Manchester has always been a city I’ve been well acquainted with, from Primark trips in my youth, to a (short-lived) University experience in my late teens, to being the hub of all things gifts, vintage, books, outfits, and homewares in my 20s.
Manchester has always been my go to city for music. My first ever gig being at the Apollo to see Kanye West in 2004 aged 15, to various sweaty Babyshambles gigs at the Academy, Roger Waters as a birthday surprise with my family, my dream concert of Cyndi Lauper (my all time favourite) at the Bridgwater Hall, an intimate gig with The XX and Elliphant at the beautiful Deaf Institute, Lykke Li at the Albert Hall, waiting hours for Axl Rose to appear at the MEN, dancing to Christine and the Queens, singing along to Alanis Morrisette, and screaming in joy at Fleetwood Mac and swooning at my girl crushes Haim. The majority of these have been enjoyed with my brother, my ultimate gig partner in life.
One of my favourite places to grab some food is Evelyn’s located in the Northern Quarter. With absolutely beautiful leafy interiors and one of the best smashed avocado breakfasts I’ve ever eaten!
Cha-ology fills my Japan shaped hole, offering a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in the heart of Manchester city, its offering something that can’t be found anywhere else in the northern city. To keep the teahouse as Zen like as possible, there is a strict reservations only policy maintaining that Japanese tranquility, which I think we all need in our busy lives.
Along Lever Street, you will find the Foundation Coffee House, a large space with a great atmosphere and the perfect place to take your laptop or a book and enjoy a hot cup of Matcha tea.
Need your Mac’N’Cheese fix? Head to Northern Soul set inside a kind of shack like building near the Arndale Centre, its a great place to watch the world go by whilst listening to some Soul classics.
The newly opened Mackie Mayor is a great place to go if you can’t really decide what you fancy eating, or with a group who all want different food. It has a bit of everything, my personal favourite being the Bao buns. Mackie Mayor will tantalise your taste buds and give you plenty to look at, from the beautifully restored building with its fabulous atrium to the old gymnasium flooring. Originally built in the 1850s as a meat market, it had been dilapidated for many years until recently renovated and has stacks of personality.
Bit of a sweet tooth? Siop Shop offer an array of delicious doughnuts to accompany your coffee break and has regular exhibitons of art work on their walls.
Ancoates Coffee Limited is a great spot located within the beautiful Royal Mills. A little bit further out than the main area of the Northern Quarter, its a great place to find a seat and enjoy a quiet coffee.
The Refuge – A great place to go for drinks day or night, I recommend getting a seat in the ‘Winter Garden’ which is inside a glass atrium and is stunning.
Pot Kettle Black – Within Barton Arcade which is a beautiful building full of character, this little cafe is the perfect brunch spot.
Fig & Sparrow – A great place to people watch within the Northern Quarter and also have a little browse at their beautiful homeware section!
Takk – A great coffee shop and another good place to take your laptop, earphones, and zone out at lunch time.
Sugar Junction – With its vintage tea room feel, this is for those with a sweet tooth!
Teacup Kitchen – Another perfect ‘tea and cake’ spot in a beautiful setting, I’m paticuarly a fan of the botanical art work.
The Street art
The Northern Quarter is home to some amazing street art so grab your camera and get exploring!
Giant mural from Faith47
Work from Case
Mural outside Magma Book Shop
Work from Phlegm
Bowie tribute from Akse
Prince tribute from Akse
Bee by Qubek
Blue tit by Faunagraphic
Form Lifestyle Store is tucked away in the Northern Quarter and possibly one of the most beautiful little shops I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. As soon as you walk through the door you are greeted with a fabulous spiral staircase adorned with plants. Selling a curated selection of beautiful homeware by independent designers, if you love all things plants, ceramics, candles and artwork – this shop needs to be on your radar!
They also run regular workshops, the details of which are on their website below.
Cow Manchester – A treasure trove of vintage clothing, and I always seem to spot a gem when I visit. It feels very organised, so for those who find vintage shopping a little daunting – this place is the perfect place to start your thrifting journey!
Fred Aldous is a great arts and crafts shop that I always head to when I need to find a gift for a loved one. With a great selection of quirky homewares, cards, books, stationary, you name it – Fred Aldous probably stocks it! They also stock Hay products which are beautiful. They have a couple of old photo booths which are great fun too.
POP Boutique is a vintage store which I always used to shop in when it was located in Afflecks Palace in my teens. Though still great for vintage clothing, I personally love the downstairs section which is filled with thrify homewares such as ceramics, lamps, tables, kiminos, old phones and bar carts.
Magma is a great book and magazine shop. With a wide selection of independent magazines, and its the perfect place to find your coffee table books. They also have great cards and quirky gifts.
Afflecks Palace – It brings back all the teenage nostalgia but if you have never visited before, its lots of fun to explore.
Oklahoma – This colourful vibrant shop is full of novelty gifts, homewares, cards, books and stationary.
Monki – My favourite high street store has recently opened in the Arndale Centre and this culotte-wearing fan is very happy about it!
When I go anywhere, I always seem to return with a plant… or two. These are a couple of leafy gems in the city to pick up a plant without a crazy price tag.
Flourish has two locations in Manchester, St Annes Square and Tib Street. You can pick up a good sized Fig Tree for around £25.00 and a large array of cacti.
Northern Flower is a boutique plant and flower shop in the Northern Quarter and has a potting shed feel to it. The staff are so lovely and helpful, I love to have a browse here.
A little bit of history
John Rylands Library is located within the Spinningfields area of Manchester, juxtaposed against the new buildings surrounding it. Built in the 1890s, it is an old beautiful building and has a very ‘Hogwarts’ esque feel about it and definitely worth a visit – it is free too!
Outskirts of Manchester
I wanted to mention a few places that are on the outskirts of Manchester which are absolutly worth a visit if in the area.
The first being Altrincham Market, which is owned by the same founders as Mackie Mayor. Full of charm and personality, its a great place to visit for some lunch and to look around the market stalls.
A couple of weeks ago I visited Object style in the suburb of Chorlton, which is a beautiful scandi-style store stocking homewares, books, jewellery and clothing by independent designers. I discovered the store through their instagram account and loved Rachael’s sense of style and eye for simplicity.
Wythenshawe Horticultural Centre is a hidden gem within Manchester. It was originally built to provide plants for Manchester City Council, and when production was stopped the greenhouses were converted into themed gardens and habitats for the community to enjoy. A wonderful peaceful place, that has numerous cacti, banana plants, water features and murals on the walls. There is an outdoor area with vegetable patches, herbaceous borders and fruit trees in a lovely tranquil setting. Entry is free, and there is also a plant shop. It’s the perfect oasis on the outskirts of the city.
Places that are on my radar to visit:
Nonsense Store (to visit all the plants!)
Whitworth Art Gallery