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Seven of the best things to visit in Manchester

Words by Luke Williams and all images courtesy of Stanley Photography

Seven of the best places to visit in Manchester – Since moving to Leeds back in 2011, my welsh accent has nearly disappeared, I am now a Welsh, Falkland Islander, Yorkshire hybrid and I love it. Leeds has been my home for 9 years and I have never been so comfortable in this beautiful bustling city.

However, despite Manchester only being around the corner, (well, a 45-minute car journey), I have not really had chance to explore the city. I’ve been to a couple of gigs over the years (and a night out or two, for which I’ve stumbled for the last train back to Leeds), but I’ve never had the chance to truly explore and get lost in Manchester. I was excited to have a mini adventure and spend 48 hours in England’s ‘second city’ and see what the cultural hub had to offer.

Stay:

My base during my adventure was the Hyatt House on Booth street, which was a perfect location, adjacent to the University of Manchester (and some great little watering holes- I clocked them immediately,) only a 13 minute walk from Oxford Road train station and a short walk from some lovely looking restaurants and bars- which was ideal.

My partner Tom and I stayed in the Hyatt Suite, which housed a queen bed studio, smart TV, smart workspace and complimentary wi-fi, priced at just £98 per night, (which was an absolute steal for this stunning room). All of this combined with the unbelievable aerial views of Manchester, (which made the city look like a toy town), plus the hotels amazing location make it exceptional value.

After turning on the TV, trying the bed out for size, inspecting the shower (which was a water-fall shower of course) and making myself a cup of coffee (using the complimentary Nespresso machine provided), we were ready to drive over to the Luna Drive In Cinema at Tatton Park. We collected our cinema goody bag (which Hyatt House generously provided), and with bags of skittles, jelly babies and popcorn in tow our little adventure began.

Number 1:

Arriving at Tatton Park we realised that Helena the hotel receptionist’s information was spot on, the park was breath-taking. Deer roamed freely among sheep and humans and there were breath-taking views that went on for miles. I could not quite believe that we were going to be watching a film on this warm dusky evening amongst so much natural beauty. After slapping my hands together with excitement and giddily awaiting the gates to open, we were handed a large radio box by the Luna staff and shown to our viewing spot. Once the car was in situ, we had the option to order refreshments through the Luna app, which of course we did. Once ordered, an attendant whizzed around on a scooter, collected the order from the vendors and delivered the nibbles straight to the car, easy peasy!

Whilst watching the film, it was hard not to acknowledge the gorgeous surroundings. The sky was pink and the summer breeze took the heat out of evening air, we all sat singing and finger tapping to Elton John classics from our cars, it was simply brilliant and safe to say that our first out-side cinema experience was nothing short of amazing- something that I would recommend to everyone!  https://www.lunadriveincinema.com

Number 2:

Back at the hotel, we had a few minutes to freshen up, peel popcorn from our faces and jump into an Uber. We were on our way to ‘Three Little Words’, a restaurant and cocktail bar created by the guys behind Manchester Gin. Set within restored railway arches, it was a stunning place to unwind and talk about our cinema experience. Drinks wise, we had to try the gin cocktails, which of course were spot-on. For starters we opted for Spinach and Pepper with hummus and sour dough crackers and Crispy Cauliflower Stems, they were simple starters and reasonably priced. The place was bustling, and we could see why, there were trays of cocktails and tasty titbits delivered endlessly to enthusiastic customers, who were laughing and cheering into the evening.

For our main courses, as vegetarians, we had limited options, but the Coconut Laska looked really tasty, served with rice noodles, courgette, charred corn and a side of home cooked chips, the vegetarian choices were limited but delicious. We thoroughly enjoyed this dish, savouring every mouthful. We politely declined dessert; our belt buckles were quivering under the strain; we were as full as eggs and perfectly satisfied. We sat chatting for a while longer, sipping on a couple of drinks and enjoying the beautiful ambiance around us and eventually we sauntered back to our hotel to rest after our jam-packed first day in Manchester. https://threelittlewordsmcr.co.uk/

It was safe to say that we were pooped, and after a few minutes of watching the glowing lights of the city and the toy-town cars that were gliding along the streets below us, we called it a night and slept soundly in our comfy queen sized bed.

