A local’s choice – 3 cool restaurants in Manchester

For many people, Manchester is known for three main things – music, football and the industrial revolution. Although still thriving in music and sport and with remnants of the industrial revolution still visible throughout the city, Manchester has so much more to offer – not least, an extremely high calibre of restaurants.

I’ve been lucky enough to sample some of the best restaurants in Manchester, and in this post I’ll reveal three of my favourite eateries this wonderful city has to offer. From fine dining to greasy spoon, Manchester has all the bases covered.

Almost Famous

Almost Famous Restaurant in Manchester

Almost Famous Restaurant in Manchester

This place is far from fine dining, but it certainly offers a unique dining experience. If you’re a fan of burgers (and I mean real burgers), then a visit to Almost Famous is a must. This was originally a pop-up restaurant that came and went in the space of a month, but due to its initial success, it looks like they’re back for good.

Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools for restaurants, and these guys have certainly got the trendy people of Manchester talking. It’s located in an office block in the centre of the uber-cool Northern Quarter area and the décor isn’t up to much, but this all adds to the charm of the place. They don’t hold back on portion size (think Man Vs. Food) and the flavours are definitely worth the visit.

El Rincon

Rincon de Rafa Manchester

Rincon de Rafa Manchester

Good tapas is pretty hard to come by in any city. Much of the UK is riddled with big chain tapas restaurants (which can be ok, granted), but really good, authentic tapas isn’t always readily available. To find the real deal, you normally have to rely on word of mouth to direct you to a restaurant that delivers. El Rincon is one of those restaurants.

Hidden in a basement, on a city centre backstreet, this restaurant is very easy to miss. Prepare to get lost on your way, but the journey will be well worth it! It is recommended that you book a table, as it does tend to be packed to the rafters throughout the week, which is always a good sign that the food and service lives up to its reputation.

Expect traditional tapas dishes, such as fresh shellfish, cured meats and plenty of garlic. There is a substantial wine list and a variety of beers to wash down your food. If laid back dining with top-notch cuisine is your thing, El Rincon is well worth a visit.

Abode

Michael Caines at Abode Manchester

Michael Caines at Abode Manchester

Celebrity Michelin starred chef, Michael Caines, opened the Manchester instalment of his chain of fine dining restaurants at Abode hotel in the city centre, back in May 2008. Although the city doesn’t actually have a Michelin starred restaurant, this certainly comes close.

Here you’ll receive the full fine dining experience, but you won’t necessarily have to pay through the nose for the privilege. The taster menus are a true culinary delight, taking you on a sensory journey, which many restaurants simply can’t match. You can enhance your meal by having a wine specially selected to compliment each course.

Again, it is highly recommended that you book in advance, and the mid-week early dining menu is superb value for money. Also, it is well worth searching online, as you’ll often find some great deals.

This post was brought to you by Travelbag.co.uk – check them out for a wide choice of Australia holidays to suit all budgets

The Manchester Restaurant address book

Almost Famous Burgers & Booze, 100 High Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester @AlmostFamousMCR
El Rincon de Rafa, 244 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4BQ Facebook Page
Michael Caines at Abode, Abode Hotel,107 Piccadilly,Manchester, M1 2DB @MichaelCaines

More Cool things in Manchester

Street art and vintage in the Northern Quarter on Manchester
Getting to know LS Lowry in the Lowry in Manchester
Steak and seafood at the Grill on the Alley in Manchester

Photo Credits: Almost Famous by www.yelp.co.uk, Rincon de Rafa Manchester by kevmccann , Michael Caines at Abode Manchester by www.manchesterrestaurants.com

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heatheronhertravels' Manchester photoset heatheronhertravels’ Manchester photoset

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Sea, sand and historic thrills in Blackpool

Blackpool… For many, just the name of the UK’s most famous seaside resort is enough to make them cringe, conjuring up images of run-down games arcades and seedy bars packed full of binge-drinking teenagers. For me, it has always brought to mind the historic Pleasure Beach, one of Britain’s oldest amusement parks and still one of its most popular. Yet the town’s original success was built on its expansive coastline and long, sandy beaches – features that are still present today. With significant investments being made to try and rejuvenate Blackpool’s seafront, how do the man-made attractions stack up against the natural elements? And is either aspect enough to justify a visit?

Pier in Blackpool Photo: stinksoup of Flickr

Pier in Blackpool

I’ve dreamed of visiting the town ever since I was a small child, but being on the opposite side of the UK to our Ipswich home it fell into the category of “so close, yet so far”. Earlier this year, we decided to compile a list of all the places in our country that we’d neglected to visit. Blackpool was right at the top, and so it was that we spent two days exploring it this summer.

Natural attractions in Blackpool

Blackpool Beach and Tower Photo: diamond geezer of Flickr

Blackpool beach and tower

While the artificial aspects of the resort are hard to miss (a 65 metre tall roller coaster and 158 metre tall clone of the Eiffel Tower are never going to blend into the landscape), it was the extensive coastline that grabbed our attention immediately. Stretching on for over seven miles, it’s easy to see why trainload after trainload of working class tourists headed to the town following the construction of the first rail link in 1846. Few beaches could cope with the sheer number of visitors (tens of thousands every summer weekend in the 1920s) that descended upon Blackpool’s shores, but these ones could.

