Last weekend was the last weekend before Christmas and considering I thought the festive period would be a quiet one for me this year, my weekend was pretty nuts!!
There was a lot to cram in so when I received an invitation to stay overnight at the Mercure Hotel in Piccadilly Manchester with a bunch of lovely bloggers, I jumped at the opportunity.
Now I know you’re sat there thinking if I had so much planned why on earth would I choose to do such a thing when I live less than 10 miles away? Well my friend I have two words to explain my decision… Christmas. Traffic.
This year, more so than any year, the traffic in this city I love so much has been HORRENDOUS. I have spent more hours in my car than ever before and it’s beginning to turn me into a real grouch. So I knew that not only could I visit a hotel I have never ever thought of using before, but as it was central, I knew this would save me having to spend hours in car queues with me screaming at people around me because… well because they too are stuck in the car and can’t really stop me!
Anyway. The Mercure. It’s not the best looking building on the block. To be honest there are a few shockers in the Piccadilly area, and I’m afraid to say the Mercure is one of them, which is probably why when I told Mo he had no choice than to join me, he wasn’t really that impressed and just sort of shrugged his shoulders in the usual ‘whatever you say darling’ kinda way.
BUT the location? It’s pretty darn perfect. Slap bang in the middle of the city, a short walk from Piccadilly train station, looks out over the very busy Piccadilly gardens. Not a pretty sight at the moment, but it soon will be as the council have big plans for that space. It’s easily accessible by tram and the hotel also has its own car park – which is a total bonus for such a central hotel.
I had sent Mo ahead to check us in and to meet the others, as I was a little tied up – getting into the festive spirit down at Gino’s in the Corn Exchange with my lovely ladies (and a gent) from work.
Whilst I was dining at the Italian down the road, Mo was stepping into my blogger shoes and spending the afternoon exploring the hotel.
Upon arrival, he was greeted by the very jolly Sales Manager, Anthony. Room key all sorted Mo had a little time to kill before heading up to the restaurant/bar on the 3rd floor. Bearing in mind he had expressed to me earlier he wasn’t expecting to be impressed, I was constantly texting him to check he was ok. In my mind I figured it would be best to have him get all his complaining out the way over WhatsApp so we wouldn’t have to do it face to face later!! However all my worrying was unnecessary as he pretty much instantly sent me over pics of the room with lots of smiley emojis dotted around. Phew.
Considering how dated the building looks from the outside, the inside seems to be quite recently refurbished. As we’d never stayed in a Mercure before we very much expected it to be quite budget-looking. But the room was super clean, lovely colour scheme, bathroom was pristine and the bed was unbelievably comfy! It was a great surprise. The hotel had even arranged a couple of lovely cakes, a Christmas card and bottle of Prosecco to greet us on the dressing table. We hadn’t quite got round to telling them we were non-drinkers but we appreciated the gesture all the same.
3pm sharp, ever punctual Mo headed down to the 3rd floor where he met Erica from Talented Talkers and the rest of the bloggers. Everyone was once again treated to more cakes and drinks before taking a mini tour of the hotel, with the most surprising room being the quite up-market gym. Again I think the initial assumption is to come across something quite dated, but that really wasn’t the case.
After some mingling everyone then dispersed to go and enjoy the rest of their afternoon, I reunited with Mo and we headed off to Winter Wonderland at Eventcity, next door to the Trafford Centre.
I think it’s safe to say most of the other bloggers didn’t have many nice things to say about this place, mainly because I think they perhaps assumed it would be like the one in Hyde Park down South.
However I thought it was exactly what it said on the tin. Mo and I both knew the event was completely tailored towards families with children, but we wanted to go along and see how good it was. It’s always nice to scope out places we may want to treat our niece or nephew too in the future.
And I’m pretty sure if they had been with us, they would have LOVED it. I wasn’t sure if the entrance fee was justified for this place as some Eventcity events can be hit and miss, but the whole venue was jam packed full of rides and activities, there was a circus, a main stage, lots of games and places to eat it was pretty impressive.
