I was 17 when I first went to Manchester for an interview in The University and 18 when I started my degree there. I say that because it’s incredibly hard for me to believe that it was 42 years ago. With that scary landmark birthday of 60 in June, came an urge to go back and visit the old stomping ground. A City Break with a difference, I suppose. Nostalgia was clearly one of the motivators but unfortunately some unforeseen circumstances came into play.
OK so I’ll start at the beginning in Q-Park First Street where we parked our car before checking into the new and very stylish INNSiDE Manchester. A mere stone’s throw from the hotel and with a 25% discount for being a guest, the car park was a no-brainer. The familiar Mancunian drizzle aka ‘frizz-rain’ had me running (hobbling quickly?) through the revolving doors to a snazzy-looking Reception. Check-in was swift and before we knew it, the lift had transported us up 10 floors to an enormous, minimalist room with floor to ceiling windows and a splendid view. This was the point when I realised that the city had undergone some pretty major changes. So many skyscrapers, so much newness, so 2022!
First Street Bar & Kitchen
Once we’d opened all the drawers and cupboards and inspected the toiletries and fridge contents (Surely I’m not the only one who does that?), we unpacked and made ourselves at home. Not for long though, as a trendy bar beckoned downstairs. I’d already sussed out the cocktail menu and wanted to make sure I had time to enjoy a couple before dinner in the First Street Bar & Kitchen. It’s very smart- all open-plan, contemporary and very bright and airy by day. But the vibe changes in the evening as lights are dimmed and fairy lights start to twinkle in the ‘foliage’.
To say we ate well would be a great understatement. The steaks were mouthwateringly good! Three courses, a bottle of wine between us and a couple of Single Malts later and it was up the wooden hill for us. Now, I was all ready to say we slept incredibly well, however our night ended up being disturbed unfortunately. N got up for a wee in the middle of the night, edging himself carefully around the ginormous bed in the pitch blackness.
He hadn’t foreseen the back leg of the sofa sticking out at the bottom of the bed and promptly stubbed his toe. And we all know how painful that is, don’t we? Suffice to say, a huge kerfuffle ensued. He yelled, I woke up thinking someone was in our room, lights were switched on and we soon established he’d broken the aforementioned toe. With an oddly misshapen, swollen, black and blue toe, he eventually dropped back off moaning about his throbbing little toe.
My reminiscing turned to the first times I broke a few of my toes – both occasions in Uni in Manchester. The second time was a perfect storm of a nightclub, alcohol, Oops Upside Your Head row-dancing on the floor and standing back up to a stiletto through the top front of my foot. The middle of the night in A&E (or Casualty, as it was called then) in Manchester early ‘80s was an unforgettable experience. My toes are still horribly misshapen.
A Change of Plan
Anyway, I digress. Next morning poor N could barely get his shoe on to go down for breakfast but being as locust-like as me when it comes to food, he did and one Full English later he seemed to have mellowed a bit. That was until we went out for a walk and explore though. We pretty soon realised that with my sciatica and his throbbing and very bruised foot, there was no way we were going to get very far. The old Modern Languages Department, my old Halls in Fallowfield and house in Longsight may as well have been in another country. One Caffe Nero Flat White later, we decided to go back to the hotel for a read instead. To be honest, in a way I was just as happy with that as let’s be fair, there’s nothing better than chilling with a good book.
INNSiDE Manchester by MELIA – A Fab Hotel!
INNSiDE Manchester by MELIA is in a lovely vibrant spot, near the ‘best red hot wings in the UK’, a fab Indian restaurant, loads of lively bars and much more. There’re creative arts galore, theatre, cinema, art galleries and an amazing library within a few minutes’ walk. And if it’s shopping you’re after then there’s the best in The North on offer. Wherever you look, there’s something of architectural significance and even if we didn’t do any significant sightseeing this time, then I think I’ve fallen in love with the city all over again. Can’t wait to go back in fact and next time we’ll try INNSiDE’s Escape Spa!