Manchester's Top 6

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At the end of 2017 the award winning airline, Cathay Pacific, made it easier for Australians to fly to other parts of England than ever before, increasing its direct service from Sydney to Manchester via Hong Kong to enable visitors to go exploring in the north of the country without having to make a transit through London. So why head to Manchester? For one, it’s a northern city with a fascinating industrial history and was once the manufacturing darling of the world, as well as a great base from which to explore the rest of England’s north. And while today Manchester is undoubtedly a modern business city, it’s also one of the fastest-growing city regions outside of London, with strong connection to the arts and culture, sports and music. Here’s what we recommend you see and do.

Go Shopping 

At any time of year there is great shopping to be enjoyed for everyone from bargain hunters to fashionistas. Shopping centres are one place to head for many visitors, as they bring many designer and high street fashion labels together under one roof. The Manchester Arndale on Market Street is one; it’s one of the UK’s largest city-centre shopping centres with over 200 retailers including Nike, Kurt Geiger, and an Apple Store ( Another is the Trafford Centre, which is as much a theme park as a shopping haven. Located just eight kilometres outside of town, there are 200 stores to browse through, and nearly five kilometres of granite and marble boulevards, and it also boasts the first Selfridges department store outside of London ( Back in the heart of the city, there is also a lineup of prestigious department stores including House of Fraser, Harvey Nichols and John Lewis, and if you’re looking for a bargain head to the Lowry Outlet Mall, with 85 stores spanning two levels, and up to 60 per cent off year-round. 

Go Sightseeing 

Manchester is one of Northern England’s most cultural cities, with something to offer everyone from art buffs to music lovers. New to the lineup is The Whitworth, a parkland icon which reopened in February 2015 following a 15 million UK pound extension and renovation. It features an art garden by Sarah Price, sculpture terraces, a café in the trees, and exhibitions from a range of esteemed artists. Also new to Manchester since 2015 is HOME, a new purpose-built centre for international contemporary art, theatre, film, and books, featuring two theatres, five screens for independent film, and an art gallery. Music lovers should consider taking a tour of the city’s famous nightlife hotspots with Craig Gill, a founding member and drummer from the pop band the Inspiral Carpets. He’s been a resident DJ at the legendary Hacienda, and has worked with famous local names including Noel Gallagher of Oasis ( If you have time, other sightseeing ideas include Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Manchester Town Hall, the Manchester Central Library, and taking a spin on the Manchester Wheel. 

Tap Into The Dining and Cocktail Scene 

The dining scene in Manchester has taken off in recent years and there are plenty of venues worth splashing out on. One of the top picks is Manchester House, with Chef Patron Nathaniel Tofan leading the kitchen, and on offer is everything from a fixed-price lunch, to a 13-course taster (Tower 12, 18-22 Bridge Street). A bit further afield in Prestwich, but worth the trip, is the intimate neighbourhood restaurant, Aumbry; highlights include an open kitchen, modern dishes based on the finest and freshest local ingredients, and a spot on the National Top 100 Restaurants list for three consecutive years (2 Church Lane, Prestwich). Mr Cooper’s House And Garden at the Midland Hotel is also worth considering, where Head Chef Rob Taylor combines modern touches with the heritage and history of Mr. Cooper, whose house and famous gardens sat on the site of the restaurant back in 1819 before the hotel was built. When it comes to popular watering holes, head for the Manchester House Lounge to enjoy the view before dinner, and The Alchemist with a year-round outdoor terrace for a post-dinner cocktail (3 Hardman Street, Spinningfields). 

Go To A Sporting Event 

Sport is never far from people’s minds in Manchester, as it is home to the English Premier League teams, Manchester United and Manchester City, and a regular venue for test cricket and rugby matches. It was also a key city in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, with Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium hosting a game between England and Uruguay in the host nation’s final pool match. If you are a football fan, however, your best option is to book a hospitality package option through your favourite club, or through the Manchester United and Manchester City websites for a home game by way of Thomas Cook Travel. Be warned, they don’t come cheap and you will need to book well in advance. 

Stay At A New Boutique Hotel 

When it comes to hotel openings there are a number of new names of note within the past few years. The five-star Hotel Gotham has become one of the new, hot places to stay, and features a restaurant, a prohibition-style bar and a rooftop members-only club. Nearby the King Street Townhouse, which occupies a Grade II listed former bank, offers Manchester visitors a contemporary hotel experience, while the UK’s first Innside by Melia hotel opened its doors to coincide with the opening of the adjacent HOME. And finally, owned by footballers Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, the 133-room Hotel Football at Old Trafford aims to offer football fans the ultimate fan experience, with a Cafe Football, and a five-a-side pitch on the roof. Of the existing places to lay your head, a top picks include the five-star Rocco Forte Lowry Hotel, and the four-star The Radisson Edwardian Manchester and the Macdonald Manchester Hotel. 

Enjoy A Spa Treatment 

It might surprise you to know that Manchester has a number of pampering zones, from the Bali Health Lounge in the city centre, to the urban hub of the Lowry Health Spa. Another is the Harmony & Serenity Spa at the Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa on London Road ( With nicely appointed treatment rooms, including one for couples, it also offers a comprehensive spa menu featuring the leading spa brand, Elemis, with individual treatments and packages for both men and women and couples. This facility also has a signature thermal suite with a hot rock sauna, infrared sauna, eucalyptus steam room, sensation shower, ice igloo and heated loungers. It’s also open daily.



Joanna Hall