Principal — Manchester, UK

Principal — Manchester, UK

A new hotel group Principal has just launched across the United Kingdom. Owned by the Starwood Capital Group – a private investment firm whose chairman and CEO Barry Sternlicht founded the Starwood hotel group – the collection of city hotels is distinguished by storied buildings in flawless locations – for now, a row of Georgian townhouses along Edinburgh’s George Street, a sprawling manse in York, and the former HQ of The Refuge Assurance Company in Manchester. A sophomore batch is due to launch within the next two years in Glasgow, London and Liverpool.

The Principal Manchester was, until Starwood’s acquisition, the Palace Hotel, a Manchester landmark whose 66m high clock tower literally looms over the city. Designed by Alfred and Paul Waterhouse and Stanley Birkett between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Grade II-listed building eventually became home to the Palace Hotel after The Refuge shuttered its business.

And now, following a thoroughly modern overhaul, that reportedly cost £25m, by local firm 3D Reid and London-based Michaelis Boyd, the 271-room hotel impresses for its creamy interiors of dimpled headboards, voluminous drapes, a gloriously restored glass domed atrium, and grand spaces chiseled with acres of marble, stone and granite.

There are visual distractions aplenty, not the least of which are the building’s original mouldings, partitions, and stained glass windows, and the 600kg, 3m high bronze horse station by Sophie Dickens in the lobby.

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