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Hotel Review: The Kimpton Clocktower Hotel in Manchester

This is my review of one of the most iconic hotels in Manchester; the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel.

I’ve been looking forward to writing this post as soon as I stepped foot in the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel in Manchester for my 32nd birthday. Without doubt, this hotel has shot straight to being one of my favourite hotels I have had the pleasure of visiting. This was my first visit to Manchester in around 6 years and our first proper trip away after things calmed a little with the pandemic so we wanted to make sure that we picked somewhere half decent to stay. In the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel, we got somewhere that far exceeded our expectations.

Kimpton Clocktower Hotel

We made the decision to drive down to Manchester instead of taking the train yet the hotel was ideally situated for any visitor to the city. The hotel doesn’t have its own car park but there’s both a Q Park and NCP very close by. If you’re arriving by train, you’ll be pleased to note that Oxford Road Station is literally opposite. It’s a ten minute walk right in the centre of Manchester and I found it perfectly positioned for exploring the city.

Even before arriving at the hotel, you could immediately see the iconic clocktower towering above the skyline. The Grade II building dates back to 1890 and you’ll be blown away by the incredible Victorian architecture. This is one of the cities most famous buildings and is as typical a Manchester red-brick building that you will ever see. The building was originally the headquarters of the Refuge Assurance Company and the architect, Alfred Waterhouse, was actually responsible for creating the National History Museum in London too.

If you weren’t impressed by the exterior, I can assure you you’ll be blown away as soon as you step inside. This is no doubt a luxury hotel but with an edgy, industrial feel that probably resonates most with Manchester. The lobby has enormously high ceilings but your eyes will immediately look up towards the impressive glass dome. Throughout the hotel, you’ll see Victorian tiled walls, stained glass windows and grand staircases. It’s beautiful everywhere you look.

The Room

We were very kindly upgraded to a Junior Suite, room number 380, which was practically perfect with its gigantic bed, a living room area and slick bathroom. Granted, it did take us a while to find the room in the first place (and then again after a few beers) thanks to the maze like corridors formed when numerous buildings were joined together to form the one that houses the hotel today.

Needless to say, we didn’t spend too long in the room with wanting to explore as much of Manchester as possible. Next time, I’m tempted to really push the boat out as I’ve seen rooms which come with their own record player and records from Manchester based artists to chill out to.

Food & Drink at the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel

Normally, I’d never actually plan to have a meal and drinks at the hotel; I’d much rather set about finding the quirkiest burger joints and other highly recommended places to eat. However, there’s not many places in the country that house a restaurant and bar quite like here.

Before I get carried away with myself talking about the jewel in the hotel’s crown, I have to highlight the purely brilliant idea of the nightly social hour at 6pm which offers complementary drinks (beer/wine) and hugely informative conversations with the staff about the history of the building. It’s a lovely touch that just made me fall in love with the hotel even more.

Ok, I’m ready. Let me introduce to you The Refuge By Volta. All 10,000 square feet of it.

The Refuge is split into three separate areas; the Public Bar, the Winter Garden and the Dining Room. There’s also a den with a private bar, pool table and table football! The Winter Garden is a beautiful conservatory filled with trees and tiled flooring where you can have breakfast or afternoon tea. The Public Bar is, well, incredible and I can’t imagine much places better in England for a cold beer. Also, a bit strange, but the pint glasses were so unique I ended up finding them online and ordering four to get that Refuge-at-home feel! The Dining Room is all about the tiled wall, its ‘Glamour of Manchester’ mural alongside Victorian seating booths and lighting.

Now you’ve seen the photos, do you agree that this has got to be one of the most beautiful bars/restaurants in the United Kingdom? I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Notwithstanding the fact that it was 9pm, the beer in me helped me decide that I needed to try as many of the plates on offer as possible. I don’t think I’ve said it before on here but I’ve got a new rule now where whenever we eat out, it has to be worth it and so we basically don’t say no to anything we might like to try on the menu; hence the outrageous amount of food that we attempted to devour. It was my birthday after all.

Our Order:

  • Charred Padron peppers

  • Whipped beetroot, smoked feta

  • Gochujang fried chicken wings

  • Lamb shawarma

  • Pork chop, chimichurri, grilled pineapple

  • Salt cod croquettes

  • Beetroot pakora

  • Triple-cooked chips with black garlic aioli

  • Flatbreads

Ok, so that’s a lot of food right. Especially at 9pm at night; honestly I did not sleep well. However, we had no regrets and can’t wait to come back to Manchester just to eat at the Refuge again. I’ve seen photos of the Sunday Dinner too so that, without doubt, has to be factored in to a return trip.


I promise you’ll be shocked at the cost of this hotel. Granted we stayed on a Monday night but it wasn’t as though Manchester was quiet, even during the day on Tuesday bars and restaurants were full. The hotel cost us a grand total of just £92 without breakfast but we did get free drinks during the social hour. It’s also an IHG hotel so you’ll earn points for staying here if you book direct.

Anyway, £92 was a steal for such a luxury hotel in the centre of Manchester though I think the price may have increased significantly over the last couple of years! However, I promise if you plan to stay at the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel, you will not be disappointed.

As though you needed any more inspiration to visit Manchester, I’ve put together a collection of black and white photos of the city as part of my Monochrome Cities series.

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