As a city known for being proud of its rich industrial heritage, a weekend break to Manchester is only ever going to be an authentic experience. Britain’s second city serves up its northern charm in abundance, thriving with independent cafes, restaurants, bars and shops just waiting to be discovered.
With its varied architecture – from the red-bricked charm of the bustling Northern Quarter to the quintessential country homes of Didsbury Village – no two areas are the same. Throw in some incredible hotel and spas and you’ve got yourself the perfect laid-back city break.
The Spa At The Midland
For those happy to pay that little extra for the ultimate luxury experience (and in a prime city centre location), The Midland is the place for you. A Manchester landmark in itself, this hotel boasts 312 stunning rooms and two top restaurants, including decadent fine-dining experience The French.
Meanwhile The Spa at The Midland has a host of relaxing features, including salt-infused steam rooms, a relaxation area with hanging pods for two, and a selection of treatments ranging from luxurious massage to high-powered microdermabrasion facials. One-night spa breaks start from £171 per person.
Worsley Park Hotel Spa
If being in the centre of the city isn’t your idea of a relaxing haven, then the Worsley Park Hotel could be the perfect getaway. Located on the outskirts of Manchester, this rural retreat is surrounded by 200 acres of rolling countryside. This stately hotel offers many tempting including arguably the ultimate indulgence: A Cream Tea & Spa package. Other features include a spa bath, steam room, sauna, and heated pool alongside an extensive list of treatments. One-night spa breaks start at £99 per person.
Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa
The Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa is the perfect choice for those looking for relaxation on a modest budget. Located in the heart of the city, spa seekers can enjoy a range of treatments such as hot stone massages, manicures, pedicures, and superfood pro radiance facials. One-night spa breaks start from £59 per person.
Soak up some culture
Manchester’s burgeoning art scene will cater to all tastes thanks to its eclectic number of galleries regularly boasting new exhibitions. The rather grand Manchester Art Gallery – known for its fine art collection – is home to more than 2,000 oil paintings, while the distinctly modern setting of The Lowry offers both visual and performance art to entrain and inspire. Meanwhile, the recently renovated Whitworth Art Gallery is a breathtaking spectacle in itself, taking full advantage of it’s beautiful park surroundings.
Take a tour with local experts
To get better feel for this great city’s history then a site seeing tour is a great option. Run by guides wearing blue badges, tours begin each day 11am sharp outside of Manchester Central Library, and last around 90 minutes. Giving you some expert insight into Manchester’s history and culture, you’ll discover such as Manchester Cathedral, or the Town Hall and its 12 Manchester murals, painted by the late 19th century by Ford Madox Brown. You’ll also become very attuned to the spotting mosaics of the worker bee all around the city, a symbol of Manchester’s industrious past.
Dig out some old classics
From the heyday of legendary nightclub the Hacienda to Britpop icons like Oasis, much of Manchester’s recent history is steeped in music. So, a trip to one of its many independent record shops is a must. Eastern Bloc, Piccadilly Records, and Vinyl Exchange have all stood the test of time, with the latter celebrating its 20th year in the business and becoming the north-west’s largest seller and buyer of rare second hand vinyls and CDs. So take a step back in time and have a root around for hidden gems you forgot all about.
Describing itself as “your friendly Bohemiem Bier Palace”, Albert Schloss unsurprisingly specialises in a vast array of beers. A haven for any hops lover, the bar offers ten heritage brews on tap alongside an array of weird and wonderful looking bottles. The bar also offers a solid range of freshly made Alpine cocktails, home-made schnapps and wine.
Based in the artsy Northern Quarter, restaurant and bar Cottonopolis is housed within a Grade II-listed building paying homage to the city’s industrial past. Despite this, the menu is in fact predominantly Japanese, with incredible sashimi, wagu beef, and grill alongside an exceptionally complex cocktail list. If you’re having problems with deciding on a cocktail, these guys do the best Negroni in town. We can vouch for that.
The perfect spot for indecisive diners (or just a casual lunch), Mackie Mayor has taken the idea of a food court and finessed it into something quite wonderful. Making the most of the high ceilings of its Grade II-listed converted meat market home, this stunning space offers two bars, two coffee vendors and six very different food stations. Simply order your food at your chosen market stall, find a table and wait for the delicious plates to arrive. The striking glass roof alone is worth the visit.
A carnivore’s paradise, Hawksmoor is the first branch of the upscale steakhouse to open outside of London. Unsurprisingly, beef is the house special here, provided by the renowned Ginger Pig farm in Yorkshire and sold by the 100g. Those not enamoured by superbly cooked slabs of red meat are also well catered for, with a broad (and delicious) menu on offer. Despite its high-quality menu, the atmosphere remains relaxed, with staff not expected to wear a uniform.
Ready for your city break in Manchester? Book your spa getaway.