Whitworth Locke, Manchester
Will Ross, July 18, 2021
Nearly two centuries since the rise of the UK’s first industrial city, Manchester provides a gateway for a variety of contrasting edges. Traversing the city means crossing the lines of a footballing rivalry, through late-night revelry and cultural landmarks deserving of national recognition. Clear skies reveal the Peak District, a green wedge just 10 miles to the East / South-East. Most recently, Manchester’s hospitality offering has been bolstered by the opening of Whitworth Locke, an impressive residency hotel that is ideally suited to athletic travellers visiting Cottonpolis.
Located a 10-minute walk from central Manchester Piccadilly station, Whitworth Locke occupies a building adjacent on the waterway after which it takes its name. The hotel is part of Locke Hotels who also have serviced apartments are also live in Edinburgh, Munich and London. Conceptually, the hotel is designed to accommodate both weekend visitors and long stays from business travellers.
Hints of affordable luxury are obvious as soon as you enter Whitworth Locke, with dense furnishings and calming colours spread throughout a sky-lit reception and co-working space. A long bar and table section are empty when I arrive on a roasting July day, most industrious guests and locals were further back in the building in a low-slung co-working lounge.
Locke’s emphasis on liveability is matched with a full kitchen inventory. A Smeg fridge beams brand new from one corner of the kitchenette, with crockery, twin thermal hobs and a spacious, stainless steel Adobe sink completing catering options. An open closet provides plenty of hanging space, watching over a king-sized bed to absorb all the chaos of a city stay.
Bathroom products provide further confidence in Locke and their restoration. Kinsey Apothecary occupy real estate in the bathtub, also the home to an uncompromising shower unit. Himalayan Hibiscus Body Cleanser were paired with Salted Caramel Vanilla “Hair Cleanser” and Conditioner.
Looking for more than a good soak? The Whitworth Locke has taken an advanced approach to in-room wellness services. Guests can order treatments to their rooms via Urban Massage, an app which lists a range of services including facial and massage. Unfortunately only a limited number of services were available in Manchester during my stay – be sure to book to schedule in advance.
Other hotel facilities track a more familiar course. A Mexican restaurant occupies one corner of the entrance area, while a coffee shop holding up another portion of the building. On the first night of my stay, the restaurant generously offering of 150 free margeritas to both guests and members of the public, a nod to National Tequila Day (July 24th). Offerings from Foundation Coffee House are more wholesome and available from 7am.
The Northern Quarter expresses Manchester’s hospitality scene best. Enjoy pizza at Rudy’s, an oven-baked pizza restaurant that has risen to acclaim in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. For finer dining and fresh produce, check into Erst. Other coffee options in the Northern Quarter are
Cycling brand Rapha also have a cafe in north-east of the downtown area, also where group bike rides set out from. Patagonia have a venue nearby (Google Maps) – worth researching for evening events and activities into the Peak District. 12 miles due south of Manchester in Wilmslow is The Service Course, serving up simple bites and coffee as well as guided rides throughout the week (rentals too).
Signposting the future of hospitality and hotel design, the gym at the Whitworth Locke is outstanding when compared with similar facilities, even at the likes of the Ace and Hoxton. Instead of being an afterthought, their basement gym occupies the space of half a tennis court, with dumbbells up to 30kg and barbells to match.
Setting out from Whitworth Locke, runners can either cut along the lock or head directly onto Bridgewater Way and head West along that canal. Alternatively, tuck into another out-and-back by tracing the route of the Great Manchester Run (10km). A running track can be found at Manchester Regional Arena, two miles east of the hotel and open to the public on a drop-in basis – a 400m athletics track is paired with a 200m banked indoor running track. Lacking motivation? Get ready for Barry’s and book in a session at the studio on Lower Byrom Street.
Cyclists should head to Rapha to find out about local bike rides, or else book indoor studio cycling is offered at Hero Training Clubs (use credits on a pay-as-you-go basis to access classes, found on the “JOIN NOW” page).
Swimming lanes are one mile away – Manchester Aquatics Centre is the best pool in town – built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games with 50m and 25m options.
For more details and booking, visit lockeliving.com. I stayed during the heatwave of July 2019, occupying Room 403.