I can’t be the only one who, when young, loved nothing more than sitting on the front seat on the upper deck of a double decker bus – looking out over everything below and pretending to be the driver.
It’s something I still enjoy despite being considerably older, which is why I’m intrigued by the opening of Manchester’s first “double decker” hotel.
The Lume offers guests the choice of a hotel on the first 12 floors or luxury suites on the upper seven, and the dual-branded, 19-storey development proves my childhood theory that upstairs is best, if only for the views from the 18th floor terrace.
The Crowne Plaza hotel features 212 guest rooms, a restaurant, bar, club lounge and 24-hour gym (should a workout beckon at 2am). The Staybridge Suites, meanwhile, offer a mix of 116 modern studio and one-bedroom suites featuring fully-equipped kitchens and panoramic views.
To get the full double-decker experience, we booked one night in each.
Opened in September last year, the hotel development forms part of the University of Manchester’s “campus masterplan” and was named to reflect the building’s light filled interior. And what a building it is. Impossible to miss due to the sheer height, The Lume stands tall just off Oxford Road, and is easily accessible to visitors whether you’ve driven or arrived by train, as we did on a weekend trip from Glasgow.
Our standard double room in the Crowne Plaza is a contemporary, businesslike offering with a blue, neutral colour scheme, king bed, statement padded headboard and modern en suite complete with Temple Spa toiletries.
Our suite was a more luxurious affair, with its spacious bedroom, kitchen and living area all decorated in similar colours to the Crowne Plaza but with decadent gold touches and modern patterns.
Although the Graduate bar offers a brilliant selection of cocktails, Manchester is calling so we take to the streets to see what the city had to offer.
There are a lot of exciting attractions on the hotel’s doorstep, including Hatch – an award-winning pop-up space for shops, food and drink, which has recently doubled in size due to its popularity.
After a wander around, we walk to the Northern Quarter, and the Whitworth and Manchester art galleries, with a caffeine stop at Takk, a Scandinavia-inspired coffee house.
After some retail therapy on Market Street, we set off in search of some of the city’s famous street art.
Much like Glasgow, Manchester is home to some impressive street murals which have been created to showcase iconic Manchester personalities, style and history.
The most poignant is the large bee mural, commissioned by the local paper, the Manchester Evening News.
Emblazoned on a wall in the Northern Quarter, it features a honey heart being swarmed over by 22 worker bees, each one representing a victim of the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.
With The Book Of Mormon – at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until August 10 – booked for the next night, dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, The Laureate, beckons.
Serving seasonal produce described as “home-cooked world cuisine” from executive chef Nathaniel Farrell, the restaurant has been making waves on the foodie scene in the city.
Serving everything from home-cooked pizza and flatbread to Asian-inspired dishes, there’s something for all occasions.
We tuck into Szechuan pork belly with crab wonton, kimchi, crackling and coriander oil and wild mushroom dumplings followed by a 28-day matured Australian grass-fed beef ribeye.
For dessert, the pudding cocktails catch my eye. Doing exactly what they say on the tin, these sweet alcoholic treats are a great way to end the evening.
Offering a range of accommodation for all types of stays, The Lume is also close to transport routes, making it an easy choice for a weekend city break.
I’ll definitely be back for one or two of those pudding cocktails.
Manchester is credited with inventing vegetarianism thanks to the inappropriately named Reverend William Cowherd, who he preached the moral virtues of a vegetarian diet in a tiny Salford chapel.
A double room in the Crowne Plaza starts from £109 for room only, and a one bedroom Staybridge Suite is from £119 including breakfast. thelumemanchester.com