The next morning, we woke up naturally, although we slept in longer that we planned, I put it down to the unbelievably comfy bed (how dare they make the beds so comfortable!). It was VERY difficult to haul ourselves out of our cocoon. Once we shoe-horned ourselves out, we were served breakfast by the loveliest waitress, who bent over backwards to make our morning absolutely incredible.

Number 3:

We enjoyed a full vegan breakfast, a chia pudding with a cup of tea and freshly squeezed fruit juice. With full bellies we grabbed our rucksacks and decided to have a tourist morning, checking out the famous gay village and all the landmarks around the city. We casually wandered around, marvelling at the stunning architecture that appeared around every corner, like the gothic library building (which was sadly closed) but was beautiful to photograph from the outside.

Number 4:

We worked up a bit of an appetite (and a sweat) and headed over to The Allotment, a vegan eatery that we have had our eyes on forever, it’s multi-award winning and has had so many amazing reviews, so we could not wait.

The Allotment has such a lovely, earthy feeling inside, we were greeted and shown to our table by a smiley waitress who made us feel extremely welcome. We ordered an Aperol to start and decided to tuck straight into the vegan menu, sharing starters of Salt and Pepper Tofu and Roasted Butternut Squash. Considering these were quite simple dishes, the flavours were complex and utterly gorgeous.

The tofu was perfect (a texture sometimes hard to get right) with a flavour punch that kicked us straight to Asia. The squash was tasty too, it was roasted perfectly and paired beautifully with miso and crunchy pomegranate, a flavour combination that blended perfectly. We were full after our starters, however, when the main courses were brought over, we swiftly got to work, I really do love my job!

We decided to try the famous ‘Fish’ and Chips, which was battered banana blossom accompanied with chunky chips and garden peas with lemon and mint seasoning. There was also Beetroot Risotto, with maple glazed beetroot segments, vegan ricotta and toasted pine nuts. Our minds were blown, as first-time banana blossomer’s, we could not get over how light and remarkably fishy the flavour was. I have been fish-free since turning veggie nearly 12 months ago, so it was a treat to be reminded of that delicate taste without a single animal harmed in the process. The risotto was an audacious purple silky mountain, which glistened before me. It was sharp, sweet, soft and nutty, everything I needed and more, even creamy without a drop of dairy in the recipe, all extremely impressive. Although I am a vegetarian, I still eat cheese and some dairy produce, but I didn’t miss the dairy whatsoever in these meals, the risotto was balanced perfectly with flavour, texture and taste, it was just epic.

We were overwhelmed and true to form, extremely full. Initially we did decide to pass on a dessert, however when the waitress came over to explain about their famous hazelnut slice, we were immediately convinced, (or maybe just weak). However, from the first bite we could understand why this dessert had remained a firm favourite with their customers. It was rich and moist, the hazelnuts were sweet and gorgeously roasted. I loved the gooey caramel centre which complimented the flavours so well, a little slice of heaven. We absolutely loved our lunch at The Allotment and could not compliment the food and staff enough. https://allotmentvegan.co.uk/

Number 5:

We took our food filled bellies for another stroll, this time we headed over to the trams to grab a ride to the Trafford Centre, where we were heading to Sea Life, a popular aquarium in the city.

The tram was a little hot, however we were masked up and got there in 15 minutes and by the time we arrived we were ready for an underwater adventure.  Sea Life was easy to find in the Trafford Centre (you cannot miss it), and we were really impressed by the sheer volume of species on display. There is lots of facts and interesting marine life stories, plus some interactive displays which seemed to go down a storm with children. It is an ideal place for kids and adults to snoop around, especially on a rainy day. My favourites were the jelly fish, who pulsated around their tank, glowing and dancing around the water, they were mesmerising to see. The sea horses were also a highlight, you get to see these magnificent creatures up close which is incredible. We had a great time visiting the aquarium and we chatted about our sea life adventure on the tram back into Manchester city centre.

Back at the hotel to freshen up, on entering our suite we were greeted by a plate heaving with cakes and treats from the lovely Helena on reception. So we decided to have a cup of coffee and a cake (or 10- we do not mess around!) and we sat watching the bustling city below us in the early evening sun; it was just magical.

