i’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel frequently, both with my business and my blog, but the luxury of being able to visit and explore new cities as a part of my working lifestyle doesn’t come without its drawbacks. even when i’m on ‘holiday’ i still need to stay connected, so its great to see more and more hotels cottoning on to the nomadic working lifestyle of their guests.
ac hotels – the modern, design-driven lifestyle brand from marriott international – is the latest hotel chain to hit the uk shores that caters for this next-generation entrepreneurial traveller. their first two uk offerings – in birmingham city centre and manchester’s salford quays – are designed to reflect the uniqueness and character of their urban location, with both popping up in newly regenerated areas of their respective cities.
ac hotel birmingham city centre:
it had been nearly 10 years since i’d last visited the midlands city and it was a pleasant surprise to see how much it had changed! the new 90-room hotel is situated at the mailbox, a former royal mail sorting office which has been repurposed into an exclusive shopping area adjacent to the canal network, offering an abundance of stylish stores, restaurants, cafes and bars.
checking in to the hotel, the open plan lobby stretched out in front of us, with a starbucks coffee shop to one side. the long expansive bar and lounge area functions as a creative hotspot by day and social hub by night, serving local craft beers, specialty wines, expertly made signature cocktails and a selection of tapas-style small bites. the ac library, a quiet space lined with interesting and ever-evolving reading material, is tucked away in the corner, offering another social space for guests to use and provides the perfect location to relax or hold an intimate meeting.
upstairs in the rooms every detail has been carefully considered to provide just the beautiful essentials, with no extraneous clutter or chintz in sight. fusing contemporary european design and clean lines for tranquil and luxurious ambience, the rooms are decked out in soft putty tones, with solid wood flooring, angular furniture and simple crisp white linen. i was particularly delighted to discover both a nespresso coffee machine and decent hairdryer in the room; both modern-day hotel room essentials in my book!
and just check out this awesome view of the canal from my window:
while we didn’t get the chance to really explore during our whistlestop tour of the city, there are a few great places i spotted during our instawalk with the igers birmingham team that i’m keen to check out properly next time i visit (hopefully soon!):
- ikon gallery: housed in a magnificent neo-gothic school building, this educational charity exhibits artworks in a context of debate and participation.to encourage public engagement with contemporary art. free to enter, the gallery houses artists work from around the world including sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture and installation.
- liquor store: situated in great western arcade this stylish lifestyle store brings together an eclectic mix of heritage and next generation brands for men, women and the home. each piece has been chosen for their history, great quality, new ideas, subtle detailing and ethical standing, bringing together a curated edit of design brands from all over the globe.
- peel & stone: this artisan bakery and deli provided the perfect train picnic for our journey from birmingham to manchester. specialising in slow leavened bread, using time honoured methods and trusted techniques, peel & stone offer a delightful array of rustic baked goods, fresh seasonal salads and the most wonderful (dairy-free!) chocolate brownies you’ll find – nom!
ac hotel manchester salford quays:
whereas it had been years since my last trip to brum, the new ac hotel at salford quays is likely to become my new home from home during my frequent trips to the city, given its prime location just up the road from my favourite place; the theatre of dreams (aka: the home of my beloved manchester united!)
despite being located a short tram ride outside city centre, the hotel is in a prime spot for exploring the regenerated quays area around the manchester ship canal that includes media city uk – where the bbc is now based – and the beautiful lowry theatre and gallery.
just as in birmingham, the rooms are a harmonious mix of contemporary style, timeless elegance and relaxation. be sure to ask for an odd numbered room (the higher the floor, the better) if you’re keen for a view out over the quays, or enjoy the view in the other direction back over the city centre, with the iconic beetham tower studding the skyline.
we were in town for the hotel’s official launch party following its soft launch earlier in the year, and it was a great excuse to catch up with fellow bloggers clare, liv and monica, let our hair down, and enjoy a few expertly mixed signature cocktails, all the while grooving along to a set by legendary haçienda dj graeme park.
all in all, a great evening out and we didn’t even have to leave the hotel = score!
let me tell you though, the breakfast spread the following morning was certainly a welcome sight after one to many of those delicious cocktails the night before…
i’ll definitely be pulling together my own
little big guide to this wonderful city to share soon, but in the meantime here are a few great places to check out if you’re staying in the salford quays area anytime soon:
- old trafford: i may be a little biased, but the affectionately named ‘theatre of dreams’ really is the most spectacular sports stadium in the world.
- the lowry: rising from the regenerated docklands, the striking architectural prowess of the lowry is designed to reflect the surrounding landscapes and flourishing waterways, in its glass and metallic surfaces. the centre brings together a wide variety of performing and visual arts under one roof. housing two main theatres and studio space for the performing arts, the programme includes a full range of drama, opera, ballet, jazz, folk and comedy alongside a gallery spaces which showcase the works of the late salford artist ls lowry, alongside contemporary exhibitions.
- iwm north: designed by world-renowned architect daniel libeskind to represent a globe shattered by conflict, the iwm north reveals how war shapes lives through personal stories and powerful exhibitions, tours, object handling sessions, and family activities. the 100ft airshard viewing platform also offers spectacular views over regenerated waterways of the expansive manchester ship canal.
i was a guest at both ac hotel birmingham and ac hotel manchester, but all views (& eternal love of manchester united) my own.