What’s so special about the Special One’s £600,000 hotel suite? That’s the bill Jose Mourinho ran up in nearly three years… but when ROBERT HARDMAN checked in, he found gaffer tape holding the curtains up, a leaky fridge and a broken DVD player
- Jose Mourinho was fired as Manchester United manager on Tuesday with the club sixth in the table
- Mourinho’s two-and-a-half year reign came to an end after the club’s worst top-flight start since 1990
- Throughout his tenure at the club the Portuguese manager stayed in a suite in the Lowry Hotel in Manchester
Jose Mourinho was driven away from his accommodation at The Lowry after leaving his job as Manchester United’s manager on December 18. The suite next occupant’s was the Mail’s own Robert Hardman
David Cameron was still in Downing Street and the England football team were revving up for another dismal performance at the European championships when Jose Mourinho first checked in to this gaudily opulent suite in Manchester’s Lowry Hotel.
This week, 895 days later, ‘the Special One’ — as he likes to call himself — has finally checked out. Having been summarily dumped as manager of Manchester United Football Club, the mercurial 55-year-old has now vacated the Lowry’s Riverside Suite and a new occupant has moved in: me.
I have not even unpacked before I start to wonder why anyone would want to live in a place like this for a month, let alone two-and-a-half years. It might be five-star luxury of the shiniest, blingiest sort — and we all know how that appeals to the footballing fraternity — but there are only so many plumped-up cushions, room-service breakfasts, spa treatments and fluffy bathrobes that a man can endure.
As one of football’s grandest grandees, Mourinho will have been offered the finest hacienda-style villas and mock-Georgian piles that Cheshire’s leafy footballer belt has to offer. He could have had his own swimming pool, solarium, snooker room and cinema in the depths of Hale or Alderley Edge.
And yet he chose to leave his family behind in their London home and lead a pampered but solitary, soulless existence amid the eternal building site that is city centre Salford. It is hardly private. And it was anything but cheap.
I have not even unpacked before I start to wonder why anyone would want to live in a place like this for a month, let alone two-and-a-half years… There are only so many plumped-up cushions, room-service breakfasts, spa treatments and fluffy bathrobes that a man can endure
We can but wonder at the size of Mourinho’s bill, which has been calculated at somewhere between £500,000 and £800,000, depending on the Lowry’s fluctuating room rates. If he was getting the same online deal as me, he would have clocked up a bill of £618,445. And that’s just for the room.
At £22.50 on top for breakfast (amazingly, it is not included in the price), £75 for a bottle of Mourinho’s favourite Tuscan wine and even £2.95 for a mini-pack of Pringles from the kitchen-sized minibar, it’s safe to say that his extras will have added a further £100,000 or so to the tab.
It will have been even higher if the well-groomed Portuguese smoothie was a regular at the hotel spa (where a ‘High Performance Skin Energiser For Men’ will set you back £70 a time).
The lounge area of the suite in the Lowry Hotel where Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho lived for two years
After two-and-a-half years in charge of Britain’s most famous football club, Mourinho is now jobless and back at the family home in Belgravia.
Things, though, are not so very different here at the Lowry since no sooner had he checked out on Tuesday than his replacement, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, checked in on Wednesday. Following his sudden appointment as manager, the 45-year-old Norwegian abandoned his job as the manager of tiny Molde, with its 11,000-seat stadium half-way between Oslo and the Arctic Circle, and flew by private jet to Manchester to take charge at 75,000-seat Old Trafford.
He may have replaced the Special One in the United dugout, but he will not be taking over his bed.
The hotel management, understandably, refuse to discuss their guests but I learn that Solskjaer has asked for a different Riverside Suite (there are six identical ones). Footballers can be very superstitious and who can blame the new man for not wanting the same room as his predecessor? Besides, the Norwegian cannot have the sixth-floor penthouse Riverside Suite, where Mourinho is reported to have stayed, for the simple reason that, tonight, I am in residence.
There is a pristine kitchen with espresso machine, every sort of tea and a microwave — not that anyone staying in here is likely to want to heat up a ready-meal when 24-hour room service is but a call away (£15.50 for a burger)
So, what did Mourinho get for his £691-a-night? I have a panoramic view of the thin, Bovril-black River Irwell through the floor-to-ceiling windows which run the full length of my two huge interconnecting rooms — 735 square feet overall.
Whether I am wallowing in my giant L-shaped scarlet sofa in the dining-cum-conference room or lying in the king-sized bed next door, I can watch one of two hefty flatscreen televisions. Or stare out at the Manchester skyline or simply admire myself in the vast mirrored double doors which connect the two rooms. I wonder which the Special One enjoyed doing most.
There is a pristine kitchen with espresso machine, every sort of tea and a microwave — not that anyone staying in here is likely to want to heat up a ready-meal when 24-hour room service is but a call away (£15.50 for a burger).
