Hanley’s brand new Hilton Garden Inn Hotel stands proudly in the city centre’s Smithfield development, which is fast becoming a vibrant hub in an already bustling cultural quarter.
It’s the first Hilton in the city, boasting 140 rooms, a restaurant, bar and gym. The restaurant and bar are open to the public, making it perfect for cocktails, cake and catch ups with friends, doing some independent work, or in my case – even meeting interviewees over a cuppa.
The £20 million hotel finds itself in the ideal location, with Tesco, The Underground, The Regent Theatre, and Piccadilly’s urban and indie eateries in walking distance. The Potteries Museum and AirSpace Gallery are also in the city, with attractions like Waterworld and Stoke Ski Centre just down the road. For locals, it’s a great place to stay the night following an evening out – and for those visiting, it’s a five minute drive from the train station with so much to see and do in the potteries, including the Emma Bridgewater factory, The Sugarmill and intu Potteries.
Hilton Garden Inn opened on October 9 – following six years in the making from start to finish, it’s been a much anticipated development for Stoke-on-Trent.
But whilst travel and nights out are limited due to Covid-19, eating out is one of the luxuries we are able to enjoy at the moment. I joined friends for a catch up and some lunch on a Monday afternoon, excited to see what food was on offer and to get a glimpse of the newly-opened building.
Entering through automatic doors, I sanitised my hands and headed over to the table Mary-ann had been seated at. I pulled up a pew on a plush teal setee, and noticed pottery adorning the shelves above the bar – a nod to our Staffordshire heritage – much like the Spitfire structure at the far end of the room.
There is a mixture of high and low tables, as well as sofas, arm chairs and benches to sit on, which is great if you have a preference. I think the lower tables are ideal for coffee and cake, but I’d have preferred a higher table for eating.
I browsed the lunch menu, which is split into four sections: to start, salads, grill and desserts. Whilst tempted by the sweet potato and chilli soup of the day, I ordered the gourmet hand pressed British beef burger. The quarter pounder patty came served on a brioche bun, fried onions, tomato relish, tomato and lettuce with fries on the side. The burger is priced at £15.50, which is slightly pricier than your typical pub grub burger – but the fries were chunky and well-seasoned, whilst the burger was cooked beautifully and was really tasty.
Prices on the menu start at £4 for warm sourdough and flatbreads with a selection of toppings – so there are still more affordable brunchy options on offer too. Mary-ann and Jenny both ordered the Poke bowl, which was visually gorgeous. Packed with red quinoa, cucumber, mango, avocado, pecan nuts, radish, spring onion and pineapple, the colourful seasonal salad comes in at £8. There are customisable options to add grilled chicken breast, halloumi or sea bass to the dish at an additional cost.
Also on the menu are a prawn and crab cocktail, a blackened jerk chicken burger and an array of mouth-watering desserts I’ll certainly be back for. The sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce sounds dreamy, and the baked New York cheesecake with black cherry compose will be lush.
The dining area is airy and spacious, with big floor to ceiling windows to watch the world go by. The food was really lovely, and the staff were super attentive when ordering and checking in on us. I’m also a big fan of the gingham scrunchie and mask combo which pairs with the uniform of waiting on staff – wouldn’t mind a set myself! I’d love to visit one evening to try some of their cocktails and see how the atmosphere shifts from day to night. Put it this way – I’ll be back, and it’ll be soon!