This summer has been GLORIOUS, right? Temperatures were hotter than Spain and Hawaii – so instead of me, escaping the miserable British summer, I decided to stay here. Why not? I think we have the best beaches, countryside and cities with incredible culture, in the world.
I’ve really been making the most of getting as many weekends filled with adventure as I could. I’m always going on about how I’ve been to most American States, but I realised I haven’t actually seen so much of the UK. So this year, I’ve been to Cornwall, Devon, all over Wales, Dorset, Whitstable and most recently Manchester.
A weekend in Manchester
I’ve wanted to go to Manchester for ages, but never really found an excuse. It’s got loads of shops, bars, incredible restaurants (all cheaper than London!) and is just a couple of hours away. So with it being the summer of sunshine and an IHG® offer (20% off!) – I thought this was my opportunity. (Oh, as you’re here – check out my guide on how to get the best prices on IHG hotels).
We booked our tickets, arrived at the train station and I already discovered my first North v South differences. Whenever I catch a train to Wales or the South generally – the platform is called and I tell you what, it’s like Mad Max. There’s LITERAL sprinting, pushing, barging, shouting, swearing to get a spot on the train. Travelling up North, the platform was called, I brace myself for impact and no -everyone was properly chilled, making their way calmly to the train!
Also, sat down and my boyfriend turns to me and is like, ‘Is it just me or does everyone know each other on this train?’ and yeah, everyone was chatting to each other like old friends. Was well weird! I mentioned it on Twitter where I was told it was normal, that people are just friendlier up North!
Doing it in Luxury
After a summer of heat, of course, the day I turn up it’s raining. Wasn’t a huge deal though because I was in Manchester to eat some good food, do some shopping and relax in the hotel rather than sunbathing.
You lot know I’m boujie yet on a budget so there’s a couple of musts for me. The hotel needs to be nice, with a big soft bed, big breakfast, gym (lol – that’s a joke, I don’t work out on holiday) – but the boyfriend wants one, I want to see some nice sights, eat cake, and eat some good food. Oh, and shop – but not in a shopping centre, but with beautiful boutiques with stuff you can’t just buy everywhere.
Something else I’ll tell you – Manchester does Pride like nowhere else. The rainbow flag was everywhere and it was amazing to see.
Where to stay
I’m not going to name names (but if you wanted to do a little Sherlock-ing, you could probably work it out from Twitter), but I stayed in a 5* hotel a little while back.
The lobby area was beautiful, but the minute I got to the room – I was more than underwhelmed. The room smelled odd, could have been cleaner and just didn’t have the luxury I expected with a 5* hotel.
So long story short – 5* hotels are overrated in my opinion. I’ve stayed at a few, and unless you’re talking the best of the best – meh.
We booked a night at Holiday Inn Manchester City Centre which is pretty much smack bang in the middle of Manchester City Centre. A five-minute walk to the Northern Quarter where all the cool shops and bars are and was blown away by how nice it was.
It’s just super cool. It was bright, with cool lamps, sofas, lego heads (the pictures do a better job of explaining). With a cocktail bar and loads of places to hang out.
We went up to our room and hand on heart it was better than the 5* hotel from weeks ago. The bathroom was lovely (in fact, I kind of want to copy it for my bathroom in my house) and it had everything you needed – including room service!
Oh, there was also a KitKat in the fridge. I have no clue if they are in all the fridges or this was a mistake, but I just saw it as my lucky day and ate it before my boyfriend could ask for a stick. 😉
We popped out for dinner – went to Turtle Bay down the road where I drank a load of 2for1 strawberry margaritas while eating prawns while it rained outside. That’s a bit of heaven for me there.
On the way back to the hotel we passed a market and picked up some cakes for dessert which we planned to eat in bed! Got back, flicked on a film and hung out all night – it was so nice.
Breakfast and shopping
The next morning, had a super long shower, stuck on some make-up and went for breakfast. You can book a room with the breakfast buffet already included in the price of the room, or pay extra for breakfast when you’re there. It was amazing!
There was your usual continental and cooked breakfast items, but also a pancake and Bloody Mary station. We drank a load of coffee and braced ourselves to discover Manchester in the rain… and then it stopped and the sun came out!
We checked out, but left our bag there and wandered into the North Quarter. There are so many boutique shops with beautiful homewares, jewellery, books etc. Honestly, better than London as it was so much cheaper.
We spotted a sample sale where men’s items were reduced by 75%+ and some of the best vintage shops I’ve ever seen.
After a morning of shopping, we decided to do some sightseeing and go and visit Manchester Cathedral. It’s free to go in and wander around, but if you do want to use your camera they ask for a donation of £1.
We then popped across to the Cathedral cafe and had some cake and coffee – but the breakfast there looked absolutely amazing too.
Then over to the football museum, where there were famous footballer plaques on the floor, like the Hollywood walk of fame, which has a load of craft shops outside, so both me and the boyfriend were really chuffed.
When I go back
One night just isn’t enough. We wanted a relaxing weekend, so didn’t push ourselves too much but will come back (maybe when there’s a Christmas market in a few weeks) and I have the following things I want to do.
- The Coronation Street museum
- The Turing museum
- Really want to eat at Manchester House (you should see the desserts!)
- Get a massage (and high tea!) at The Youth Sanctuary
- Oh, and more shopping
Genuinely, don’t think I’d bother changing hotels. It was everything I like in a place to stay and I don’t see how you could beat the location or the price-point. AND I earned my IHG Rewards Club points from this stay so I can put them towards another night somewhere else.
What are your thoughts on Manchester? What do I need to do next time?
*This is a collaborative post with IHG*