A Staycation in Manchester

12 December 2019

Manchester has a very fond place in my heart. I grew up no more than 40 miles from the city all throughout my childhood, I went to University there and the first football team I ever supported was Manchester United (but being brutally honest it was only because of David Beckham and I was unaware of Arsenal). The city has a great nightlife, restaurant scene, shopping, culture and bubbly people which have always meant it’s remained at Number 1 in my heart. Since leaving in 2017, I'll occasionally pop back for a staycation to see University friends that still live in the city or travel up with my mum for a spa and theatre weekend. My latest staycation up to the heart of the north was in Early September and despite the number of times I’ve been abroad this year, my 2-day trip up to Manchester beats them all! Admittedly, this blog post contains a lot of cocktail recommendations but for anyone interested in what my ideal chilled weekend in Manchester looks like, here it is….

Of course, going up in September meant I was greeted by rain as soon as we arrived at Piccadilly station but nevertheless made the short walk to where we were staying at The Principal Hotel. Having been to The Principal before for the odd work event, dinner and even my graduation ball, I’ve never actually stayed there. So, we decided that this was the place to go (we’ve got a long list of Manchester hotels to visit) and booked a night at The Principal. Words cannot describe how gorgeous this hotel is. It is a Victorian building (previously a insurance company), refurbished but keeping a lot of its old charm. We were upgraded to an Deluxe room (probably after the receptionist saw the look on my face after walking in the rain). What a beautiful room. I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in my time, but I have never been lost when trying to find the room, a true testament to how big this hotel is. The hotel is also host to the Refuge bar and winter garden which is decked out with beautiful greenery and fairy lights, Manchester has no shortage of instagrammable bars but this one is certainly up there. And with great cocktails, The Rhubarb Crush featuring Warner Edwards Rhubarb gin, redcurrant and honey purée, egg white, lemon & gomme is my favourite. The only minor nag I have is slightly slow service by the bar staff, which after the wind down from a busy Friday and Saturday night can only be met with me being grateful for the extra time we had to chill in the next environment.

After chatting to the hotel receptionist, she kindly upgraded to us a Deluxe room at the Principal. Probably one of the nicest hotel rooms I’ve ever laid my eyes on. It featured two double size beds, a tiled marble wet room including Elemis toiletries, huge floor to ceiling windows, one of the most beautiful chandeliers I’ve ever seen and my favourite aspect of the room....an emergency snack box full of chocolate, crisps and popcorn - could you ask for anything more? Such a beautiful hotel located in the heart of the city which I will no doubt stay at in the future.

Our Sunday evening meal was courtesy of The Alchemist on New York Street. The Alchemist is a cocktail bar and restaurant with a bit of a science edge to it. As a cocktail lover, I enjoy the colour changing cocktail featuring Grey Goose Vodka, Briottet Apple, Soda & Citrus, Magic, mainly because of it’s theatrics but there are plenty of exciting cocktails (you can download an app which heightens your cocktail experience, and makes you feel like you’re on the set of breaking bad). My first trip to The Alchemist was over 4 years and I ordered the Fried Chicken in a Basket. 5 years later, and I still ordered the Fried Chicken in a Basket. Although Manchester has a range of restaurants to choose form (that’s a whole other blog post), I highly recommend eating and drinking at one of the Alchemist restaurants (New York Street or Spinningfields)

The next day was the big day. Spa day at The Lowry Hotel. Fuelled by a breakfast at Leaf in Portland street (a great selection of teas), we headed to the 5* contemporary hotel overlooking the river. We opted for the package for two costing £120 in total. After years of walking past it, I finally ventured in to The Lowry and I am so glad I did. It’s absolutely stunning and offers the best service in Manchester. I was there the day but I’m already excited to head back and stay over. In the spa, we were taken care of by the lovely Natasha who did my treatments. I chose the Elemis facial, which was a bad choice as I now need every single Elemis product used during the 30 minutes. The Peptide range is amazing if you were wondering. It was an amazing spa experience and left my face looking radiant thanks to Natasha knowing what my skin needed. I also had a back massage which left me feeling ultra relaxed and ready to chill in the spas relaxation room and sauna.

Also, should mention a highlight of the spa day - afternoon tea. We had an afternoon tea in the River restaurant (which had just been renovated and re-opened on the day of our visit). The decor was absolutely stunning and the afternoon tea was probably one of the best afternoon teas I’ve ever had (GF and vegan options available) The afternoon tea at the River restaurant in the Lowry changes every month, so I guess that’s my excuse to head back there. The service at both the restaurant and the spa was just impeccable, the staff were attentive from the moment you walked in to the moment you left.

Manchester is and will continue to be my second home. Do you have any must have spots in Manchester to visit?

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