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Lifestyle

Reasons to Visit Manchester

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The multiple territories of the United Kingdom are a must-visit when in Europe. With all its history, beautiful architecture, and mostly shopping, visiting it is a must! The capital London is described as the hub of all things fashion, but other cities are growing in popularity, namely Manchester.

Historically, Manchester was famous for its textile industry. Famed for its wool trade in the 16th century, the town had become famous for its flourishing markets. The city, yes, was a town until the reform by the 19th century when the first recession struck the textile trade. However, the prosperity of the trade led to the expansion of Manchester to the cosmopolitan city we see today.

Now when doing a tour of the UK, it’s in to totally visit other cities outside London for variety. So why visit Manchester? Aside from being home to two of the largest Premier league football teams – Manchester City (sponsored by Etihad) and Manchester United (sponsors include STC! So close to home!), there are some beautiful attractions and great shopping. Everything from one off pieces to your everyday high street, Manchester is worth visiting.

I was lucky enough to be taken on a tour by Visit Manchester on behalf of Visit Britain and here is a look into the two-day journey around the second-most popular city in the UK.

Day 1:

men

The first stop was the wonderfully charming Lissom & Muster. The store isn’t for us women unfortunately, but the collection for men is classic and tasteful. Decorated to emulate a cosy home in the country side, the clothes depict a traditional English look. The owner talked us through the pieces and intricate detail of the fabrics right down to the shoes.

My favorite were the brogues of course. Having worked in men’s formal wear, myself, I have to say the brand is quality. They tailor to your exact needs. Not bespoke, they do make sure the clothes are fit to your measurements. The friendly staff and cosiness of the store are not to be missed as you are certainly guaranteed to be looked after.

rosso

We then walked down what used to be the city center where all banks were once located. The buildings remain and the architecture takes your breath away. We were walking toward Hervia Bazaa, and were introduced to a restaurant owned by ex- United player Rio Ferdinand – Rosso Restaurant.

Infamous for all footballers alike to visit, the old bank was maintained with the very stylish bar and restaurant. Whilst in Manchester it is definitely worth popping-in for a meal. Be sure to check out the wall boasting photographs of all the footballers! I mean if you’re as big a football fan as me, you will definitely enjoy the thought of even possibly sitting at the table Christiano Ronaldo may have sat at!

hervia

Hervia Bazaa, what a store! As soon as you walk in, one thought immediately comes to mind – street wear! Let’s face it, street wear is back in fashion and in full force thanks to the likes of Moschino, Saint Laurent, Givenchy etc. The store stocks everything from Commes des Garcons, Bao Bao Issay Miyake, Jean Paul Gaultier, Y-3 Yohji Yamamoto, Adidas Originals and Adidas collaborations like Jeremy Scott to name a few.

You can tell every piece is bought carefully. The lovely staff explained that the pieces are ones you wouldn’t find in your large department stores like Selfridges or Harrods. They like the idea of being completely unique. You can tell they must have a client list of high profile celebrities, but being professional they wouldn’t spill! Quality and special spring to mind in terms of the clothing. Definitely worth a visit because in all honesty I haven’t seen a store like it in London.

Flannels was next on our list of places to visit. Located in Spinningfields in the heart of the city, it is one of very few stores left. The area boasts more restaurants and bars that look like good fun. Nonetheless, upon arrival the store looked well presented. They stocked everything from Roberto Cavalli down to Miu Miu. They even have a men’s floor! The stock was beautiful. Every piece looks like it had been carefully selected. However, not much can be said for the staff and atmosphere. A total shame in my opinion. For a store of such luxury, it was certainly saddening to see that the rest didn’t match. A family business claiming to have better customer service than that of Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, we certainly weren’t given that impression. Bless her, even our lovely tour guide Sue was apologetic on their behalf. I suggest going there to buy what you probably can’t find in the department stores.

flanel

Upon walking to our next destination, I couldn’t help but notice how accessible everything was. The city is totally walkable! I loved that the streets were easy to understand and how connected the city was. Didn’t take very long considering I was there a day! Proper Tea, a sweet café besides the Manchester Cathedral was just delightful. We got to enjoy some afternoon tea with delicious sandwiches, scones, and cakes not to mention the wide selection of teas. I just love how afternoon tea has become popular again and why not?! No Manchester experience is complete without some tea!

tea

Not far from Arndale Centre, Market Street, St. Ann’s Square, and the Northern Quarter. You are spoiled for choice in terms of shopping.

