Travel UK

The Shoreditch of the North: 24 hours in Manchester 

Manchester is one of my favourite cities to visit in the UK. Whilst London will always be my home and Oxford my childhood, the northern city remains one of the friendliest and most eccentric places for me to head to for a long weekend.

It’s easy to spend a few days exploring the relatively walkable city, jumping from brunch to brunch, and shop to stall. 

If you’re looking for a fantastic breakfast, then start in Federal Cafe. Getting there early is a must with the tiny place only offering a handful of tables and a queue out the door post 10am. But the breakfasts of pastrys, avocado as well as rich matcha lattes and egg tarts to take away from the bakery make it a worthy stop.

Book fans need to go to Paramount Books. Refreshingly, they don’t allow cameras inside but once you’re in, you’ll forget all about it. Literature lines the walls, as well as old comic books and TV show novellas that mean you’ll end up finding presents for someone you didn’t realise you needed to buy for, as well as having a bag slightly heavier as you leave with some old novels for yourself.

For those odd bits and bobs, Oklahoma is a must. Featuring hundreds of boutique brands from across the globe, it offers interior, gifts, cards, stationery; it’s like being in a brightly coloured morocco haven of kitsch and kooky treats. I somehow emerged with a couple of cards, notebooks and a miniature suitcase and lip balm. I dare you not to do the same. 

From all that shopping comes a much-needed break, which is where Tuuk has your back. Located in the Northern Quarter, the Icelandic cafe has sharing benches to perch alongside your fellow coffee lover, as well as a secluded corner with floor to ceiling books. Dogs and their owners regularly stroll in as the drip roast coffee is carefully prepared. I recommend the french toast with berries and cream alongside for a decadent treat.

Wandering the Northern Quarter itself is a treat. The beautiful artwork and graffiti around the city are uplighting and bold, often offering political and hilarious quotes to inspire. The gay street is one to be seen as it runs along the canal as the clubs offer every kind of night imaginable, whilst the huge Harry-Potter-esque John Rylands Library continues the book lover theme, and is perfect to soak up the old tome smell.

For a much later dinner, Another Heart to Feed is just out of the city and a step into Salford. The Australian run cafe serves a brunch perfect for all day as the light streams in through the huge front windows.

A night in Manchester isn’t a night until it is spent out at the bars. Forget London taxi fares and entry fees, you can easily bar hop and barely spend a penny. Bar21 offers a great selection of cocktails, although hard to hear over the music, whilst Odd is a TV and film memorabilia lovers dream. Although Cottonopolis is a chic joint to frequent, as the rustic copper design and Scandi design makes it inviting before you even step in.

Stay at the INNSIDE Manchester Hotel to continue the city of character, where a coffee comes with a shot of smarties and a DJ plays during breakfast.

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