Manchester, David Beckham and the number seven, brand perfection we think. So when the free-kick king named his fourth child, Harper Seven – her middle name, was presumed to be in homage to the red shirt that brought him fame and fortune – it looks like brand extension, right? Surprisingly, not. “Seven” said sage Becks: “symbolises spiritual perfection – the seven wonders of the world, the seven colours of the rainbow.”
In keeping with the seven wonders of the UK at least, Manchester has been ranked number seven of UK cities to visit in the Conde Nast Travel Awards, 2011. The city has deftly played upon its strong cultural roots to reinvent itself from its industrial past to the vibrant city it is today.
A 15 minute tram journey from the centre and you arrive at The Quays, once a busy inland port. The Lowry Hotel stands proud among the flagship designs at the Quays. It is an integral part of the esteemed Rocco Forte Hotel Collection.
The unique selling point for The Lowry is its distinctiveness among some large, soulless hotels. Yes, it is imposing with vast floor to ceiling windows, but once inside it exudes warmth and charm – in part, due to the friendliness of the staff.
The lobby has three stone heads situated precariously at the entrance to the winding staircase that leads to the River Room Restaurant and Bar. They are by an artist called Emily Young who prides herself on carving heads of warriors, poets and angels from 300-400 million year old stone.
On the first floor, you get to sip a martini by the banks of the River Irwell and peruse the artwork that adorns the walls; all can be purchased if your wallet can withstand the assault.
There are 165 rooms each with marble bathrooms, CD players and broadband.
The River Room Bar and Restaurant serves up modern British food with a twist of international influence. Starters include the ‘Vitello Tonnato’ – Lowry style tuna sashimi with veal sweetbreads and avocado. For those who want to splash out, the grill can offer the Cote de Boeuf (500g) served with chips woodland mushrooms, sauce béarnaise and bordelaise.
On the splashing out theme, although there is no swimming pool at the hotel, there is an urban day spa with saunas and relaxation rooms and a gym for those who wish to burn off the previously consumed calorie laden sauces.
Thoughtful staff indulge guests on birthdays and anniversaries with champagne and chocolates, and if like me you have a very common surname; you could find yourself with an unexpected box of chocolates meant for someone else. Honesty did prevail and the gift was dutifully returned, alas…
Conferences are an evitable part of the business of the hotel. The facilities are excellent, even providing a dedicated entrance at street level to a self contained floor.
Over the years many high level events have been hosted– the first auditions for the X Factor, England team kit launch, Nike boot launches and press conferences for Amir Khan and David Haye when they fought in Manchester.
Ian Brown, lead singer of the recently resurrected Stone Roses, once said that ‘Manchester has everything except a beach’. A beach is clearly not essential to attract people in droves. I’m not sure what Ian Brown thinks of the X Factor as a conduit for musical geniuses but I’m sure either way he wouldn’t hold it against the Lowry Hotel, a perfect example of Mancunian culture.
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