10 Things Not To Miss In Manchester
There is one word to describe what attracts me to Manchester and that word is effort. I feel that Manchester, more than any city in the world channels some serious effort into creating vivacious, unique and over the top destinations for its residents and visitors to enjoy. If Manchester were a person it would be the sassy aunt who always overdrinks at Christmas. Loud, interesting and a little bit perverted. Here are some interesting things you shouldn’t miss while visiting.
1. The amazing prepared foods of Marks & Spencers
A constant struggle of travelling abroad is the availability of fresh, affordable food. Sure eating out is the clear option – but when the pound is nearly double the Canadian dollar even “cheap” restaurants can be a splurge. Enter Marks & Spencer’s food hall where you’ll find aisles of fresh sandwiches, salads, pastas, sushi, snacks and even their own brand of adorably canned alcoholic beverages. Serving for one – perfect!
2. Beautiful shopping arcades
There is seldom I love more than a beautifully preserved vintage shopping arcade, and Barton arcade nestled between buildings in its glassy glory is one of the best. I kid you not when I say its “nestled”, hidden between other stone buildings it would be easy to miss! Inside there are unique shops, a very cool barber and a café called Pot Kettle Black. I highly suggest making yourself at home with a delicious latte and basking in the grandeur of an arcade almost forgotten in time.
3.Inventive and unique restaurants
It’s not secret that I’m obsessed with a restaurant in Manchester, Albert’s Schloss (see my article here). Its Germanic theme, wood and floral mixture and press for prosecco buttons all give me heart palpitations. “But Jen”, you say, “I’m not into adorable florals and delicious schnitzel and bier” fine – your loss, but its fine because there are SO MANY amazing restaurants around the city. Turtle Bay will whisk you away to a Caribbean jerk chicken paradise (pictured above), Refuge by Volta will serve you a traditional Sunday roast and the Richmond Tea Rooms will have you expecting Alice to join you for a scone.
4. A number of beautiful libraries
The John Ryland’s library is an obvious standout. In all its neo-gothic goodness the library welcomes you with elaborate carvings and its nonexistent entry fee. Yes its FREE a flight attendant favorite. As you enter its main reading room you may suffer from uncontrollable harry potter vibes. If the topic of stunning libraries interests you may I suggest seeking out the Chethams & Portico Library as well.
5. Beautiful Theatres
Manchester is home to many beautiful theatres. For example, the Royal Exchange theatre, an old cotton exchange building with its original exchange board still in tact. Not only that but some of the interior is pink marble. As a whole the building radiates a very eclectic charm.
6. The best museum I’ve been to yet
When the bitter British weather turns on you a museum is the perfect way to spend a day, perusing with a latte in hand. An added bonus, throughout the UK many museums are free of charge, making the option budget friendly – or leaving space for a second latte (score). The Manchester Museum is my favorite museum to date. They’ve set their displays up in a very aesthetically pleasing manner with dark tones and neon lights.
7. Art galleries
Much like museums, art galleries are an excellent way to spend a rainy afternoon. I’ve got to admit, most of the time I am silently judging what passes for art, but every now and again I am pleasantly surprised. For example this Raquib Shaw exhibit at the Whitworth Art Gallery was bright, exotic and interesting. The Manchester Art Gallery is another favourite, with consistently interesting exhibits. This is the final week of their 100 years of Vogue exhibit.
8. Gotham Hotel
If you’re into boutique hotels and batman, Gotham is just the place for you. This art-deco themed former bank is a serious nod to luxury boutique accommodation with a cheeky side. Guests have access to a private VIP club on the 7th floor in addition to sleeping in serious cool Gatsby-esque rooms. A martini trolley room service is available – common. Dark wood, leather and brass are found everywhere and the whole thing is very old Hollywood glamour.
9. World class shopping
I love shopping in Manchester, something about Market Street and all of the interesting UK brands just seems right here. Wander around the high street and take in all of the interesting goods. Cath Kidston is a forever favorite of mine and actually seeing the products in person (vs. drooling over them online) makes such a huge difference. Selfridges and Primark are my favorite picks for big box stores you wont find at home!
10. Creative nightlife
Even if (like myself) you are not a night owl, it’s worth staying up and hitting the streets of Manchester after dark. There is a laundry list of cool bars, restaurants and speakeasies littered around the city. Ever wanted to drink in an underground public toilet? You can! How about an undercover bar masquerading as a pawnshop? You can! Do you have the desire to walk through a Laundromat door into a secret bar? You can! There are just so many possibilities. See for yourself with these finely crafted articles here, here and here.