Of course, it was perhaps inevitable that the urban grime the workers were seeking to escape from would eventually follow them to the coast. A multi-lane road runs in parallel to the seafront, although there is at least a large promenade and a tram line to separate it from the sand itself. Row after row of bed and breakfasts and hotels clamour for the sea views on offer, and many are badly in need of restoration after years of battering from the sea breeze. There are some pretty buildings around, but Blackpool is never going to be famous for its architecture.

Does this detract from the seafront? I don’t think so. The lure of the seaside is as strong as ever, and the features that have attracted tourists to Blackpool for the last century-and-a-half are still very prominent. Whether it’s a family day out with bucket and spade in tow, or a just a relaxing stroll along sand that doesn’t seem to end, most people will find something to enjoy here. Even those most disapproving of the way the resort has evolved may not be able to resist a quick ice cream and a paddle in the surf.

Top natural attractions to visit in Blackpool include:

  • Central Beach – the heart and soul of the town, Central Beach is an expansive tract of golden sand located right in the heart of Blackpool. For families, this is the place to go for sunbathing, sand-castle building and donkey rides.
  • St Annes Beach – if you’re looking for a more relaxing spot away from the noise and bustle of Central Beach, St Annes offers a quieter alternative. Located a few miles down the coast, it’s a great place for a walk or a swim.

Man-made attractions in Blackpool

Of course, the variable weather conditions that ultimately led to British tourists heading to Spain and Portugal will still have a huge impact on your ability to linger outdoors. That’s where Blackpool’s range of man-made distractions come into play – and there are a huge number of them. From major attractions such as the iconic Blackpool Tower (which we were unable to visit due to recently-completed refurbishment work), Madame Tussaud’s waxworks and the Sea Life Centre (all operated by a single firm, Merlin Entertainments Group) to the dozens of arcades, tea rooms and pubs, almost everywhere you look someone is trying to extract some of your hard-earned cash.

The Pepsi Max Big One Photo: Ingy The Wingy of Flickr

The Pepsi Max Big One

I’ll be honest – for me, there is only one game in town. Having remained in family ownership for years, Blackpool Pleasure Beach still draws visitors to the South Shore like a magnet. First opened in 1896, it has outlasted the vast majority of seaside parks from its era by continuing to invest and improve. Several major rides have been added in the past two decades, while 2011 saw the opening of the £10 million Nickelodeon Land.  The park is also home to  the UK’s tallest rollercoaster, the Pepsi Max Big One.

While I am an unapologetically huge fan of amusement parks, it is not Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s modern rides that interest me. Instead, it is the vast array of classic attractions on offer, some of which date back to the early 20th century. This gives the park the feel of a living, working museum, rather than a simple tourist trap. The River Caves was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean, while the Big Dipper roller-coaster was among the forerunners to today’s major thrill rides. It is the 1904 Flying Machines, though, that really caught my imagination. Still a great attraction today, it is difficult to comprehend how amazed visitors of that era must have been by this stunning piece of engineering.

Nickelodeon Land at Blackpool Pleasure Beach Photo: Nick Sim

Nickelodeon Land at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Outside of Pleasure Beach, some of the best man-made attractions in Blackpool’s bewildering line-up include:

  • Blackpool Tower – visible from all over the town, the Tower has recently undergone a major renovation which added the somewhat out-of-place Blackpool Tower Dungeons walk-through horror exhibit. Besides the stunning views from the top, though, the biggest draw remains the famous Tower Ballroom. Dominated by enormous crystal chandeliers, it still plays host to ballroom dancing nights on a frequent basis.
  • Sandcastle Water Park – kids will demand a visit to Britain’s most famous indoor water park. Highlights include the world’s first (and longest) water slide featuring an uphill section, the Master Blaster.
  • Grand Theatre - having opened in 1894, the Grand Theatre has shown impressive staying power and now features the official title of Britain’s National Theatre of Variety. The performances won’t always be to everyone’s taste, but the building itself is still worth a look.
  • Blackpool Illuminations – introduced in 1879 as a way of extending the holiday season, the Illuminations sees over a million lights used to decorate six miles of Blackpool promenade.
Flying Machines at Blackpool Pleasure Beach Photo: Nick Sim

Flying Machines at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Overall, then, I would recommend a visit to Blackpool to a diverse range of people from lovers of the sea air, to casual history buffs, right through to hardened thrill-seekers. The town still has some way to go to fully clean itself up, and it’s hard to see it ever returning to its glory days. But as a nostalgia-inducing reminder of how the natural and artificial combined to offer fun-packed seaside holidays in years gone by, it still has plenty to offer.

