July 21st, 2016

Things To Do In Manchester: Where To Stay, Eat and Explore

By Simon Midgley, Evening Standard

Exquisite fine dining, cocktails in the sky, boundless culture on the ground, and surprising architectural feats all around: Simon Midgley uncovers Manchester for our Destination UK series.

The capital of The North gives London a run for its money with a well balanced mix of history, innovation, art, style, culture, retail and cuisine. Here's your guide to uncovering the city...

Where to stay…

Hotel Gotham

For those looking for a decadent bolthole whilst exploring Manchester, the sumptuous boutique Hotel Gotham could be just what you need. The Art Deco style hotel is situated in a stunning listed building which was formerly the premises of the Midland Bank. Each of the 60 theatrical rooms has been designed with the utmost attention to luxury design and detail, reproducing the lavish style one might have found during the Roaring Twenties at a classy New York guesthouse. There's a sixth floor restaurant serving modern British grub and you can also use the penthouse bar with its outdoor terrace and sweeping city views.

Double rooms start from around £250 per night and breakfast is an extra £15 per person, hotelgotham.co.uk

Macdonald Manchester Spa & Hotel

Ideally situated just a four minute walk from the main train station (Piccadilly), the Macdonald Manchester Spa & Hotel is a good choice for anyone visiting Manchester for the first time. Friendly staff are more than happy to give directions, suggestions and provide easy-to-read maps, as well as generously giving a few local tips on what to see, eat and do. Just six minutes away is the famouse Canal Street, one of the last great gay villages in the UK. 

Rooms at The Macdonald Hotel are spacious, bright and modern with long length windows providing almost panoramic views of the city below. If you want a bit of pampering, head to the spa for a facial or a massage.

Where to unwind… 

The Midland Hotel and Spa

This sumptuous Edwardian style Grade II listed building has hosted everyone from royalty to rock stars and is worth checking out even if you choose to stay elsewhere.

It has a fantastic spa where a full and varied range of treatments are offered including a new Serene Sleep experience (£80) by ESPA, designed to help those with disturbed sleep patterns. Following a consultation you are treated to an aromatherapy hot stone back massage, a facial massage using the healing power of rose quartz crystals, a facial treatment mask and a soothing scalp massage. The result is a refreshed and rebalanced feeling that you’ll take home with you after a wonderful stay in Manchester.

If you book a 50 minute treatment, you’ll also have access to the relaxation room with its snug hanging pods, sound blocking egg chairs, comfy beds and private relaxation areas.

Where to eat and drink….

Manchester House

Self-styled as ‘unconventionally traditional’, Manchester House is the place to go if you have a fondness Michelin-style cuisine. Acclaimed chef Aiden Byrne's imaginative menu will take your taste buds on a tantalising journey with expertly balanced dishes combining ingredients and flavours you never thought possible. The décor and views of the city complete this most luxurious and memorable dining experience.

Try the 2 course lunch menu for just £22.50 or treat yourself to an unforgettable dinner with a 10 or 14 course tasting menu £70/£95;  manchesterhouse.uk.com


Cloud 23

Overlooking the magnificent cityscape from Manchester's highest point, the floor-to-ceiling windowed cocktail bar Cloud 23 is a brilliant way to start your night on the town. The opulent interior décor can be enjoyed just as much as the captivating views and delicious cocktails (of which there are plenty to choose from) and for those with a sweet tooth, an indulgent afternoon tea is also on offer. In celebration of Manchester's title of  European City of Science, Cloud 23 has set up a Cocktail Laboratory where customers can pay £15 to create one of three experimental liquid potions (with the help of a professor / mixologist).

To make a reservation at Cloud 23 visit cloud23bar.com



A newcomer to the Manchester foodie scene, Tattu stands out as a concept restaurant that has the food, service and setting to support the hype. The contemporary Chinese cuisine is infused with delicious traditional flavours and stylish modern presentation to entice its customers to explore and enjoy the dishes. Dim sum, starters and mains are all great for sharing or if there’s a rumble in your tummy, just go for it on your own.

The setting of this restaurant is magical: on the first floor you’ll find a gloriously pink blossom tree, rope-clad ceilings and ambient lighting that will transport you to an alternative Asian dimension, whilst the ground floor hosts a bar and comfortable booths. The cocktail menu is inspired by the designs of various body artists, which further adds to the sensory experience you’ll struggle to find elsewhere.