Day 2:

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We met up with our lovely tour guide, Emma who took us towards the Northern Quarter and the first store was Affleck’s Palace. Reminiscent of Camden, the store boasted cool t-shirts to the most quirky of dresses. Lady Gaga spent a crazy sum upon visiting the store, so if you want to see why, pop in.

Oi Polloi, an infamous men’s store that stocks the ultimate selection of contemporary menswear is definitely worth a visit. For your other half, the clothes are for that typical English lad look that has come to be a massive trend worldwide thanks to high street stores like Topshop. The staff were beyond helpful and informative. Rare to find in most stores, these guys were so friendly and honest.

Across, the street is NOTE. When you walk in the first thing you notice are the skateboards on the wall. Yep, this is a skater’s paradise! If your significant other is into that lifestyle, then this is the store to treat him from.

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Lunch time was really nice. We got to enjoy a hearty meal that felt nothing short of homemade from the Oak Street Café in the old Victorian building that was once a fish market, but now known as the Manchester Craft and Design Centre. For those who enjoy the arts this is the place to go. They host exhibitions of original art pieces, not to mention the businesses. Names such as Richard Wheater, Joseph Hartley, and Tracy Birchwood are just a few of the artists this center has showcased. Again, the manager Christine was a delight and it was nice to learn about the history of the building and what they do for artists who are just starting out.

hn

From there, we went to Harvey Nichols. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to walk across to the Selfridges. Nonetheless it was safe to say the Harvey Nichols was wonderful. Once you walk into the store, you aren’t greeted by the beauty department, but rather the accessories with Laura Mercier and Jo Malone on your right hand side. It was refreshing to see the different set up. For a smaller department store in comparison to that of London’s stores the walk paths seemed longer and the apparel didn’t feel too busy which makes the shopping experience so much better in my eyes. Iain Mackenzie, the store manager who worked for Selfridges in the past, said he wanted to create a much better shopping experience in comparison to its competitors. The pieces are carefully selected and fit the stores aesthetics. There are no concessions where you feel like you have to walk in and out of and deal with specific staff who deal with that one particular brand. It is much more open. I can’t stress enough how much shopping is easier when things are laid out neatly and less busy. The staff were friendly and smiled as each customer walked past, which definitely goes to show that they do pride themselves in exceptional customer service.

Also, I failed to mention the hotels Double Tree by Hilton and The Lowry were really nice places to stay. Definitely worth staying in these hotels as they do have the friendliest and most helpful staff, not to mention the size of the rooms – extreme comfort at its best! I adored The Lowry and I’m pretty sure you would too if you choose to stay there (something you wouldn’t want to miss out on whilst in Manchester!).

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Overall, the experience made me see Manchester in a totally different light. Considering, I only ever get off at the Piccadilly and get the metro to Old Trafford and back to rush to London, I was happy to experience how real Manchurians live and shop, and their good spirit all in all. Like I said before, you can no longer come to the UK without visiting other cities and the cosmopolitan of Manchester should be on that ‘places to visit’ list.

A massive thank you to the lovely tour guides Sue and Emma, to Andy and Jonathon of Visit Manchester. Not to mention Yasmine Rashed of Visit Britain in Dubai who gave me the opportunity to take the tour with the lovely journalists from India, it was truly a pleasure.
Information:
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
W:http://doubletree3.hilton.com/en/hotels/united-kingdom/doubletree-by-hilton-hotel-manchester-piccadilly-MANPDDI/index.html
The Lowry Hotel
W: www.thelowryhotel.com
Lissom & Muster
W: www.lissomandmuster.com
Twitter: @LissomandMuster
Hervia Bazaar
W: www.hervia.com
Twitter: @HerviaBazaar
Flannels
W: www.flannels.com
Twitter: @flannelsfashion
Proper Tea
W: www.properteadeveloper.com
Twitter: @propertearooms

Affleck’s Palace
W: www.afflecks.com
Twitter: @affleckspalace
Oi Polloi
W: www.oipolloi.com
Twitter: @OiPolloi
NOTE
W: www.noteshop.co.uk
Twitter: @NOTEshop
Manchester Craft and Design Centre
W: www.craftanddesign.com
Twitter: @ManchesterCraft
Oak Street Café
Twitter: @OakStreetCafeNQ

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