This quirkily restored schoolhouse is only a few minutes from Manchester Piccadilly station and Deansgate, but neatly tucked around a corner opposite Granada Television studios, it feels nicely discreet. Which is probably why premier footballers and soap stars like to party with their peers on its funky roof terrace. From outside the almost austere brickwork is wonderfully Victorian and grand, but inside the décor is bright, contemporary and very relaxed –peals of laughter soon waft from the Oyster Bar and The Library & Terrace as locals pour in from mid Friday afternoon onwards to celebrate the weekend with buckets of chilled rose.
Room for romance:
Our room is an Eclectic Grand Suite, a loft-style space with two claw-foot his ‘n’ hers baths on the mezzanine level. Overlooking the Corrie set – wow, I can see the flowers outside Dev’s shop! - there’s an ornate and very romantic king size for a nice lie-in and a smart corner chaise. But who’s got time to loll around on day beds when the shouts of the fans on street level announce the actors departing for the day and stopping for autographs! Luckily the dressing table is right by the window so I can straighten my hair for our night out with one hand and snap Street stars (there’s Owen, there’s Tina, OMG is that Tyrone?) with the other. Already star struck, I discover later that Take That and Robbie stayed in these suites for the Manchester leg of their Progress tour in 2011. In giddy Goldilocks fashion I begin to fantasise ‘who’s been sleeping in my bed?!’.
Wine and dine:
There’s no dining room as such at the Great John Street, but you can order afternoon tea (from £19.50pp) in the bar or lounge any time you like. We did. A macaroon, or warm scone with homemade jam is just as delicious at midday as it is at four. Add champagne if you’re feeling truly indulgent (£25.50pp). Other food options included a delicious mezze selection with just the right mix of olives, grilled vegetables, haloumi to soak up a glass of crisp white. We ate ours on the rooftop terrace, not the prettiest view in the world by day, but beautiful at night decorated with fairylights and looking out over the city landscape.
The way the hotel harks back its historic roots, with meeting rooms now occupying (and named after) the Headmaster's Office and the Boys and Girls Classrooms. Endearing old school photos from the 1930s also line the corridors – fascinating black and white images of primary-aged kids with crossed arms and legs, pudding bowl haircuts and no clue that war is just around the corner. You can’t help wondering how their stories turned out.
We don’t love:
Missing out on a good nose at the wedding that was clearly taking place later the same day we checked out. A huge procession of beautiful flower decorations being taken to the rooftop terrace suggested it was going to be a rather chic, urban affair. But then, why not - because this is, ultimately, a rather chic hotel!
From £180 per night for a standard room.
From £320 per night for an Eclectic Grand Suite
Or join the Great John Street Sunday school and book a room from £45 per night on a Sunday if you spend £75 on food and drink.
Details at eclectichotels.co.uk