Manchester Travel Guide

Manchester Travel Guide

Matt Bramford

Manchester, Manchester England. Capital of the North, Cottonopolis, Warehouse City; wettest, most miserable place on Earth. Manchester’s reputation precedes itself, but it is quickly becoming a powerhouse to rival London. The city’s people are warm and welcoming, you get a damn sight more for your cash, and it is set to outperform Berlin, Tokyo and Paris in terms of growth over the next five years. With world-class art and culture, a flourishing restaurant and bar scene and a calendar of events to rival the world’s capitals, this city should be high on any traveller’s wish list. Wondering what to do in Manchester? Mr Hudson has got you covered.

A tall agenda

Cloud 23, a cocktail bar on the 23rd floor of the city’s iconic Beetham Tower, is a good place to start. With 360-degree views of the city, the bar affords unrivalled views and allows you to get a sense of the area: its past and its present. Work your way through the champagne list, or try the decadent afternoon tea, one of Manchester’s finest. The building itself is the North West of England’s most iconic skyscraper, so the opportunity to ride its lifts shouldn’t be missed.

The best hotels in Manchester

Manchester happily mixes traditional hotels with contemporary boutiques. The Principal, the city’s latest addition, sees the infamous Palace Hotel transformed into a luxury residence. With its iconic Victorian clock tower, The Principal is a city centre landmark and was built as the Refuge Assurance Building in 1895. The multimillion pound refurbishment retains and retells the building’s history.

The Midland, housed in a beautiful Edwardian Baroque Grade II listed building, is one of the city’s most iconic residences. Its location near the Town Hall is perfect for weekend stays.

If a more unusual rest is up your strasse, and why wouldn’t it be, the city has plenty to offer. The Great John Street Hotel, an eclectic townhouse occupying an old Victorian school, is one of the finest hotels in the UK with luxury rooms, stylish lounges, and an Oyster bar.

Hotel Gotham is the latest boutique opening, offering unashamed opulence in the city centre. In an imposing Art Deco building on King Street, designed by ‘Architect of the British Empire’ Edwin Luytens, its dramatic suites and OTT approach to interior design rival the world’s most unique hotels.

Alternatively, try the Lowry just over the river in Salford. This five-star behemoth has welcomed presidents and pop stars since it opened in 2001.

The Gotham

The Gotham

Architecture in Manchester

As an industrial city, Manchester’s historic buildings are few and far between. The Town Hall is a fine example of Gothic architecture and a step inside Central Library‘s enormous rotunda is time well spent. The thrill of the city is a vast number of Modernist buildings, which are great for architecture fans; the city has its own Modernist Society, who educate and preserve. The Toast Rack is worth the 10-minute journey by cab, but the city centre is peppered with glorious concrete structures.

The best coffee in Manchester

Manchester’s residents take their coffee seriously. Takk in the Northern Quarter is one of the city’s stalwarts, with beans sourced across Europe and a delicious Nordic-inspired menu to compliment cups of coffee. The Foundation Coffee House is one of the younger members of the scene, but its vast, stylish interior and perfect brews draw a hip crowd at weekends. For the finest independent option, pay Nico a visit at Lupo Caffè Italiano, where you’ll find perfect espresso and the finest, homemade tiramisu this side of the Med.

The Foundation Coffee House | Photo: Matt Bramford

The Foundation Coffee House | Photo: Matt Bramford

Thing to do in Manchester

Major galleries dominate the city’s art scene. The publicly owned Manchester Art Gallery combines Renaissance oil paintings, a large number of works by L.S. Lowry (one of Manchester’s most famous residents) and a rolling programme of contemporary art. Recent highlights have included shows by Joana Vasconcelos and Grayson Perry, alongside exhibitions about interior design and Italian fashion. The Whitworth, relaunched this year with a £15m extension, won Museum of the Year in 2015 and houses a vast collection of modern art and sculpture, from notable figures such as Moore, Hepworth, Paolozzi, Hamilton, Bacon, Hockney and many more. For a more intimate experience, try Artzu for sculpture and paintings, or the Richard Goodall Gallery for graphic prints.

MIF

Manchester welcomes the world’s greatest performers all year round, but the Manchester International Festival is a must-visit. The city thrives with music, art, drama and dance events across the city at multiple venues and the festival’s focus is on original work, with famous creatives crossing their own boundaries. Previous highlights have included a musical by Damon Albarn, choral performances curated by Gerhard Richter, and live performances by Kraftwerk, The xx and Massive Attack to name a few

The Whitworth | Photo: Matt Bramford

The Whitworth | Photo: Matt Bramford

The Northern Quarter

One of the most buzzing Manchester points of interest is the Northern Quarter. It is the city’s creative hub, and the result of regeneration throughout the nineties. This locale is a hotbed of eclectic shops, inspired menswear stores, endless places to imbibe and a host of world cuisine. Oi Polloi is a must; the city’s best menswear stockist offers brands from Europe including Our Legacy and A Kind of Guise. Stock up on a Stutterheim rain jacket, perfect for Manchester’s notoriously inclement weather. The Northern Quarter is also a Mecca for music and it boasts numerous record shops, including the world famous Piccadilly Records, where you can find rare funk and soul vinyl. Various design shops offer a world of interior objects: we like Fred Aldous for Nathalie du Pasquier prints and Magma for rare magazines.

It’s tough deciding where to eat and drink in the Northern Quarter; the options are endless. Walrus’ decadent interior and exciting cocktail menu is a good place to start, the Koffee Pot serves heaven-scent British fry-ups, Home Sweet Home boasts being ‘the bestest little cake shop on the planet’ and 63 Degrees, a French brasserie, never disappoints. PLY is always top of the list, too; its pizzas are heavenly and its vast industrial interior is one of the city’s nicest places to relax.

Shopping in Manchester

Department stores like Selfridges and Harvey Nichols cater for designer lovers. Didsbury, Manchester’s affluent suburb, offers craft markets at weekends and a number of curated shops. Levenhulme’s antique markets are worth exploring. Elsewhere, don’t miss British heritage brand Private White V.C. Tour its factory, where utilitarian work wear and luxury tailoring are made on site – complete with showroom and store.

Private White V.C. | Photo: Matt Bramford

Private White V.C. | Photo: Matt Bramford

Where to eat in Manchester

Burgers and street food are beloved in Manchester, but the city offers much more. A branch of Hawksmoor, London’s best steak restaurant, recently opened on Deansgate and has been championed by Manchester’s food critics. Australasia combines modern Australian dishes with European flavours. Neighbourhood exploits New York traditions with a stunning interior and a rich menu of posh Reuben sandwiches, steaks and sushi. The Refuge by Volta, housed in The Principal Hotel,  is a new firm favourite of Mancunians. Its sexy setting and lavish menu is a real crowd pleaser, as is its endless cocktail list, making it a perfect place for…

Manchester nightlife

Canal Street, Manchester’s equality epicentre, has suffered in recent years from on an onslaught of stag and hen dos and pissed-up partygoers, but things are set to change as the venues tidy themselves up. Velvet, at the North end of the street, is one of the better venues, with funk and disco nights at weekends. The Molly House offers a range of craft beers and an intimate outdoor terrace. If the previous recommendations haven’t stimulated a thirst, there are plenty of other options for late night drinking. Volta in the suburb of Didsbury has long been a Manchester stalwart and its latest venture – The Refuge by Volta, housed in the aforementioned Principal Hotel, is the city’s central hotspot.

The Alchemist has a cocktail list as long as your arm. Albert’s Schloss, the city’s latest launch, is a Bavarian wunderbar with roaring fires, ales and cosy sofas. What’s not to love?

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