Few tips if you’re thinking of going:
- It’s at the Trafford Centre, over Christmas time, so parking is manic, plan ahead
- Put the kids in shoes they can slip on and off, there’s a lot of bouncy castles and soft play slides and I could see kids getting annoyed with the whole shoelace tying when all they want to do is run to the next ride
- One of the bloggers didn’t manage to get into Santa’s Grotto! which is a real shame so either go early, or don’t get your child’s hopes up if you don’t fancy the queue
Dinner at the Brasserie
Coming back from Winter Wonderland, we went straight to our rooms to freshen up before dinner. The restaurant wasn’t busy (maybe because there was a huge Christmas party in the main function room), but it looked lovely all dressed up for Christmas. We had a gorgeous table for 2 by the window overlooking the city centre.
The menu arrived and everything sounded pretty great. Would it taste as good? We would soon find out… Unfortunately for Mo and I, the meat was not halal but we had plenty of choice and in a way I’m glad it wasn’t because it forced me to step out of my comfort zone.
For starters, Mo had the savoury pancakes with spinach and paneer and I chose the prawn cocktail. For mains, fish and chips, and this was my wild card – a falafel burger with sweet potato fries. I don’t really like falafel, I never have really, BUT the description said it came with a halloumi slice, and I really wanted that halloumi slice.
The portions were very generous and the food was beautiful, full of flavour and the presentation was perfect. The paneer pancake was so unusual and my falafel burger? I LOVED it. I can’t believe I’m saying this but it totally blew my pasta from Gino’s earlier in the day right out of the water.
I was so full I was literally unable to put another morsel of food in my mouth. Mo however, could not end his meal without a dessert and ordered the sticky toffee pudding, which he requested with custard instead of ice cream (they obliged without any hesitation) and that too was delicious (I was full but I couldn’t not try it!).
We also met with Chris , the restaurant manager who came over to have a quick chat with us. A really lovely guy and I was desperate to ask whether this menu was standard here as it was so impressive. Most of the food we ate that night is on the regular menu, however a few of the additions are one off specials they do once in a while, such as the hot pot. Happy with that, as I think I would definitely return here for a nice peaceful city meal one day.
All that food and we were ready to hit the sack.
Sunday morning Breakfast
Breakfast the next morning was amazing.
Breakfast is always the highlight of Mo’s day, particularly when we are staying away so he was really looking forward to one: not cooking it and two: having lots of options. Would breakfast reach the level of quality we received from the night before? Abso-bloody-lutely it did. It was great! Plenty of tea and coffee on offer, a very well stocked buffet bar with a massive array of hot food, pastries, cereals, yoghurts and fruit. There was enough for the most ardent breakfast fan.
Mo ordered poached eggs and veggie sausages from the kitchen and everything emerged just minutes later, cooked to perfection. Safe to say he was a happy bunny. And the veggie sausage was FANTASTIC. Order it, even if you’re not veggie!
Overall, our experience at the Mercure Manchester was brilliant. As the old saying goes, you should never judge a book by it’s cover. From the outside, this place may not look like much, but it really has quite a lot to offer in terms of amenities, comfort and (the biggest shocker of all) food. The service was also pretty special, every member of staff we passed had a smile and friendly acknowledgement to send our way.
For travellers of any type, business or pleasure this place is a good shout. My advising to anyone visiting Manchester is that this city centre location should definitely be worth considering.
*** Thank you to Talented Talkers for inviting us to take part in the Mercure Experience, the hotel stay, dinner and tickets to Winter Wonderland were complimentary, but of course as always all opinions and views on here are my own – oh no wait some of the opinions on this post are also Mo’s 🙂 If you are looking to book make sure you check out the offers page! or click here to simply view the hotel ***
Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a hotel chain? What’s your favourite city centre hotel?