The little slice of New York you never knew Manchester needed is the newly-opened Hotel Brooklyn. The trendy, design-led hotel opened its doors just weeks before the Covid pandemic forced its doors to close, but the four-star hotel has been making up for lost time, staking its claim as part of the city’s cool hospitality scene with hip rooms, a bustling restaurant and cocktail bar, and even its own cinema. Though a second national lockdown is now upon us, you may be planning a weekend of fun in Manchester once it’s over, or if you missed out on a trip to the Big Apple due to the pandemic, this is the place you will want to head to.
This super chic and stylish hotel is housed in a newly-built, 10-storey tower in the heart of the city, between the vibrant buzz of the Gay Quarter and the colourful culture of China Town, just a few streets away. Hotel Brooklyn is perfectly located for visitors hoping to explore Manchester on foot and is just a five-minute walk from the tram line as well as the restaurants, bars and late-night spots of the Northern Quarter. The hotel’s central location, however, means that parking is a nightmare so you’re best to travel on public transport if possible. The nearest car parks are extortionately expensive and, while the hotel offers partial refunds to guests, an in-house car park would be easier and much more convenient.
Hotel Brooklyn takes influences from Manchester’s industrial roots with a stamp of New York confidence and craft which is rammed in your face as soon as you arrive; the iconic yellow cab outside signalling the crossover between Manchester and New York. This hotel is all about having fun and that’s evident from the second you walk through the doors. The Stoop is located just off the lobby, a cinema with tiered amphitheatre-style seating and a huge projector screen showing all-American classics, leading through into a cosy snug where guests can read the paper or catch up on their tweets.
We arrive on a Friday evening with Grease rolling on the big screen, viewers perched on colourful cushions on the tiered seating like the steps of a Brooklyn brownstone. Music blares out from the house DJ who is spinning records in the bar as friends clink glasses, laugh, and tuck into plates of delicious-smelling dishes. A second bar, called Salvation, is housed on the ninth floor beside the for-hire event space, and boasts an array of cocktails with a panoramic view across the city skyline. Afternoon tea (with a New York edge, of course!) can be enjoyed from the high-rise bar every day from noon to 4pm. If you prefer a traditional cream tea with triangle sandwiches and scones then you’re covered with the Classic Afternoon Tea, but if you want to embrace the American flair then why not try the Bklyn Tea? I’m talking sliders, bagels and brownies.
Room 103 – or Cheever suite – was to be our home for the night. And it was vast, with huge windows providing awesome views across the city skyline. The hotel offers a range of room types from the smallest and most reasonably-priced snug and club rooms, to large suites with feature bathtubs, terraces and excellent views. We were lucky enough to stay in a huge 36m2 Brooklyn Suite complete with Super-King bed and luxurious roll-top bath.
An eye-catching mural wall welcomes you to the suite, which is light and open-plan with bold turquoise drapes contrasting with the contemporary, monochrome colour scheme. A platter of meats, crudités and dip greet us along with a delicious chocolate brownie with a welcome note swirled in chocolate sauce! The suite is fitted out with the coolest gadgets from a Smeg fridge to a vintage radio, many of which are tagged with prices in case you wish to take a piece of Brooklyn home with you.
The room is divided diagonally with a partition wall serving as bed headboard and dressing table on the reverse, screening the photogenic roll-top bath from scene-stealing windows. The bed is set to make the most of the views, giving the illusion of being in a New York loft. I slid down into the tub for a hot bubble bath before snuggling into bed to watch TV and enjoy a hot cup of coffee to warm up from the cold, wet autumn day outside.
Runyon’s is a New York-inspired grill serving classic British food with an American twist. A mural of the Brooklyn Bridge is plastered across the back wall and diners peruse the menu lit by bright neon signs. Runyon’s – named after the renowned American author – offers an all-day menu boasting American diner classics and fast food treats, as well as an a la carte menu. Peek into the open kitchen to see busy chefs dashing around the kitchen preparing burgers, steaks and hot dogs.
At the time of my visit, food was available all day and guests could also choose from a room service menu or make the most of the hotel’s inventive Grab and Go options of fast-food burgers, hot dogs, pizzas and pasta. We sat down in the restaurant at 8pm after a drink in town and chose from the a la carte menu which boasted high-end food using the best ingredients, in a casual setting.
The burrata was smooth and creamy and tasted delicious. It was served with charred orange and fennel salad, giving it an unusual, sweet taste (although I’d have preferred the traditional accompaniment of tomatoes or salad). My husband had the seared scallops with mustard grits, inspired by the classic dish made from boiled cornmeal. The scallops were juicy and tasty, with the warming comfort of the grits taking us right back to the sunshine of the Deep South.
I opted for the Brooklyn fish and chips for the main course; a British classic with a New York twist. Instead of beer batter, the fish was a spiced cornmeal crusted haddock fritter served with chips and a delicious chilli corn hominy which was packed full of flavour – and heat! Have water at the ready if you’re planning to sample this dish.
My husband chose the New York strip steak with house pickles, garlic cornbread and braised beef gravy. The steak was cooked as requested and was perfectly seasoned, and the gravy was rich and deep in flavour. We washed down our dinner with US craft ale and bubbles, before rich, sweet puddings to finish. I chose the melting chocolate tart with cherry and porter ale syrup and mascarpone, and my husband chose the bourbon sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice-cream. The perfect end to a delicious meal.
Managers are dressed to impress in three-piece suits with corsages while servers channel a cool New Yorker vibe in denim jeans, white shirts, red braces with black aprons. And in true American style, the staff are all smiley, friendly and extremely helpful. We did have to wait quite a long time to place our order and between courses as the restaurant was busy and some of the waiters seemed a little frantic, but as the hotel – which had been open just a few months in total – settles into its swing, I’m sure it’ll find out how to run like a well-oiled machine.
We returned to Runyon’s for breakfast the following morning. The breakfast menu offers veggie, vegan and gluten free options as well as continental cereals, fruit and pastries, and American specials like waffles and pancakes. I chose the veggie breakfast which was warm and filling, and – unlike in a true New York diner – wasn’t a huge portion, but was plenty for me to start the day. We chose a normal breakfast but were surrounded by groups of friends enjoying a special weekend treat. Every Saturday and Sunday, guests feeling indulgent can spoil themselves with an all-you-can-eat Bottomless Brooklyn Brunch.
In a nutshell
In true American style, everything about Hotel Brooklyn is fun, indulgent and cool. The hotel is a cosy, welcoming retreat in the centre of Manchester as well as a cool downtown hangout for locals looking for a delicious dinner and contemporary cocktails. A little slice of the Big Apple, in the heart of Manchester.
Nightly rates at Hotel Brooklyn start from £130 for a Club Room on a bed and breakfast basis.
Photography courtesy of Hotel Brooklyn