Manchester On My Mind

As some of you may know, I turned 30 in December. I didn’t know how I was gong to feel turning 30 as I think it is quite a significant age in your life. Personally I thought I was going to take it terribly but then I wrote down everything I’ve accomplished since my 21st birthday and, do you know what, i’m proud of how far I’ve came along and I’m excited to see what my 30’s are gong to hold for me. I’ve decided 2019 is going to be the year of the Staycation for me. I travelled around Europe last year and visited some amazing places but we have some pretty amazing places right here in the UK that I’ve decided I want to explore more of what the UK has to offer… saying that I already have 3 European trips planned for this year but you all know just how much I adore Greece!

I’ve been talking about visiting Manchester for sometime now, to say its only 2 and a half hours away from Newcastle I’ve never been. Fast forward to my birthday and it turns out I was being whisked away there for a weekend in January so it turns out all my “subtle” hints had been paid attention to – they don’t call me Princess for nothing!

We headed to Manchester midday on the Friday. I hate trains, they bore me to tears so I popped open the champagne and the celebrations began from there. Arriving into Manchester the weather was extremely grey but nothing could dampen my mood – we headed to our hotel, Motel One Manchester-Royal Exchange, which couldn’t have been a more perfect… right next to Selfridge and The Arndale Centre so naturally I was in my element.

Motel one is a Munich based company; which was founded in 2000 and operate 66 hotels in Austria, Beligium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Motel One offers a unique combination of high quality interiors, exclusive design and outstanding city centre locations at attractive prices. Motel One Manchester-Royal Exchange is designed with a faux-industrial look in memory of Manchester’s golden era when it was known as “Cottonopolis”: all about cotton as a raw material and its processing. The foyer is dominated by six-metre high round steel arches and a wall of printed cloth. Furniture by Baxter and hanging lamps by Alturo Alvarez are complemented by details such as spools of thread and spinning machines. 

The main eye-catcher is a wall installation entitled "Cottonopolis" by paper artist Andy Singleton, composed entirely of shapes cast by innumerable single threads. Motel One is situated right opposite the Royal Exchange Theatre in the very heart of Manchester. The Town Hall, Manchester Cathedral, Manchester Arena and the Manchester Central Convention Complex are within walking distance, and both Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly stations are within easy reach. I’ve been to a Motel One before but not to stay over. We have a Motel One in Newcastle and the bar there is amazing and fell in love with the décor there so I knew I would instantly love our Motel One in Manchester.

Check in complete, luggage dropped off, it was time to explore the city. With our hotel being central to everything we were spoilt for choice of what to do. We headed to the beautiful and newly renovated Corn Exchange. Showcasing all of its original Edwardian beauty with a modern twist, the Corn Exchange on Exchange Square in the city centre is home to an exciting and eclectic mix of mouthwatering restaurants in Manchester, offering a fusion of flavours from around the globe. The Corn Exchanges unique and stunning setting is most certainly somewhere I recommend you check out when visiting Manchester.

From here, we took a look around Manchester’s Cathedrals; which took my breath away. I always get very emotional when visiting churches and cathedrals and this experience was no different. The main body of the cathedral is in the Perpendicular Gothic style and I was fascinated by the intricate detail that had went into the pulpitum, choir stalls and nave roof - the cathedral somewhat reminded me of the cathedral Notre-Dame in Paris. Next up, we had a saunter around the Manchester Christmas Village. Feeling the huge sense Christmas was well and truly over and the magic had gone we quickly moved on, this time to the safe haven of a bar before heading back to the hotel for a bottle of prosecco as the evening rolled in.

I think one of the best things about coming to Manchester was that my best friend met us with us at the hotel bar where we had a cocktail and catch up. I opted for an Espresso Martini, which, I must say, was the best Espresso Martini that I’ve had and I’ve had a fair few to say the least. Cocktails over and a spring in our step, we headed to Côte Brasserie – one of my favourite restaurants, which again was a stones throw away from our hotel. I know I had the choice of any restaurant in Manchester but I had a craving for steak frites and my favourite wine so to Côte Brasserie we headed. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Côte it is a French restaurant inspired by the brasseries of Paris that serve authentic French dishes from breakfast to evening meals in their classically designed restaurants.  The service again was fantastic and their dark chocolate pot was sublime.  In true Lindsey style, out we headed for even more cocktails, a lot more than was required, and danced the night away. Queue one mean hangover on Saturday…

