True luxury: Why the Alan Hotel Manchester rewrites the hotel brand rulebook

Newly opened in Manchester, The Alan Hotel is the place to stay if architecture and design is your jam. 

Situated opposite the Manchester Art Gallery, in the heart of the city, it’s just a short walk from Chinatown and the central shopping district. A six-storey building, it offers 137 bedrooms, ground floor cafe and bar, plus a pop-up multipurpose area. Architectural design is by Red Deer. 

We want to challenge conventions, says Red Deer lead designer, Ciarán O’Brien: “The hotel industry is saturated with ‘brand guidelines’ – many of which are over the top or antiquated. True luxury to our generation is space and quiet and considered pieces that inspire or make someone smile. We believe the hotel brand book needs to be rewritten to incorporate courage to do things  differently, in a world where we’ve all seen everything before.”

Reflecting this philosophy, the building’s cotton warehouse origins are a cause for celebration, its historic brickwork and pitted stonework exposed; the original plasterboard and lowered ceilings have all been removed, something of a signature move on all Red Deer projects. 

The ‘living’ functions of the guest rooms have also been accentuated through the use of a long terrazzo shelf, made by Robin Grasby. Mika Kaski has supplied light fittings for the Ground Floor public areas and the swivel and alabaster lights for the bedrooms.

“True luxury to our generation is space and quiet and considered pieces that inspire or make someone smile.”

“Art always inspires me in every project I take on,” says O’Brien. “I seek to make usable art pieces that are interacted with and help people rethink their relationship with the spaces around them.”

As many original materials have been reused as possible. The ground floor terrazzo collage comprises fragmented and discarded marble pieces, crafted in collaboration with Int. Marble.

“I had always been acutely aware of how wasteful the construction industry is,” says O’Brien, “and decided to celebrate the inherent value still found in these marble pieces, despite typically being considered as offcuts or ‘defective’. When viewed  individually they seem to be useless fragments, but make sense in the space when they flow together as one. Subtly this refers to how we’re all made up of a collage of our personal stories, some good, some bad  but all have a part in who we are.” 

To book your stay at The Alan click here, prices start at £94 a night. Photography by Adam Firman.

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