most of the time in bed. We complained again but nothing happened. We had to ask for towels, Aone towel for two people@. No toilet paper, we have to run around after the cleaner to ask for toilet paper. Not one day they had cleaned the carpet. Kettle with cups and tea, complimentary tray as they say, were supposed to be an extra service which is very nice if it wasn?t that the kettle was black inside. My husband developed clusters and itchy spots on the lower leg above the sock line, typical symptoms of flea bites. This hotel should be closed. Attention to the elevators, an accident is on its way. We had to use one of the hotel safe boxes so they gave us the key (it could be opened with just one key) not numbered. When we went to take some money out they asked us which box it was. We could not tell because w
hen they put our belongings inside we could not see which one it was, so they tried every box until they could open one, we supposed and hoped that one key can only open one box, but to my surprise, despite they tried to open every box until they found ours they interrogate us about what was inside the box!!!. We could go on and on but the only thing clear is that we paid ,75 per night just to make us sick to think we had to sleep in such a filthy place. The BRITANNIA HOTEL, Portland Street, Manchester, is a complete disgrace and without any doubt the worst hotel we have ever stayed in. We kindly ask you to look into the matter and take the pertinent actions to stop this hotel advertising something completely different to what they really offer. Please let me know if we have to contact the health department or you can pass our complaints to them as we think that the health conditions of this hotel don?t comply with the actual health regulations. Yours Sincerely, Juan & Jennifer Navarro Montoya
The Britannia Hotel is quite easily the worst hotel I have ever stayed in. We travelled as a party of 14 requiring 7 rooms each booked in 7 names. We arrived at different times and the receptionist couldn't be bothered to make sure we were allocated the right rooms and told us to sign for any of them. Once in the rooms, it was like being at Granny's house. The standard of cleanliness and decor was exceedingly poor. Our twin rooms had two single beds which were as wide as bunk beds in caravans. The y were not even standard singles. They were covered by what looked like a rough car blanket. The bedding did not match and the beds didn't even have a valance sheet so the bottom of the bed was visible. When the rest of our party arrived, as they hadn't checked everyone in under the right names they were adamant that all rooms had been allocated even though four people were left in reception. It transpired that the remaining keys had been thrown to one side by the receptionist earlier. After having an evening out we returned to be barred by the doormen as we didn't have our room keys or checking in slips. We explained that the keys had been left on reception and we were not told (any of the 14 of us) to take the slip with us. They were adamant they were going to refuse us access as we couldn't give the right names for the right rooms due to the earlier debacle. Eventually they took us inside to speak to the manager. The matter was soon sorted out by surly staff and we went to bed. The rooms were unbearably hot and the window only opened 2 inches. (surely a health and safety issue)In addition we had to put up with the infernal noise from the club below (we were on the 4th floor and could still hear it vividly until after 2am) I would not allow my animals to stay in this hotel.
The Britannia Hotel is one of five from the Britannia Chain in the Manchester area, and one of two in the City Centre, the chain appears to be expanding all the time. Most of the company's hotels are in the North and Midlands, although they do have venues in Brighton, Gatwick and London. THE BRITANNIA It is located in Portland Street opposite Jarvis Piccadilly Hotel, and walking distance from G-Mex, the Arndale Centre, Granada TV studios and Piccadilly Square (where all the trams meet) and has 363 bedrooms, including, singles, doubles and family suites. There are a number of good bars (including Yates and Wetherspoons) and restaurants (chose from Indian, Chinese, Thai and Italian) within a few minutes walk. The hotel has a couple of restaurants including Bar-Roque which offers meals starting from £5 for a main course and a Pizzeria, a few bars and a disco, and is lit up rather brightly at night, more reminiscent of what I would expect Blackpool to look like, rather than a hotel in the centre of Manchester. The bars and restaurants at the hotel do seem to vary their opening hours very sporadically, so don't be surprised if any or all of them are shut during a visit. The main bar near reception has a wide variety of whiskies, but does not sell Jack Daniels, much to the amazement of some fellow visitors. Draught Lagers on offer are Fosters and Kronenbourg. The entrance hall is very grand with large stairways and chandaliers almost the size of my living room, it is painted in blue and gold, and has a rather 'indian' restaurant type feel to it throughout. THE ROOMS I am now coming to the conclusion that in most cases, you've seen one hotel room, you've seen them all. EXECUTIVE DOUBLE ROOM En-suite (bath & power shower. toilet, sink & lots of freebies and towels), with high windows, (not a lot of real light), a desk area, lots of lamps, a settee, telephone, hairdry
er, colour TV (including Sky News), trouser press (well hidden in the wardrobe). Complimentary newspapers are provided, but don't expect them delivered outside your door. The temperatures were very high both in the rooms and throughout the hotel, and I was advised by the receptionist that this is quite usual. BUDGET ROOM If you have the misfortune to stay on the 5th floor of this hotel (budget single/double rooms), you do not get a window, you get a skylight in an alcove (I didn't believe this until I saw it last night), so no natural air or light, although I guess if you are travelling on business you are only going to sleep there. Also the TV reception up there is chronic. You also don't get a settee, you get a rocking chair. (This room was cold) The hotel doesn't provide irons in the rooms, but does have an ironing room situated on the 3rd floor. BREAKFAST Self-service basis, including fruit juice, fresh fruits in juices, croissants and cereals. Cooked food included, * scrambled egg, * fried egg, * normal sausages, * seasoned sausages, * fried bread, * Hash Browns (with Onion), * bacon, * black pudding, * mushrooms, * beans, * tomatoes and * CHIPS! Coffee/tea and toast in abundance. RATES Rates vary according to demand and day. The Rack rate for double room is £93, but best bet is to book over the internet which should offer the best rates, but if you are attending a conference here it may be worth checking with the hotel to see if a special rate has been negotiated. It might also be worth checking wotif.com for longer stays. PRICE I paid £62 for B&B in an executive double room B&B for a Sunday night and £50 for a budget double room B&B on a Wednesday night. (There are many other hotels in this area offering similar prices even mid-week, providing Man U are not playing at Old Trafford)
. ACCOUNTS The company does operate company accounts on a credit basis, but you have to spend a set amount within their chain before they will provide this service (I still don't know what the rate is as no-one followed up my enquiry). PAYMENT Payment can be made through cash or credit card, but if using the latter, be prepared to sign for pre-authorisation (something I have never encountered before on my travels). Corporate credit cards cannot be used without pre-authorisation through their pre-set system, or otherwise must have the signatory present. PARKING There is no parking available at the hotel, and thus you must use the NCP car-parks located close by, the hotel do not negotiate any special rates, and it cost us £14.50 for 24 hours. You will find however staying in this area, that with the exception of the Jarvis Picadilly which has limited parking, that most of the hotels have no parking. LEISURE FACILITIES There are no facilities available at this hotel, although guests may use the facilities at the Britannia Sachas hotel a short walk away, although unlike most other major chains, these facilities are not complementary to paying guests. A FEW WORDS OF ADVICE: The hotel does offer very good standby rates if you just turn up, but don't try this when United are playing at home, or there is some big event in the areas as you will not get a room, in fact, from talking to the receptionists, you will be lucky to get a room anywhere in the Manchester area unless you are sensible to book beforehand. It also houses a disco, and apparently is very noisy at weekends. SUMMARY A nice hotel in a convenient location, although nothing out of the ordinary. CONTACT DETAILS The Britannia Hotel Portland Street Manchester M1 3LA Tel : 0161 228 2288 Fax : 0161 236 9154 Best way to Book: www.britanna-hotels.co.uk