Set inside the newly re-named ‘Kimpton Clocktower Hotel’, The Refuge is an iconic venue within Manchester, renowned as a go-to place, whether for an after-work drink to ‘wine’ down or a reliably delicious sit-down meal. The building is one of the most instagrammable in the city and steeped in history too, so it’s always a visual treat when you step inside those grand entrances.

As we all continue to play our role in slowing the spread of coronavirus, The Refuge follows suit in glorious fashion, by transforming the traditional Victorian alleyway running between its buildings into a bustling yet ambient gem of a dining space. Subtly and tastefully sheltered under the coverage of a canopy, the cosily heated and fairy-lit dining space is almost as much a treat for the senses as the fine dishes on its menu (especially the wonderful glazed metro tiled walls, wrought iron railings and period honouring green window frames).

The sentiment evoked by the décor is complimented by splashes of quirkiness, ranging from subtly placed ornaments to vibrant Monkey Kiosk aprons worn proudly by the waiting staff, as they introduce the delights beholding you on the menu. The menu is crafted delightfully and brought together through locally sourced, seasonal produce. It’s recommended that each diner orders 3 or 4 small-plate dishes from across the meat, seafood and vegetable selections – the promotion of shared dining certainly goes hand-in-hand with the social buzz created by the surroundings.

The dishes fuse British favourites with subtle tones of International styles and flavours – to start, charred Padrón peppers, seasoned with smoked sea salt went beautifully with the delectable whipped beetroot, smoked feta and hazelnut; all devoured quickly with the help of freshly baked flatbreads! It’s a lovely touch that the ‘main’ dishes started to arrive whilst some of the openers remained, meaning flavours ran throughout what was an holistic dining experience.

The slow-cooked ox cheek fell apart perfectly and melted in the mouth decadently. The Crispy whitebait and salt cod croquettes were deliciously crispy, accompanied perfectly by the radicchio salad. A surprising centrepiece to the fest was the chargrilled cauliflower, with pomegranate and harissa – the Victorians who once walked the cobles of the dining space may well have been perplexed by such a creation, but it brought together the dishes beautifully and epitomised everything about The Refuge in an astounding way.

From the drinks menu, The Glamour of Manchester champagne cocktail combined sophistication with fun, the homemade lemonade was strikingly sharp, yet welcomingly refreshing and the locally roasted Heart & Graft coffee was full of comforting flavour.

As you indulge in desert, cocktails or coffee whilst the evening grows cooler, wrap up and stay snug under the plush blankets provided to each table… and it’s not just us humans who are welcomed attentively to The Refuge; the restaurant makes our canine companions at home by providing comfy cushioned baskets and bespoke Kimpton water bowls!

The Kimpton team have clearly done such a wonderful job with their Alfresco area, and we were left blown away by the attention to detail. We look forward to the near future when visitors are also able to experience the hospitality of The Kimpton Clocktower hotel, which will be fully open for leisure stays from 17 May.

You can pre-book your table at The Refuge and/or a hotel stay via the Kimpton Clocktower hotel.


Kimpton Clocktower Hotel
Kimpton Clocktower Hotel Lobby

Kimpton Clocktower Hotel is a luxury hotel with an industrial soul that is sprawled out on Oxford Street at the heart of Manchester

The Refuge
Outdoor Dining
The Refuge

With its welcome ambiance and sociable buzz, The Refuge has become a hotspot where you can play all day and stay all night. Sip cocktails, whizz through work emails, catch a live DJ, sample pours from a local brewery: You can do it all and more.



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