Manchester: Short but Sweet

Back in February, which seems so long ago now, I turned 22 and as part of said birthday celebrations we took a trip up to Manchester. Neither myself nor my boyfriend had been before (and as a long-time Liverpool FC fan, he was desperate not to like it…can you feel my eyes rolling 😉 ). But, as it goes, we both loved it, and although we fitted so much into our one night and one day there, we already can’t wait to go back and explore some more. If I’m honest, I’d only recently found myself researching Manchester and realising how vibrant and fantastic of a city it is, and I’m definitely pleased it even exceeded expectations. So, 2 months on, I’m wondering why the hell I didn’t share my trip with you, and then there I was catching up with one of my many reality TV guilty pleasures: Real Housewives of Cheshire (yup, I do watch that…), when I saw the hotel being filmed in and thought “Right, prepare for a heck load of photos, guys!”

WHERE WE STAYED: Hotel Gotham

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I won’t lie, The Gotham is kind of what kicked off the need to visit Manchester ASAP. I knew I wanted to go to the city, but when I found out about the Gotham I knew I needed to go the city, as soon as I could. This was probably the most unique hotel I’ve ever come across, and I don’t think I would ever get bored of it. Making you feel like you’re literally stepping into a 1920’s where Batman is real, Hotel Gotham is swanky, over-the-top and oh so cool (and this includes the staff dressed in dapper suits, bowler hats and moustaches to boot!) The building itself is so hugely dramatic that the style extrovert in me is grateful they took the opportunity in 2015 to really play up to the architecture and not hold back on the birth of Hotel Gotham.

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Gotham can be quite expensive but you get what you pay for, and they really don’t skimp on the luxury! Thankfully we nabbed a pretty good deal for one of their smaller rooms which still did not disappoint in the slightest. It oozed cool, unique character with great little touches such as ‘The Gotham Bugle’ with the menu and everything else you should need, gorgeous artwork, gold bars in the bathroom and a heck load of zigzags and velvet! As much as I could ramble on about the gazillion things I loved about this hotel, but I think my rather large array of images can speak for themselves!

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WHERE WE ATE & DRANK: The Hawksmoor, Piccolino, Solita’s & Jimmy’s

The Hawksmoor:

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We figured as we were only staying at the Gotham for the one night and just had the one following day to cram as much in as possible sightseeing wise, that the evening following our arrival should be spent relaxing with some fantastic food, and this is where The Hawksmoor came in. My boyfriend and I are notoriously bad at getting photos of our food, quite frankly we can’t wait…so all you have to do is believe me when I tell you that on top of fantastic service and delicious wine, the steak we indulged in at the Hawksmoor triumphantly beats the c**p out of any other steak we have ever tried, (plus the Mac and cheese certainly isn’t shabby either!!)

Piccolino:

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After our evening of steak and wine, we took a leisurely stroll back to the hotel and on the way I spotted Piccolino. Taken in by their gorgeous decor, we had a quick look at the menu and figured it would definitely be a possibility for breakfast the next day. The next day came and after walking round in circles trying to find it in the daylight (even though it was 2 minutes from the hotel…great effort!) we were greeted by the most welcoming, sassiest Italian owner and seated. We didn’t have anything extra special for breakfast: tea and almond croissants with a selection of preserves for me, and a breakfast roll with a cappuccino for the other half, but it was all so moreish and the place had such as fresh and stylish air to it that we were certainly happy.

Solita:

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Now for me, Solita was the surprise. I’m not usually the biggest fan of American style eateries, I find the menus tend to sound too sickening and I just can’t stomach that much food. But, after getting grumbling tummies from a super busy day (which I’ll explain more on in just a sec), we ended up here and I was willing to give it a go. Heh, silly me, thinking this place wouldn’t be for me. While my boyfriend attempted 3 “small plates” (the term ‘small’ used loosely) of the cheeseburger fries, sticky ribs and spicy chicken wings, I chose the buttermilk fried chicken salad and oh sweet baby Jesus, this hit the spot and then some! Honestly, this was the nicest buttermilk chicken I’ve ever had and it really did start and obsession – I have continuously tried to find something so good since and just nowhere does it quite like Solita!!

Jimmy’s Bar:

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As an avid subscriber to Megan Ellaby’s youtube channel and reader of her blog, Pages By Megan, I was well aware that her boyfriend has a relatively new bar called Jimmy’s. We had a little bit of time to kill before heading back for our flight and were in the Northern Quarter so thought why not pop in and see what all the fuss was about. The vibe was great, the music was pretty awesome but I was particularly keen on the huge array of neon lights and signs, because those are things I most certainly see as a credential for how flipping cool a place is.

WHAT WE GOT UP TO: Shopping, Art Gallery, John Ryland’s Library

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Vivienne Westwood & Shopping:

Amongst the rather hefty amount of food we packed in, I do like to think we spent our one day in Manchester pretty well. And it all started with Vivienne Westwood, so that’s always a good sign, am I right!?

Probably rather dangerous for anyone of the spendy-spendy nature like me, there is a gorgeous Vivienne Westwood boutique situated directly opposite Hotel Gotham, and so after heading back to the hotel post-breakfast to pick up our backpacks, it seemed silly to not take the 10 paces across the road to have a nosey. I often find looking around designer stores a bit intimidating, wondering whether it’s obvious that you’re probably looking out of place. However, the two lovely women and one fabulous guy made us feel so, so welcome and although we were quick to admit “sorry we just want to have a look around”, they were so friendly and we had a great chat about the brand and fashion in general. The fact I did end up leaving with a rather fancy-schmancy Vivienne Westwood bag (you can see what I nabbed in a post here) swinging from my arm did also help my day start off pretty fabulously. From here we did have a wander round some more of the great shops available in Manchester, including Ted Baker, Selfridges & Diesel!

John Ryland’s Library:

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Next up, we headed to Deansgate to explore the John Ryland’s Library. Fantastic from the outside as well in, we took in the beauty of the late-victorian Neo-gothic architecture.

Manchester Art Gallery:

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Next on the list, and one that I was particularly excited about, was our visit to the Manchester Art Gallery. We spent a good couple of hours wandering round the entire gallery and were both really impressed. As far as individual exhibits go, my particular favourites were “Modern Japanese Design” and “Strange & Familiar – Britain as revealed by International Photographers”.

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After a pitstop for a late lunch we then progressed through more of Manchester, taking in the fantastic architecture and unique vibe of the city before heading back to Southampton and reflecting on what a great, short but oh so sweet trip we had!

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Now, where next?!

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