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.

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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

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

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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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Blogging tales from Travel Bloggers Unite in Manchester

We met, we networked, we partied (some more than others) and we loved Travel Bloggers Unite in Manchester, best known for football, nightlife, shopping, a great creative scene and now blogging.

The venue was the Studio in the Northern Quarter, spiritual home of Manchester’s impoverished, arty types and more vintage shops than most cities can muster within a few blocks. I loved everything about the Studio, the colourful decor, the crazy sculpture made of recycled stuff, the Fairtrade coffee and range of fruit teas, the break out rooms and the open area for us to circulate and network (should have remembered to restock my business cards!). They even had Wifi that worked – all the time. The only downside was no corner shop nearby, so we had to miss out on blogging chit chat to go in search of breakfast.

At Travel Bloggers Unite 11 at The Studio, Manchester

At Travel Bloggers Unite 11 at The Studio, Manchester

I arrived from Bristol by train on Friday with just enough time to leave my bag at the Laystall Apartments from StayManchester.com where I was sharing a fab modern penthouse pad with Abi of Inside the Travel Lab who had taken to her bed with something nasty and flu-like. I grabbed a taxi and dashed to the other side of town for the party at the People’s History Museum, sponsored by Visit Manchester and Creative Tourist. Last time I was in Manchester it was as a guest of Creative Tourist and with my hubby I explored as many free museums as it’s possible to pack into one weekend, enjoying everything from Lowry to Leonardo. Sadly things were just winding up at the People’s History Museum, but we convened to the bar to chat with other bloggers for a while and then I decided to be sensible and turn in for an early night in order to enjoy the next day without a hangover.

Keith Jenkins speaking at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Keith Jenkins speaking at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Melvin, Kash, Matt and Karen at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Melvin, Kash, Matt and Karen at Travel Bloggers Unite

On Saturday Keith Jenkins from Velvet Escape opened the conference with a great presentation about his journey in taking his blog from a fun hobby to a full time and money making venture. Now he’s making an income out of the blog and working harder than he ever did in his life, but having more fun too. I made a mental note of some of his tricks, such as asking other bloggers to guest post on his blog about what their ‘Velvet Escape’ would be – getting fresh content as well as reinforcing his brand. I also wondered whether I’d have the nerve to use Keith’s other trick of going into his local Apple store in Amsterdam and putting his blog home page up on all the screens as a traffic building exercise!

Next there was a panel discussion on Making Money from your blog, fielded by Melvin of Travel Dudes, Kash from Europe Budget Guide, Matt from Travel with a Mate and Karen of Europe a la Carte. The most popular monetisation methods appeared to be selling banner ads, with the more honest admitting to selling the odd text link (shhh don’t tell the big G) along with sponsored posts. Affiliate programmes seemed to be having mixed success, but the recommendation was to add affiliate links within your posts rather than as side banners. None of the panelists had gone much into selling their own products, although Matt has started in this with his e-book on How to start a successful site with WordPress.

Andy White presenting at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Andy White presenting at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Lewis Shields from Flagship Consulting at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Lewis Shields from Flagship Consulting

The rest of the day was taken up with three expert sessions;

Me PLC! – Brilliant Branding by Sophy Norris and Lewis Shields from Flagship Consulting
In the know SEO from Mike Briggs at Caliberi
Take Control of WordPress – how to build a better travel blog by John O Nolan from WordPress

I liked the fact that you could rotate around each of the speaking events in turn and didn’t have to make any difficult choices on what to attend and what to miss, only to hear afterwards that you’d missed something fantastic. All the speakers gave really professional presentations packed with practical information and they all clearly knew their stuff.

Brilliant Branding

Sophy and Lewis did a great double act, promoting the idea of personal branding for your blog to engage the audience with your pearls of wisdom, witty chatter or whacky adventures. They were preaching to the converted as far as I was concerned – now you know why I post so many photos of myself at Heather on her travels, it’s not pure vanity, you know!

Read Lewis’s take on the conference here

In the know SEO

Next Mike from Caliberi shared his expertise on In The Know SEO, talking us through how he launched a niche site on caravanning employing all the SEO tricks in the book, in order to pay for his dream wedding in Mauritius. He covered everything from keywords to themes to WordPress settings to link building although when he admitted that his wife got a bit cross with him for bringing his laptop to bed, I did wonder whether blogging is a recipe for divorce rather than marital bliss. The effect was rather spoiled when he admitted that his site crashed and burned at the hands of Big G when he overdid the SEO, but no doubt by then he’d got a better paid job selling his new found SEO skills.

Read Mike’s presentation on In the know SEO here

Build a better blog with WordPress

John O Nolan just about managed to keep his expletives under control in his presentation on WordPress (note the capital P) where he works as a designer, although he didn’t have much good to say about the Thesis theme that I use over at My Blogging Journey. John did a good job of convincing us that WordPress was the biggest and best blogging platform ever and why would you ever think of using anything else? I’m already sold, having started out at Blogger and moved to WordPress after a year of blogging. We took a whistlestop tour through WordPress functionality including some features that I never realised were there and then the principles of good design which boiled down to less is more. He showed us the Miscrosoft designs the ipod video. Enough said. When it comes to the inner working of the website and all that scary code, I liked John’s analogy of the car – HTML is the bodywork, CSS is the Paint job and PHP is the engine – paint it all the pretty colours you like but don’t mess (he used a naughty word) with the engine.

