Native at Ducie Street Warehouse reviewed
I am sure that many who ever stayed at what was once The Place, on Ducie Street, nestling close into Piccadilly, have fond memories of this great building and its handy location, both for transport and for The Village. I spent many good times there, during various Sparkle festivals, and it was a loss when it closed its doors for the last time. The good news however is that this superb building is not only open for business again, in new hands, but it has reincarnated to be better than ever.
I had the pleasure to stay there very recently (as a guest of Native) and the venue is, quite simply, fantastic. From the moment I walked up the steps and past an inspired and beautiful little booth selling flowers and in through the doors, I felt very much at home. The initial impression as you enter is great, a sort of relaxed, informal but luxurious feel and something of a sense of being back.
Reception was very welcoming, enthusiastic and helpful and with four girls in attendance, I felt like a mother hen. There was minimal form-filling I was soon in the lift and on the way up to my 6th floor apartment. This had a double entrance with a little foyer for 2 or 3 rooms, from which access to each apartment was routed. A nice little touch and a bit more secure than a single entrance.
The apartment itself was a totally unexpected treat. A nice entrance hall led past a small galley-style kitchen, which the inevitable inspection showed had a 2-ring hob, oven, grill, fridge, dishwasher, Nespresso coffee machine (I told you they designed it for me, they even got the coffee brand right) and if memory serves, a microwave also, along with all the crockery and extras you might hope for but not always expect to find. Here I did find them and everything was to a really high standard.
My slightly awed exploration continued along a connecting hall with a lovely big bedroom and a lovely big bed also. Off on the other side was a super, trendy bathroom with nice toiletries (these things make an impression) and on past this, eventually a great big lounge with sofas, dining table and chairs, and a large TV. The bedroom also had a big TV by the way. Views from the lounge, with windows on two sides, were great and you could see the end of Canal Street, just across the tram tracks.
First impressions were, quite simply, wonderful.Native has been done out to a really high standard and it has been done with taste, dedication and attention to detail. There were lovely wooden floors for example. It has kept the feel and quality of a fabulous building but enhanced it. In short it all just “worked” so nicely, but in a relaxed atmosphere.
I was given a nice introduction, by director of sales Jay, to the Cultureplex part of the set-up here. Just what this was had eluded me previously but it is a BIG central area around which all of the social aspects of Native revolve. This vommunity area is something which is missing in plain old hotels where I imagine a solo stay could be a lonely one, so cultureplex addresses this wonderfully well. There was lots of very “loungeable” sofa space spread over a large area where people could spread out and relax, read a book or paper, or chat, unwind, have a coffee or a drink, as we did. The lounge is said to be an all-day one and I spotted not only a good bar, but a coffee counter and even a little cinema, which was up, running and showing something current.
There are, I gather, work spaces and I did see long raised desks with laptops in use and there were power points, usb docks etc. I confess that I didn’t avail myself of the fitness studio as I am more a cocktail kind of girl, but there was one. The weather wasn’t good for the outside terraces but I imagine, in summer, these would be fabulous.
Tucked away in a corner of cultureplex was access to what proved to be a beautifully fitted out, very capable and pleasant restaurant, and entrance so discreet that you could almost miss it. However first we had a lounge, a chat and unobtrusive but very efficient waitress service soon had cocktails on the table to aid things social. The cocktails, were excellent (in deference to dry January I spotted a mocktail or two on the menu I am sure) and I was beginning to think that Native had been designed with me specifically in mind.
Back to my apartment and a lovely shower in a very spacious, walk-in cubicle followed and wrapped in a super fresh dressing gown which was lying on my bed, I got myself ready. It was only then that I found the first and only tiny glitch - a lack of flat space around the sink and mirror to put toiletries and make-up on. Clearly this area had been designed by a man and they needed a woman’s input, but in honesty, this was the only fault I could find with anything during my entire stay at all at Native, and it is a minor, nit-picking sort of thing for me to dwell on. One dredged up only to make this review sound balanced by actually finding a fault! It was however the only thing wrong that I could find and I was trying to be critical rather than sycophantic.
Our small party sampled the attached restaurant in the evening. The booking (and an alteration) all having been confirmed quickly, by email. I have to say that everything to do with bookings, check-in, service ran as smoothly as could be. Service and food in the restaurant were great. The staff were friendly, helpful and a little bit of pleasant banter with the waiting staff just confirmed the nice atmosphere that Native exudes, it’s a happy, nice, friendly place to be in my experience. Helpful menu suggestions and explanations were good too and getting into the stride of a reviewer, I asked for something not on the menu, just to see what happened. Smooth as smooth could be, they handled it perfectly. The food was excellent, no complaints at all, and there were lots of positive noises from our group which eventually broke up as we left for a night out.
There was a security check on my (early morning) return and though grateful for this, perhaps the guard could have been a little less zealous. Insisting on checking keys is prudent. However insisting on looking up exact check-in names hasn’t been fully thought out. This wasn’t an issue for me but it might be indiscreet or downright embarrassing for some trans-girls who prefer to check-in using an identity which they may not want dredged up when they are en-femme or in front of friends. Most hotels just ask for proof of a key. Perhaps Native might revisit this access policy if they want to consider their trans-clientele. That is however just one thing, and everything else was perfect. For a tgirl, it’s a great place to stay and the staff simply could not have been nicer, better nor more encompassing. Yes we have a right to expect that, but being honest, it doesn’t always happen. At Native, it was great.
The thickness of the walls meant that there wasn’t even a hint of noise later, which is one thing I had wondered about, thinking of the proximity of both Piccadilly and traffic. A super-comfy bed and a good night’s sleep helped a slow easing into the next day and after a quick, friendly check-out I was genuinely sad to leave Native. It was a really good stay. I did enquire about the adjacent and very handy car-parking as I left and was told that it was going to be open within days, so by the time you read this, that should be up and running too.
Positives, where do I start? great great venue, lovely well-furnished and comfortable apartments to a very high standard, abundant facilities, good food, brilliant friendly staff, handy parking, proximity to The Village I could make the list even longer.
Negatives? No, nothing major - none really (make-up and security niggles aside!) and I really loved Native. I loved it enough to book my next stay in Manchester with them straight away and my five day Sparkle residence, later in the year, which I think says everything.
Published: 14-Feb-2020 (5765)