The Kimpton Clocktower Hotel was known until recently as The Principal. This unmissable building stands tall within Manchester’s stunning architecture. The 19th-century building was the headquarters of The Refuge Assurance Company. As soon as you enter the hotel lobby, you realise how stunning the hotel is.
I have stayed in some beautiful hotels before, but this Grade II listed building is simply splendid. It has so much character, such as the distinctive ceramic tiles, stone archways and giant clock tower gracing Manchester’s skyline. Be sure to do a 360 degree look around to admire the dome ceiling and the beautifully styled reception. The most amazing thing of all is the massive black horse sculpture in the middle of the lobby.
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- 1 Location
- 2 The rooms and suites of the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel
- 3 The amenities and service at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel
- 4 Food and Drinks at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel.
- 5 Attractions and around Kimpton Clocktower Hotel
- 6 Covid Precautions
- 7 Final thoughts
Situated at the corner of Oxford and Whitworth Street, the 5-star Kimpton Clocktower Hotel is very central and within the city’s most vibrant and relaxing areas. The Gay Village and Canal Street’s bars and restaurants are moments away from the hotel, making it an ideal option for your Manchester stay. For a more relaxing vibe, head to Castlefield. Oxford Road Station is just opposite, while Piccadilly Station is just a 10-minute walk.
Even though the hotel is located on two busy roads, the noise at night is kept at bay thanks to the double glazing windows.
The rooms and suites of the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel
The check-in process was quick and easy. Heading to our rooms, we had a glimpse of the size of the hotel. If I can be honest, it felt like a castle, from the staircase to the never-ending corridors.
We were amazed by the Superior Double Double Room size with two double beds, which were incredibly comfortable. In our room, there was a desk area with a flat-screen above it and two armchairs. On the desk lay a tuck box filled with free snacks, including crips, chocolate, coffee and more. Mineral water was provided in the minibar; the tea/coffee making facilities, iron/ironing board and yoga mat were hidden in the wardrobe. There was high-speed WIFI throughout the hotel.
The room was nicely decorated with a well-matched scheme of mustard throws and floral cushions. The white-tiled and forest green bathroom was very classical rather than contemporary yet chic with Elemis toiletries.
The amenities and service at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel
If you are familiar with the IHG brand, you will expect spotless service, and the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel goes beyond that. From the reception to the restaurant staff, everyone was professional, friendly and offered excellent service.
We were already impressed by the hotel even before entering. As soon as we stepped inside, we felt that we would have a great stay. The staff were fantastic throughout the stay going out of their way to make us feel welcome. I particularly appreciated it when I told the staff while checking out that I didn’t have a chance to take photos of the Winter Garden (it was closed then). She took me there and asked the restaurant manager if I could take a few pictures. I appreciated that. They met my expectations with their high-level customer service.
The hotel has a good-sized fitness centre that we had, unfortunately, no chance to visit. As a guest at Kimpton Hotel, you can rent (free of charge) Go Chic Bikes and tour around the pretty canals or the city. There’s also a ‘corner shop’ in the hotel lobby selling lots of treats for kids and grown-ups alike. Finally, if you are travelling with your pets, note that they are welcomed at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel!
Food and Drinks at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel.
On our way to find the lift to go to the restaurant, we came across a beautifully tiled stairway. It’s so beautiful that you would wonder why people take the lift when they can take the stairs! The lift and stairs take you directly to the Refuge Dining Room and Bar.
Dinner and drinks
The hotel has a restaurant, The Refuge by Volta Dining Room, a Winter Garden complete with trees and the Public Bar. All three are a sight to behold. The Winter Garden, our favourite, is stunning, and every detail has been carefully chosen, from the green colour scheme to the trees and fairy lights. It’s the perfect place to sip on a cocktail. The art-deco style mix with the industrial features is impressive. Under massive columns and vaults, each room awaits customers for a delicious meal, a drink between friends, or a simple coffee break.
The restaurant’s menu is a mix of flavours served on small plates and called voltini. However, on Sundays, the restaurant offers a Sunday Dinner special. It was excellent, if not the best, Sunday Dinner I have ever tasted. The dish was well presented, and the beef was cooked just right.
In the evening, we went by the Public Bar for a drink. A DJ was playing. The room is filled with a mix of comfortable chairs with low tables and high tables. There were lots of locals in both the restaurant and bar enjoying themselves. When locals frequent a hotel bar or restaurant when there are many restaurants and bars on the doorstep, then you know it must be good.
We had breakfast in the restaurant. As soon as you sit down, a dedicated staff member comes to take your order. We started by selecting a few items from the cold buffet selection like croissants, yoghurts etc. Once we were done, we then ordered from the menu. While my sister went for the lamb shawarma potato hash, I settled for the salmon. The steps the hotel has taken to ensure guests are safe is excellent.
The hotel advertised on their website a “social hour” in the Post Room with complimentary wine and beer for the hotel guests from 6 pm to 7 pm. We were not told about this during our check-in, so I assume this has been cancelled due to Covid. We were (as an Elite member) offered a drinks voucher to redeem at the bar (£10 discount), which was nice.
Attractions and around Kimpton Clocktower Hotel
The central location means that the Kimpton Hotel is the perfect stop for your city break. Once you’ve grabbed some shopping and had seen the main landmarks, take time to explore Manchester like a local. Both the Northern Quarter, including Ancoats and Castlefield, are delightful areas to wander around. Where Northern Quarter has an artistic vibe with records shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes aplenty, Castlefield is more relaxed with beautiful canalside restaurants to stop for a drink. For families, the Museum of Science and Industry is located within walking distance.
In terms of Covid precautions, the measures put in place by the hotel were amazing. We felt completely safe. Throughout the hotel, there were automatic hand sanitiser stations. There was also a small hand sanitiser in the room. Masking wearing is mandatory within the hotel when moving around. All the staff wore face masks. Every part of the hotel was spotlessly clean. Tables were thoroughly sanitised between customers. Only one guest or people travelling together could take the lift together.
All in all, I would recommend the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel in a heartbeat. At £119 for a weekend night, including breakfast, our stay was an excellent value. The lobby was a showstopper, and the beautifully decorated room was very spacious and airy. The overall service, food and location were perfect. My sister and I fell in love with this hotel because what’s not to love?. Hands down, it’s one of the best hotels we have stayed in.
The room rates vary from £85 to £250. Click here for availability and price.
- Address: Oxford St, Manchester M60 7HA
If you want to see the other accommodation options in Manchester, check out my where to stay in Manchester guide.
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