Manchester is one of those cities that we will never get tired of visiting. Over the years we have lost count of the times we have spent a night or two in this magnificent and extremely proud city. Our visits have always been for a number of varied reasons – sports events, concerts and gigs, drunken debauchery with friends (probably the least said about those weekends, the better), a stay before flying from Manchester airport, discover the amazing street art and even just to visit hotels in Manchester (of which there are loads to choose from) or even new restaurants. In fact, I’d go far as to say Manchester is our favourite city in England (barring our home city of Hull, naturally) and we jump at any excuse to pack up the car and head over the Pennines.
Our most recent trip saw us heading to Manchester on Black Friday for some retail therapy. As soon as we arrived in the city the hustle, bustle and pre Christmas excitement hit us full force and we loved it. Plus we were extremely lucky that the weather was fantastic for November, in fact, we were even treated to blue skies. If you love shopping as we do, the eclectic mix of shops and shopping areas in Manchester makes it a city that you need to visit.
Many people head to the Trafford Centre, which is just on the outskirts of Manchester. Now, don’t get me wrong the Trafford Centre is amazing and super easy to get too from the city centre, if you don’t fancy driving you can jump on the express X50 or 250 bus from Piccadilly Gardens, a few minutes’ on foot away from Manchester Picadilly (the city’s main) train station, but it is just that – a shopping centre, which could, in reality, be anywhere.
High Street Shops
We hit the ground running and headed straight to the Manchester Arndale Centre, home to over 200 high street shops selling almost everything you can think of. Basically, you will find something for all the family here. As it was Black Friday it was packed with people eager to grab a bargain. However, everyone seemed to be very well behaved. There was no pushing or shoving like other places we saw on the TV. Other high street shops can be found on Market Street, one of, if not the main street running through Manchester city centre. We picked up a few bits from the Arndale Centre before heading across Exchange Square to Harvey Nichols.
Living close to a city where the ‘best’ shop is the soon to close House of Fraser, this was a wonderful treat for us as we browsed the womenswear and menswear respectively. However, the clothes in Harvey Nichols seemed quite ‘loud’ and possibly suited to a younger and/or more trendy crowd. Still umming and arring about what we wanted to spend our hard earned cash on we headed to Selfridges & Co. Now, this shop is where you will find the stuff of dreams, with the price tags to boot. Needless to say, we were in our element wandering through the designer clothes concessions. We did pick up a couple of things and our bank balance took a hit, but if you’ve got to treat yourself once in a while – right?
The Northern Quarter
The next stop on our planned shopping route was supposed to be Thunder Egg in the Northern Quarter. It’s a great quirky retro shop which sells wonderful women’s clothes. I was introduced to it by a friend when I visited Manchester earlier this year. The Northern Quarter is also home to a number of other unique and independent shops. They are well worth looking around if you fancy something not everyone else has. Unfortunately, our bank accounts were bare, our feet were aching and we were ready for a drink and something to eat.
There are more pubs and clubs in Manchester than you can shake a stick at and I’ll be honest we have tried a lot of them – from swanky cocktail bars such as Arcane to the back street pubs where pints are £2 and karaoke is the entertainment (you know the ones I mean). We tend to migrate to the Northern Quarter if we are looking for a laid-back vibe and cool music. The Crown and Kettle, the Allotment Bar and the Port Street Beer House are three of our favourites. If visiting with friends we often head to Deansgate Locks which is packed with trendy bars and loud music – perfect for dancing the night away in.
However, as we didn’t want to head too far we opted for a quick on in The Old Wellington in the Cathedral Quarter. Basically called that because it lays within the shadow of Manchester Cathedral. Here there are a few bars all located next to each other, which on a summer’s day makes the perfect place to head for some mid-afternoon al fresco drinking. These pubs are what I would call old school boozers – you know the ones I mean – proper pubs with wooden beans and perfect for getting a proper pint. There are a few modern bars like Banyan just next door in the Corn Exchange building which has recently been refurbished if a cocktail is more your thing.
Not only is the Corn Exchange home to some bars but also home to some wonderful, mostly chain but a few independent, restaurants. My favourite of which is Salvis, a wonderful and authentic Italian, that I have eaten at a couple of times. Failing that, just across the road is the Printworks. here you will find more chain restaurants – Nandos, Chiquitos, Frankie & Bennys and our all-time favourite Hard Rock Cafe. Wherever we are in the world and there’s a Hard Rock Cafe – we’ll be there. For unique and independently owned cafes, coffee shops and restaurants, again you need to head to the Northern Quarter. Here you will find eateries such as Elnecot, The Pen & Pencil and the RBG Bar & Grill.
We, however, opted for something quintessentially British and headed back to Harvey Nichols for a delicious festive champagne afternoon tea. We were given one of the best tables in the house overlooking Exchange Square. Afternoon tea is kind of our thing and something we love to indulge in as often as possible. This one was particularly great and we would highly recommend it. With a glass of champagne, we toasted to a wonderful day. We then happily chatted until our afternoon tea was delivered to our table. With delectable finger sandwiches and wraps, scones with jam and lashings of clotted cream topped off with delicate petit fours. It was the perfect way to complete our shopping trip to Manchester.
I’m sure it won’t be long until we return again……
- Collaborative Post – The spending money for our afternoon tea was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are our own.
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