The thriving city of Manchester in North West England is home to the tallest skyscraper in the United Kingdom outside London. With many modern developments alongside spectacular Victorian Architecture, busy Tram/Train lines and incredible countryside, a panoramic view across the City and beyond has it’s draws. There is only one place in Manchester where you can get this kind of view, from Cloud 23, located on the 23rd floor of the Beetham Tower, also known as the Hilton Hotel…
Beetham Tower, Manchester
The tower can be seen from almost anywhere in the City, as well as the neighbouring city of Salford, and most other towns in the administrative county of Greater Manchester. Manchester has various different scenes, from the Victorian Housing Streets, to the city centre with it’s towering glass skyscrapers and Gothic Architecture, to the Roman Fort which founded the city, called Mamucian, the remains of which are located close to the tower.
The Beetham Tower was designed by Ian Simpson, an English Architect from Manchester. Incidentally, he bought the top floor of the Tower, the Penthouse Suite, and currently lives there. This floor is the highest residential floor in the whole of the United Kingdom, as most towers in London have offices at the top, giving him officially the best view out of his bedroom window!
Construction started in 2004, and 2 years later the Tower was complete, at it’s full height of 168 metres, or 551 feet tall. The first 22 floors are occupied by the Hilton Hotel, who also run the Cloud 23 Bar on the 23rd floor. Floors 24 to the Penthouse at 47 are residentials, with various famous personalities including Mario Balotelli, who plays for Manchester City, inhabiting the top floors. You can distinguish the location of Cloud 23 from the rest of the building just by looking up the Tower, as the Bar is located in the overhang, including some glass panels in the floor similar to Blackpool Tower that look down to the road below.
An exclusive lift takes you from the lobby direct to the bar, which opens at 11am every day, until 1am in the morning. There are different sections of the bar, from the exclusive luxury section, to the general bar pictured above, to the far side of the tower looking towards Salford and the City Centre where the restaurant is located. You are free to walk around any of the three sections during the day to take in the view, as long as you are dressed smart casual.
The view North across Manchester City Centre is fantastic, with all the major landmarks easily visible. If you click on the panoramic above (or right click and open in a new tab) you can see a larger version of the picture I took, showing greater detail.
The Victorian Town Hall (1877) with its 87 metre tall Clock Tower is one of Manchesters finest landmarks, shown in the centre of the picture. The Town Hall extension (1938) is visible on the right next to the Town Hall, just before the large circumference of the roof of Manchester Central Library (1934).
In the background on the right is the 107 metre tall City Tower, standing in Piccadilly Gardens, where the Manchester Wheel is also located, and just visible to the left of the tower. In the foreground of the picture, on the right is the impressive Manchester Central, which was once the large train shed covering Manchester’s Central Train Station from 1880 to 1969. After it closed it was converted into a large conference centre, whilst retaining the main portion of the building. Directly in front of that is the Midland Hotel (1903) which was supposedly a favourite of Adolf Hitler, and the reason that this area of Manchester around the Hotel and the Town Hall was spared bombing in hope of a successful Nazi invasion.
There are many other landmarks in the City, and at the very back of the picture is the current 2nd tallest tower in the City, in a distinctive blue colour. This is the CIS Tower, owned by Co-Operative Insurance, and completed in 1962. To the left of the central gold skyscraper (Arndale House, 1979) you can just make out the glass front of Urbis (2002), a modern building which contains the National Football Museum, relocated from Deepdale Stadium in Preston.
Directly beneath where we were sat in the Bar (looking South), we got a fantastic view of the local tram system, called Metrolink, with the distinctive Yellow and Grey Trams passing through Deansgate-Castlefield Tram Stop every few minutes, to a variety of destinations including Eccles, MEDIACITYUK, Salford, Altrincham, Manchester City Centre and Ashton-under-Lyne. Behind the Trams is Deansgate mainline station, with a First Transpennine Express train running through. I was lucky enough to capture two trams and a train in one photograph, as a good example of Manchesters extensive public transport network.
Off to the right of the Tram and Train stations are the remains of Mamucian, the original settlement established by the Romans which would eventually become Manchester. The Gatehouse is a reconstruction of the ruins, whilst the other ones show the layout of some of the other buildings. Built around A.D. 79, the Fort lay on the main road between the cities of York and Chester and acted as a guard post.
Moving around the Bar you get a great view in every direction across Manchester and the surrounding area. Click on the picture above (or right click to open in a new tab) to see the view we got West across the edges of Manchester into the City of Salford.
About 3/4 of the way across the picture, going from left to right, at the very foot of the picture is the Museum of Science and Industry, a famous museum in the heart of the city which contains numerous exhibitions from the steam hall showcasing old steam engines to the exhibit about the sewage and water system of Manchester from the 1830’s one of the most extensive of it’s time.
On the far right behind the white crane is a large Church Building. This is Salford Cathedral (1848) along with some of the numerous viaducts that criss cross the two cities carrying the railway lines. The set up here is quite interesting as this is the only place in the UK where two cities join together directly (not counting the City of London and the City of Westminster as they are both constituent parts of London). Just to the left of the Cathedral is the circular tower of St Philips Church (1824), which, last time we visited, was covered in scaffolding.
Moving way across the picture 3/4 of the way to the far left, the apartment buildings of Salford Quays rise up to form their own small conurbation. Famous parts of the Quays include the Imperial War Museum North, MEDIACITYUK where numerous BBC and ITV shows are now made, and the Lowry Museum and Shopping Centre.
If you look at the centre of the quays, between the tall buildings, you can just see the Trafford Centre (1998) in the distance, with it’s stand out green dome and the red square tower next to it. On the left side of the centre the famous Chill Factore Indoor Ski Slope is also visible. On a clear day as you look this way Blackpool Tower is sometimes visible however we couldn’t spot it today due to the cloud cover. In the distance however the chimneys of Fiddlers Ferry Power Station (1971) just outside Liverpool can be seen on the horizon, and again on a clear day Liverpool Cathedral is sometimes visible, but sadly obscured by the clouds today.
Moving even further left to the edge of the picture, past the power station, and just across the water the impressive Old Trafford Football Stadium (1910), the home of Manchester United stands out above the small office buildings. A taller white building with a mast at either end is located at the far left of the stadium. This area is the town of Stretford, which also contains Old Trafford Cricket Ground.
This is the final panoramic I took, looking in a South-Easterly direction towards Wales and Shropshire. On a clear day it is said that Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales is visible, but I am not sure if we could see it today, but certainly the outlines of some of the Welsh Mountains were on display.
If you look past the Church in the centre of the picture you might just be able to pick out the Control Tower of Manchester Airport as a small speck above the skyline way in the distance. Manchester Airport is the third busiest in the UK after only Heathrow and Gatwick Airports in London.
Near to the far left is the White Arch, the support arch for Hulme Arch Bridge which carries Stretford Road over Princess Road. The bridge opened in 1997 after a year of construction, and runs for a total length of 52 metres, with the maximum height of the arch at 25 metres. In the distance the hills of the Peak District in Derbyshire are silhouetted against the grey sky, and the town of Stockport is also located in that direction, although it’s not easy to distinguish in this weather.
This is the glass panel in the floor, located in the restaurant section of the tower. As you can see we decided to brave it, and we were even told we could jump up and down on it, but we decided not to just in case!
Cloud 23 is an incredible place high above Manchester, with stunning views across the North of England. You can find out more about the city itself and it’s numerous landmarks in my dedicated post here. You can also explore the neighbouring city of Salford in my post here, along with the surrounding towns of Eccles, Oldham, Rochdale and Altrincham. Visit the official Cloud 23 website here.