Heads on Beds: Staying Cool, Manchester

Fed up of hotels? Kate Simon checks out some serviced apartments with style
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The Independent Travel

When you work away from home on a regular basis, the confines of a hotel room can begin to pall.

No surprise then that serviced apartments are gaining a growing fan club. And business travellers visiting Manchester can check into some of the most stylish on offer with Staying Cool. The brainchild of Tracey Stephenson and her business partner Paul Taylor, their aim was to offer "more space and flexibility than a hotel room and more style and originality than your average serviced apartment". The expansion of their portfolio to 14 apartments (11 of which are up and running) in the space of less than two years would suggest that they have succeeded in finding a gap in the market. Each property has a riverside location in the heart of Manchester, putting visitors in easy reach of the city's main attractions, and every one has been given the boutique hotel touch, individually styled with top-quality fittings, funky colour schemes and modern design pieces from stellar names such as Arne Jacobsen and Tom Dixon. Ensuring that guests don't feel they're trading hotel-standard services for the privacy and flexibility of apartment living, free toiletries, bath robes, hairdryers and irons are all supplied.

Track it down

Staying Cool (0161-832 4060; www.stayingcool.com) has properties in Castlefield and the Cathedral Quarter. Two new additions opened this month on the 28th and 30th floors of the Beetham Tower, and two more are due to be unveiled in Hill Quays. A taxi from the airport will take about 20 minutes to all of them in good traffic and cost about £15.

Check-in check

Some of the buildings have receptions, where you can pick up the keys to your apartment. Otherwise they can be sent to you ahead of your stay or a member of the team will meet you at the property.

Room to manoeuvre

Most apartments sleep two, with sofa beds offering a little extra space in three locations. The exceptions are Castlefield 2, which has three bedrooms, and one of the new Hill Quays properties will have two bedrooms. The Staying Cool team are up front about which apartments are bijou and which offer most space, so it's worth consulting them about your preference when booking. Where space is tight, the most has been made of every inch of square footage, so a dividing wall may double up as a wardrobe, and a bath may be lost to accommodate a large power shower; it's this attention to detail that makes these apartments stand out from the crowd. Plus all benefit from the space-making illusion of great views, not least the studios in the Beetham Tower.

Get connected

There's free wi-fi for your own computer, and an Apple Mac provided with wi-fi, TV, DVD, radio and ITunes. Sky will soon be available on all TVs.

Fitness regime

A day pass to the GL14 gym off the Oxford Road can be purchased for £10.

Raid the minibar

Each apartment has a fitted kitchen for preparing your own food. An espresso machine with Illy coffee and organic milk, abundant oranges for the juicer, hot chocolate and a selection of Twinings tea are provided. A Home Movie Treats selection including Haagen-Dazs ice-cream, a box of Maltesers and bag of popcorn can also be provided for £12. Champagne, to celebrate sealing that deal, can be put on ice for £34. All apartments have room service or restaurant delivery from 6pm.

Breakfast news

If the coffee and orange juice don't satisfy your appetite, you can order a Full English Breakfast Box for two for £29, including bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, bread, butter and orange juice, all organic when available. Regular corporate visitors can request complimentary breakfast fare.

Rack rates

From £115 to £180 per night, no minimum stay conditions.