Thanks to one of Virgin Atlantic’s latest routes, Bostonians can now hop over the pond to one of the U.K.’s increasingly popular destinations, Manchester! For someone who has been to the U.K. more than most, I was excited to explore a new city – checking out some amazing cafes & restaurants, exploring the bar scene, catching up on the latest street art, and making new friends! I was so fortunate to be traveling with two other influencers: Kira (@kiraamaa) and Marisel (@mariselmsalazar); we all got to pal around and experience the city together, meaning more food to try, different perspectives on art, and someone to cheers with at Bongo’s Bingo!! (I’ll get to that.) Below I’ve listed, what I think, are all the major must-do’s when you’re in the city, with some tips and tricks in there for good measure.
WHERE TO STAY
We all know having a comfortable place to rest your head at the end of a long day of exploring is crucial. For those seeking a dose of luxury – I recommend staying at The Principal Manchester. High ceilings, big bath tubs, and gorgeous fixtures make this a perfect urban oasis. As an added bonus, they have a beautiful restaurant that is popular amongst Manchester’s most stylish. Be sure to get breakfast included in your rate, as their morning buffet is a tasty and convenient way to start the day.
WHAT TO DO
Manchester is a city with a lot going on. For any sports fan, grabbing tickets to a Manchester City or Manchester United game is a must. The rivalry in the city is always a fun topic of conversation at the pub, in a taxi, or anywhere really. And, what’s better than a city buzzing from an eventful match?! For a fun night out, I can’t recommend enough going to Bongo’s Bingo. When I first saw this pop up on our itinerary, I was a little skeptical – adult bingo?! But, trust me, this was such a fun experience. Thinking dancing on tables, inappropriate British humor, all the best song’s from the late 90’s and, of course, bingo. I didn’t win anything, but after a few drinks, dancing to B*Witched and making friends with our table mates, it didn’t matter.
WHERE TO EAT
There are so many tasty dining options in Manchester! Breakfast and brunch are taken very seriously in this city, so I suggest investing time in exploring this scene to start your days if your breakfast isn’t included in your accommodations. Some of my top picks include: Evelyn’s Cafe Bar where you should try one of their colorful lattes, Federal Cafe Bar in the Northern Quarter. They also just opened a location in Deansgate! Alberts Schloss for all of the tasty cocktails and big booths for brunch with a big group. They also have amazing flower installations in their front doorway that are perfect for photos.
For all other meals, it’s really hard to go wrong. Where The Light Gets In is, as expected, a light and airy space with casual, but attentive service. Their dining room only seats 30 people, so a reservation is a must. If steak is more your thing, the Hawksmoor has your name written all over it. This is a perfect spot for date night, especially if you have plans to head the the theatre after. A tasting menu is always a must-have on any culinary adventure; I recommend giving WOOD a visit. They only take two seatings on weekends for this particular menu, so book in advance if possible as well. and, if you’re like me, sushi is always at the top of my “to taste” list wherever I go. Umezushi does not disappoint. In fact, you may never be able to buy grocery store sushi again after a visit to this quality spot.
WHAT TO SEE
Only have a short time in the city? Take a tour of Manchester with John Consterdine of Manchester Taxi Tours. He’ll take you to every corner of the city that is worth mentioning in the history books (and maybe even some scandalous history you won’t hear from the more formal sources). John happens to be a riot, as well, and kept the three of us jet lagged gals roaring in the back seat.
If you’re looking for a good excuse to discover the city by foot, the street art is worth seeking out. In the Northern Quarter, street art can be found below your feet, on electric boxes, phone booths, abandoned buildings, and on store shutters. If you’re down for another tour, you can be guided around the city and see some art that you may not have noticed, or take to the streets yourself for a colorful journey!
Manchester is one of my most pleasant surprises since I started traveling. I didn’t really know what to expect, especially because London gets all the love, but this city was an absolute gem, and I can’t wait to go back!