The Midland Hotel is an iconic, red-bricked building in the heart of Manchester. Doormen in top hats and tails have opened the doors to royalty, political leaders, sportsmen and rock stars over the years. The historic hotel is home to Rena Spa at the Midland, two critically acclaimed restaurants and the award-winning Tea Room.
Take the lifts at the back of the lobby to the spa on the lower ground level - or enter the side entrance from Mount Street and sweep down the elegant spiral staircase admiring the original ornate tile en route. The hustle and bustle of the hotel gives way to a stylish spa which shimmers in tones of teal, dark wood and grey.
We were warmly greeted in the spa’s Art Deco reception area and invited to take a seat on a soft sofa to complete our consultation form.
Spa hosts handed us a white robe, a grey towel and spa slippers before guiding us through to the well-equipped changing rooms which have high ceilings with original cornices, bench seating and rows of dark-wood lockers. There are two vanity stations in the centre of the room with hairdryers and straighteners; three showers with Germaine De Capuccini amenities; two loos; and two private changing cubicles. The changing area feels surprisingly spacious for an urban spa.
The wet facilities are just across the corridor from the changing area. Begin with a dip in the nine-metre, L-shaped pool, using the powerful swan neck fountain afterwards, or climb into the bubbly Jacuzzi in the corner with seating for half a dozen people.
The salt-infused aromatherapy steam room and the Himalayan salt sauna both seat four people; cool off under the experience shower afterwards. There’s also a white sink with cups beside it to help you stay hydrated.
The centrepiece of Rena Spa at The Midland is the relaxation room. The large space is dimly lit and well separated from other guests. There are four hanging pods in the middle of the room, trendy egg chairs and traditional armchairs, too. Two seating areas can be completely closed off from the rest of the relaxation room, with three beds covered in duvets and pillows, each with individual reading lights. Help yourself to water and herbal teas.
Feeling energised? Use the spa’s well-equipped gym located next to reception.
We tried the Isgha back massage (25 minutes, £50) and a foot recovery treatment (25 minutes, £50).
My therapist, Valeria, met me in reception and led me to a spacious treatment room with high ceilings, dark wood counters and turquoise accents. She asked me to take a seat and handed me two cotton pads doused with Ishga oils and asked me to choose my favourite. I was drawn to ‘energising’ with its citrus notes of lemongrass, rose geranium and jojoba.
Valeria then left the room so that I disrobe and get comfortable on the warm treatment bed, lying face down. Three deep inhalations of my fragrance of choice led into a massage, Valeria applying the oil upwards along my spine to my neck, shoulders and lower back. Sensing tension in my shoulders, she returned to this area and used her forearms and knuckles to work the knots out.
For the foot recovery treatment, Valeria asked me to turn over, and placed a warm towel over my eyes and bolsters under my knees. Valeria then uncovered both legs, reached for an Ishga Hebridean Sea Salt Scrub and worked it vigorously into my lower legs and feet. Although the sea salt scrub is coarse it felt comfortable underfoot.
Scrub removed, Valeria applied a cool Algae wrap to my left leg; while this did its thing, she massaged my right leg and foot, bending the knee allowing her to work the tension out of my calves. This she repeated on the other side before leaving the room to fetch me a glass of lemon-infused water.
Rena Spa at The Midland has recently launched a selection of Ishga treatments, as well as Germaine de Capuccini facials, massages, and body treatments such as scrubs and wraps. Try the Rasul, express 25-minute treatments or more holistic options such as reflexology.
My legs felt lighter and my knotty shoulders much softer.
Spa guests must change and head to the Tea Room for afternoon. Manchester’s only dedicated afternoon tea venue, and the height of the city’s social scene since the hotel opened in 1903, the Tea Room at The Midland is as iconic as it is stately with its high ceilings and large windows offering city views.
Seated at a table by the window, we were served a Royal Afternoon Tea which began with selecting a tea from the extensive menu. We opted for the appropriately-named Midland 1903 with its blend of Darjeeling and Ceylon leaves.
Next decision: strawberry or raspberry jam or lemon curd for the scones (strawberry please). Our three-tier stand arrived soon after with sandwiches at the top, spectacular sweet treats in the middle and homemade scones on the bottom. When asked if we would like to accompany this with a glass of Bouché Champagne, it felt rude not to.
Make the most of the city centre location its shopping, culture and buzzing bar scene before returning to the hotel for cocktails and dinner at the Mount Street Dining Room and Bar.
Book one (or two) of the new Ishga express treatments.
9th February 2024
Soft fluffy robes, imaginative vegetarian food, products that combine luxury with strong eco credentials and spas which look after their therapists’ wellbeing too.
Showers that aren't spotless, snootiness and having to get dressed for lunch.
Behind the scenes