Read John’s presentation on Take Control of WordPress: How To Build a Better Blog

Heather Cowper and Matt Preston at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Heather Cowper and Matt Preston at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

After we’d soaked up all that information it was time to party with drinks and canapes hosted at Mint Hotel Manchester, where there was plenty of space to circulate and win some fun prizes. We took a quick tour of the rooms noting the fresh, clean decor (Mint, get it?)  and after checking out the suite we were all keen  to enter our business cards into the draw for a weekend stay at one of the Mint Hotels, won by Cailin from Travel Yourself, lucky girl. Two other prizes on offer were a Volunteer experience in Romania sponsored by Oyster Worldwide and won by Natasha from Glampacker and two weeks around India in a glorified lawnmower on the Rickshaw Run sponsored by The Adventurist and won by Candace Rose Rardon. After the reception, we convened to the cocktail bar where I managed to collar Andy White, whose Internet Marketing podcast I enjoy, for some free personal consultancy to improve my own Travel Podcasts. I even managed to record a podcast with him the next day which you’ll be hearing very soon. Once again I decided like Cinderella to leave at a reasonable hour although some of the bloggers continued partying till late and were suffering with sore heads the next day.

Keith, Lezann and Kash at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Keith, Lezann and Kash at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Nellie, Karen and Simon at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Nellie, Karen and Simon at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

On Sunday, there were two more expert presentations;

The Power of Podcasting from Andy White of Wire World Media
Travel Writing at Ground Level from Lola Akinmade of Matador

The power of podcasting

I really enjoyed Andy’s talk about Podcasting which is a media that still has a long way to go in the travel blogging sphere – I can count the number of travel podcasters I listen to without using up all my fingers. Andy took us through all you need to know about podcasting, from what your podcast should contain, to the equipment you might need, to the ways you might get your podcast out to your audience. I listen to loads of Travel and Internet Marketing podcasts as I walk to and from work, getting entertainment and useful information to fill the dead time when I would otherwise be wondering what to cook for dinner that evening and other dull stuff.

View Andy White’s presentation on The Power of Podcasting

Travel writing at ground level

The presentations were rounded off nicely by a talk from Lola Akinmade about Travel writing at Ground Level. The central message was that the best writing shows the reader what you see rather than telling them what to think. Cut the cliches, the exotic, the sun-kissed and the must sees. Replace them instead with your own personal voice and tell the reader what you see so that they can judge themself what to feel. In this way you show more respect to the people and cultures you are describing, letting them be what they are.

Read Lola Akinmade’s presentation on Travel writing at Ground Level

Dan, Oliver and Candace at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Dan, Oliver and Candace at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Nim and Oliver at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Nim and Oliver at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

The final session of the day was a presentation from Dru Bryan from Gosh PR on how PR folk and bloggers might work together more closely. The over-riding impression that I also picked up at the TBEX conference is how most PR folk don’t really know how to deal with bloggers and are still finding their way in this area. Although they are all keen to use the power of blogging and social media to promote their clients, they are often having to educate their clients as to why they should be interested in this new medium that is so difficult to control or to measure. There was plenty of discussion from the floor both from the PR folk and the bloggers and I was interested to hear about the constraints of budgets and ROI that PR folk have to work within, while we bloggers are used to doing whatever we like without an editor looking over our shoulder. But then most of us aren’t doing it for the money so commercial considerations are an afterthought.

I really enjoyed Travel Bloggers Unite, and I feel that the small scale was especially successful, even though there were still loads of people who I left without getting a chance to connect with – still that’s what Twitter & Facebook’s for and then we can always meet again in September in Innsbruck. Hats off to Oliver Gradwell for his great organisation of Travel Bloggers Unite and looking forward to meeting all my new blogging friends at future events.

What the other bloggers said about Travel Blogger Unite 11

Lola Akinmade – Photo Blog – Travel Bloggers Unite in Manchester
Top Backpacking Destinations – The relationship between SEO and PR
Chloe Sometimes – Serendipidy and Travel – Travel Bloggers Unite 11
Just Travelous – Club91 The place to be in Manchester
Wild Junket – The best of the Travel Bloggers Unite Conference
The Quirky Traveller – Can you make money from your blog?
John O Nolan – TBU11 Roundup
Europe a la carte – Where are travel bloggers heading beyond the next free trip?
Lewis Shields – TBU11 A call to action
My Postcard From – What I gained from TBU11
Art of Backpacking – Uniting with Travel Bloggers at TBU
Europe Travel Guide – #TBU11 takeaway – 9 ideas to share
This non American Life – Travel Blogging thoughts from TBU
Glampacker – The TBU11 Conference in Manchester – Where I won a volunteer trip to Romania
Candace Rose Rardon – Making the most of Manchester
Jungle Princess – Why I travelled 5070 miles to go to TBU

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

Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

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