Thursday 21 July 2011

House of many rooms

While they do many things well, I’ve often been critical of Wetherspoons for the soulless, barn-like nature of their pubs and the well-nigh total lack of “pub atmosphere”. Several people have suggested that I should try the Waterhouse in Manchester City Centre. “That’s different,” they said, “it has lots of small rooms.” So, finding myself in the area, I thought I would pop in for a swift half and see for myself. And indeed it does.

Unusually for a Spoons, it’s in a row of three town houses from the Regency or early Victorian period. Inside, there are at least eight separate drinking spaces, plus the bar, which is at the back on the left. However, due to the complete absence of any fixed seating, it still doesn’t really feel like a pub should. It’s just four tables and sixteen chairs plonked down in each room. If even half the walls had benches, it could be a rather wonderful recreation of the multi-roomed rabbit-warren pubs of old. But they don’t, and it isn’t. I also had some distinctly underwhelming beer.

Spoons’ prices seem to be getting distinctly mainstream as well, with the premium lagers all well over £3 a pint, and many of the main meals on the menu over £7. (This is “city centre” prices and maybe around 10% above Didsbury or Stockport.) They’re by no means the bargain they once were.

The name, incidentally, comes from Alfred Waterhouse, architect of the Victorian Gothic Town Hall just across the road.


  1. I think if your idea of a traditional pub interiror is fixed seating, Wetherspoons will always disappoint. Although, I do think that the Waterhouse is more "pubby" than most Spoons, albeit, perhaps, a modern pub.

    Others have also been commenting on their prices. They've recently had two increases over a short period. They're still cheaper than other pubs, but the gap is definitely narrowing. It's down to 30p in my area.

  2. Yes, the Sir Henry Segrave in Southport charges £2.20 a pint. The Barons (the main real ale bar) charges £2.40. So JDW really don't seem an awful lot cheaper than regular alehouses these days.

  3. (Sorry to go off topic - any thoughts on the non-smokers survey? Filled it in myself and am interested in the results. Cheers!)

  4. "any thoughts on the non-smokers survey?"

    I'll put the results up this evening hopefully - obviously it takes a bit of time to go through.

  5. Martin, Cambridge21 July 2011 at 18:04

    In Cambridge, where I regularly pay £3.45-£3.60 in Beer Guide pubs, the Wetherspoons advantage is a good £1.20, and beer quality is also reliable.

    If anything, there seems to be more competition on food prices, particularly of the 2-for-1 and cheap carvery types.

    I paid £6 for a good curry, home-brew pint and coffee in the Globe in Glossop last week, now there's a concept I'd like to see here.


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