it’s not every day you come across a hotel in the city you live and want to immediately book a night’s stay, but having stumbled upon the northern quarter’s newest hotel establishment a few weeks ago i’ve been gushing to anyone and everyone about how stunning it’s slick interior and stylish accents are, as well as how delectable the cocktail menu is!
launched in late january, the cow hollow hotel has been designed and developed by husband and wife duo mujtaba and amelia rana to offer both beauty and affordability right in the heart of the city, and you can tell that from start to finish its been a true labour of love incorporating local and historical influences into the space. from the restored original features (think high ceilings, exposed oak beams, carrara marble fireplaces and walnut sash windows) to the artwork commissioned by local artists, the boutique hotel tells a story true to its northern roots and warehouse heritage.
muj’s family have lived in manchester for nearly 25 years, and while he’s spent a large portion of his life living in london and asia, manchester has always felt like home to him. there was only ever going to be one part of the city that really matched up with the style of the hotel he’d envisioned creating, making the vibrant and eclectic northern quarter was the natural choice for the development. “i walked around the area for about 4 days,” he told me, “down every single street and alleyway, until i’d found a shortlist of empty/derelict buildings that had the right potential, and then spent a few weeks finding out who owned them – and more importantly, who wanted to sell them to me!”
architecturally muj and amelia were limited in their scope for redevelopment, as the project fell into the bracket of renovation and the handsome red-brick building itself sits within the stevenson square conservation zone. “we spent an inordinate amount of time and money stripping back the building to get to the underlying framework,” muj says, “revealing 2 inch thick oak floorboards, huge beams and 150-year old brickwork.” the couple then spent time meticulously selecting the materials that would not only complement these bare bones in terms of colour and warmth, but also give the hotel the touch of old-world glamour they desired for the space, something which muj believes has been missing in a lot of recent restaurant, bar and hotel developments in this part of the city.
drawing upon their extensive global travels, muj and amelia have taken little pieces of those places and their experiences and applied them to their overall vision for cow hollow. “many of our guests walk through the doors and immediately proclaim that they feel like they’ve been transported elsewhere,” says muj. “we’ve had barcelona to meatpacking district, and everything in between!”
by ensuring their furniture and design choices offered a contemporary mix of reclaimed salvage and modern luxury, the couple have created a space that feels authentically unique in this most eclectic part of town, drawing inspiration from some of the great hotels around the world the the couple have fond memories of visiting.
the ceiling fans remind of us the metropole in hanoi, the shutters of raffles in singapore, the colonial-style chairs of the vineyard hotel in cape town, and the huge mirrors of dar darma in marrakech. ~ mujtaba rana
it was wonderful to have a little guided tour of the hotel, take a peek inside many of the rooms and see just how the original architectural details of this heritage building (a fully-restored turn-of-the-century textile warehouse) have been not only preserved, but used to create unique and quirky design details in the space. in one room, an old elevator shaft space has been transformed into a bathroom, retaining the old battered wooden doors. in another corner, an old wall-mounted winch remains.
keen to distinguish cow hollow from other hotels in the city, muj and amelia have also introduced a number of guest services familiar to some of the very best boutique hotels globally, including an inclusive prosecco hour in the evening, complimentary gourmet breakfast bags and unlimited hot drinks from the in-house aviary cafe.
then there’s the aforementioned ‘delectable cocktails’ served up at the plantation-esque lobby cocktail bar, which offers an extensive list of drinks, all at set prices: £8 cocktails, £6 wine, £5 beers and £5 spirits.
of course we (that is, lovely rebecca cohen and i) had to sample as many of the options on the menu that a snowy thursday evening would permit (so, all bar a couple!). perched up at the bar we indulged in everything from taste of the tropics’ captain muj’s mai tai to the perfect after-dinner tipple, the caramelpresso martini. and let me tell you, once you’ve tried salted caramel syrup in your espresso martini there is no.going.back.. !
with the successful business model of cow hollow firmly in place, the couple are now actively looking for partners to invest in their next project – rumoured to be a 30-room hotel on the opposite side of manchester city centre, towards spinningfields.
if the cow hollow is anything to go by, i can’t wait to see what they do next!
⇒ rooms from £99 per night
⇒ the cow hollow hotel, 57 newton street, northern quarter
all photography – bar final four images – © cow hollow hotel, used with permission. last four images © fabric of my life.