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Delivering the feel-good factor

A little more than a year after officially opening on the banks of the River Tyne, INNSiDE by Meliá Newcastle is continuing to go from strength-to-strength. Here, Steven Hugill speaks to manager Calum Manekshaw about its progress and how it intends to maintain the momentum with its unique business and leisure offer. 


They do things a little differently at INNSiDE by Meliá Newcastle.

So much so, they have a word for it: bleisure.

And walk the polished interior of the four-star hotel, taking in its open living lounge – floor-to-ceiling windows framing the River Tyne and the city’s High Level Bridge – its Gino D’Acampo Quayside restaurant and terrace, its corporate meeting space and distinctive artwork celebrating Newcastle’s culture, and the amalgam is not without great substance.

INNSiDE by Meliá Newcastle expertly melds business and leisure, providing an environment that befits post-COVID-19 corporate flexes with travellers’ changing palates.

Ranked inside Trip Advisor’s top ten Newcastle hotels, (having climbed 49 places since opening last year), the venue was also rated the best across the entire global INNSiDE brand for 13 weeks in 2021 for guest experience.

“What we do here is very much an integration of business and leisure,” says resident hotel manager Calum Manekshaw.

He says: “Working patterns have changed, lives have become more fluid, and our concept caters for that really well.

“Downstairs is an open living lounge, where guests can use the long networking tables for meetings, or sit outside and do a bit of work.

“They can even stroll along the Quayside if they’ve got a meeting on their phone.

“And Gino’s is a fantastic partner when it comes to bleisure. 

“The restaurant is a real USP, not just with it being led by Gino, but because of its status. 

“When it opened, it was the first hotel restaurant Gino had operated in – he’d always had an affinity for a UK quayside restaurant, and we were chosen for the honour.

“At its peak, we did 5000 covers over a weekend last summer, and we’re still busy now; even during more traditionally quieter periods like Tuesday evenings, we’re still doing 120 to 150 covers, and they are both business and leisure guests.”

And when it comes to more conventional business requirements, INNSiDE by Meliá Newcastle is more than adept at meeting companies’ needs.

Calum, who joined the hotel in March 2021, says: “Our contemporary first-floor corporate environment includes the 48sq metre Hawks meeting room and the Keelman Suite.

“The latter provides 200sq metre of space for social events, large meetings and conferences, and can accommodate up to 245 people or be split into three separate sections for smaller meetings or break-out sessions.

“And it comes with a fixed, integrated LCD projector and screen, scene-setting lights, digital signage and internal cloakroom space in each section.”

Another unique element of the commercial offer is the Big Idea Space.

Colourful and quirky, and with capacity for up to 20 people, the room takes business meetings to new levels, with sofas, spacious desks, writable walls and tables, digital whiteboards, table football, a SMEG fridge, Rubix Cubes, sweets jars and a dart board providing home-from-home comfort while encouraging interactivity and creativity.

Calum says: “Every INNSiDE by Meliá hotel has one, and there isn’t anything like it elsewhere in Newcastle, certainly in a hotel.

“It’s a bit more playful, and the perfect backdrop for a PR strategy day or a team building event.

“However, it also fits our bleisure ethos because it can be used for leisure too.”

“Guests can use the fridge in there to chill their drinks for a night-in, or the space can be used ahead of a night out,” adds Calum, who arrived at INNSiDE by Meliá Newcastle after more than a decade with Hilton.

The bleisure theme is continued outside the Big Idea Space, with wall art – fashioned by Newcastle creative design studio Atomhawk – depicting a post-apocalyptic city sat close to vibrant works of the North East Art Collective.

They are matched by a giant mural – conceived by artist and Lines Behind founder James Dixon – which dominates a high wall next to a spiral staircase and pays homage to, among many things, favourite Newcastle sons Alan Shearer and Ant and Dec, the city’s Tyne Bridge and Metro system, and some of the local dialect.

Calum says: “This is a real feel-good hotel.

“We’re very passionate about locality, not just in design but in senses too, and we are very keen to integrate with what is already here.

“Newcastle, as well as the North East, has lots of stories, and we want to shout about them and celebrate them.

“Art is a huge part of that – we were really proud to work with Atomhawk and James, and our partnership with North East Art Collective changes every quarter, to showcase more artists’ work.

“But we’re always looking at ways we can do more.

“We recently installed full-length wallpaper art in all our lift lobbies, for example, and we’re still looking to forge further connections, with the lynchpin being that they are local.”

The focus on art is extended to the hotel’s open living lounge, where Newcastle architect FaulknerBrowns has brought elements of the outside indoors.

Calum says: “Newcastle has an industrial past, and the hotel is designed to mimic that, with minimalist, straight-line design.

“The trim on the front of the bar and reception desk, for example, is identical to the railings on the High Level Bridge, and the crosses on the bottoms of our downstairs networking tables take inspiration from the Tyne Bridge.”

He adds: “We’ve got a beautiful space, with lots of natural light and the Quayside, and we’re highly ranked, which is testament to the team’s quality, pride and professionalism.

“Newcastle deserves for everything to come back as it was post-COVID-19, because everyone here is so optimistic.

“And we’ll continue adding our support, with our bleisure offer, to help make it happen.”