Thanks for this guest post to Nick Sim from Theme Park Tourist, your guide to theme parks and amusement parks , featuring news, guides and reviews for parks all over the world

Photo credits: Blackpool beach and tower by diamond geezer,  The Pepsi Max Big One by Ingy The Wingy and Pier by stinksoup   Other photos by Nick Sim.

More delights up North

Getting to know LS Lowry at the Lowry in Manchester
Snowdrops at Lytham Hall in Lancashire England
The must see sights of Leeds

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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Apartment Living on Laystall St with StayManchester – video

I’ve slept everywhere from a tent in the back garden to a luxury hotel, but I must admit that serviced apartments such as the  Laystall Apartments by StayManchester.com were a new experience for me.

Once the industrial powerhouse of the north of England, Manchester is full of old warehouses that once manufactured the goods that were sent all over Britain’s colonial empire. With Britain’s industrial decline, the old mills and warehouses have fallen silent silent but many have been renovated and converted into modern apartment buildings.

Laystall Apartments from staymanchester.com

Laystall Apartments from staymanchester.com

Although the Laystall Street Apartments are in a modern rather than old building, the conversion of old warehouses seems to make Manchester an ideal city for serviced apartments as an alternative to hotel accommodation. Of course many groups of friends come to Manchester for the football, concerts, shopping or nightlife and are looking for somewhere they can stay together that will also be good value, so serviced apartments fit the bill perfectly.


If you can’t see the embedded video above, view it on my blog here

At the Laystall Apartments I found our 10th floor apartment was a cross between a hotel with 24 hour reception and a show home with two double bedrooms, one with en suite shower room and a second bathroom.

Laystall Apartments from staymanchester.com

Laystall Apartments from staymanchester.com

The decor was the latest look with a colour scheme of cappuccino with a twist of lime. My en suite double bedroom had a comfortable bed with crisp white bed-linen, a brown leather headboard and dark wood furniture.

Beside the bed was an elegant silver string lampshade and a radio alarm clock, useful if you’re in Manchester on business although I can’t see the party crowd would be wanting an early morning wake up call.

There was a proper wardrobe with extra quilts and pillows and a normal hairdryer (as opposed to those horrid wall mounted ones) for getting ready for those nights out on the town. The pictures in both the bedroom and the living area were night-time cityscape pictures of Manchester. I must admit that the city looks a lot prettier at night with all those twinkling light that it does in the daytime with a view of the retail park opposite and the surrounding industrial landscape.

Laystall Apartments from  staymanchester.com

Laystall Apartments from staymanchester.com

Laystall  Apartments from staymanchester.com

Laystall Apartments from staymanchester.com

The bathroom was also ultra modern with white tiles and black polished surfaces, modern chrome fittings and a pale aqua glass bath surround, and there was some hotel style miniature shampoo and soap. The living and dining area was large enough to throw a party with a chocolate leather sofa and chair that turned into a sofa bed and a Samsung flat screen TV.

The glass dining room table seated six people with a bowl of fruit and some bottled water to keep us going and wrap around windows with a great view over the city warehouses. The red kitchen with grey surfaces was an impressive size with all the fittings and equipment that you’d expect in your kitchen at home. For those who are staying a few days, the washing machine in the apartment was also a bonus and there is also free wifi in the apartment.

It seemed rather a shame that as I was out for most of the time at the Travel Bloggers Unite conference, I didn’t get the chance to have a few friends round for dinner or throw a wild party. I was sharing with fellow blogger Abi King, who was coming down with a nasty cold, so we were rather the party poopers and used the apartment as a convenient base, rather than making the most of all the space.

Laystall Apartments  from staymanchester.com

Laystall Apartments from staymanchester.com

Laystall Apartments  from  staymanchester.com

Laystall Apartments from staymanchester.com

If there were any downsides it might only be that the location is down a quiet side street and I felt a little nervous walking back to late at night, although on the plus side it’s only a 10 minute walk from the Picadilliy train station and 10 minutes the other way into the Northern Quarter. There is an Aldi supermarket close by where you can stock up on necessities, but otherwise you’ll have to walk at least 10 minutes to get to any coffee shops or restaurants.

The other thing to be aware of is that Manchester is known for its nightlife, so if you’re not a party animal I’d suggest you request a quieter apartment on a higher floor or facing away from the street as groups of clubbers coming back late (or early depending on how you look at it) can be noisy.

Now I’ve tried the serviced apartment experience I’ll be seeking it out more regularly, especially when travelling with friends, and I’d definitely recommend the Laystall Apartments from StayManchester.com as a stylish and comfortable alternative to a hotel. I received a discounted rate from StayManchester.com but the normal rate for our 2 bed apartment was around £159 per night, which is excellent value if shared between 2 couples and certainly cheaper than a hotel of a similar standard.

You can check prices and book Laystall Apartments from StayManchester on their website here

Read what my flatmate Abi King had to say -StayManchester.com – An Independent Review

 

 

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heatheronhertravels' Manchester photoset heatheronhertravels’ Manchester photoset

 

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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