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“Spending money to create this post was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.”

In the fierce rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester, I’ve always been firm about where my heart lies. But in recent months, with a pledge to explore more of the UK under my belt, I’m branching out. Manchester, home of Corrie, two inferior football clubs and seemingly permanent overhanging rain clouds, is one of the closest cities to home yet I’m woefully ignorant of its charms.

Over the last few months, I’ve taken a few jaunts to Manchester for events like the Christmas markets but with the heart of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ just 40 minutes away from my home by road and rail, there’s very little excuse for not exploring further. Don’t worry though; if you’re visiting from further afield, there are plenty of amazing hotels and serviced apartments in Manchester to spend the night. It was time to see what a rainy day in Manchester had to offer – not even Storm Jorge could stop me!

Mackie Mayor Manchester
Wolf House Coffee Manchester

First on my list in a new city is always food. Liverpool’s independent restaurant scene is outstanding but with Manchester’s sprawling mass in front of me, I have to admit that there were almost too many options to choose from. So, as I often do when in doubt, I selected a food market – Mackie Mayor to be exact. Just ten minutes walk from Manchester Victoria station, this edgy food hall sprung up in a Grade II listed building from 1858 and was buzzing even before midday on a windy Sunday morning.

While families and couples walked by with brunches piled high, I had my eye on the main event. Not convinced Pad Thai would work for me at 11am, I contented myself with a hot chocolate to tide me over until lunchtime. One sip blew me away. Along with a divine range of baked goodies, their ‘chocolate ganache’ hot chocolate is the best I’ve ever tasted: meltingly thick without being overpowering and with just enough frothy milk on top to feel like a real treat. I’d visit again for that alone, but luckily there was more stomach-rumbling goodness to be had. Putting my backpacking chopstick skills to good use, I selected Pad Thai topped with crispy tofu, beansprouts and a side of chilli – just like Chiang Mai.

Mackie Mayor Pad Thai
Pad Thai Mackie Mayor

Stomach briefly satisfied, I wandered through Manchester’s now-busy streets to browse the shops. While many people associate Manchester with out-of-town Trafford Centre, the city centre boasts a ton of popular high street options. Thankfully I exercised some restraint in & Other Stories but you could seriously lose your cool (and a whole wedge of money from your bank account) if you aren’t careful. Luckily, I had a hot date with Parasite to tear me away.

In my opinion, there’s no better rainy day activity than a film and Everyman Cinemas are my favourite destination if I’m looking for a real treat. Forget strip lighting and flashing displays: the interior game at Everyman St Johns was so strong that I couldn’t help but snap away for future-home inspiration.

Everyman Cinema Interiors
Everyman Cinema Bar Area

Another buzz is the ability to order hot, restaurant-quality food to enjoy in the bar area or at your seat. And not just any seat either, but plush sofas with legroom to let you fully stretch and relax.

Despite the earlier indulgence, my brief spell shopping had me tempted into ordering their signature Cookie Dough to my seat. Topped with ice cream and delightfully warm from the oven, it was the perfect treat – even if it was devoured before the adverts had finished. The perfect set up to allow me to enjoy Bong Joon Ho’s masterpiece content and happy.

Everyman Cinema Manchester Screen
Everyman Cinema Cookie Dough

Film complete, it was sadly time to leave Manchester but I have one more tip up my sleeve if you’re spending a little longer in the city. Junkyard Golf Club is mini golf with a difference – think creatively-named cocktails (Drank U, Next? anyone?), neon galore and courses built from the most random, salvaged items. Full disclosure: I’ve worked with them as on their Insider programme in Liverpool but as Manchester is where the phenomenon began, I wanted to pass on the recommendation.

Thanks again to Hotels.com for working with me on this post. I can’t help but think that there’s still more of the city I need to uncover so as the evenings get lighter, I just know that I’ll be taking a few more trips back up that way to keep exploring…

Tell me your favourite things to do in Manchester!

Laura x

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