Formally known as the iconic Palace Hotel, a beautifully majestic building located in the heart of Manchester on Oxford Road, it has re-branded to create the Principal Hotel. Aiming to gain a reputation as a high-end urban hotel, the grand historic hotel has been revamped to reflect a more modern interior. Positioned right next door to the Palace theatre, it is the prime place to stay if you’re enjoying a weekend, or evening at the theatre.
Occupying a listed Victorian Gothic Revival building, designed by the architect behind London’s Natural History Museum. It has 270 bedrooms and its own stylish restaurant and bar – the Refuge.
Walking through the towering gates at the entrance of the hotel, I felt like I was walking into a royal palace. With tall ceilings, marble walls and an intricately designed glass ceiling, it is a sublime reception. Visiting just before Christmas was the additional bonus, as we got to see the foyer in all its festive glory, with a huge Christmas tree sprinkled with dazzling lights.
With a swift and easy check in, we were shown to our room. The Principal hotel is an absolute maze, every corner I turned I lost my sense of direction, but I found it really intriguing as it created an essence of mystery about the place. With gloriously extravagant staircases and winding corridors, the history is deeply embedded in the hotel.
Our room was the perfect combination of a modern aesthetic with an antique touch. The sky-high ceiling highlighted the old-fashioned origin of the room, but the contemporary touches made it comfortable. With a rather large king-sized bed placed in the centre of the room, surrounding it were plenty of storage spaces and a lovely bottle of prosecco chilling on the side table.
The wood panelling and period details made the room feel quite magnificent, but very warming at the same time. With a highly modern bathroom, decked out with a waterfall shower that felt like an absolute dream, it was an incredibly comfortable experience all round.
We then wandered down to the Refuge bar, and I mean the photos speak for themselves. It is a decadent and glamorous bar and restaurant, designed with copper and gold accents, creating an utterly trendy vibe.
The tables in the restaurant are laid out in booths, for comfortable and relaxed dining. It felt sophisticated and cosmopolitan, yet completely laid back.
After cracking open a bottle of their house white wine, we started with a platter of serrano ham and grilled tiger prawns with chilli and lime. Perfectly sized, the tantalising starters were bursting with flavour and spice. We then proceeded onto the main course, where we tucked into a 10oz grass-fed Dexter sirloin and crispy buttermilk chicken with cornbread with a side of sweet potato mash and fries.
Cooked to perfection, the steak was rich and cut like butter, topped with a variety of spices creating a delicious blend of flavours. Similarly, the chicken was tender with a delectable crispy outer layer, it was complimented well with the light and sweet cornbread. Alongside it, the sweet potato mash was a highlight, as it was incredibly smooth and tasted divine.
Despite being quite full, after peeking at the dessert menu, we just had to make room. I enjoyed my succulently sweet white chocolate creme brûlée, and my friend loved her pear and hazelnut tarte tartin with expresso custard, although it sounds an unusual choice, the expresso custard accompanied the tarte exquisitely.
After a sensational sleep, it was time to try out what the Principal had on offer for breakfast – and it was a sweet affair. I was impressed with their abundance of choice when it came to both a cooked and continental menu. With free rein to sample everything on the buffet, the possibilities were endless when it came to fruit, cereals, pastries and cooked breakfast.
As soon as we sat down we were greeted by a lovely waitress who offered us a hot beverage, and provided us with the speciality menu. Included in the breakfast price, if you didn’t fancy anything on the buffet, you could choose from a breakfast made especially for you by the chefs. This menu included everything from eggs benedict, to speciality omelettes.
After devouring the pain au chocolate and selected fresh fruit on offer, I ordered the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and sour dough bread. The presentation was outstanding, and reflected the high-quality that was evident in the evening meal.
Staying at the Principal was a luxurious experience, the striking architecture and high-end interior allowed us to feel like royalty. It’s a decadent hotel that will guarantee a comfortable yet elegant stay. With their creative thinking, the team behind extensively refurbishing the hotel have done a tremendous job.
The Principal hotel is classy, refined and lavish – I felt utterly relaxed and I am already anticipating my return.
**The Principal Hotel kindly covered the cost of my stay in return for an honest review