A 4 star hotel that really looks after you, the Palace Manchester is a great place to stay. It really does feel palatial.
Extending around the corner of Oxford Street and Whitworth Street, the hotel looms impressively over the area. Initially built as the Refuge Assurange Building (1891-95), there are all kinds of wonderful Edwardian features which make you feel like you're in an Agatha Christie novel. Supposedly haunted, it's a tourist attraction in its own right as well as an excellent hotel. From the neo-classical entrance hall (columns and pediments all there) this hotel is quirky and fun, as well as professional and comfortable.
The rooms are extremely comfortable. All the rooms are well-equipped, with the standard tea and coffee facilities, but also irons and ironing boards. A difference between standard and superior rooms is a normal flat screen to an plasma television, but they're all excellent (there are also deluxe rooms and suites). The bathroom and room size varies, but all of them are adequate; some rooms are in the eves, adding unusual shapes to their charms, while others boast large airy ceilings.
There are plenty of chairs in each room, unlike in lots of hotels. The desk has stationery, but also information about the hotel, for those who wanted to know a bit more about the fabulous building. The baths fill in minutes, guaranteeing great suds from any bath stuff you use! The shower was less convincing, partly because the barrier let so much water out onto the floor that it made it quite dangerous and soaked any tiles you might have left for yourself there.
Each room has a broadband cable so you can get a good internet connection. There is also wireless internet, which can be used free for short amounts of time, or you can pay for longer stints. If you book for a conference then there are conference codes you can issue to all delegates. There are some problems over how many users such a code can sustain, but the hotel is very good at working on any issues quickly.
The Grand Room is hidden underground, but it a splendid sudden find, vast and impressive. A full AV system, a stage and room for several hundred chairs (depending on table requirements), it's an amazing event venue.
There aren't any leisure facilities at the hotel itself, but there are nearby leisure clubs such as Bannatynes which you can use if you want to. The city has enough going on that you won't find yourself with much time to spare anyway!
Food at the hotel is excellent: breakfast, lunch and supper are all available in the Tempus Restaurant. If you're interested in branching out a bit more than hotel food though, Manchester's famous for its Curry Mile, which is worth investigating. There are also local cafes and supermarkets within a couple of minutes' walk, so you can look after yourself independently too.
I'm not sure how much this was just the conference I attended, but the hotel offered an incredible range of snacks throughout the day. There were old-fashioned carts with miniature cakes, old-fashioned sweets and all sorts of tempting treats to eat, with little paper cones to fill up. They had a 'healthy' mix which included seeds & dried fruits: delicious and full of good things, but also sugar-packed and not perhaps quite the healthy option it's made out to be.
The hotel makes an excellent conference venue given its luxury status and close proximity to the station and city centre. It has much more to offer than this though. It can be a wedding venue or provide a base for other celebrations. They also hold special events such as murder mystery weekends which help you to make the most of the hotel's rabbit warren, old-fashioned class feel.
Oxford Road station is only a 10-15 minute walk away from the main hub station, Piccadilly. Unless you have lots of luggage, it really is just as easy to walk, and there are signs to help you along the way.
A member of the Principal Hayley hotel group, you're guaranteed a great level of service and comfort, as you would find across the brand. Room aren't cheap, costing well over £100 per night unless you get a special offer, but if you're looking for somewhere special, this may be it.