Radisson Blu Edwardian



Arriving at your hotel before midday, the best-case scenario is normally that reception staff deal with check-in formalities and arrange storage for luggage so you can go about your business unencumbered until such time that your room is available. So kudos to the five-star central Manchester establishment for having my accommodation ready bright and early.

The leisurely stroll from Piccadilly rail station had demonstrated that the Radisson - set inside the city's legendary Free Trade Hall - is within comfortable walking distance of the main shopping drag, a variety of cultural attractions and a decent choice of restaurants. And those seeking religious sustenance can repair to the Jackson's Row (Reform) Synagogue, just around the corner.

The Manchester skyline may not be the most exotic but you can peruse it at your leisure from an upper floor room. As in its public areas, the hotel makes a conspicuous nod to local heritage - that is, when it is not showcasing some fairly random sculpture. Hanging in my room was an atmospheric image of the cycling at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, which were held in the city. Otherwise, the most eye-catching decor feature was the swirly patterned carpet, accentuated by a weirdly shaped bin.

More practical virtues were switches illuminating icons outside the door, which alert staff to your readiness, or otherwise, to be disturbed. One light by the bed works independently of the card-controlled system, averting the need to plot a darkened path around the room at sleep time. Should you wish to peruse the upmarket periodicals left for guests, the translucent lamps are commendably reader friendly. And you will not have to search for a point to plug in the hairdryer as it is fixed within a glass cabinet in the bathroom area. Complimentary water, teas and coffee are provided (and you can request fresh milk). My one gripe was that the dispensers above the bath did not include liquid soap (shower gel just doesn't cut it for me).

For those wishing to dine in the hotel beyond breakfast, there is a main restaurant, Opus One, which is about to undergo a major renovation, so I'll spare you most of the design details.

But I hope the giant chess pieces survive the revamp. Ditto for the Taste of Manchester dessert, giving visitors the opportunity to try iced Vimto parfait and warm Eccles cakes.

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