The spacious suite has a bedroom, lounge area, kitchen and walk-in wardrobes but these doors wouldn’t close properly
There are two walk-in wardrobes large enough for the most incurable shopaholic, a bathroom and shower, plus an additional guest loo. You certainly can’t fault the generosity of the chambermaids. There are dozens of little pots of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and so on. If Mourinho decided to tip this lot in to his luggage on a daily basis, the family would never buy another bar of soap.
The five-star Lowry was welcomed as the shiny centrepiece of a grand Mancunian revival when it opened 17 years ago, just in time for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
These days, however, there are signs of wear and tear. During my stay, the DVD player doesn’t work (maybe the Special One threw the remote control at the wall watching replays of last week’s defeat against Liverpool). The telephone in the dining/conference room is broken and the kitchen fridge is on the blink, too. My half bottle of Perrier-Jouet (£35 on the bill should I pop the cork) sits in a cold-ish puddle of water.
Whether I am wallowing in my giant L-shaped scarlet sofa in the dining-cum-conference room or lying in the king-sized bed next door, I can watch one of two hefty flatscreen televisions
The two ends of the suite are illustrated by fiery, volcanic impressions of the Calder Valley by Oldham-born artist, Alan Rankle. It is all very contemporary and very striking, though after more than two years of waking up to this stuff, one might yearn for something a little more homely
Lying in bed, my eye is caught by old strips of black gaffer tape stuck to the curtain pelmet and the grand double doors to the bedroom won’t shut properly.
I can’t open the windows even an inch, so have to rely on a rumbling air conditioning unit. Still, at least I’m spared a chocolate on the pillow.
The decor might be described as a modernist Man Utd homage — lots of red and white with strips of black here and there. Only the Christmas tree breaks the colour code.
A huge illustrated encyclopaedia called The Big Book Of Chic sits on a coffee table to reassure me that this is all in the best possible taste. The only magazines in here are Tatler and World Of Interiors (nothing about football). The two ends of the suite are illustrated by fiery, volcanic impressions of the Calder Valley by Oldham-born artist, Alan Rankle. It is all very contemporary and very striking, though after more than two years of waking up to this stuff, one might yearn for something a little more homely.
The Portuguese manager had the use of a private dining room at The Lowry during his 30-month stay in the Manchester hotel
Since I am living the Mourinho dream, I want the Special One’s speciality. It’s an elegant, oaky red which goes well with one of his preferred steak dishes
The 42oz ‘Tomahawk’ steak from Cheshire costs £85 for two to share and is served on a wooden board with three sauces
The menu in the Lowry’s dining room includes an £18 starter of Wagyu beef and an 8oz fillet steak – yours for £36
Apparently, Mourinho was particularly partial to the duck pancakes and big, shared beef dishes, along with full-bodied wines like the 2013 Castello Vicchiomaggio Ripa delle More Toscana at £75 a bottle.
I can’t imagine what Salford’s most famous son, Laurence Stephen Lowry, would have made of this bling-filled palace bearing his name. Quite apart from the fact that he was a lifelong fan of United’s arch-rivals, Manchester City, he was famous for his gritty scenes of working-class life either side of the war and for his ‘matchstick’ figures massed outside factories and football grounds.
The only matchstick figures around here are likely to be those pushing a manicured lettuce leaf around a plate down in the chi-chi first-floor River Restaurant. Not that Mourinho was much of a salad man. Apparently, he was particularly partial to the duck pancakes and big, shared beef dishes, along with full-bodied wines like the 2013 Castello Vicchiomaggio Ripa delle More Toscana at £75 a bottle.
Since I am living the Mourinho dream, I want the Special One’s speciality. It’s an elegant, oaky red which goes well with one of his preferred steak dishes, a 42oz ‘Tomahawk’ from Cheshire (£85 for two — with three sauces).
Among the local in-crowd whom I talk to, everyone seems to have spotted Mourinho coming in here at some point, usually with a small group of football folk. As one of the most famous faces in this football-mad city, he would find it more congenial to eat in the private dining room off to one side. At least there he could chew his Tomahawk without being stared at.
Black gaffer tape along the curtain rail, a leaky fridge and a broken DVD player took the edge off the luxurious experience
All of which raises the question of why he chose to live in this very expensive goldfish bowl in the first place. Other players and managers have traditionally based themselves in leafy Cheshire. If Solskjaer takes on the job permanently (he is currently a ‘caretaker’ manager) he will doubtless do the same. As I check out, I bump into a Norwegian television crew checking in. Different goldfish, same bowl.
The Lowry staff, all extremely smart and pleasant, are far too discreet to discuss their longest-lasting resident, beyond saying he will be ‘missed’.
Mourinho always has enjoyed breaking the mould. I trust they haven’t charged him for breaking the DVD player.
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