The capital of The North gives London a run for its money with a well balanced mix of history, innovation, art, style, culture, retail and cuisine. Here's your guide to uncovering the city...

Albert Square Chop House 

If you’ve made a long weekend of it, you’ll be in need of a lazy roast dinner with all the trimmings by Sunday. The Albert Square Chop House, set in a beautifully converted building, delivers just that. Succulent roast beef, tenderly cooked vegetables, crispy roast potatoes and a gargantuan Yorkshire pudding are smothered in rich gravy for a proper northern Sunday lunch. Those with an appetite big enough should opt for three courses and try the signature corned beef hash cake starter and delicious Bakewell tart to finish.

Sunday roasts are served at your table from a refurbished vintage carving trolley - perfect for Instagram.

To make a reservation visit albertsquarechophouse.com

Teacup Kitchen

For a quick pit stop whilst out discovering Manchester’s creative Northern Quarter, Teacup Kitchen is the place to go for a hearty brunch, quick coffee or a decadent afternoon tea. 

In addition to enormous portions of freshly baked cakes and sweet treats, Teacup Kitchen also offers some of the finest loose leaf teas available in the UK, including a detox tea to help with any consequences from the night before. 

To make a reservation visit teacupandcakes.com/ or email eat@teacupandcakes.com


Where to go….

John Rylands Library

You don’t have to be an avid reader to appreciate the architectural magnificence of Manchester’s John Ryland’s Library - in fact, it wouldn’t matter if you couldn’t read at all.

The Victorian Neo-Gothic façade of this northern relic stops you in your tracks. Juxtaposed with the modern retail and commerce development of Spinningfields next door, the ornate architecture of the library is further enhanced within the Hogwarts-style interiors. The cathedral-esque interior contains floor-to-ceiling books and rare manuscripts, regarded by many as one of the best collections in the world.

Admission is free but a small donation is encouraged should you enjoy the library; library.manchester.ac.uk

The Northern Quarter 

You’ll know when you hit Manchester’s creative district, The Northern Quarter, when you spot an increasing amount of street art, record shops, second hand/vintage stores and scores of hipsters and skateboarders filling the buzzy pavements.  

Too much sharing on this area would spoil the surprise, so start your Northern Quarter adventure at the Craft & Design Centre on Oak Street then take a steady stroll around the surrounding streets.

The Manchester Craft & Design Centre is a retail and exhibition space for emerging talent in the field of visual art, craft and design. You can find unique jewellery, homeware, gifts and artwork from an array of fresh talent: something special you won’t be able to get back home.

craftanddesign.com / northernquartermanchester.com

Whitworth Gallery 

A must-see for those in need of a culture hit, The Whitworth Gallery has recently been given a £15m revamp, helping to display some of its 55,000 masterful pieces in an inspirational setting. Current exhibitions will excite those with an interest in interiors and textile design with a retrospective of pioneering textile designer Tobor Reich, an exhibition on 1950s and 1960s wallpapers and a display of early 1900s fabrics and textiles.

Admission is free but a donation is encouraged; whitworth.manchester.ac.uk

How to get there…

Virgin trains run from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly, with one way tickets from £16. Take advantage of Virgin's free onboard entertainment app BEAM, which gives you access to movies, TV, magazine and game; virgintrains.co.uk / virgintrains.co.uk/experience/beam


Five things you might not know about Manchester…


Did you know the atom was first split in Manchester by Ernest Rutherford?

Did you know that Manchester has the biggest student population of any city in Europe?

Did you know George Orwell once described Manchester as ‘the belly and guts of the nation’?

Did you know Lonely Planet named Manchester one of the top 10 cities to visit in 2016 – alongside Mumbai, Nashville and Rome?

Did you know that Manchester is the city where Rolls met Royce? Henry Royce made his first car in Manchester in 1904 and was introduced to Charles Rolls at the Midland Hotel on 4th May that same year.

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When you approach Tower 12 in Spinningfields Manchester, it looks like a very normal city tower, don’t be fooled. Inside lies a very special experience for both food lovers and lovers of a life with a view. Two stunning independently different environments. The Lounge on level 12 and the Restaurant by Aiden Byrne on level 2.