Good morning. This week we’re heading up North to what many consider as the second city…Manchester!
As one of the biggest cities in the UK, Manchester has a lot to offer. With some of the best restaurants in the country, two world-famous football teams, a huge selection of museums, plus great live theatre, there’s plenty to see and do during a trip here.
🎁 Read on to find out if you won our Cardiff giveaway!
Need to know…
🚆 Travel time: As with most of the UK, Manchester is well connected with good road, rail and air links. A train to Manchester is roughly 3hrs from Edinburgh, 2hrs from London and 90 mins from Birmingham (the main train station’s are Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria)
🌡️ Weather: Today a high of 23°c
😋 Must try dishes: Grab a bottle of Vimto! Did you know it was created in Manchester in 1908 🤯
🚲 Getting around: Manchester can easily be explored by foot, or alternatively they offer a great free bus scheme to help people get around the city centre. There’s also a great tram network, plenty of buses, and also trains if you’re heading further afield.
💬 Key phrases & slang:
Barm cake (Bread roll)
Brew (Cup of tea)
Give your 'ead a wobble (What are you thinking?)
Mad Fer It (Super keen)
What to do?
👮 Get locked in jail?…
Alcotraz Cell Block Three-Four
👮 Alright, so you're probably thinking I've lost my mind, but bear with me on this one. Alcotraz Cell Block Three-Four is a speakeasy prison. This immersive experience requires you to ‘smuggle’ in your own contrabrand (booze), where you’ll get bespoke cocktails mixed up by the long serving inmates. If you’re looking for a different spin on the classic night out, this is a lot of fun and well worth a visit.
Another top speakeasy style bar (I love a speakeasy) is the Washhouse. Upon arrival at the laundrette you might be a bit confused, but ring the phone and you’ll be taken through a secret door into a small funky bar. The staff are super friendly and the DJ in the toilets in a vibe! Plus can you top a bar that offers a Coco Pops inspired option?!
🏂 So I’d probably recommend trying these next few options before you visit the speakeasy bars and not the other way round! Chill Factore is an indoor snow centre, home to the UK’s longest indoor real snow indoor ski slope at 180 metres. The centre offers ski and snowboard lessons to all ages and abilities or more fun activities like downhill donuts 🍩. If you are looking to try your hand at skiiing or snowboarding for the first time, then rest assured the instructors are very good and very supportive.
Want to experience a different type of adrenaline? Why not give indoor skydiving a go. iFLY Manchester allows you to experience the feeling of freefall, without having to jump out of a plane or needing a parachute. It’s a truly exhilerating experience, and just like Chill Factore, the instructors are amazing and very used to helping first-timers.
🐝 So this isn’t an activity per se, but is one of the beautiful quirks of Manchester. Since the Industrial Revolution, the worker bee has become a symbol of the hardworking Mancunian and the city as a buzzing hive of manufacturing. In 1842 the bee was added to the city’s coat of arms and started to adorn various surface. In 2017 the bee was reimagined as a symbol of unity in the wake of the arena bombing and quickly gained international recognition. As you wander around Manchester you’ll start to spot the bee everywhere, from bollards to flower pots, tile artwork, murals and even on tattoos!
🍕 I'm getting hungry just writing this, so I've got to give you a couple of food recommendations! Initially opened in Ancoats, Manchester in 2015 is Rudy’s Neopolitan Pizzeria. If you love pizza you have to check this restaurant out! Since 2015 they’ve exploded in popularity and you’ll often find a queue of people waiting to get some fantastic pizza. We went to the Peter St location and got a seat outdoors (perfect for some people watching). While I can rave on and on about the pizza, I was equally blown away by the tiramisu 🤤.
Another restaurant we loved (and equally seems to be going from strength to strength expanding around the country) is Six by Nico. If you're a fan of fine dining this is a great place to check out. Originally opened in Glasgow, Six by Nico provides a (no surprises) 6-course tasting menu. Every (yep you guessed it), 6 weeks the menu changes, inspired by a different theme, location or concept. Not only is the food fantastic, but if you’re an avid fan of Masterchef, Radha (Masterchef finalist) is working there as Chef De Partie. I’m not sure if it’s the wine making me say this, but I’d definitely recommend going for the pairing menu where you get a different wine with each course.
🍞 Finally I’d definitely recommend a trip out to Altrincham. This small market town is just 8 miles from Manchester, with a really cute market full of independent stalls and eateries. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I definitely get the sense that there’s a lot of Sourdough pride in Manchester. If you’re looking for something for breakfast, then pop into Blanchflower. You can’t go wrong with anything on sourdough. It’s essentially a bakery come restaurant with some delicious options and great coffee.
Where to stay?
🏊 The coolest pool in the North…
King Street Townhouse/Holiday Pirates
This might be a bold claim, but how many city centre infinity pools do you know of in the UK? Situated inside a beautiful 140 year old building, King Street Townhouse provides the perfect balance of rest and relaxation with a great city centre location. The rooms are traditional in style, and the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, but of course the real wow factor of this hotel is that infinity pool!
Next up, another beautiful building, this time a restored Victorian cotton mill. The Cow Hollow Hotel is a small boutique hotel, with just 16 bedrooms, located in the very trendy Northern Quarter - perfect if you’re planning to spend your trip exploring some of the ‘hippest’ bars and restaurants in Manchester. The hotel has lots of original features like the exposed brick walls or metal staircase, but these are balanced with softer touches, great art and some statement furniture pieces. The hotel has some of the comfiest beds and some great homely touches (our favourite is the complimentary prosecco in the evenings 😅).
For our last suggestion and set in another magnificent old building - this time an old bank - is Hotel Gotham. This quirky, yet stylish hotel is decorated in a 1920’s style, with lots of dark colours and gold accents. The former bank theme isn’t lost, with lots of fun quirks throughout the hotel. We particularly loved the piggybank biscuits in our room, and the ‘Gotham Bugle’ newspaper with details of all the amenities and services in the hotel you need to know about. There’s a great penthouse bar with a few outdoor seating options giving a great view across the city.
Have you won?
To celebrate last week’s insider guide to Cardiff, we gave you the chance to win a FREE weekend stay at the beautiful Parador 44 hotel!!
After validating all the entries we entered names into a random name picker tool.
And the winner is….(drumroll please 🥁)
Diane Searle! 🥳🙌
Congratulations! We’ll be in touch separately to get you set up with your free stay.
For everyone else, if you haven’t won this time, don’t despair, we’ll be running more giveaways for our loyal readers. We’re getting dangerously close to 3k insta followers (so that might be a good time to reward someone) 😉
‘The City of Music’ - Vienna
Next week we’ll be exploring the capital of Austria, and a place that musical geniuses Beethoven and Mozart called home - Vienna.
We really want to leverage the incredible travel knowledge from the thousands of subscribers that make up our Porter community. Therefore, if you’ve ever Vienna, let us know the things you loved doing, or the places you stayed at. If we love your recommendations we’ll feature them in next week’s newsletter.