When you expect nothing but the best, think of The Malmaison group of hotels, a collection of centres of excellence, that has well established itself throughout Britain. As a concept alone this is exciting, but the reality is brilliant, so that at last there is a hotel group where uniformity of standards is of the same high calibre. In its time, it's been a dolls' hospital, a cotton spinners' warehouse and the Imperial Hotel.
The rooms are all that one would expect from a hotel that has genuine regard for its guests and is concerned with every aspect of their wellbeing. Stylishly decorated in red and black, there's an element of sexy sophistication with comfort levels consistently on the mark.
The brasserie is an elegant oasis, with crisp linen, spotless gleaming glassware and shining cutlery, while rich dark colours, flickering candles and intimate booth style seating accentuate the atmosphere. Lovers of seafood will be delighted to note at once that their particular needs are well heeded, starting with Port of Lancaster smoked salmon.
Head Chef Kevin Whiteford and his team use great local and seasonal produce that has been grown, harvested and reared to the finest ethical and traditional farming methods in their preparations. Tempting starters may include Goosnargh chicken liver parfait with red onion marmalade and toasted brioche; smoked ham hock with a potato and shallot salad or a refreshing salad of grilled winter vegetables.
An inspired choice is the corn-fed Goosnargh duck breast or a braised lamb shank for those seeking by this time a slightly more carnivorous approach. Which leads us neatly to the - wait for it - Mal burger, a 250 gram burger made from ground beef tucked into a floured bap to join bacon and gruyere, served with homemade relish and some fries.
Over the years the number of outriders surrounding a good honest steak has grown to unacceptable dimensions. At Malmaison the thought and care is centred on the dry-aged on the bone sirloin except for the chips. If you want all the rest go for the side dishes, but steak and chips on its own takes some beating. Vegetarians are well looked after - the pumpkin and gorgonzola filled gnocchi sounds appealing.
Heading the puddings is the sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce, a triumph of timing and co-ordination, supported by other choices amongst which expect to find a raspberry crème brûlée. Their homemade ice creams and sorbets are dreamy while the renowned cheese trolley has a selection of British and French farmhouse cheeses served with an assortment of biscuits and chutney.
A well travelled wine list is a symphony of its kind, clearly compiled by an enthusiast who knows his wines well enough not to disappear into a world of hyperbole when describing them.
is a wealth of information that will, I predict, only serve to increase your resolve to make Malmaison your next stop in Manchester. It is worth noting that you can also make reservations Online on their Website.