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CERT Property launch Hilton House

Our Hilton House launch evening was simply incredible, check out what our guests had to say:


Atul Bansal, Sheila Bird Studio

“We make spaces – Hilton House has been an amazing project, it’s not just me there has been lots of people involved in the project.  Buttress Architects they make things join and fit, there is a real purity in what they do –  the outside looks amazing and that’s all down to Buttress, the inside is more of a collision of different peoples thoughts about how the space could work. You’ve got lots of the old character that has been left in place and stripped back so you can see them more as a feature.   Then you have lots of new ideas that have been added which complements how they all fit together, which is truly beautiful.”

“It’s really interesting because I have always, always wanted to work on this building for ages & ages  – I even tried to arrange for a client of mine to buy it once because I was so desperate to work on it and I couldn’t get the owner to sell it – just goes to show, never give up.”

“When Cert asked me to work on Hilton House, I couldn’t believe it! I almost felt embarrassed asking them to pay me to do the job. It’s turned out beautiful, it’s got so many stunning features but it’s not up its own arse – it’s an iconic space in the Northern Quarter plus a building that people just walk past but it’s still a big part of the Mancunian culture.”

What drew you to work on Hilton House?

“I think it’s because of the beautiful parquet floor that was hidden underneath the carpet , I saw a bit of it when I’ve entered the building in the past and I thought it was lovely, I love the  colour of it – and that turquoise! A lot of the turquoise is still here, in fact, a lot of the old parts are still here, that’s the beauty of it – I just felt it had a vibe.  I really thought I belong here, it’s hard to put into words because some buildings you walk into and think this is doesn’t have character but you walk into this building and the vibe is so happy!”

“The full glass windows down to the timber floor and finishing right to the edge – you feel like you’re hovering in the clouds!   Most people in the Northern Quarter don’t like to see the Northern Quarter, they have small windows because they’re such old buildings. The fundamental thing about taking the glass down to the floor just transforms how you use the space – you still feel like you’re in the Northern Quarter and that’s what is really interesting about the area.  Full marks to Cert because they went with the ideas and the fact that they fell in love with the space has helped them get to where it is now – so they’re the real designers.”


Drew Forsyth, Artist

“This is a piece called POWER and it’s a collaboration between myself and the principal ballerina of the Scottish ballet, Bethany Kinglsey-Garner, we were commissioned to create a piece of artwork that was going to cover the building during the refurbishment.  We came up with a series of 7 images that ran across the building, a total of 8 times.”

“The idea behind this piece simulates rehearsal and strength!  I think ballet has this perception of it being quite feminine and cute but it’s not really my experience of ballet.  Ballet is tough and a determined art form, that’s what I wanted to represent.”

What was your experience of Hilton House prior to the renovation?

“It was like a 1970’s office block, it was horrible and abandoned.  At one point we had to kick down a door to display some of the art – it had clearly been untouched since it had been built – it was pretty grim inside.  The first 5 or 6 hours of the project was spent cleaning the inside of the windows, I don’t think they had been cleaned for years – 64 windows we cleaned but well worth it!”


Leah Hobson, Project Manager, Telecom Group

“The contractors we have dealt with whilst putting in our installation have been very helpful from start to finish.  We knew the plans of what Hilton House was going to look like was right for us from the start but when I first saw it – it was basically a shell.  Now seeing it transform it’s absolutely amazing what Cert have done with the place, we saw it all stripped back with nothing in it at all – so it’s absolutely amazing.”

How did you find Hilton House?

“We do a lot of work with Cert Property so they introduced us to Hilton House therefore we knew it was going to be renovated as we currently work around the corner so we are familiar with the area.  We do a lot of the internet in the Northern Quarter so it was a natural move for us.”

What do think about the interior and how it fits with your culture?

“The blue’s are great for Telecom as it’s our company’s logo too but it’s really quirky and modern with a Northern Quarter twist, it just looks amazing.  It’s got the arty Norther Quarter quirkiness – the staircase, the external tiles, you’ve stripped everything back and made it look amazing.”

What is your role at Telecom?

“I put the network infrastructure and the active infrastructure for anyone that uses the Broadband within the building.”  

Tell me about the fastest broadband in Manchester – 10Gb

“We’ve roped all the way round from our 10 Gb loop so that we know the coast is clear, there are going to be no problems along the way – we’re just waiting on one small civil’s dig on Dale st and then we’re good to go – we will have a 10Gb fibre loop.  At the moment we are running off a 1Gb of wireless connectivity, that will then become the back up to the fibre should the fibre get damaged for whatever reason there will always have a 1Gb backup. “

Telecom will service the broadband for the whole of Hilton House

“We have a full fibre infrastructure with 3 access points per floor, all the access points are capable at running at 1Gb as well so when the 10Gb is installed, they can run 1Gb each and there’s 3 per floor.  We set up the customer networks as and when they move in, excited when new neighbours move in!”


Terry Shafi, Previous owner

“We bought Hilton House back in 1985, we were here for 33 years!  It’s the same but everything is better! We’ve had loads of different types of tenants restaurants, telesales, accountants, solicitors – all sorts! Everything you can think of.”

