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No Frills - No Thrills!
Ibis (Manchester, Portland Street)
Member Name: plipplop
Ibis (Manchester, Portland Street)
Advantages: Clean, well-priced, good location, 24 hour snacks
Disadvantages: Restaurant poor - no discounts online for booking in advance
About The Ibis
There are two Ibis hotels in Manchester and my review is of the Ibis hotel on Portland Street, generally considered to be the Manchester Central Ibis. The other Ibis isnít that far out of the city centre but compared to the one on Portland Street, itís still a fair trek into the city and therefore not really viable unless youíre prepared to get taxis or walk home a fair distance after dinner.
The Ibis hotel chain is owned by the French hotel chain Accor, who also own the Formule One and Novotel hotels that you may also have heard of. The Ibis part of the company is pitched at the Travel Inn / Travelodge level of the hotel market. Ibis hotel rooms are comfortable, functional places to spend the night with basic comforts and good standards but none of the luxuries that you would find in a slightly more expensive hotel. Accommodation is charged by the room, not the person, and you can normally opt for either a double or a family room, if you have kids in tow. You can expect to pay between £50 and £60 per night and rooms are not normally discounted online or elsewhere. You pay one rate, regardless of the time of year and at peak times it is very much first come, first served.
You can reserve online at www.ibishotel.com or over the telephone via central reservations (0870 609 0963) or directly at your hotel of choice. I normally book via www.lastminute.com, not because I get any kind of discount, but because I get cashback as part of another Internet loyalty scheme (but thatís a review for another day.) What I will say is that on two occasions reservations that I have made online have somehow been placed incorrectly and were it not for the fact that the hotel carries standby rooms, I would have been on the streets. Telephone bookings are perhaps therefore better recommended for accuracy and personal confidence.
Getting To The Ibis
Situated at the west end of Portland Street, the Ibis is fairly well located for many of Manchesterís top attractions. It is easily within walking distance of Manchester Piccadilly railway station (fifteen minutesí walk, maybe?) but is closer to Oxford Road station (5 minutes) or if you have heavy / lots of luggage, a taxi will only cost you about £5. The hotel is well placed for China Town, the GMEX exhibition centre, and the main shopping centre and is also close to the universities. The hotel is occupied over several floors, but caters well for disabled guests with specially equipped rooms.
If you are driving, there is no dedicated parking for the hotel, but discounted parking rates are offered at a public car park nearby. According to the direction you approach from, it can be difficult to stop outside the front of the hotel, particularly if you are on the hotel side as you are on the approach to a busy junction with traffic lights.
I have checked into this hotel at some fairly ungodly hours and at some extremely busy times, but I would almost unconditionally commend them on their efficiency and ability to keep waiting to a minimum. The reception staff members are generally very friendly and helpful and the check-in process is smooth. Full credence to Ibis for having the sensibility to have your check-in details recorded on an envelope, into which any receipts can be dropped to prevent checkout errors and delays. A number of my colleagues opt for the Ibis purely on the grounds of the staff efficiency compared to some of the Travelodges or Travel Inns where a 30-minute wait is not unheard of.
There is something unmistakably French about the interior dťcor of the Ibis hotels. Bland and functional they are, for sure, but also well considered and logically laid out. Corridors on all floors tend to be wide, clean and well-lit and that characteristically British oppressive gloom is thankfully absent. There is also something a little classical about them, not old-fashioned as such but never really modern enough to feel as though contemporary would be a good word.
The rooms tend to be a decent size, with similar fixtures and layout throughout. The beds are very comfortable, even if they do insist on sheets and blankets rather than quilts. The bathrooms are a curious cubicle design comprising shower, toilet and basin so anyone wanting a good soak in a bath will be disappointed. The showers are, however, powerful and well-proportioned and also sealed off by proper doors rather than the ubiquitously British mouldy shower curtain.
Facilities in the room are acceptable for short stays. You get a portable television with basic channels, tea and coffee making facilities, telephone, a small wardrobe and a desk/chair. Thatís about it. The rooms are a bit hollow and the sound-proofing isnít fantastic either. If you have some heavy-footed heffalump in the room above, youíll know it. The rooms are air-conditioned, but the air conditioning unit tends to be too noisy to have on at night and with no other means of heating the room, I find I get cold at night in the middle of Winter. The towels arenít huge but big enough to use, unlike those ridiculous ones they give you in a Travel Inn.
Food and Drink
The restaurant in the Ibis Manchester is quite unlike anything Iíve seen before. Nestled at the front of the hotel, adjacent to the reception area, itís a colourful, cafť-style affair normally populated only by business people. There are a number of reasons for this.
1 Ė The place has no atmosphere whatsoever and feels like a motorway service station.
2 Ė In typically French style, the smoking area is easily as large as (if not larger than) the non-smoking area and may just as well be one smoking area.
3 Ė The food is pretty awful. The menu is limited in choice to a selection of basic dishes, but everything will be cooked in a microwave oven and so things like garlic bread tend to be soggy, soup will be hot and cold in equal doses and everything is prepared to order.
4 Ė Itís not cheap either! I had a bowl of (microwaved) vegetable soup, a vegetarian hot pot, side salad and two drinks and it cost £18. This was a rip-off, given the basic standard of food and I certainly wouldnít do it again.
The hotel doesnít offer cooked breakfast (it may be in England but clearly the French donít approve) and a selection of continental / buffet breakfasts are offered for around £4. The upside of this is that breakfast is available as early as 04:00, which is very unusual for a hotel. The downside is that after a night on the town, your cravings for hot morning meat will go unfulfilled. Sigh
A 24-hour snack menu is offered, which, strangely enough, ends up being much better value for money. Paninis, soup and jacket potatoes can all be purchased for around £4 with crisps and a small side salad. The food is hot, fresh and served pretty quickly and is a nice addition that you wonít find in other budget hotels.
Value For Money
The Ibis is a reasonable competitor in the budget market. The Ibis Portland Street currently costs £56.95 per night, which is in line with local Travel Inns. The Travelodge web site, however, can significantly undercut this with itís range of £26 rooms in the area and in all honesty the Ibis really doesnít have enough over the Travelodge to justify paying £30 more, particularly if you go for the Travelodge on Great Ancoats Street.
The Ibis is OK. Nothing more or less. It seems popular, probably more through location than anything and within the price range, Iíd go for the Travelodge at Great Ancoats first. I like the staff at the Ibis, but that air of French arrogance isnít justified. ďGreat foodĒ - my ass! My advice is to base your decision on what you want / need to be near and then, obviously availability
Summary: Better facilites than the other budget chains - but not so many bargain rooms!
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