To celebrate finally being out of the drudge-fest that was January, a couple of weeks ago I whisked my boyfriend on a romantic night away in Manchester. I say whisked – I mean I chuntered up the M6 in my Fiat 500, enjoying that lo-o-o-ong stretch of 50mph speed limit; and I say romantic – I mean I booked a budget city centre hotel with the last bit of my Christmas spending budget. But still, the thought was there guys.
Initially I wasn’t planning to write a post on the trip, my mind being firmly set on switching off from work and drowning myself in cocktails. Howevs, we ended up visiting so many cool little places that I decided a quick guide on how to spend 24 hours in Manchester might be worth writing.
(And yes that is my excuse for only having a handful of photos of poor iPhone/Snapchat quality. SARRY.)
We arrived in Manchester bang on noon, and quickly parked up in an NCP around the corner from our hotel. It was only about £25 for 24 hours of parking, so a complete no-brainer compared to the £60ish each we would have paid getting the train from Costa Del Cov.
We were staying in the Northern Quarter, which I knew was full of cool cafes and bars, so we headed straight off in search of lunch and some afternoon tipples. I wasn’t really prepared for quite how cool the Northern Quarter actually is; with street art, vintage shops and ping pong bars, it’s got strong East London vibes (but somehow cooler, because everything’s cooler up north) (heehee, just kidding) (kind of).
We had lunch at Crazy Pedros, a pizza and cocktail bar recommended to me by my friend Steph. It’s a really chilled out basement bar where you can buy pizza by the £3 slice and super strong cocktails. In other words, it’s my own personal vision of what heaven must be like…
It also has arcade games, free beer pong and plenty of happy hours and deals (for example, we got free beers with our second pizza slices. Did I know why? No. Did I mind? Also no, glug glug). They are two branches of Crazy Pedros in Manchester, and also apparently one in Liverpool. I’m sure Coventry is the natural choice for a next opening, right guys? RIGHT?
We then continued to explore some of the other bars the Northern Quarter had to offer. There are SO many nice places to choose from, but notable ones from our afternoon included the super cosy Whiskey Jar and ping pong bar Kosmonaut.
24 Hours in Mancheter: 5pm
After an afternoon of cocktails, we somehow made it to our hotel for check-in. We stayed at the Ibis Styles Manchester on Portland Street. Now, an Ibis hotel wouldn’t usually be my choice for a couple’s night away, but the Ibis Styles is such as pleasant surprise. Yes, it’s budget as you’d expect from an Ibis (I think I paid £80ish for the double room), but it’s actually far from basic.
The design’s quirky, the rooms all have a personality and the staff were super helpful. Our room was spacious and immaculate, and after we’d got showered and changed there was a really nice hotel bar for us to have a quick drink in. The location of the Ibis Styles is also brilliant, so if you’re looking for a budget-friendly hotel in the Northern Quater I’d 100% recommend checking this one out.
24 Hours in Manchester: 7pm
I was spoiled for choice when trying to decide where to book dinner. Eventually I chose Piccolino because I’m a basic bitch who loves Italian, plus they had plenty of nice vegetarian options. It’s in a Victorian listed building and has an upmarket look and feel, while still being lively and relaxed. The food was lovely – we had garlic bread to start, followed by a meatball calzone (James the carnivore) and butternut squash ravioli (me the carbivore).
After washing it all down with a wine or two, we went to another nearby bar for, you guessed it, more cocktails. I don’t know why I get so boujee as soon as I leave Coventry when on a normal date night I’d be happy with a Kopperberg, but it’s just something we/James’ wallet had to deal with. Insert shruggy emoji here.
24 Hours in Manchester: 10pm
Of course we could easily have spent our whole night in the Northern Quarter as there are so many bars, but one place I really wanted to visit was Cloud 23. I’d been before but wanted to show James this swanky delight of a bar, tucked away on the 23rd floor of the Hilton hotel.
When I went a couple of years ago, we ended up having to queue a good 20 minutes or so as they only let a certain amount of people in at a time. This time, I popped our names on the guest list (please refer to earlier boujee comments), so we got to head straight up in the lift. We were shown to our little table by the panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows, and ordered, y’know…Cloud 23 is in the Deansgate area of Manchester, so there are also PLENTY of bars to visit around there. However, after our full day of drinking we were both pooped and so we headed back to the hotel bar for a couple of nightcaps. I know, what a pair of Sensible Sallys. Not that our hangovers felt too sensible in the morning, though…
24 Hours in Manchester: 10AM
We had a lovely night’s sleep in the Ibis Styles, and enjoyed a nice lie-in thanks to the super generous check-out time of 12pm. We ended up having breakfast in the hotel restaurant, which was included in the room price as standard. It was just a basic continental buffet, but it got the job done. After our late breakfast, we packed up and headed back to the NCP and the joys of the M6…
I know there were a million other things we could have done if we’d stayed longer in the city, but I really enjoyed our brief 24 hour visit. And all of the places we didn’t get chance to see (and all the cocktails that we didn’t get chance to drink) just give us more reasons to go back soon.
Have you been to Manchester recently? Let me know your recommendations for other UK city breaks in the comments!