Ever since I was a lad, my gateway to the city was always Victoria station and to be fair – it was always horrible.
I remember getting chased off by a bunch of big boys from outside the old Marks & Spencer’s, through an old cark park (which is now Cathedral Gardens and Urbis) and luckily right on to a departing train. The fact that it was going to Rochdale and not Oldham didn’t matter – at least we didn’t get battered or have to spend too much time in the manky Victoria station.
This was only in 1995 – it was all a bit run down even then. But recent years have been kind to the likes of Exchange Square, Cathedral Gardens and even Victoria Station – with its snazzy new clear lilo-like roof and freshly painted toilets.
But other areas have suffered from years of dereliction, with the huge Co-op building on Balloon Street being left empty for years and the buildings on Todd Street just being left to crumble through the years. But that’s all changed now as the IHG Hotel group have moved in and opened Hotel Indigo and Mamucium.
Keeping the original City Buildings site (that once housed the Arena takeaway and some jewellers I believe), the builders have added a huge new cylinder to the complex, with the base housing the brand-new restaurant Mamucium and the rest home to 187 stylish rooms.
Walking into the main reception area, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s rather breath-taking – I mean, it really is, with exposed brick, pulleys and a rather impressive display of wicker boxes filled with lights that descend from up above. It feels like you’re in some sort of loading bay, but a loading bay that’s located in Narnia.
Upon entering the room, the first thing that strikes you is the truly stunning view of the city, glimpsed through the huge windows that take up the entire wall. I could see the Urbis, I could see the Arndale, I could see pretty much most things in the city, and sitting on the little armchair and staring out on Manchester is pretty much the only entertainment you’ll need.
This doesn’t mean that there isn’t any though. There was a HUGE telly facing the rather big and comfy king-sized bed. The bed is really high so if you’re known as someone who falls out regularly – put a crash helmet on before you go to sleep.
The decor of the room and the rest of the hotel could be classified as ‘heritage but new’. They’ve attempted to take as an inspiration Manchester’s Cotton Mills, so there’s loads of rich fabrics, bold colours and an array of little touches that show that you’re in a top-class hotel room.
The real book lamps on the bedside table, the old school telephone, the little ‘Made in Manchester’ hooks all add to the theme and give the rooms a certain touch of class that you won’t find elsewhere.
An exceptionally calm and tranquil night was had on the bed – mostly because I’d got a little too tipsy down in the fine dining restaurant downstairs – easy when the food is excellent and the company even better.
Headed up by award-winning chef Andrew Green, Mamucium offer a creative menu of locally sourced British dishes with a decidedly Mancunian twist. This may all sound a little familiar but I assure you that the dishes make this place worthy of a visit – even if you’re not a guest.
We started by sharing a Smoked Cheshire Beef Hash (£8.50) which came with a nice bit of theatre upon arrival and was absolutely spectacular. Mouth-wateringly tender, the beef came topped with a slow-cooked Burford brown egg, caramelised onions and homemade spiced ketchup. This dish not only looked the part it’s also up there as one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my 33 years on Earth.
For the main I went for the Lancashire Hotpot (£22.50) while my guest went for the Fillet of Loch Duart Salmon (£17.95). I’ll start on the Salmon first because I didn’t really eat much of it (I was far too interested in my hotpot) but what I did devour was certainly special.
Served up with a white bean and Cumbrian pancetta ragu, clams and fennel, the salmon was given enough space to allow its subtle flavour to come out, but the accompanying touches added some much-needed contrast with what can sometimes be considered a bland fish.
The salty Pancetta ragu worked perfectly with the salmon, adding those well-loved salt and smokey flavours to the fish, while the fresh clams added a welcome bit of sweetness to it all. Overall it’s a well thought out and delivered dish.
Now onto the Lancashire Hotpot. Anyone looking for pictures of it now may be thinking that I didn’t bother taking any. Well you’re wrong. It’s in here. The reason you may be confused is because this dish is more of a ‘deconstructed’ hotpot – unlike anything that Betty would ever serve up in the Rovers.
I was presented with an elegant plate of Herdwick Lamb which was seared to perfection, shallots, potatoes, carrots and a lamb jus. Also on the plate though was a true revelation – a fantastic ‘confit leg parcel’ which basically translates into ‘a little ball of fucking heaven’.
Encased within some cabbage is a bit of lamb that’s so tasty (and naughty) that you’ll probably never want to order anything again in your entire life. Each mouthful was salty and meaty – the perfect antithesis to the array of vegetables displayed on the rest of the plate. It’s fantastic – get it.
I was also recommended to try the Lobster Macaroni Cheese (£8.50) but didn’t have enough space in my stomach for any more. The same goes for the desserts too, of which the Mamucium Manchester Tart (£7.50) is getting some particular attention.
After the aforementioned great night’s sleep, it was time for breakfast and once again Hotel Indigo seriously impresses. Heading back down to Mamucium I was welcomed by a huge Breakfast Table (£9.95) in front of the open kitchen which was piled high with every breakfast treat you could ever imagine.
Freshly pressed juices, freshly baked croissants and pastries, preserves, cereals, fruit, salami, ham, cheese, I mean I could go on for ages here but I’ll stop.
Alongside the ‘continental’ selection, the breakfast also includes a choice from the kitchen (an additional £5), which is where you go if you want to enjoy the likes of the classic Full English, Eggs Benedict and Pancakes. Still pretty full from the night before (and a quick rummage around the Breakfast Table) I opted for the Eggs Benedict.
The eggs were cooked to perfection, the creamy hollandaise perfect alongside the smokey ham – basically it’s a classic dish that was done with class.
Much like the venue as a whole really – and certainly worth a call when staying in the city or just for food and drinks.
Nights at Hotel Indigo start from £96 per night