The hidden gem Manchester city centre boutique hotel that values style, comfort and great food

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It's in a historic building in the beating heart of the city.

Princess Street is one of the city centre’s main arteries. It stretches from the Town Hall in the centre of the city to the ring road in the south east, passing through key locations like Chinatown, St Peter’s Square and Manchester Art Gallery. Suffice to say, it would be hard to visit Manchester without passing through this street at least once. 

This is why there is an abundance of hotels in and around Princess Street, ranging from high-end to budget chains. But there’s one relative newcomer to the game that offers quiet luxury and a welcoming stay in a historic building in the beating heart of the city. 

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The Alan boutique hotel opened in 2022 in the Grade II listed building that was formerly the Princess Hotel. It has 137 rooms across six floors, which also contain an open plan reception, bar and restaurant area with co-working and event spaces. 

When we visited on a cold Monday in January, the hotel, along with the rest of the city centre, was quiet, but after entering through the green velvet curtains and being greeted by friendly staff, we soon warmed up and settled in. Here is how the rest of our stay went. 

The room

We stayed in a Signature Deluxe room, the largest on offer, that includes a generously sized emperor bed, a 50-inch Smart TV, a small velvet sofa and chair positioned around a modern coffee table. The bathroom had a wide, pastel pink sink basin with gold metal fittings, which were also featured on the walk-in rainfall shower. 

One of the things I appreciated most about the design choices in The Alan is the way it recognises the industrial history of the building while still feeling modern and cosy. Manchester has a multitude of former Victorian warehouses like this, some of them are also used hotels, but they’re not always cared for so lovingly - the biggest culprit being the infamous Britannia on Portland Street.

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Signature Deluxe room at The Alan, ManchesterSignature Deluxe room at The Alan, Manchester
Signature Deluxe room at The Alan, Manchester

Everything in the room has been assembled with both comfort and practicality in mind. The ‘kinetic’ light fittings, designed by Mika Kaski, allow you to adjust the direction of the light depending on whether you’re working or relaxing. There are furniture pieces made from recycled marble, by designer Robin Grasby, that are both sturdy and stylish.  Exposed brick, striking concrete coffee tables and metal beams are set against soft colour palettes of teals, pinks, sage and dark greens and blues.

It is so easy to relax in these rooms, laying on a bed with Egyptian cotton sheets, a thick knitted blanket. You have access to a number of films to rent on the television, as well as the ability to connect your own devices using Chromecast. There are also thick, heavy curtains that allow you to block out the light and noises from the city centre outside. 

The food

If a hotel room is not what you’re looking for, there is another very important reason to visit The Alan, and that’s the restaurant, headed by chef James Hulme, formerly of The Moor in Heaton Moor. 

As previously mentioned, the hotel was very quiet when we visited and throughout our meal we were the only customers seated. With the open kitchen and intimate, low-lit setting, it felt like an evening with our own private chef – although I imagine this would still be the case even with a few more customers in. 

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Table for two at The Alan, ManchesterTable for two at The Alan, Manchester
Table for two at The Alan, Manchester

The menu consists of small plates, priced anywhere between £3-4 for an appetiser to £9-10 for something more substantial. I always enjoy a small plates menu like this as it really allows you to explore a wider range of flavours, which was definitely the case at The Alan. 

We started with a morsel of crab rosti topped with caviar and some slices of the house saucisson, followed by a zesty and refreshing plate of sea bass garnished with little pieces of burnt cucumber, as well as another dish featuring the classic combination of goats cheese and beetroot, offset with drops of date puree. 

Next up, we enjoyed the grilled leeks and mushrooms, with toasted yeast and black garlic. As we reluctantly finished the last pieces of veg, the waitress suggested we hold on to the plate so we could dip our next side dish into the remaining sauce, which turned out to be an ingenious idea. 

Sea bass at The AlanSea bass at The Alan
Sea bass at The Alan

The side dish in question was confit potatoes cooked in beef fat and I think this might be my new favourite way to eat potatoes. They are satisfyingly crunchy with fluffy layers on the inside and they paired well with our creamed sprout tops and juicy fried guinea hen, topped with diced tomato and dill. For dessert we shared a Manchester honey parfait with bee pollen and milk crisps, a beautiful, creamy and light palette cleanser to end on. 

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Breakfast was also included in our stay and the best thing about it is that it is offered until 11am if you want a more relaxed morning. They have a simple menu of classic breakfast items, including a full English, and you also get a hot drink and a juice. 

The verdict 

The Alan is the perfect spot for anyone who is looking for a luxury experience without the pressure of some of the more opulent high-end hotels, which can be intimidating for some people, myself included. Style and design are at the forefront at The Alan, but it maintains that Manchester charm – you can enjoy an emperor bed and delicious meal while also watching the trams zip past the windows – and it’s also warm and inviting. 

Having visited during such a quiet time, I do wonder how busy The Alan gets and how many people actually know about it – it seems Jay Rayner had a similar experience back when it first opened. However, when we went to get some cocktails from the bar to take up to our room, there was a lack of essential ingredients like tequila and Campari and the bartender told us this was because of a busy New Year’s Eve. Therefore the emptiness is more likely a result of the down season. 

Like many Mancunians, visitors and tourists, I’ve wandered past The Alan many times without knowing it was there, but this will no longer be the case. I will no doubt be recommending to friends and popping in from time to time – even if it’s just for the confit potatoes.

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Essential info

Bookings for The Alan can be made online via the hotel website. There are five different room options: Signature, Signature Deluxe, Signature Suite, Classic and Classic Double Double. Prices on the website currently range roughly between £100-£200 per night.

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