On Friday me, my sister and my nephew hopped on the Metrolink into Manchester city centre with no other plan than to just explore the city. I rarely explore Manchester this way; I usually have a specific purpose and direction every time I go, and it was lovely how many new or hidden gems we discovered just by wandering freely.
Our day out was a collaboration with Hotels.com to showcase Manchester as a destination – which I can wholeheartedly get on board with. I’d thoroughly recommend a visit Manchester, and there are plenty of fab hotels in Manchester to suit every budget and style. The city centre alone has enough to keep you busy, plus the Metrolink can take you further afield too, to places like Old Trafford, MediaCity, Didsbury and Altrincham, which are all worth a visit.
After travelling in on the tram, our first stop was brunch at Albert’s Schloss. This is one of my favourite spots for a daytime gin and tonic, thanks to its beautiful interior, roaring fire and often live musicians. On this visit I was able to try their brunch menu instead, and opted for something from their bakery – a peanut butter and raspberry cruffin (cross between a croissant and muffin – yum!) Upstairs from Albert’s Schloss is the stunning vintage style concert venue Albert Hall, also home to Bongos Bingo (a unique night out that is worth experiencing at least once!)
We had a wander round Albert Square, which is peaceful at the moment, but is often home to various festivals over the summer and the markets at Christmas, and also St Peter’s Square, where we spotted the Emmeline Pankhurst sculpture that was unveiled a few months ago.
Then we headed down a side street, past various shops and cafes until we reached John Rylands library on Deansgate. It was completely free to explore the interior of this beautiful, old, Neo Gothic library, their collection of artifacts and their current exhibition “Women who Shaped Manchester”, and it is well worth a visit. It’s even baby friendly! And then we spent at least half an hour exploring their gift shop, which is full of unique and beautiful books and gifts, and right up my street!
Just around the corner in Spinningfields is the beautiful Sunset by Australasia. It’s just one of the many gorgeous restaurants and bars in this part of Manchester, and we couldn’t resist how Instagrammable it looked, so stopped in for a colourful cocktail. The Spinningfields area is also just around the corner from the Opera House Theatre, so it’s a great choice for pre-theatre dining and drinks. Some of the standouts we noticed as we passed through Spinningfields were The Ivy, which opened a few months ago (look how fancy they are with a doorman!), and The Oast House, which is a particularly enjoyable outdoor space on a sunny day. We also saw plenty of eateries on the waterside as we wandered along the River Irwell.
Only a short walk from Spinningfields we found St John’s Gardens, a peaceful green spot in the centre of Manchester and a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
For lunch we decided to try Rudy’s, whose authentic Neapolitan pizza has become famous in Manchester thanks to their highly-rated Ancoats restaurant. Last year they opened a second, more centrally located restaurant, which meant that I was finally able to discover what the fuss is all about (and I very much enjoyed my pizza!)
Our final wander was Great Northern Square, which is surrounded by loads of late night bars, including the new Peaky Blinders bar, Impossible Bar and the Theatre of Impossible nightclub (complete with theatrical performances). Great Northern itself is a great entertainment venue with a cinema, a casino, a virtual reality gaming centre, All Star Lanes, and an axe throwing venue, all housed inside an old industrial railway warehouse. Plus on the first Sunday of every month the Manchester Makers Market fills the square, and is a nice place to pick up some treats from local businesses.
We had a lovely day on our wanders, and it’s inspired me to do this sort of thing more often. Who else loves to explore cities this way?
Disclosure: The spending money for our excursion was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.