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Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa review

Jo Fletcher-Cross finds Northern inner-city relaxation with a signature Elemis massage and facial

The hotel & spa

I arrived by train at Manchester Piccadilly and was in the foyer of the hotel just a few minutes later. Too early for check in, I sat in the large, open bar in the lobby and had a coffee. The bar was buzzing; I later found out that Justin Bieber was in town that night performing at Manchester Arena, which is a very short walk away. It’s an easy walk to all the attractions of the city; about a 15-minute stroll brings you to the super-trendy Northern Quarter and there’s plenty of culture and shopping within striking distance. The spa is actually in a separate building, just a moment from the main entrance of the hotel: it’s a bit like walking into an office complex at first, but once upstairs in the spa proper, it’s a calm and relaxing environment. There’s no pool, but a very good thermal suite (though not everything was working). The post-treatment relaxation room is small but luxurious.

The treatment

I had the Macdonald signature Elemis treatment, which lasted 90 minutes and comprised an Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow massage with hydrating body products and a Visible Brilliance facial. I’d had a niggle in my shoulder area for weeks and was feeling very run down and tired on arrival; my very efficient but friendly therapist identified where the problem was and worked on it throughout the treatment gently but effectively. First there was body brushing and then warm oil was dripped all over me, which sounded like it might be a bit tortuous but was supremely relaxing — it was difficult to get off the bed and shower the oil away. After this though, the salt glow was applied: deeply cleansed and moisturised, my skin felt genuinely renewed and glowing, I kept touching it. My shoulder also felt better than it had in ages.

The facial was excellent: while it felt fairly standard, the micro-circulatory massage was fantastic and seemed to make quite a difference. The information provided claimed that moisturisation levels are clinically proven to increase by up to 61% and elasticity by up to 40% after one treatment; I can attest that my skin did genuinely look amazing afterwards, and felt good for days thereafter too.


The room was spacious with a great view over Manchester and beyond. It was a little dated and functional, but handmade chocolates from a local supplier were a lovely touch. The bed was very comfortable, and the curtains created a blackout effect that was very welcome after a night enjoying Manchester’s warm hospitality. The bathroom was extremely good, with a powerful shower, lots of space to put things and a quick-filling, deep bath.

Eat & drink

Dinner is in the Scottish Steakhouse restaurant, appropriately tricked out in antlers and tartan. Modish nibbles such as haggis bon bon and paprika and parmesan popcorn are joined on the menu by a plethora of dishes to warm this Scottish reviewer’s heart: Scotch broth, Shetland mussels, Stornoway black pudding Scotch egg. Beef for a fine selection of steaks comes from fully accredited Scottish farms, traditionally aged for a minimum of 21 days on the bone, and cooked in a Josper grill. Less meaty options are available, with plenty of delicious-sounding fish options and some imaginative vegetarian dishes. Breakfast is buffet-style and very decent, plenty of choice and everything seemed freshly cooked.


With the slightly functional edge to the spa — great treatments but not a place to linger for long — it’s an excellent spot for a city break for couples or friends. There’s so much to see and do in Manchester, and this hotel is in a superb position to take advantage of that. Treat yourself to a facial or massage and then indulge in everything the city has to offer.


Prices start at £180 on a bed and breakfast basis, double occupancy in a classic room.

The 30-minute Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow is £40 Monday to Thursday, or £45 Friday to Sunday.

The Visible Brilliance Facial lasts for 1hr 15 mins and is £70 Monday to Thursday, or £75 Friday to Sunday.

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