So, Manchester- have you been? It took me until I was 36 to go! It’s the 3rd most visited city in the UK, after London and Edinburgh. Famous for its music scene above all else, and as I write this I’m playing the Stone Roses for added effect. Oasis, Morissey and The Smiths, New Order and Joy Division and in recenter times The Courteeners all came from here.
Prompted by the birth of a baby (now a year old) I had such a wonderful time visiting friends here, who made a very sensible decision and relocated with their family to Manchester from London a couple of years ago. They now have the loveliest house at half the cost, in the loveliest street of Levenshulme (an up and coming suburb), with the loveliest sounding community around them. Lovely lovely lovely all round! It’s a great place to have a family. And it’s always funny to go to places where people have actual space in their homes, where they actively know their neighbours, and where the rat race of 3 zillion people all trying to get to work at the same time as you just isn’t the norm- as it of course is in London. It’s so refreshing!
I came up the day before staying with them, in order to do some much needed Manchester city tourism. I stayed at the Hatter Hostel on Newton Street and would only recommend it here for its location in the Northern Quarter – it was pretty dire inside! A new hostel friend who I met there said the place had a certain “charm” to it, but I think he was being polite 🙂 Charmless living area, freezing cold and barren bunk rooms with broken curtains and single pane glass letting some more of that lovely cold in, ahhh and did I mention dirty?!? The duvet poking out from the duvet cover was a very dark shade of grey- yuck!!
Across the road from the hostel however is the sublime Esra and Gill café and I urge you to go. Stay somewhere ELSE in the Northern Quarter, and go! I tried a few of the very lovely cafes in the area and this was definitely my favourite. The veggie breakfast and the cakes are to die for though. Prices on a par with London, but well worth it. Check out their website too: http://www.ezraandgil.com/Home.html
Here is my list of recommendations for other places I loved:
The Town Hall looks super gorgeous, but FYI is unfortunately closed at the moment for refurbishment, until 2020. It had been on my list!
However, John Rylands Library was also on my list and that was very much open. This neo-gothic building doesn’t look like your typical library! It can take as little as an hour to visit and is free to visit, seven days a week so well worth adding it on your list to admire this beautiful building. Its linked to the University of Manchester, so you will see some students studying in there too.
Mackie Mayors had been recommended to me by a few Manc’s who had simply described as a food hall with nice food. Also situated in the Northern Quarter (are you seeing a pattern?!) Well the food is amazing and the setting is an old market hall built originally in 1858- a very gorgeous period building, perfect for dates and special occasions or just a chill out with your friends on a Friday night. We were over-awed with the choice- Italian, Spanish, Vietnamese and more. http://www.mackiemayor.co.uk/
I had a voucher for Gingers Emporium. The Salted Caramel and Peanut butter- oh my goodness! Sheer heaven. Honestly, you have to go and enjoy this. It’s definitely up there on my best ice cream experiences. Not much seating area- perks of going during the day if you can. They also sell milkshakes and other sweet treats- http://www.gingerscomfortemporium.com/
No photos I’m afraid, as I think we were too busy talking and eating but my friend and I ate in My Thai and that was gorgeous, authentic, wholesome- and cheap! http://mythairestaurant.co.uk/manchester-john-dalton-street/
Afflecks Palace: a popular shopping mall in the Northern Quarter with all things alternative. Here you will find cool clothing shops, tarot readings, tattoo parlours, crystal shops, and much more (and Gingers Comfort Emporium is also located here on the first floor!) https://www.afflecks.com/
Visit “Oklahoma”- an independent and unique gift shop, with bright, fun, novel gifts. I picked up a gorgeous picture of Frida Kahlo in here 🙂
Richmond Tea Rooms. My friends treated me to an afternoon tea in this gorgeous building with its Alice in Wonderland theme: https://www.richmondtearooms.com/ with yummy scones and really friendly staff.
Recommended to do:
-Do stay in the Northern Quarter. It’s where it’s “at”! Avoid Hatters of Newton Street, unless you want to feel a bit icky and depressed! Not worth it, not even for one night.
-Walk! I walked from John Rylands on one side of the city centre, took in the City Cathedral, China Town, through to Canal Street, the cities beautiful, trendy and LGBT friendly area https://www.canal-st.co.uk/ There are so many old buildings, you’ll find yourself constantly stopping. I do wish I’d walked by the Opera House though (https://manchestertheatres.com/operahouse.htm) as this looks small bit beautiful and worth checking out.
-Coming from London? Yes it’s 5 hours on the coach but if the trains are expensive which I was finding when checking 12 weeks ahead, check out the Mega Bus for cheaper options.
-Wrap up warm! It was pretty cold when I went 😀