Today Manchester positively glows with civic pride. The city was synonymous with the final death throes of industrial decline, but was reborn in the aftermath of the 1996 IRA bomb. Urban regeneration became the byword of late Nineties Manchester and the success of the Commonwealth Games in 2002 sealed its renaissance as a modern industrial city.
The city that gave us the world's first professional football league, the first commercial computer and the first ever Marks and Spencer store is now all boutique hotels and stylish restaurants with the glass shard-design Beetham, now Hilton, Tower a symbol of the new, stylish face of Manchester.
This rebirth has been accompanied by a slew of smart new hotel openings that cater for all budgets. They make for superb urban-escape weekends and showcase the city's new status as the style capital of the North. The Piccadilly district is the main base for shoppers and diners, the funky Northern Quarter is growing as a centre for galleries and cafes, while Salford is developing fast as Manchester's, ahem, Left Bank.
The stereotypical images of those Coronation Street-style terraces are but a distant memory. The order by which the hotels are listed bears no reflection on our preference.
Manchester (Chapel Wharf)
Manchester's premier hotel - in chic Rocco Forte styling with good artworks and plushly comfortable contemporary rooms. Well located on the buzzy 'Left Bank'.
Chic school house conversion in the centre of town, no restaurant but funky bar and rooftop lounge. Popular with business visitors.
Manchester's grand old dame - recently refurbished, retaining a traditional feel, with sumptuous rooms, antiques, afternoon tea and the city's best fine dining.
Boho chic meets glitzy cosmopolitan in this downtown boutique, a 'decadently camp' conversion in an old textile mill. Lively and romantic.
Room types called Fabulous and Envious set the tone - highest rooms are best. Stylish, chic but decent value city centre chain attracting both business and visitors. Good food.