Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville have done a sterling job transforming Manchester's stock exchange into a luxurious hotel of the same name, and Tom Kerridge has ventured up north to take the helm of their new restaurant. Janet Harmer visits the newly opened property to discover why the owners are banking on it being a success
From the moment Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs sat down in the Coach pub in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, they knew they had found the perfect restaurant partner for their new Manchester hotel.
Working their way through the menu of chef Tom Kerridge's one-Michelin-starred pub simply confirmed their initial impressions. What dishes did they most enjoy? "Pretty much everything," replies Giggs. "But I particularly remember the chicken Kiev and the burger – and the mushroom risotto was a standout dish."
The ethos and menu at the Coach has provided the inspiration for the Bull & Bear, the restaurant that forms the beating heart of Stock Exchange, the impressive new boutique hotel which has just taken Manchester by storm Launched in the Grade II-listed property, which originally opened as the Manchester Stock Exchange in 1906, the 40-bedroom hotel has introduced a new level of quality and attention to detail not previously seen in the city centre.
Neville and Giggs, together with co-investor Winston Zahra, own the hotel through Finestday. Zahra, who joined the two former Manchester United football stars in early 2018, is also chief executive of GG Hospitality, the management company which launched its first hotel, Hotel Football, in 2015.
Stock Exchange is a different beast from Hotel Football. The original hotel – located opposed Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium – is a new-build property themed around the beautiful game, providing a solid, mid-market experience. By contrast, Stock Exchange offers the highest levels of luxury within a carefully considered and re-imagined interior which combines the classic and the contemporary with subtlety and style.
The opening of the hotel, costing nearly £20m, has been a long time coming. Neville and Giggs bought the property in 2014 and since then its plans have altered several times. At one time it was going to incorporate a private members' club, a rooftop bar with a DJ and a mix of different food and beverage outlets. Leeds-based, Michelin-starred chef Michael O'Hare also came and went.
It was during this time that media attention became focused on a homeless activist group that occupied the empty property. Showing their philanthropic side, Neville and Giggs had no qualms about letting the squatters remain throughout the winter of 2015-16.
The development eventually started to move forward with gusto once Zahra came on board. He swiftly appointed Istanbul-based Autoban to oversee the interior design of what is its first UK hotel project. The company had previously worked on the Emperor hotel in Hong Kong, Joali hotel in the Maldives and Galata Istanbul – Mgallery By Sofitel.
"I had not used Autoban before, but I was aware of its reputation," says Zahra. "We were immediately impressed by the speed and quality of its work. I met with its key people in Malta on Friday and by Monday they were in Manchester. Within 10 days they had come up with a design, and sample rooms after three weeks. It was not perfect first time, but overall they blew us away. Their brief had been to respect the heritage of the building – and this they did faultlessly."
Original features – marble floors and pillars, stained glass, woodwork panelling and a vault door within one of the suites – have been preserved, while bespoke furniture in restful colours adds modernity, ensuring this is no pastiche. Photographs of the property's exterior from the early 20th century line the corridors and artwork of the interior workings of the early days of the Stock Exchange in the bedrooms beautifully link the past with the present.
With Autoban overseeing the design, the furniture being built in Turkey and assembly taking place in Manchester, the development work proved to be efficient and streamlined.
"The design is very aspirational," says Giggs, who with Neville has been involved in the creation of the hotel every step of the way. "We wanted it to be elegant and warm, somewhere we would feel comfortable. It was important to create something five-star guests would expect."
The starting rate of £200 across 19 rooms compares with the average hotel room rate in Manchester for a five-star hotel of just under £190.
At the other end of the spectrum are the signature Nineteen ‘O' Six and Boardroom suites, measuring 1,070 sq ft (£480) and 1,700 sq ft (£1,000) respectively. And located within the additional storey, which has been added to the Portland stone building, is the House, a 3,500 sq ft foot penthouse with three bedrooms and a fitness room which, it is hoped, will be let out as a serviced apartment on short- or long-term lets. So far, it has only been booked for one-night stays at a rate of £1,750 per night.