Number 6

Once we were ready and dressed,  we headed down to the Graduate Bar (which is part of Hyatt Regency) there’s plenty of seating and the whole place was flooded in early evening sunlight through the stunning glass windows. As we took a seat, more wonderful staff popped over to have a chat and we had a recommendation to try The Graduate Cocktail, it was made from Olmenca, Koko Kanu, Lime and Prosecco and it was delicious. I was surprised as it contained tequila, however the flavours were so complimentary, and it was a deliciously refreshing signature cocktail. There was a great atmosphere so we enjoyed another cocktail from the menu before jumping into another Uber and heading over to the Tariff & Dale.

Number 7:

This former cotton warehouse is both effortlessly cool and inviting, with lovingly restored industrial artefacts (like the old lift shaft, which was now used as a seating area). A stunning building which still has the original window shafts outside where cotton was loaded into the building. I loved how they have kept so many original features but brought a sense of coolness with its funky décor, comfy leather seats and the incredible food and cocktail menu.

We tried the Missionary’s Downfall, a cocktail which contained Appleton Estate signature blend, apricot liqueur, lime, agave, pineapple and mint, this refreshing drink was icy and cooling and took the edge off the extremely warm evening. I wish we could have sat and soaked in the atmosphere a little longer, but we had a dinner date to attend, so we took a short stroll to Blossom Street and found Canto Restaurant.

Having been shown to our seats, we were able to take in the stunningly sumptuous interior of this Mediterranean tapas restaurant. Dimly lit by trendy lights and candles, it was the perfect place to sit back and natter, whilst trays of tapas were brought over for diners who shared their tasty looking food over hearty conversations and lots of laughter, (this was definitely my sort of place).

The waiter, Connor, came over and we quickly sparked up conversation, he chatted to us about his job and how he enjoyed the food he served, he recommended dishes we should try and kept us topped up with wine and delicious vegetarian plates. We had Catalan Bread, toasted with olive oil, garlic and fresh tomatoes, Pan Fried Tender Stem Broccoli with chilli and garlic, Roasted Potatoes with brava sauce and aioli, Chargrilled Sweet Potato with tzatziki, Caramelised Cauliflower with harissa- spiced hummus and Mushroom Croquetas with garlic mayo, the mushroom croquetas were so delicious, we needed a second helping, which Connor happily re-ordered! They are highly addictive, so approach these croquetas with caution!

We could not fault the meal at all, I am a huge fan of picking foods and as vegetarians we had enough choice to feel more than satisfied. That paired with the delicious wine, fabulous service and relaxing atmosphere, for me, Canto has a winning formula – it was like being on holiday with the warm air outside and the bustle inside, if I closed my eyes we could have been in the Med.

The service in Canto was incredible, from Connor the waiter to the restaurant manager, who came over for a chat, they were all genuinely lovely people, who really cared for the restaurant and their customers dining experience. I would highly recommend Canto to anyone who enjoy tapas style food, you really will not be disappointed. https://www.cantorestaurant.com

As we said our goodbyes, the heavens finally opened which cooled down the evening heat. We ran to grab our taxi and headed  back to the hotel, where we hunkered down for our last night and with the sound of thunder rumbling above us and the streets of Manchester below fast asleep, we slept like logs.

We woke to a clear sunny day; the storm had cleared the air and we were able to sit outside The Graduate Bar to eat our final breakfast of omelette with a side of French toast, a flat white and freshly squeezed juice. With the sun caressing our faces and friendly service from Ruben our waiter, we took in the last few moments of the hotel and reminisced over our wonderful 48 hour adventure in Manchester. We genuinely felt like we were on holiday and enjoyed every single second.

Manchester, we will be back!

Stay a night or stay a while! Hyatt House Manchester which costs from just £98 per room per night, including a queen bed studio with kitchen, smart TV, smart workspace and complimentary internet access. To book tel (+44) 0161 359 5556 or log onto www.hyatthousemanchester.com Phoning is recommended for any guests with specific needs like connecting rooms.

A one-night stay at Hyatt Regency Manchester costs from just £94 per room per night including a King Bed, free wi-fi, fluffy bathrobes, in-room amenities and a full complementary a la carte breakfast. To book tel: (+44) 0161 359 5550 or go to www.hyattregencymanchester.com

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