On 14th February this year we headed to Manchester to see Simple Minds. We decided to take the next day off so that we could spend a bit more time exploring Manchester. I was thinking of vlogging the short stay but I decided to take a more relaxed approach to our time away and I took some photographs for this blog post instead. I hope you enjoy seeing where we ate, drank and shopping in this post. I have wholeheartedly fallen in love with Manchester (especially the Northern Quarter) and I know we’ll be visiting again very soon!
14th February 2018
We arrived in Manchester at around 5pm, so we had just enough time to check in, grab a bite to eat and head to the gig. We we’re looking for somewhere near the Albert Hall where the concert was taking place. Ed had a Supermarket come Kitchen recommended to him called Siam Smiles, so we headed there. Sadly I didn’t take any snaps, we were absolutely starving and keen to tuck into our Thai cuisine dishes which we decided to share. To enter the café you had to walk down a steep set of stairs to the basement, it’s situated in the centre of their Chinese quarter. What a delightful little place. I have to say, the food was faaaar too spicy for me though. But I did come out feeling detoxed and healthier. There’s something about working through the heat and exploring new foods that is totally invigorating and exciting (even if I was picking out the chilli’s).
Later on that day
We (I) danced a lot, we drank beer at Brewdog (which was virtually next door to the Albert Hall), we got a couple more cheeky bevvies for back at the hotel and woke up early(ish) the next day for a full day of wandering and exploring.
15th February 2018
Staying in your Travelodge hotel until the late check-out time of 12pm is tempting but eager to find the best brunch in town we got ready quick and went straight to Federal. It’s located near the back of the Arndale shopping centre. I went for one of their specials – Baked Eggs with beans, peppers, chilli and spring onions – it was divine. They even had gluten free bread available!
This was Eddie’s choice:
Eager to get some tips on where we should shop I asked one of the waitresses about the Northern Quarter and where we could find independent shops that weren’t your run of the mill shopping centre fashion stores. She suggested Oklahoma. Before I go onto where we went next I just want to express what a lovely, friendly place Federal is, it’s cosy, the coffee is great and you get a decent amount of food, it set us up for the day nicely. The windows are huge so sunshine (when it decides to come out) pours into the place. I can’t believe I’m saying that, being in Manchester and it not raining? It’s unheard of haha!
This place deserves a blog post on it’s own. From the moment I stepped into the store I knew I would want to buy ‘all the things!’. A quirky, unique gift shop full of colour and pattern. They sell art prints, jewellery, home décor, cards, soft furnishings, lamps, vases, cushions.. the list goes on. It’s really not the sort of place I should stumble into unless it’s payday!
The whole place is bursting with colour and the displays around the room are simply stunning. I definitely fell in love with this bold Frida Kahlo inspired cushion. Think of this place as a much, much better UO home section. We bought a variety of things including two art prints, a pair of earrings, a throw and a bag.
So many cute pins and patches! I’ve got an evergrowing collection.
After wandering around the Northern Quarter for quite some time we discovered Pop Boutique. I’ve been to the Pop Boutique in Liverpool when we visited a couple of years back, which I remember was a great little vintage shop. Pop Boutique is full of reworked items, new items and of course old retro items. I tried on lots but whittled it down to a few must buys. Of course a beret made the cut, it cost £8 and is 100% wool so definitely worth it and much better than what you’d buy on the high street. They had berets in every colour and tone you can think of so I was very spoilt for choice.
We ventured downstairs to the basement and had a rest after trying virtually everything on.. which turned into a bit of a photoshoot haha. Downstairs was full of fur coats, retro sportswear, antiques and furniture. We will definitely be tripping back here for a shop when we’re in Manchester again.
Oh and I forgot to mention, they have the coolest hair salon at the back of the shop suitable for male or female hair. If we’d have had more time I definitely would have been tempted!
We had to stop by this fancy window display for a selfie – it was the day after Valentines after all!
This is a place of stationary fanatics dreams! Just wow! I was blown away by the three floors of arty awesomeness. We went down to the bottom of three levels to discover they had art and photography studios available to rent, so cool. They had everything you’d need as an artist – and it’s much cooler than Hobbycraft that’s for sure! It was one of those places where you couldn’t stop looking incase you missed something.
If your in the Northern Quarter and fancy a few drinks or a bite to eat I’d definitely check out Mackie Mayor, especially if you and whoever your with can’t decide what cuisine you’d like to eat. This listed market building offers an array of culinary delights and has two bars dedicated to good beer and an impressive selection of wines.
It’s a seat yourself kind of place with long tables where different groups of people sit alongside each other. I love the feel of the place, you can imagine the busy market that it once housed. The glass roof and wide pillars make me think of the seaside, you can imagine this sitting on the end of a pier. It’s been restored beautifully and offers something for everyone. I can imagine it gets very busy at the weekends!
Of course we spotted some rather photographable spots along the way too.
We didn’t go in ‘The Love Box’ but I kinda wish we had now though!
El Gato Negro
This was another one of Eds recommendations and god it was good! I’ve not had tapas for such a long time so this was a massive treat. We shared 5 plates, they recommended 5-6 for two to share. I was actually really impressed with their selection if gluten free dishes too and they were clearly marked on the menu. They have an extensive selection of fish, meat and veggie dishes. Its an eclectic mix of modern and traditional food. We went for the mackerel, pork, potatas bravas, jamon and mussels. All very delicious and we were stuffed after the 5 dishes, so much so we’re glad we hadn’t gone for 6.
Sadly I didn’t take any snaps of the building and it’s interiors but it’s simply gorgeous. A slim lined, bear brick setting with red leather booths, candlelit tables and an open kitchen / bar space. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a romantic dining experience in the centre of Manchester.
And it’s home time.. That was a fleeting visit Manchester, but I loved it all the same. We’ll definitely be back soon.
I’m hoping to do more blog posts like this as I’ve got a few Staycations booked this year including a short visit to London & Birmingham.
What are your favourite spots in Manchester? Personally I fell in love with the Northern Quarter, it’s good to support smaller, local businesses rather than the high street giants. Please leave your recommendations or experiences below so that I can grow my ‘to visit’ list!