International footballers and business people are expected to be the target market. While the look of the hotel was coming together, a decision was still to be made about the food and beverage concept once the owners had parted ways with O'Hare. Neville became the first customer through the door at Kerridge's Bar & Grill when it launched at the Corinthia Hotel London in September 2018, and he was instantly won over by Kerridge's food and wanted to bring him on board.
Kerridge, however, was initially uncertain about getting involved, having no intention of joining another major restaurant project so soon after the Corinthia. "But I'm always happy to have a conversation," says Kerridge. "I was invited to Manchester and once I walked through the doors of what was then a building site, I was blown away by the incredible space. It is an amazing building with a real heart and soul. This combined with it being in Manchester, which is a fantastically vibrant city with a wonderful energy and bubbling food scene, I knew I had to come here."
The addition of a Manchester restaurant to Kerridge's expanding portfolio (the Hand & Flowers with two Michelin stars, the Coach with one Michelin star and the Butcher's Tap in Marlow; Kerridge's Bar & Grill in London; and events business Lush Hospitality) works on a personal level. Alongside his in-laws living in Stoke-on-Trent, which provides a stop-off point for his journey north, he is also a lifelong Manchester United fan.
"I travelled to Manchester for the victory parade on Deansgate, the day after the team won the treble in 1999. Twenty years on, I would have been foolish not to get involved in such an exciting project," he says.
Once Kerridge was on board, details of the concept were tied down at the previously mentioned meal at the Coach, with the pub informing the menu (see panel) and, in one specific respect, also influencing the positioning of television screens – seven in total – around Bull & Bear.
The restaurant is situated in the grand vaulted space that once operated as the trading hall of the Manchester Stock Exchange, an with its marble tables and green leather banquettes, it is sumptuous in every sense – making the screens somewhat unexpected. Zahra says they will monitor the reaction of guests to the screens and adds that they can be hidden away behind curtains if necessary. Generally, they will feature rolling news throughout the day and major sporting events in the evenings, with the volume turned down. Undeniably, they will add to the buzz of what is expected to be an exceptionally busy restaurant.
From the outset it has been important to Zahra to form a partnership with a global sales and marketing consortium to spread the news of Stock Exchange far and wide. Relais & Châteaux was the number one choice and, four months ahead of its opening, it was announced that the hotel was to become a member of the French-based organisation, which boasts 585 properties across 60 countries.
"Relais & Châteaux was right for us as it respects the independence of the hotel while supporting us through its digital marketing and booking centre," says Zahra. "Being a member also gives confidence to our guests."
Visiting Stock Exchange the week before it opened, Philippe Gombert, president of Relais & Châteaux, says it was unusual for the body to accept a hotel prior to its opening, but he was delighted that everything that had been promised from the property had been delivered.
"The hotel has truly lived up to expectations," he explains. "This is a perfect example of what Relais & Châteaux is: properties anchored in their region, ambassadors of their heritage, but also passionate about their craft and deeply committed to forging warm, lasting relationships with their guests."
With the doors of Stock Exchange and Bull & Bear now open, guests and customers are expected to be beating a path to the door – if the astonishing 8,000 advanced bookings for the restaurant are anything to go by.
Former AA inspector Giovanna Grossi, who now runs her own hospitality consultancy Sauce Intelligence, has been chronicling the hotel and restaurant scene in Manchester for many years. She says she has not previously experienced a hotel of such quality in the city.
"The hotel is truly an outstanding property. Every little detail has been thought of – such as the ability to move the TVs around in the bedrooms with ease to ensure they can be viewed them from every angle.
"The restaurant serves outstanding food and is opulent and classy, but not at all stuffy. It is somewhere you can glam up for – and they like to do that in Manchester – or equally go along in your jeans and trainers. I predict it is going to do incredibly well."
