GEORGE Orwell may have once described Manchester as ‘the belly and guts of the nation’ but after spending 48 hours in this urban jungle, I am here to tell you he was wrong.
With international travel still being heavily restricted, I headed to England’s capital of the North for a weekend break.
Advice given from friends said that bar hopping is cheap, there is a Greggs branch on every other corner and that gravy is like holy water.
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While they are not entirely wrong, this bustling city is so much more than just sausage rolls and pints, so just in case you get confused like me, I have put together a must-do list to help you get the most out of the city during a weekend.
Only a 15-minute walk from the bustling Northern Quarter, the Hyatt House Manchester is a home away from home (but better).
I stayed in one of their apartments on the seventh floor, which include a kitchen, a spacious living room with a TV and a luxurious five-star bedroom.
If you are travelling for business or perhaps you would like to cook your own meals instead of splashing out for dinners, then this is the perfect stay for you – the kitchen is equipped with every utensil you can imagine, a hob and a coffee machine.
While I can go on about how comfortable the king-sized bed was, how handy the in-house gym is or how decadent the breakfast spreads are in The Laureate Restaurant, I was most impressed with the staff and all my praise is reserved for them.
Incredibly kind, attentive and hospitable, and even though the restaurant was fully-booked for the England-Ukraine football game, the bar manager still found me a seat with a direct view of the TV screens.
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Pro tip: Make sure you order the churros with Nutella cream as it is now my official new death row dessert *chef’s kiss*.
The city has no shortage of design-driven boutique restaurants and bars, but there are three little words that send shivers down my spine – Manchester Gin Bar.
Located in the arches that adjoin the Spirit of Manchester Distillery, the bar does not attract a tourist crowd but gin connoisseur eager to sample the original flavours.
There are dozens of cocktails on the menu, however, I had signed myself up for a group gin tasting at midday.
On arrival, guests are greeted with a cucumber, kiwi and apple palette cleanser.
This is followed by a classic gin and tonic made with the distillery’s Signature spirit, ahead of six gin shots – 25ml tasters of every Manchester Gin drink.
As we sipped and sometimes downed shots, our host Seb talked us through the history of the brand – a touching love story of a girl meets boy, who live happily ever after and end up creating some of the most awarded gins in the country.
I was most impressed by the Wild Spirit gin – a savoury gin with complex herbaceous notes inspired by walks through the woodlands of Manchester.
Naturally, I walked away with a bottle.
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Pro tip: If you are a gin connoisseur, then you absolutely must sign up for the tasting. A great way to pre-drink and also learn about the products.
For anyone interested in the history of trade unions and labour, and the core values and infectious movements, which began in Manchester and then spread to the rest of the country, then you have to visit the People’s History Museum on the Left Bank.
Currently, there is a special exhibition in place exploring and celebrating the life and legacy of Jo Cox MP.
A must-see is the Jo Cox Memorial Wall, which is on public display for the very first time since her murder in June 2016 when it was erected outside the Houses of Parliament.
Pro tip: Take a break from exploring and grab a bite at the sustainable food experience at Open Kitchen Cafe & Bar on the first floor of the museum.
This is not your regular hangover grub but an innovative and delicious meal made out of perfectly edible food, which was headed to the bin.
I ordered the vegan English breakfast and iced oat latte.
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