Fashion Editor Amy Bannerman and her best friend Sophie Barrett

Fashion Editor Amy Bannerman and her best friend Sophie Barrett

When the hectic pace of London life suddenly feels like too much, heading to the countryside seems like the obvious choice. This month I swept my best friend off her feet and headed to another UK city instead, Manchester.

Here are 5 reasons to visit this great Northern gem:

1. What did we eat? These Mancunians know how to cook. We had a tip off from a local to head to Artisan which is in the very jazzy Spinningfields area (it felt like the green room at Strictly Come Dancing) The restaurant is set in a huge old warehouse with an amazing atmosphere, the food was SO delicious and the waiters were all very pleasing to the eye. We actually liked one so much we took him dancing with us..! There is a Hawksmoor opening next year in Deansgate’s historic Courthouse too (a good excuse to go back).

2. The men? Say no more. What happens in Manchester stays in Manchester.

3. What is the view like? The rolling hills of The Peak District were just under an hour from our hotel. Nothing like the bracing Northern wind to blow away your hangover (see point 5).

4. Where did we stay? We stayed at the Malmaison, which is so close to the train station its almost in it. It has a very luxurious cosy subterranean spa, the Elemis aromatherapy deep tissue massage was the ideal remedy after a 4 hour train journey, I highly recommend it. The hotel bar has THE BEST selection of cocktails - we suggest starting in the afternoon when the bar starts to fill up. Next time? In April next year Hotel Gotham opens, which looks like something straight out of Batman (another good excuse to go back)

5. Where’s the party? Be warned, the locals get VERY dressed up to go out, so pack your most fancy clothes if you don’t want to look like a tourist.  We went to Kosmonaut after dinner which is a very cool bar full of VERY cool men with beards. I had the best (and biggest) espresso martini I’ve ever had in my life which might explain why we ended up in one of Manchester’s many tiki bars, The Liars Club, dancing and sipping cocktails out of coconuts until 6am.  

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By Amy Bannerman