Supported and guided by the exceptionally experienced Zahra with Stewart Davies, chief operating officer of GG Hospitality, overseeing the operation of the hotel, the opening of Stock Exchange has seen Neville and Giggs come of age. While Hotel Football, successful in its own right, is what may have been expected from the two former players, the launch of their latest venture shows that their exceptional footballing talents may have been matched by their newfound skills as hotel owners.
About the Stock Exchange
- 4 Norfolk Street, Manchester M2 1DW
- 0161 470 3901
- Owner Finestday (co-owned by Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Winston Zahra)
- Operator GG Hospitality (co-owned by Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Peter Lim)
- Food and beverage Headed by Tom Kerridge with executive chef Dan Scott
- Bedrooms 40
- Staff 50 (including 20 in kitchen)
- Room rates From £200 up to £1,750 for the House penthouse suite.
GG Hospitality – the future
With two very different hotels – Hotel Football and Stock Exchange – the expansion of GG Hospitality is effectively only at the start of its journey.
Neville and Giggs have long spoken about their hope for rolling out the Hotel Football brand to other UK cities and possibly overseas. Zahra explains that the model of the hotel, which features 133 bedrooms, Café Football and a rooftop football pitch which converts into an event space, is in the process of being "tweaked" before details of new properties are announced.
Meanwhile, plans are moving ahead for the St Michael's development in Manchester, involving the creation of a 200-bedroom hotel alongside 170 apartments, 147,000 sq ft of office space, and 32,000 sq ft of leisure space. The scheme is led by the St Michael's Partnership backed by Neville and Giggs and Singapore-based group Rowsley, headed by Peter Lim, who is an investor in GG Hospitality. An announcement about the scheme is expected in early 2020.
The Bull & Bear
With a trademark sculpture from Tom Kerridge's wife Beth at its centre – this chap is known as ‘Super Dude' – the Bull & Bear is quite possibly the most glamorous dining room in Manchester.
As well as making a stunning impact with its open kitchen and high ceiling – carefully preserved during the renovation – the food is also making its mark. Neville sums up what Kerridge aims to achieve with his menus: "Tom is passionate about bringing great flavours out of everyday ingredients and making the food accessible to all. The restaurant represents the a relaxed and social manner."
The menu works wells as a sharing concept, although it is down to the customer to decide how they wish to be served. Dishes include cold, hot, hot "a bit bigger", sides cheese and sweet options and include the items that bowled over Neville and Giggs at the Coach: burger with smoked bacon and dill pickle (£12.50), chicken Kiev with maple-glazed butternut squash (£14.50) and mushroom risotto Claude Bosi (£8.50), named after fellow two-Michelin-starred chef at Bibendum in London.
With Kerridge taking responsibility for the food and beverage across the entire hotel – a first for him – he is keeping things simple when it comes to room service. "We are focusing on bar snacks, which is something we are comfortable with," he explains.
So, anyone hunkering down in their rooms can enjoy the likes of buttermilk chicken with harissa mayonnaise (£8.50), Merguez sausage roll (£5) or cheese scones with ham hock butter (£7).
Also within the remit of Kerridge and his executive chef Dan Scott (previously head chef at Mottram Hall in Manchester), are the two private dining and event spaces – the Bank and the Vault featuring large tables, which Neville brought back from Bali, to enable a social type of eating experience. Set menus in the Vault (for up to 60 for a dinner and 120 for a reception) range from £45 to £95 per head. In the Bank (up to 16 covers) menus are priced at £95 (six courses), £125 (six courses) and £150 (seven courses) per head.
The £150 Bank menu
Warm potato and Jerusalem artichoke salad with shaved black truffle
Hand-carved Manchester smokehouse salmon with sour cream and beer-pickled shallots
Duck liver parfait with plum chutney and toasted brioche
Ravioli of lobster and langoustine with shellfish bisque
Wellington of Stokes Marsh Farm beef with bordelaise sauce
Salt-baked sea bass, turbot or brill with sauce vierge
Lancashire Bomb, crackers and grapes
Beef suet sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and vanilla ice-cream.
You need to be a premium member to view this. Subscribe from just 99p per week.
Already subscribed? Log In