Discover the vibrant nightlife and hedonistic lifestyle of Manchester in our guide to the uncrowned capital of the north
Words Helen Brown
Home to the Gallagher brothers and the Stone Roses, Manchester is the hedonistic capital of the north. It’s also pretty relevant in the world of sport, boasts it’s own festivals and has a pretty infectious buzz. Whether you’re into the arts, alternative music, nightlife or landscapes, there’s always something going on. Below are our reasons for visiting this vibrant city and where to stay when you get there.
MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE
As the home of many a rock star, Manchester maintains a thriving music scene. The city comes alive at night and is a vibrant hotbed of bars, clubs and music venues. If you’re looking for a party, you can’t go wrong in the Northern Quarter. It’s home to some of the hippest bars serving craft beers and cocktails. Or for a more elegant atmosphere, head over to Spinningfields.
Manchester has a packed festival calendar that draws thousands to the city each year. Manchester International Festival is set to take over town for 18 days during July. It’s one of the most exciting art and culture festivals in the world and presents a diverse programme of art, theatrical and musical events. Hot on the heels of Manchester International Festival is the city’s Jazz Festival. It kicks off in July with an array of live music, food and drink from Manchester’s Albert Square. It’s Manchester’s longest running festival and looks set to go from strength to strength following La La Land fever. Last but certainly not least, Parklife is Manchester’s answer to London’s Gala or Field Day. World famous acts such as The Chemical Brothers and Jamie xx attract people from right across the country.
Manchester easily competes with London in the culinary stakes. Its restaurant scene is thriving with an endless choice in cuisines and eating experiences. Of the delicious cosmopolitan mix on offer, Manchester’s forte is Asian. You’ll be hard pushed to choose between the plethora of Japanese, Thai or Chinese delights on offer. A stroll down curry mile is a sure fire way to get one of the UK’s tastiest Indians.
Thanks to Manchester’s unique location, a trip to the city also offers a country escape and fresh air. It’s the ideal base for exploring the surrounding moors, coasts and forests up north. It also offers superb walking and hiking opportunities. The Peak District, Pennines, Yorkshire Dales, Lake District are all within a short drive of the city centre.
ARTS & CULTURE
Culture vultures will be more than satisfied with Manchester’s arts and culture scene. It has a wonderful scattering of independent galleries, studios and pop-up exhibitions. It’s also home to the Whitworth Gallery on the Oxford Road corridor. This award-winning exhibition space hosts a rotating display of the world’s most iconic artists.
WHERE TO STAY…
Great John Street Hotel
This hotel is just a stone’s throw from Manchester’s most exclusive shopping areas, restaurants and theatres. Originally a Victorian school house, Great John Street is a luxury townhouse hotel that oozes unique design. Bedrooms and suites have all been individually designed alongside stylish lounges. It also boasts an Oyster Bar, south facing rooftop lounge with hot tub and a playground.
King Street Townhouse
King Street Townhouse sits within the upper King Street Conservation Area of Manchester city centre. It’s an impressive Italian renaissance building, originally built in 1872. Now it’s one of the best finds for contemporary accommodation in the area. Here you’ll enjoy afternoon tea, a south facing terrace with views of Manchester’s Town Hall and an infinity pool.
The Radisson Edwardian
The Radisson Edwardian is housed in the old Free Trade Hall, where Mrs Pankhurst’s suffragette campaign began. Renowned guests have also included Simon Cowell and Sven-Goran Eriksson. It offers a Sienna Spa, sauna, steam room, gym and 40ft pool. It’s in a prime location for wining and dining in the city centre and has a superb afternoon tea.
This grand, Art Deco building in one of Manchester’s best settings was designed by Edwin Lutyens and formerly a branch of the Midland Bank. It an exclusive venue with cheeky, contemporary twists. There’s a private members’ club with a rooftop terrace, and one of Manchester’s best hotel restaurants.
The Ainscow Hotel has history dating back to 1878 and has long been recognised as a local landmark on the border of Manchester and Salford. It offers contemporary British style, comfort and luxury and is a stylish – yet informal – retreat for visitors. It’s less than 10 minutes’ walk from the sleek restaurants and bars of Manchester’s Spinningfields neighbourhood.