Until last month, if you’d have asked me my favourite UK city (other than London)- I’d have said probably Brighton without hesitation. I mean, I still bloody love it (how can you not people?) but after visiting Manchester I definitely have another city on my most favourite places list. Perhaps it was the accent and the lovely people, the beautiful Northern quarter or the fact we stayed in one of the nicest pads ever- but this city is one I’m so glad we made the effort to get to know and I can’t wait to head back and finish ticking off my list too! For now though, I thought I’d whip up a city guide for anyone else on a first time visit (or even hoping to discover some new gems)! As always let me know what I’ve missed too- sharing is caring!
Stumbling across Jan and Emily’s incredible apartment seemed a little like fate. Without getting too ~deep~ I’d had Fig & Sparrow on a desktop ‘must visit’ list for as long as I can remember (read: a couple of years), so stumbling across their beautiful home (with the promise of breakfast included at Fig & Sparrow too) seemed like a total no brainer, and it was pretty much booked before I could even consider alternatives. With the location being in the complete heart of the Northern Quarter (so much so we couldn’t even consider Deliveroo when we felt lazy), the interior looking like a total open plan red-brick-Brooklyn dream and the mezzanine bedroom what dreams are made of- I couldn’t recommend staying here highly enough (and here’s £20 off for first time Air BnB users, if I can tempt you too)!
Living in London, I’ve always thought we’ve been quite spoilt for a strong selection of vintage; and we definitely are- but let’s say the selection in this city is definitely where some real gems are hiding. Our first stop on our vintage-must-visits was Cow, and this was possibly one of my favourites of the bunch. With a huge selection of gorgeous reworked pieces and an even bigger collection of perfectly curated items (with an incredible men’s section too)- it’s a total dream to browse through and one of the first shops I’ve picked up my fitting room allowance in the first five minutes. Ahem.
61 Church St, Manchester M4 1PD …If you liked this you’ll love… Oxfam Originals, Unit 8, Smithfield Buildings, 51 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JR
Like breakfast and homewares, another dangerous duo comes from neighbouring shop Magma, home to- you guessed it; magazines and coffee table books (read: beautiful books you couldn’t possibly just leave on a shelf and ever-so-slightly probably don’t need). But who wants to resist a visit to a shop like this? Not me, that’s who! With shelves of city guides, quarterlies, photography journals and style books- you’d be hard pressed to not leave with something from Magma (and I totally don’t blame you either).
22 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JN
Fig & Sparrow:
Although it’s a pretty unassuming and modest shop front, Fig & Sparrow was definitely one of the places I was most excited to pay a visit to. There’s something about the combination of stationary, greetings cards and breakfast that has me at hello- so being able to sit down to a fresh homemade breakfast (try their speciality breads and jams) whilst perusing shelves of homeware that made my heart skip a beat was quite the treat- just try to keep your cool, your purse won’t appreciate it otherwise.
20 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JA
Who remembers the Lizzie McGuire movie? Well, upon walking into Fred Aldous I’m pretty sure the total hit ‘this is what dreams are made of’ entered my head- and didn’t leave until I was a set of photo booth pictures down and resisting the urge to leave with all of the coloured card from the bottom floor. Because that’s right- this shop has THREE FLOORS. Three floors of stationary, photo booths, paper, brushes, pens, wool- and basically anything you’d ever need if you were feeling even mildly creative. Now to extend a branch to London, ok?
37 Lever St, Manchester M1 1LW
Another vintage hide out I’ve been a long time lover of is Pop. Having trawled their Liverpool and London stores- it was almost obligatory I pay a visit. Although I’m constantly head over heels for their own brand collared dresses and Breton tees, the real treat here was the furniture and homeware in the basement- which had me wishing for my very own Ron Burgundy style apartment to deck out. A girl can dream…
34-36 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JN …For more vintage, curiosities and a Snoopers Paradise feel, visit Affleck’s Palace, 52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW
For all things bright and beautiful (as well as notebooks, burger lamps and shelves of things you didn’t even know you needed)- Oklahoma is certainly worth a snoop. You could easily spend hours looking at things in this little gem, and considering I left with a dog selfie kit and (another) new notebook- id say it was a success too!
