The closest I’ve felt to being in the US since before the pandemic is on the not-so-mean streets of one of the North’s friendliest cities, Manchester.
Statuesque, Gothic-looking buildings tower above pedestrians, red-brick former factories and warehouses are now swanky loft apartments for downtown living, and while the canal, which runs through the centre might not quite double for New York’s Hudson river, the bars and cafés that line it have a suitably metropolitan feel.
The city has a habit of sprucing up its old, heritage architecture and transforming it into something new and hip. One such success story has been Hotel Gotham, a former bank designed by renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1928.
Recently, its sister property, Hotel Brooklyn, opened just a five-minute walk away, on Portland Street but where Gotham restored and enhanced its Art Deco features, Brooklyn was built from the ground up (on the site of a car park).
A slick, steel-and-glass skyscraper Bruce Wayne would be happy in, it houses 189 rooms over nine floors.
I like the nods to one of New York’s most fashionable boroughs.
Some of the rooms, including mine, are named after streets in Brooklyn, which in turn are named after past residents (such ferry engineer Robert Fulton, who linked Brooklyn and Manhattan).
The ground-floor restaurant is called Runyon’s, after a famous New York writer, Damon Runyon, whose stories inspired the musical Guys And Dolls.
The staff uniforms – think waistcoats, spats and trilbies – are a nod to the 1920s era he wrote about.
In the lobby, other design details include exposed silver pipework, deep blue and dusky pink velvet chairs, a record player and cushions imprinted with Manchester’s symbol, the bee.
It feels entirely modern but with just a hint of harking back to the past.
USP: It’s not often a hotel pays more than lip service to accessibility but Brooklyn has put its money where its mouth is.
Before the hotel was even built, the architects designed 18 so-called ‘Liberty’ rooms, which are adapted with well-thought-out touches such as fridges with transparent doors, or low sinks in the bathroom.
Elsewhere throughout the hotel are incorporated important details such as ramps, rails and raised buttons in the lifts.
Who goes there? Couples wanting a fun, stylish weekend away, forward-thinking business travellers who don’t want to stare at four beige, corporate walls in their room after meetings, or football players and their staff during the season.
Venture out: The bright lights of Canal Street are almost literally on the doorstep with a profusion of bars and clubs to choose from.
Not far in the opposite direction is Chinatown, and the buzzy Northern Quarter is a 15-minute walk. If you’re into vintage boutiques and record stores, this is the place for you.
I also spent what seemed (to my boyfriend) like hours in Afflecks (formerly Affleck’s Palace), four storeys of stalls offering anything from tarot readings and piercings to retro posters, Star Wars figures and clothing.
Rooms from £139pn, hotelbrooklyn.co.uk
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