Great John Street Hotel, Manchester, England **

Great John Street Hotel, Manchester – the Victorian façade
Great John Street Hotel, Manchester – the rooftop

What are the must-see places in Manchester?
I asked people: What are the must-see places in Manchester? Those who didn’t just give me a blank face said: “The Cathedral… St. Anne’s Place… And Old Trafford!” Which means “A quite insignificant church, a small square you will forget… and an empty stadium!” Six blocks away from a square you most definitely will forget, you’ll find Great John Street Hotel. It’s not Broadway. When I take a cab from the station, the driver must make three phone calls to get it almost right.

What a building!
Most hotel managers would gladly cut their fingers off to get an opportunity to run a hotel in this Victorian-style school building from 1912. The exterior is really something extra and the rooms are spacious like… classrooms.
But to really appreciate the “extreme style” of this hotel, you’ll have to appreciate posh chandeliers, free-standing modernist bathtubs and thick velvet curtains. Everything look expensive and somebody probably had an idea with the design. The elevator is not working. That’s why I’m taking the stairs to my room – and what do you know… there are the blueprints for the hotel, framed with ‘concept notes’ in the margin. I suppose that is meant to look cool.

But why only two stars?
The management has invested heavily in creating a small luxury town house hotell but they forgot the staff. The bar and the breakfast salon is manned by three young women from Poland who probably have ambitions. They approach their guests with friendly smiles and no service skills. Ordering a fine malt results in a nervous smile and searching through the brandy section of the shelves.
Great John Street also needs something more: Atmosphere. People. Guests. Boris Jeltsin is full of life, compared to this. With the exception of the people on the payrole, I only see two other guests. An unmarried couple who is unable to find their way to breakfast even the second morning.

It may be a bargain, though.
But if you by any chance have to pass Manchester, don’t hesitate to book a room at Great John Street Hotel. Yes, despite everything. The rooms are often on sale on the internet to about one third of the rack rate, so you may be in for a bargain. I mean: For the same rate, I have been sleeping in a room where the mould was climbing the leaf thin plywood walls. And it was in Bayswater.

Great John Street Hotel
Great John Street
Castlefield, Manchester, M3 4FD
United Kingdom


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