Even after living in Manchester for over a decade, I still get excited about new places to stay and restaurants to eat in. There’s certainly no shortage of hotels here, but if you’re anything like me, you yearn for somewhere that offers more than just a room for the night. I found just that whilst staying at Whitworth Locke in Manchester’s Civic Quarter (right next to the gay village) and dining at the fabulous Peru Perdu.
Hotel rooms are all very well and good if you just need somewhere to sleep, shower and change, but what if you want to unwind, get ready for a night out, cook your friends’ breakfast or just spend some time away from people? Whichever apartment you stay in at Whitworth Locke, you’ll have the space – and the privacy – to do all those things and more. Each apartment is unique, with original features like exposed brick walls, a colour palette inspired by the Manchester skyline and a stylish, fully equipped kitchen.
Whitworth Locke’s 160 apartments range from 25sqm to an impressive 80sqm – far more space than you’d get in any boutique hotel room. They’ve been designed to feel a lot bigger, too – giving you all the space you need to stay the way you live. I was given the Whitworth Suite to enjoy for the evening, complete with a view of the canal below (and G.A.Y just down the road) cocktail kit, sofa, dining area and even the small touches such as robe and slippers, toiletries and smart TV with screen sharing.
The huge windows dominate the space, letting in lots of natural light and making you feel right in the centre of Manchester, the original features give you a real feel for the city and its industrial heritage. But while they’ve kept the old there’s plenty of the new, with USB ports a plenty, complimentary hairdryer and iron and an on-demand film service on the TV.
You’ll also have the run of the many communal areas, as you enter the building you are in the impressive glass atrium bar area which leads on to a number of comfy seating areas perfect for reading, working and meeting with friends. The building also has its own co-working space and workout studio so you really can get everything you need in one place, and I haven’t even mentioned the food yet!
Once suitably glammed up for dinner my companion and I enjoyed a drink in the bar as we took in the surroundings. Full of everyone from young couples with babies, middle aged men having a swift half after work and women ready for a night on the town, the space is relaxed, welcoming and a great atmosphere in which to unwind. The restaurant manager collected us and led us to the best table in the house, overlooking the whole restaurant and kitchen so we didn’t miss any of the action.
Peru Perdu is a vibrant (I’m talking bright pink walls, portraits of drag queens and gold accessories) all-day dining residency inspired by authentic Peruvian flavours. All around are plants, textlies, books and artwork inspired by Peru, most of which are made by local artists. It’s like nowhere else I’ve been in Manchester, warm, bright and buzzing with excitement as well as having a certain sense of class and charm, with an impressive wine and cocktail list and a menu that would not be out of place in any fine dining restaurant. I felt right at ease when we were given a glass of De Rochebouét Extra Brut whilst we browsed the menu and all staff were so helpful in describing menu items to us, mind you I didn’t need help with knowing what items were, I needed help choosing which to have! On the menu is some of the best of Uruguayan Wet Aged steak around, with a selection of cuts which are grilled to your exact liking. For the vegans and veggies, there’s a generous variety of plant-based plates, inspired by the peri-urban agriculture in Lima, and is designed using only the most seasonal of produce from local suppliers. But that’s not what I was here for today.
Now I thought the meal couldn’t get any better so I hadn’t really saved a lot of room for pudding. This turned out to be a stupid decision on my part as I now lay awake at night thinking what a waste of food it was to leave half of my Dulce de Léche Cheesecake. When I tell you it was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had I’m not exaggerating. I was already sold at Dulce de Léche but the cheesecake was soft and creamy, almost like whipped cream in texture, with a decadent biscuit base and a generous slather of the sweet caramelly goodness spread all over the plate. This to me was food heaven and I cannot wait to go back and have it again. Equally, my guest had the Treacle Tart and placed it within her top 5 desserts of all time, we were just so impressed. We washed them down with an expertly made frozen mojito, thanked the staff for a truly wonderful evening and sauntered off to bed.
I couldn’t decide between the Colchester Oysters and Ceviche so the team were kind enough to give me an oyster to try after I opted for the Tuna Ceviche with coconut, olive, chilli, coriander and plantain crisps. The oyster was just perfect in that moment, a fresh and tasty start to the meal but the Tuna was definitely the right choice. Such a delicious combination of flavours presented so beautifully it was a shame to eat it and spoil it. However after the first bit I pretty much wolfed down the whole thing without a second thought, leaving the plantain crisps until last to nibble away at whilst I sipped on a frozen pisco sour. My companion had crispy coconut shrimp with tamarind, fruit salsa and chili which she was wholly content with.
Although the selection of steaks and small plates were incredibly tempting, the smell of the grill, the freshness of the oyster and tuna made me opt for the Churrasco Seabass and a side of hand cut chips. Restaurant manager Rob did warn me that the dish is served as a whole fish, bones and all but that’s not a problem for me. As I once was a chef and am also the daughter of a keen fisherman, a whole fish poses no threat to me and if anything, it’s the best way to enjoy fish. It of course arrived beautifully cooked and piping hot and the chips were just so crunchy and soft and sensationally salty, I was so happy with my choice. That was until I looked over the table to see my friend forcing a forkful of her Green Papaya Salad in my mouth which I immediately wanted more of, she had paired this with the Sweet Yam Coconut Curry with Red Rice which was also absolutely delicious.
One thing I will say is that although the beds are huge and extremely comfortable, the lack of double glazing on the huge windows means that you hear a lot of the noise from outside, which means that when G.A.Y closed at 3.30am, we were awoken by the sounds of revellers dispersing noisily into the night. But the gays have had more than a tough time throughout the years, so I didn’t mind them having their fun!
Although the kitchen means you can cook your own breakfast if you wish, we instead headed down to Foundation Coffee House https://www.fdncoffee.com/ , serving breakfast and brunch dishes as well as every drink you could possibly want in order to start your day. I opted for poached eggs and bacon on sourdough with an iced Americano which was all wonderful.
Whitworth Locke is one of those places I didn’t know anything about prior to my arrival, but now it is a place I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone visiting the city. It has affordable rooms, cares about the community as well as local businesses and artists and above all, it’s just a lovely place to stay.
72 Princess Street