When I tell people I regularly stay overnight in Manchester for work, I am often met with sympathy over how tiring the experience can be. The truth is, I really enjoy my work trips. As someone who leads a fairly busy life, they give me the opportunity to break out of my daily habits, allowing me headspace to think more clearly. That is, of course, all dependent on two factors: the journey and the accommodation. So when the opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance to experience a night at SimpsonHaugh’s most recently completed hotel on Cable Street.
AC Hotels is Marriott’s brand aimed at the working traveller and continental tourist, who look for affordable comfort and quality. Their Manchester location already supports this. It’s ideally situated within walking distance of both Piccadilly and Victoria stations, and a stone’s throw from the Northern Quarter’s boho chic culture, eclectic shops, diverse nightlife, and amazing restaurants, including my personal favourite, Mackie Mayor – a former meat market building rejuvenated into an excellent food hall.
Attentive customer service goes a long way when staying at hotels. I was instantly made to feel at home by José, who welcomed me with a friendly smile and engaging banter, his demeanour perfectly balanced between being genuinely interested and unobtrusive. Even when the computer system took a few minutes longer than normal to register my details, José remained unflustered.
I confess that when the architectural team told me that the bedrooms had hard floors instead of carpet, I expected the rooms to be cold and uninviting. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the furniture is as you expect it to be in any hotel, the hushed warm colours of the furnishings and the spacious layout make for a comfortable experience. I can attest to the fact the floor isn’t cold on bare feet, and in hindsight, surely no carpet means a cleaner environment for those with respiratory issues.
The real test for me though was the night time experience; namely whether or not I was woken up by noisy neighbours. I’m a very light sleeper, often woken up at home by coughing children several rooms and brick walls away. While the hotel was busy and is located not far from the ring road, it was peaceful during the day and night – no slamming doors, no echoes of rushing water through pipes, no muffled TV sounds. In fact, I woke up startled at 7am thinking I had overslept – it was so still and quiet – and was pleased to find I still had another 30 minutes to snooze, a luxury I don’t get to enjoy at home.