Easily one of the best city breaks in the UK, here’s how to make sure you don’t waste a second all weekend.
If you’re coming from London, don’t bother driving – take the train, or even fly if you enjoy the faff of airports. We only drove as we had organised to go to a remote part of Cheshire the next day, so having a car facilitated this. Another reason not to drive – I had the timely diagnosis of cystitis on the way up and lets just emphasise that 5 hours feels like a lifetime even when you’re not desperate for a non-existent pee. On the plus side, parking in Manchester is less than half the price of what it costs down here and once you’re there, most things are within walking distance or a £3.00 Uber away.
Where to stay?
Move over AirBnb and classic hotels, there’s a new half way house right in the centre of town. During my trip to Manchester, I stayed in the City Suites Luxury Serviced Apartments complex, where everything Manny has to offer is right by your finger tips… perfectly manicured, acrylic finger tips.
The benefit a serviced apartment offers over a hotel is that familiar, homely touch and lots of very British, personal space. It feels much less crowded than its competition and offers everything you could find in the comforts of your own home – with the minor exception that someone will be available to do your laundry, cook or park your car for you… It’s like your home with a lottery-win upgrade. I’d pick this over an AirBnb for it’s ease of access (a simple fast check-in at reception as opposed to turning over rocks in the rain for a set of keys), it’s central location, security, and facilities like pool and gym.
Where to eat / see / snap?
Our first stop after checking-in was straight to Neighbourhood Bar in Spinningfields. American-style glitz and glamour, the drinks here are as delicious as they are decorated. Door policy is relaxed but as with most of the bars in this area, everyone dresses to impress, whatever the weather.
Dinner (or ‘tea’ as they call it), was at Artisan Restaurant across the road. Steak is the specialty and there is usually live music during the night. I would recommend the apple crumble cocktail with custard foam throughout both mains and dessert.
Retiring back to the City Suites apartment, we took the liberty of investigating the 24 hour swimming pool and jacuzzi on the Ground Floor, before entertaining a midnight feast of Dominos pizza delivery…. sans crumble cocktails. For the more sophisticated residents, the fully equipped kitchen allows you access to midnight munchies 24/7, usually without the greasy cardboard mess in the morning.
The Apartments also feature a gym, which I couldn’t tell you anything about. What I can tell you about – is how good the soft, Egyptian cotton double bedspreads are, the rainfall showers complete with NOIR White Company products, the view of the city from the 7th floor, the extensive range of sky+ HD channels and unlimited free Wifi…
The next day we were treated to breakfast in the Executive Lounge. It was pleasantly quiet and the head chef came to say hello and talk us through the hot and continental options. An all you can eat buffet-style never goes down badly with someone sane. Nor do freshly pressed juices, a menu involving chilli avo on toast, or being able to watch the royal wedding from a safe distance, on a large screen.
Lunch Time (‘dinner time’ for Mancunians), was the suitably open-topped Restaurant Bar and Grill. The weather was uncommonly tropic all weekend for a place that is meant to be one of the wettest parts of the UK. We ordered the Asian platter complete with duck pancakes, tempura, chicken satay and discs of lightly fried white fishcakes. Walk it off with a stroll around town and peruse The Arndale shopping centre, Harvey Nics or a Selfridges with a lot more breathing space than its clone on Oxford Street.
After a quick pit stop and a nap back at the apartment, we classically sought out yet more Asian (can you ever have enough?) in Sakana Restaurant, with its in house DJ and fluorescent bathrooms. Top picks – the truffle topped Har Gau (prawn dumplings), lobster tempura rolls and white crab. I also wanted to check out The Menagerie but never got around to it so I’ll have to come back.
After one last, much-need hearty fry up for breakfast in the City Suites Lounge, it was time to check out, put my feet up on the dashboard and make the short drive over to Cheshire, where we stopped at the beautifully in-bloom, Victor’s Restaurant in Hale.
A big thank you to City Suites Apartments for hosting us during our stay in Manchester and showing us how it’s done in the 0161. Having an apartment instead of a hotel room really makes this city feel like home. It was a ‘mint’ weekend, hope we were ‘no mither’, went through every ‘ginnel’ in the city and had a class time, not for the last time.