Stripping off isn’t normally the first thing I do after checking into a hotel.
But within moments of entering my room in The Edwardian Manchester, my clothes are swapped for a bikini and I slip into the beige, waffle bathrobe hanging in the cupboard. It’s soft, oversized and snuggly, and will do nicely for the next few hours.
A new travel trend has emerged from the pandemic and I’ve come to see what the fuss is about. Ten years ago, a French start-up began the online hotel booking platform Dayuse allowing guests to make daytime reservations at luxury hotels for a fraction of their nightly cost — a bargain for the consumer and an additional revenue stream for the hotel.
Hotel life: Jo enjoys room service at The Edwardian Manchester as part of her ‘daycation’
And while booking a 9am to 5pm hotel room has long been convenient for layovers and romantic trysts, an increasing number of us have started booking this kind of escape as an alternative to a proper holiday.
There were many reasons for choosing a micro-stay. Some fancied a break from the children, others did it to experience the joy of room service. While others saw it as a great way to experience a deluxe micro-wellness break.
For the price of a day room (this can be as much as a 75 per cent reduction) they could use a hotel’s spa facilities with the added benefit of having their own private space for a few precious hours.
Roughly a third of Dayuse’s 7,000 global hotel portfolio has a spa, including The Edwardian Manchester. Room 1117 on the 11th floor is mine from 10am to 6pm for £120 (a 50 per cent reduction on the nightly rate) and its rooftop city view proves a distraction as I step into a pair of fluffy slippers. The Pennines are visible in the distance and they’re sprinkled with snow.
Jo gets a ‘Salt & Oil Scrub treatment’ that is designed to polish and exfoliate her skin
I hurry down to the basement spa and kick off the day with a Salt & Oil Scrub treatment. It is designed to polish and exfoliate, and as masseuse Hannah smothers grainy oil across my limbs in sweeping, swirly motions I feel myself relax more than I have in weeks.
Mine was a Christmas with little cheer — two of my three teens caught Covid and we had to cancel our family holiday. Over the next 30 minutes Hannah doesn’t just rub away dead skin, but stress as well. The end comes too soon.
That doesn’t mean the fun’s over. There’s a 12-metre pool as well as a spa bath, sauna, steam room and rain showers of varying temperatures. As I flit from one to the other, swimming laps before splashing about in the whirlpool and lazing in the sauna till I’m the colour of a tomato, it’s hard to believe that this is all being enjoyed in what was formerly the Free Trade Hall, one of Manchester’s most historic buildings.
Jo unwinds in the whirlpool. Describing the facilities, she says: ‘There’s a 12-metre pool as well as a spa bath, sauna, steam room and rain showers of varying temperatures’
Built in 1853, Charles Dickens performed here and it’s where Benjamin Disraeli delivered his One Nation speech. This was also a key location for Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragette movement. Now here I am swanning around in a bikini, pondering lunch.
The beauty of a daycation is that there’s no need to dress for a restaurant. You can throw on that robe and go back to base for room service. It’s delivered swiftly, accompanied by a bottle of champers and everything’s extremely tasty, especially the chicken lollipops — daintier than the average drumstick — accompanied by coriander and mint chutney. I finish off with Eton Mess.
The afternoon is spent making the most of every second. A hot stone massage is followed by green tea in the spa’s relaxation tunnel. And after swimming a few more laps, I fill the bath with bubbles back in the room and laze in the tub, blissfully unaware that the countdown is on.
‘”Daycationers” are definitely on to something,’ Jo decides at the end of her stay
A 10am to 6pm Daycation at the Edwardian Manchester (dayuse.com) costs from £120. Unlimited spa use is included; massages and food cost extra. A 30-minute ESPA Hot Stone Massage costs £89; a Salt & Oil Scrub is £65.
I bet Justin Bieber, Ant and Dec and Usain Bolt (all previous guests) didn’t have to dry off and scarper by 6pm. But as I lather my skin with REN’s Neroli And Grapefruit lotion I hatch a plan to extend my ‘me time’.
I check out of the room and straight into the hotel’s award-winning fusion restaurant Peter Street Kitchen.
Footballers (and Derby manager Wayne Rooney) have been spotted tucking into its Japanese dishes with a Mexican twist. These range from edamame to Chilean sea bass to Mayan spiced broccoli. The meal is tangy and light, the perfect finale to a ‘micro-break’.
By the time I get home, I’m ready for the inevitable teen-filled mayhem. I feel like I’ve been away for a week and yet I’ve only paid for a few hours.
‘Daycationers’ are definitely on to something.