Tell me some stories over the years that happened at Hilton House

“We’ve had raves in here, parties, you name it!  We’ve had the BBC, Cutting it crew, Universal studios, Channel 4 – if you look back through the archive, Hilton House is all over the TV.”

“I never wanted to sell it.  One of the problems here at Hilton House – you see, it was such a good money earner but the money was subsidising so many other things that we were making a loss, we went on like this for 33 years.   I wanted to keep that money for renovations but I never could do so it was time to move on – very emotional but I had to let it go and move on.”

“The transformation is amazing, I’ve had many different visions of it myself and this is similar to what I was thinking of but it was a family thing, we all had different ideas.  My dad bought it in 1985 we used to have 3 other buildings in the Northern Quarter and sold those 3 to buy Hilton House.”

Terry still works in the property industry, rents apartment and houses out.


Steve Kenningham, Armitage Construction

“You’ve seen the original photographs and the original condition it was in the first place, this made demolition hard work!”

“The concrete in the building was a lot harder than usual, the type of stone used was a lot harder to break it all down, so the demolition took longer than what we had hoped.”

“The construction of the new extension, there used to be less room on the 4th & 5th floor which has now been infilled.  This has created an even bigger building and each floor is now the same size.”

“The overall project has taken 9 months from start to finish, the basement is the final job to get finished which will take 2 or 3 weeks and then the building is all Cert’s!”


Pete Sweetman, Whitworth Art Gallery

“Hilton House is absolutely stunning, the finish is really great.  My favourite bit about it is the floors, seems like a really good use of space in the city centre. Multi purpose venue and a well needed extra gallery here as well – delighted.!”


Stephen Oster, Cert Property

“I joined Cert property in April 2017 and 2 weeks after I joined we had a viewing at Hilton House – so my whole time at Cert, Hilton House has always been on my task list.  I’ve always had something to do and it’s never been easy along the road. It took us about a year to finally own the building, took 6 months to exchange contracts whilst we were dragged through the mud and didn’t know whether the deal was going to get done or not.  The sellers even pulled out at the very last minute by sending us a hand written letter in the post from the owner, 87 year old Mr Shaffi. There has been a lot of challenges along the way and standing here tonight, it’s all worth it and symbolises for me personally, moving up to Manchester – taking that big leap, taking that risk and as I stand here tonight I feel like it’s all paid off.  It feels like we’ve given birth to a baby a little bit, and we want to give birth to more babies and will always have a soft spot for my first one.”

“If you break it back to what the core elements of what this building offers, you’ve got these luxury heritage flooring which has a 60 year history to it.  It’s got this gorgeous parquet flooring – 60 years of heritage at your feet! The raw concrete ceiling with terracotta pot infills and then you have natural light, bursting in from every angle.  I don’t know how any company could wish for a better canvas to come in and put their own stamp on it!”

“It’s really exciting as I now pass this building on to the property management team, it’s going to grow legs and it’s going to grow a life of its own – just thinking of all the amazing things that is going to happen in here and the new ideas, companies breaking boundaries and doing their own thing in their various own industries – I just can’t wait to walk past this building in a year’s time and see it bustling away and even in 10 years to come, I’ll always remember it as being my first project in Manchester – my baby!”

What kind of tenants do you see here at Hilton House?

“I think Hilton House is pretty much all-inclusive we’re not looking to exclude anyone but we’d hope that anyone that comes in here gets the culture, gets the fact that they’re in the heart of the Northern Quarter. They may be moving in from elsewhere but they need to understand the setting that they’re in.  When I think of Northern Quarter, I think of it being arty, stylish, great food… NQ knows how to party! NQ doesn’t judge anyone so we’re going to be the same – we’re not going to judge anyone. You can be any kinda person if you want to work here but you have to respect the location that you’re in and respect the area that you’re in.”


Josh Levy & Matt Pickersgill  – Lambert Smith Hampton

“We provided some consultancy advice during the refurb to help influence how we felt Hilton House should be – things like exposing the ceilings, how the reception would work etc.  The cool thing about the building is the big reveal, from what you perceive on the outside to when you come through the doors. It kinda feels like a relatively normal polished but not too polished building externally but then you come in and see the space – it is a big wow factor. “

“It’s amazing how the floor has come up given that it was covered for 30/40 years, not even exposed,  it’s come up so well.  Then exposing the ceiling – it works really, really well.  It’s very different to what is out there at the moment because of the contrast between the outside and the inside, completely different to everything else in the NQ. Every building should have its own character and a lot of buildings, when they think character they think exposed brick and sanded floors, this has its own unique characteristics that also give it that something special but on a different level, like a grown up level.”

What have the reactions of future prospects been like?

“Everybody that we take around the building, absolutely loves it! The biggest shock is the parquet flooring, externally you look at a 1960’s building – you’ve not been in and don’t expect that element to be part of the internal spec so agents walking around haven’t seen and it looks like it’s brand new.  Hilton House was purpose built for the Polytechnic and I reckon they put carpet on it straight away because it’s untouched, brand new. Lots of positive comments about the ceiling detail too, as this hasn’t been done before.”


If you are looking to relocate your office to the gem of the Northern Quarter – Hilton House, please contact Aino Raittinen today on 0161 806 0015.

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