Innside is a hotel where standards are so high it even has to smell right. Maria McGeoghan talks to manager Adam Munday.
As the manager of one of Manchester’s newest and trendiest hotels, Adam Munday is a perfectionist. During a tour of the 208 room Innside in the city’s First Street development, he directs a plant expert to help some fading specimens, takes a picture on his phone of a slightly trailing TV wire for the engineer - “that looks untidy” - and picks a tiny speck of dust from a crisp white pillow while still telling me about the hotel.
Opening last year Innside, owned by high end Spanish hotel group Melia, has already attracted its fair share of celebs including Beyonce, Danny Boyle, Robbie Coltrane, Michelle Keegan and the whole Tory cabinet, who held a cocktail party there during their last conference.
Father of two Adam has been in the hotel business since he was 16 when an injury cut short a promising football career. “I still think about that most days,” he says, looking slightly wistful. “But I’m passionate about hotels.
“Melia are a global brand and such a good company to work for. I love being here in Manchester.”
Innside is the only one of its kind in the UK - and from the off they set out to do things a little differently. For a start it’s very, very smart, even though the staff are relaxed in jeans and trainers.
A vast marble lobby and reception area leads on to a restaurant and bar with great views of the First Street Square and HOME - Manchester’s new centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film. Sophisticated lighting transforms the atmosphere from day to night making it feel very different.
“We concentrate a lot on lighting,” says Adam. “I love seeing guests’ faces when they come back to us after a day out and see the way we look in the evening. It feels like a different place.”
The bedrooms are cool and contemporary with some completely open plan so there is no divide between the bedroom and bathroom. Larger suites, which include a lounge, are proving particularly popular with weekend visitors. “I could sell them over and over again,” says Adam.
There is a floor of conference space and a brightly coloured creative room that can be rented out to anyone from business start-ups holding brainstorming sessions to companies holding team-building events.
“This works really well for us and it’s unusual to find a space like this in a hotel,” says Adam. And the whole place smells lovely. “We work hard on getting the fragrance right. Every hotel is different and our fragrance is based on sandalwood.” There’s even a DJ at breakfast and guests can tweet him on their way down to get a request played while they tuck in.
“Some people like it, others might not but it’s getting us talked about. Let’s face it - hotel breakfasts are usually boring.
“And little surprises like ordering a coffee that comes with your own little pile of Smarties just make you smile.
Unusual for a city centre hotel, the lunchtime buffet of 15 different salads is mainly aimed at city office workers looking for something to take back to their desks. “We do a lot of lunchtime business,” says Adam. “It’s a great way of getting people to know the hotel.”
So what’s the secret of running a good hotel? After extensive research Adam has got it down to five key things that need to be right.
And Innside believes in ‘bleasure’ blurring the lines between business and pleasure. “We love giving our guests an umbrella and a map and saying ‘go out and see the city,’” says Adam. “If someone wants to find a really good independent coffee shop or restaurant we’ve got no problem directing them to a great one rather than staying in the hotel.“
With 65 staff and a further 25 roles outsourced, plans are also in place to train the cleaning team in English so they can chat to the guests and enhance their experience. Business is ‘good’ and plans are now in place to open an Innside in Birmingham and Glasgow.
Adam’s career has spanned everything from playing football with kids every summer when he was a holiday rep to working at the Holiday Inn in Runcorn which boasts the biggest banqueting suite outside London. So he knows a good hotel when he sees one. And the best? He names two. The Four Seasons at Canary Wharf and the Gran Melia in Tenerife, where staff offer to polish your sunglasses when you’re sunbathing. Did he take them up on their offer? “Of course I did,” he says with a grin. “Now that’s what I call great service.”
But Manchester excites him. “It”s a city that continues to reinvent itself,” says Adam. “There are 27 hotels in the pipeline in the next three years and occupancy in the city stands at around 80%.“ He acknowledges that Brexit is a concern for all hoteliers and his mainly Spanish staff were shocked by the referendum result with some thinking that they would have to go home immediately.
“It was a tough day,“ says Adam. “One of my toughest in this business. I got them all together and told them that their jobs were safe.” He is now seeing a peak in visitors from Europe who think they have to visit the UK before the borders go up.
“I live and breathe hotels,” says Adam. “I’ve got a passion for creating a great guest experience. My mission is to get even more people inside Innside.”