For my latest football trip to Manchester to watch the City v United derby, I decided to linger a little, so stayed the night and took a walk around Manchester’s Northern Quarter next morning.
First up in the quirkiness stakes was my hotel. I stayed in the newly completed Ibis Styles hotel near Piccadilly Station. I had stayed at the hotel before in its former guise, the staid & predictable Portland Hotel, but you would not recognise the place such was the makeover.
In line with other new Ibis Styles hotels in Liverpool (Beatles), Leeds (Yorkshire) & Glasgow (Poetry), the Manchester hotel is themed, with the subject matter Manchester’s famed weather – four seasons in a day and all that!
I booked a single with included (fabulous) breakfast at £76 for the night. As soon as you arrive you are smiling – the main door handles are silver Wellington boots, the reception ceiling is covered in open umbrellas, the lights are all balls of sunshine.
Gone is the square reception desk stuck against the far wall and in its place a bright and airy open plan check-in area.
My small but perfectly formed room continued the weather theme with wall art, whilst the bathroom naturally had a rain shower instead of a waste of space bathtub.
I took my pre-match meal in the hotel restaurant called Jamboree. Burgers inspired by different countries & regions (including a crab burger!) steaks and craft beers or cocktails were on offer. A limited choice, but well prepared & presented. The restaurant was also funkily decorated with a variety of imaginitive lighting and plenty of varied style seating areas.
So what did I get up to on my free morning? I had heard about the Northern Quarter, a stone’s throw from the hotel. The area is Manchester’s answer to Camden. The former industrial wasteland has been transformed into an incredibly cool location with independent bars, cafes, boutiques, theatres, barbers and much more. Trendy is the word. I am writing this post in a great cafe called North Tea Power, situated inside part of an old warehouse.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the quarter is all of the wall art. Local & international street artists have been invited to adorn the walls, shutters and even the bins with their artwork. There are some great examples to be found and this has spawned an army of photographers, especially at weekends.
I particularly liked the huge bottle painted on the side of a red brick building. The message in the bottle is a stunning drawing of a fantasy city that would look right at home in Lord of the Rings. There is so much to see in the bottle and all around the area.