Manchester was home for me for over 5 years, and it is where my husband went to University and where we got married. We still have so much love for this city and visit as often as we can (our hairdresser is still based here!). So a couple of times a year we head up from Cornwall for a bit of city life and a decent haircut. I always take so many photos and thought I would start sharing them in a bit of a round up post. Manchester has changed so much over the past 20+ years, with lots of great new places popping up, but also some of that Northern grit and magic is being lost.
It is crazy to see the change in the Manchester skyline, so many new glass tower blocks in between the historical red brick buildings. The old and the new side by side. I also love just how much street art there is, if you look for it. Beautiful murals and graffiti dotted about all over the city. The Manchester Bee has become such a positive symbol, one of hope and community. Manchester is a city that wears its heart on its sleeve, very friendly and full of energy.
Manchester has become a dream destination for foodies, you are spoilt for choice in terms of variety. I am vegan, and you are never short of options, I have always wanted to go to the curry night at The Deaf Institute and OMG it was epic. The entire menu was Vegan friendly, it was very reasonable in price and the food was all cooked fresh to order. What can be better than a curry and a cold pint of beer. If you get the chance to visit, you must eat here!
The Northern Quarter is still a very cool place to eat, drink and shop, although a few places have gone now, there are always new spots popping up (some good some are a little meh). Fred Aldous has always been one of my favourite places to shop for stationery, cards and art supplies, it moved locations a few years ago now, but it is still the same vibe. Oh & it even has a black and white old style photo machine. So much fun and a sweet way to remember your trip.
Now, I am not sure if I should let you all in on my number one place to get food, it is the best kept secret. What, The Pitta in tucked away on the edge of the Northern Quarter, and it serves up the most incredible ALL Vegan Doner Kebabs. They’re HUGE, packed full of salad, doner meat and chips. It will fill you up for days, they have expanded their menu to include a Vegan Chicken Burger, Falafel Wrap and Gyros too. Oh and their soft serve ice cream is hard to resist. I always go here when I am in Manchester, such a treat, and my non-vegan friends always request to go here too! Oh & it is dog friendly too, always a bonus.
We always stay at Whitworth Locke, it is a great central location, right by Canal Street, it is not too far from where we used to live. It is a gorgeous space, each room is like a mini apartment, you get a comfy seating area, dining area a lovely fully equipped kitchen. I have stayed in a variety of their rooms, and they’re all so stylish and comfortable. It has become a home from home for us.
When you’re staying somewhere regularly for quite a few days at a time, it is nice to have space and the facilities in your room to cook and relax.
The lobby, which is a huge glass atrium full of plants, has a really charming bar, coffee shop, restaurant, and lots of space to sit and relax, it is very friendly. The rooms are very reasonably priced, I have found it as little as £85 a night, which for the location and the quality of the hotel is remarkable.
I have also stayed at the Locke hotel in Edinburgh, which was just as cool and stylish, they have them all over Europe now, so if you’re heading away anywhere, check to see if there is one in your destination.
I love exploring Manchester, there is always something new to see, I used to work around Spinningfields and in the years since I left it has become a great area for restaurants. The Ivy has opened up there and there is quite often a pop-up on the green there, and recently they had an outdoor cinema and lawn club bar.
We stumbled upon El Capo in the Northern Quarter, we use to regularly go to Kosmonaut but decided to try somewhere new (very daring), we do love The Whiskey Bar too, but this new Tequila Bar is pretty EPIC. The decor is so cool, the tequila selection is impressive, and they serve delicious Mexican food. It gets very busy, but that adds to the atmosphere.
If you like an independent micro brewery, then I highly recommend Fierce Beer, they’re a brewery based in Aberdeen and have bars in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and one in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. They have a fantastic selection of beers, if you like fruity beer, larger, IPA’s or even stout they have a beer for you. They offer vegan and gluten free options, which is quite unusual but very welcomed. The staff are knowledgable, friendly and the bar has a great atmosphere. Always nice to support a small brewery.
Manchester is also a great place to get good coffee, or in my case Matcha. Fig & Sparrow is always our first port of call when we arrive, it is in The Northern Quarter, they have a delicious selection of cakes, a seasonal lunch and breakfast menu. You can sit inside and out, we love the friendly welcome and the relaxed vibe.
Since we lived in Manchester, Ancoats, Green Quarter has changed so much, so many of the Mills and Warehouses have been developed, and it has become the place to live. I can see why, so many cafés, restaurants, and it has a community vibe. We came across The Flat Baker (tucked up a side street), sadly it was closed on the day we were there. I have since learned that it is owned by a couple who started baking during lockdown and recently opened their first premises. It looks so cute, and their Brazilian inspired pastries and bakes look irresistible. Next time I am in Manchester, I will be sampling a few of their treats!
Takk is also one of our go-to café stops, we used to always go to the one on Tibb Street, but we quite like their University Green one, it is bright, and you always get a seat. We like to sit in the window and watch the world go by, it looks out on to a busy square and its a nice space to take some time out. They serve THE best matcha latte.
So thats my little Manchester Diary for you, it is one of my favourite cities, I have lived there, got married there, my northern husband did his degree and Masters there, and It’s where I set up my own business. It is a place that always makes me feel creative, excited and reenergises my heart. It is a city with lots of memories, and we love popping up every 6 months or so to make new memories and just soak in all the energy. Cornwall, where we live now, is quiet and relaxing, every so often you just need an injection of city life to keep your soul alive. Where is your favourite city in the UK to visit? Let me know where & why.