Fast forward to 2pm on Saturday afternoon, it felt like it was the right time to awake from my slumber. Please don’t judge me, I had an amazing 30th birthday night out the evening before, rode out my hangover and, after all, my son was home with his Grandma back in Newcastle so I took advantage of the situation and had an almighty lie in.  Shower and change, it was now time to hit the shops. Selfridges didn’t cease to disappoint, I was like a kid in a candy shop, I didn’t know where to start first so, being the magpie I am we headed to Tiffany’s and was instantly drawn to their “Tiffany T Square Bracelet,” to which I got the death stare, was dragged out of the store and told to calm down – it’s not my fault I have expensive taste! I’ve always loved shopping, it’s my number 1 form of exercise but after one too many cocktails the evening prior, my hangover abruptly told me to calm down too so we headed to the nearest juice bar for some serious vitamin overload.

Hangover back under wraps it was time to head to our reservation at Salvi’s Mozzarella Bar; which we stumbled across whilst pottering around the city the day beforehand and what an amazing find it was! Salvi’s is a family run restaurant, named after the owner’s Father and inspired by the owner’s Mother’s kitchen back at their family home in Naples. All of their ingredients are soured directly from their own personal suppliers back in Naples, Sorrento and beyond and they even make their own pasta and brad by hand every morning to get the very best from their ingredients. The dishes are simple and very traditional but bursting with flavour and many of the recipes come from their Mother’s kitchen, who comes over regularly to check up on things; which I love!

We opted for the Dal Bancone to share as a starter. Here you could choose from a selection of meats and cheeses from their deli upstairs, which is home to the finest selection I have seen.  We chose the mix of salami, coppa and pecorino which was accompanied with fresh bread and roasted vegetables. To say we chose 3 different options, we were given a few extras to try also. For my main, I chose the Pasta alla Salvi’s – fresh pasta with a tomato sauce, anchovies and capers. I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of our mains because they were too good to wait around, my pasta was cooked perfectly and the sauce was amazing. I’m a huge fan of supporting local businesses so find this little gem in Manchester was a bonus for me. The service was fantastic and the food whisked me back to when I travelled around Italy.

Bellies full, we chose against dessert but headed to check out their deli. The deli was like an Aladdin’s Cave of Italian delights.  The deli is where Salvi’s journey first began for the owner Maurzuo where he set up his own deli at the Corn Exchange, his vision was to bring a small slice of Neapolitan life to Manchester. Now the deli is bursting at the seams with the very best, hand selected, imported produce from Italy, plus there’s a gorgeous sun terrace and appertivo bar. Needless to say I couldn’t resist their Nutella filled Connolo and may have taken a few extra for when we were back home in Newcastle too. Tired and full, we decided to head back to the hotel, get into our PJ’s and watch TV in bed. My 21 year old self would have been straight back on the cocktails however 30 year old me decided a nice relaxing evening sounded so much more pleasing and boy, did I enjoy it – rock and roll!

In a blink of an eye, Sunday was here and my 7am alarm clock was screaming in the background. Fresh as a daisy, we got ready and headed to Federal Café and Bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter for breakfast before the journey back home. I was recommended about Federal Café and Bar by a gentleman on Twitter and his recommendation certainly lived up to expectations. Federal Café has a very chilled out feel to it, the staff there where very attentive and the menu diverse. When the food arrived, the presentation was fab, I’m a very visual person and if I dish doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing it runs my experience but this wasn’t the case here. Federal Café and Bar is a little slice of Antipodean happiness in Manchester which offers breakfasts, brunch, sandwiches, cocktails to name but a few. I’m already planning my next visit with the girls for a spot of brunch and Mimosas.

Needless to say Manchester didn’t cease to amaze me and I’m already planning my next visit in March. I had such a lovely weekend and what a way to start the New Year but in the words of Dorothy, “There’s no place like home.” Until next time Manchester…

Motel One:

Federal Cafe & Bar:

Salvi's Mozzarella Bar:

Cote Brasserie:

#travel #manchester #food #drink

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