74-76 High St, Manchester M4 1ES
It feels like a bit of a safe bet including the Arndale in a ‘things to do’ in Manchester guide, as, well, it’s pretty obvious. But hear me out! The shopping here is quite something. Okay there’s absolutely a shop called ‘loveyababes’ at one end (which totally made my weekend)- but with all the high street giants and a Selfridges and Harvey Nics a stones throw away (which is what dreams are made of, as you well know)- it’s a pretty good rain-safe bet (especially if you’re in the mood to get spendy too).
Feasting: Home Sweet Home
Having been to Home Sweet Home before, I knew it was a guaranteed good food option- so with the debate between Almost Famous and here for a burger, it was a coin toss win, but I think we made a pretty good decision (plus, have you seen the cakes here? HAVE YOU?) Opting for their burger and chicken in a basket, it was a pretty delicious first meal- plus we even got instantly seated on a Friday night (which is always a thumbs up from me). Next time maybe we’ll sample Almost Famous…
51 Edge St, Manchester M4 1HW
If you’re a coffee fanatic, tea lover, smoothie kind of gal or even after a delicious slice of cake or salad (or even after some beautiful interiors to swoon over)- Foundation is the perfect spot. Whether you’re stopping for laptop time, having a meeting, taking a pit stop or even a take-away- this place seems to be the ultimate go to and these guys pride themselves on their high quality brew too.
Sevendale House, Lever St, Manchester M1 1JB
With a playlist of Surfer Blood, the promise of Manchesters most delicious bagels (IMO) and some of the best brunch in town- Federal is one to mark for the top of your lists for everything from avocado on toast, French toast (yup, it’s happening) and banana bread too. Plus, if you’re nosey like me it’s perfect for people watching at the window with a cuppa too. Dreamy.
9 Nicholas Croft, Manchester M4 1EY
With PLY and Rudy’s being top of our pizza-tasting-list we had to make a last minute decision about where we’d get our carb fix, and with Rudy’s being a popular-no-booking job (something I’m usually pretty used to in London) we sadly couldn’t squeeze in, meaning PLY was our next best bet. With a lively, bar-meets-restaurant type vibe and pastel tables GALORE (which, obviously totally sold me)- this place prides itself on its beautiful cocktails and stone baked pizza- neither of which did disappoint- and would be the perfect place for drinks, dinner and a little bit of dancing too.
26 Lever St, Manchester M1 1DW
Sugar Junction/Teacup Kitchen:
Let’s talk about cake baby. With both of these gorgeous tea and cake joints on my list- it felt totally obligatory to sample both in between lunches- just to give you guys some useful resources (which is totally how I justify my sugar intake, FYI). With Teacup Kitchen offering incredible honeycomb brownies, some of the most generous cake servings in the world (see toffee apple cake above) and Sugar Junction being the go to for a quintessentially British afternoon tea fix- they’re both delicious bets for your 4pm sugar fix.
SJ: 60 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LG, TK: 55 Thomas St, Manchester M4
If you’re bored of your morning porridge and yearn for a breakfast a little more adventurous than toast and jam- Eveylyn’s is the place. Mixing more traditional European cuisine with Asian favourites, you’ll wonder why it’s taken you so long to tuck into a Korean chicken burger or bavette for breakfast. Obviously if that’s a little crazy for you (as it was me)- they know how to nail avocado with poached eggs- and also boast an amazing orange blossom granola too.
G18 Tib St, Manchester M4
Seeing: The National Football Museum
Okay so this was more of a suggestion on a certain someone else’s part (how did you guess)?! But in all honesty, this place (for a girl who is a little bit of a football novice) was pretty interesting! I amused myself by joining in on the activities, talking about Arsene Wengers delightful voice and trying to absorb facts to later impress Joe with- which was enough for me. Joe (as a football lover) also enjoyed it- so if you’re looking to play serious tourists for a day I definitely recommend it.
Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, Manchester M4 3BG
Pasta Factory/Northern Soul Grilled Cheese/John Rylands Library/Takk/Wharf Pub/Trof/Whitworth Gallery