It was raining when we arrived in Manchester. As it so often is, writes Guardian reporter Hayley Gallimore.
But just a short hop from Piccadilly train station was our scorchingly stylish stop-over destination – Malmaison hotel.
In the lobby, decked out with glossy black tiles, red velvet furnishings and chic glass panels, it felt like stepping into another world. We could have been in Tokyo, Paris or New York.
And as the friendly reception staff checked us in, I spotted a well-known (and very glamourous) television personality at the next desk, confirming Malmaison as Manchester’s most prestigious boutique hideaway.
Our room – a corner suite with panoramic views of the city – was a swanky sanctuary fit for guests with star status.
A lounge area with leather sofas, huge plasma TV, iPod dock and decorated with pop-art pictures of vintage Bond girls led into the spacious bedroom.
Dropping my bags and bouncing onto the vast king size bed I began to think I could get used to this kind of luxury.
That was before I saw the en-suite bathroom. Nearly as big as the bedroom it was tiled with black slate slabs and featured a big bath, walk-in monsoon shower and an incredible set of complimentary toiletries.
As tempting as it was to stay in and lap up the comfort of our room, the bright lights and vibrant nightlife of Manchester was calling us…
Malmaison’s own restaurant, Smoak Bar & Grill, boasts a menu of sublime steaks, the awesome MalBurger, locally inspired blackboard specials and a mouthwatering wine list.
And if it’s cocktails you’re partial to, look no further than MALBAR in the Ember Lounge where a famous list of classic and quirky cocktails are expertly mixed.
At night, MALBAR comes alive, with Malmaison’s gorgeous guests mingling with Manchester’s finest to create an atmosphere like no other.
Our evening escapades took us deep into the city for east Asian street food at contemporary restaurant Tampopo in Albert Square.
After that we danced our feet off at legendary basement club Tiger Lounge to swing, jive, 60s beats and good old rock ‘n’ roll.
That’s where the sprawling luxury of our hotel room really came into its own.
A restful night’s sleep ensued between crisp cotton sheets and a scattering of cushions. And we were able to sleep solidly in the knowledge that we needn’t hand our keys in until 3pm.
That is the great thing about Saturday night stays at Malmaison. If you book in for the new brunch experience, Mal on Sunday, you can benefit from late check-out.
Our brunch table was booked for 1pm and we were seriously hungry. But nothing could have prepared us for the three course feast that lay ahead.
Fuzzy heads were cleared by bottomless tea, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice before we headed over to ‘the chef’s table’ to select our first course.
It was, in fact, a deli counter dripping with every delicacy imaginable. Croissants, waffles, fresh fruits, cured meats and cheeses, roasted vegetables, a selection of salads, and even a whole smoked salmon and mackerel.
Foolishly ravenous, we filled our plates and stuffed our faces with the good stuff.
But then we had to choose our main courses. Our lovely waitress looked at us in pity, knowing we had probably overdone it too early.
So she gave us plenty of time to digest before bringing out the second round.
My Mexican inspired ‘huevos rancheros’ was served in a small frying pan that had been baked in the oven. It consisted of pancetta, black pudding, peas, spicy tomato sauce and two eggs on top.
My other half was in a meaty mood and plumped for ‘steak frites’ – a succulent 200g rump steak accompanied by crispy fries.
It was good. Really good. And having made it so far, it would have been rude not to complete the trilogy of courses on offer.
Our desserts were crème brulee (for me) and fruity sorbet (for him).
Stick a fork in us, we were done.
We trudged back up the road to the station feeling full, rested and properly pampered.
Stays at Malmaison Manchester range from £99 to £309 per night. Late checkout, including Sunday brunch is an extra £40. Mal on Sunday brunch costs £19.95 on its own. See www.malmaison.com for more information.
• To be in with a chance of winning a Saturday night’s stay for two, including Mal on Sunday brunch, at Malmaison Manchester, simply answer this question:
Q) What is the name of Malmaison’s Sunday brunch experience?
Send your answer to Malmaison Competition, Worksop Guardian, 21-27 Ryton Street, Worksop, Notts, S80 2AY or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Entries must arrive by 12 noon on Friday 28th June 2013. Normal Worksop Guardian competition rules apply. Prize is subject to availability and early booking is advised.