The Hilton Deansgate, Manchester: ‘experience menu’ review

Read our review of the quirky new 'experience menu' at The Hilton Deansgate. Take your main courses downstairs in Podium restaurant, then take the lift to elegant sky bar, Cloud 23, for copious tea and cake. Despite its novelty, food is excellent - look out for some of the best beef in Manchester, and cute little fish 'n' chips bonbons.

In a nutshell

The Hilton Deansgate, located in the bottom half of the Beetham Tower, looms over Manchester city centre like a stylish glass colossus. Podium is the downstairs ‘proper’ restaurant, Cloud 23 is the elegant sky bar. Hearty dishes on the ground, afternoon tea and cocktails up high… the Hilton Deansgate ‘experience menu’ offers both together.


Who’s cooking?

Manchester-born Stuart Duff was brought in to revamp the kitchen just over a year ago, after spending seven years at rival hotel chain MacDonald.

Menu know-how

The Hilton Deansgate Experience is an absolute whopper. You’re greeted with a glass of champagne in Podium, and your starter, fish course and main course are all served here, too (the beef sharing platter with roast vegetables is a triumph). Then you’ll be whisked up in the lift for those cocktails (four miniature versions of anything on the Cloud 23 menu) and a huge sharing board of desserts. Give yourself at least two hours. It’s a big menu that deserves your full attention, and plenty of grazing.

Must orders

The £45 per head set menu delivers plenty of quality. To begin, fish and chip bonbons (fish, chips and mushy peas in a battered ball) are a novel twist on hearty British tradition.

It’s all about that beef, though. A giant slab of British barrel fillet to share with a selection of dauphinoise potatoes, carrots, baby leeks and green beans is up there with the best Sunday lunch offering in the city. Sit back, relax and enjoy the birds-eye view of Manchester.

What I’ll order next time

That steak again. But maybe next time, I won’t share it.

What’s the room like

Cloud 23 is cool oasis of gentle chatter as the light bounces off the huge golden floor to ceiling mirrors. Podium, however, is a little cold by comparison, and might be overdue a refurb.


The tired look of Podium aside, it was hard to fault the food or the service. A return to form from a kitchen which used to be ranked as one of the city’s best.

What we liked

It’s hard not to enjoy the view of an ever-changing Manchester with cocktail in hand and a massive tray full of cakes in front of you. The eccles cake and jaffa cake cheesecake were good, but the Vimto eton mess just pipped it. If you have room for the Manchester tart, you won’t be disappointed. Cloud 23 offers refinement and still delivers a sense of occasion high above the bustling city, and it’s a wonderfully decadent way to while away an afternoon.

Fun fact

Architect Ian Simpson lives in the top-floor penthouse of the Beetham Tower – the highest living space in Britain.

Price range

Afternoon tea in Cloud 23 will set you back anywhere between £12 ands £38; a three course Sunday lunch at Podium costs £27.

Written by Simon Binns


August 2015