First Images: The Artful New LEVEN Hotel, Manchester

The last time we were in Manchester was in summer of 2019, to scope out the considerable changes that had reshaped the once not so beloved City Center over the previous decade or so, including the transformation of former Victorian era factories in the new Ancoats, now considered one of the hippest neighborhoods in the universe. Of course, a global pandemic took place in the interim, with no industry taking a harder hit than hospitality.

But as we eek our way towards some new sense of normalness, it’s especially encouraging to see cool new independent boutique hotels once again opening in our fave UK and European cities. And one that is especially intriguing is the LEVEN Manchester, the first in a series for the newly launched and artistically inclined brand (we’re not sure of the exact origin of the name, except to say we know it was also the name of the Scottish castle which housed Mary Queen of Scots leading up to her execution).

Located in the city’s Gay Village, near to Canal Street and Sackville Garden (where Alan Turing is memorialized), it’s housed in a landmarked early 20th Century Victorian warehouse. Nodding to industry trends, it’s got co-living, co-working and retail space, in addition to 42 particularly stylish hotel rooms.

The entrance itself is quite dramatic, through the original two-story loading dock. And its architectural history means that guests are greeted inside with exposed brick, vaulted ceilings and cast iron columns – all things we very much appreciate in an otherwise contemporary boutique hotel. We also love a lobby that feels like a living room, and in the LEVEN it is characterized by a brass top bar, leather armchairs, and green velvet sofas – inviting long hours of just hanging about and decisively de-stressing. Cocktails are served in the lobby lounge all evening to a musical backdrop conjured by a series of local guest DJs.

Rooms and suites are all individually designed – a nice touch in an increasingly corporatized and homogenized age – with parquet and timber floors, brick walls, and stand alone bathtubs. Some have wet bar style full kitchens, others have romantic canal views…and for a genuine splurge one can book the “Living The Dream” two-bedroom duplex penthouse suite.

But there’s even more to come here, most intriguingly a planned series of nine Ruslan Faraev Institute of Art exhibitions (including Great To Meet You: Documenting Exchange In Manchester, Narratives of Self Destruction by Rodrigo Blanc, and the provocatively titled Is There a Difference Between an Artist and a Curator?), but also a 4000 square foot restaurant and a subterranean nightspot, the latter two opening sometime after the new year. So yes, expect the LEVEN to be one of Manchester‘s great new social galvanizers, in a City Center that is newly abuzz and increasingly international. Oh, and if you hadn’t heard it already, the music scene here is totally aces.

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