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How to Spend 24 Hours in Manchester

 

Last weekend I stayed overnight in Manchester for a fab travel blogger conference, Blog at the Beach, hosted by Ice Lolly Holiday and Visit Barbados. I had an amazing time catching up with all my fave blogger friends and meeting loads of new ones, and was excited to explore Manchester properly for the first time in YEARS. In the past I’ve usually just headed straight to the Trafford Centre from Liverpool as I spend a lot of time with my family up there, but this time I was determined to see all that Manchester had to offer, so when Hotels.com asked me to create a guide on how to do a budget break to the city, I was more than up for the challenge! They offer some fantastic accommodation options including luxury hotels, budget B&B’s and the serviced apartments Manchester are a great choice too. Here’s what I got up to during my 24 hours in Manchester, and what I recommend you do there during your northern getaway…

 

Check out Exchange Square & the Northern Quarter

 

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The Exchange Square

 

Located slap bang in the middle of the city, Exchange Square is home to the shopping district and is right behind the popular Arndale Centre. You’ll find street performers and live music in the square, with the Corn Exchange building as the impressive backdrop. There’s also the Printworks, which has now been converted to a food court with the likes of Five Guys & the Hard Rock Cafe dominating the skyline. The Northern Quarter is another quirky area of the city which is home to an abundance of bars, cafes, shops and restaurants as well as some fantastic street art too. Situated between the Ancoats and Piccadilly, the Northern Quarter is the retro part of Manchester and has plenty of character, with record shops, vintage stores and places where bands gather to play live music.

 

Shop til you drop on the high street  

 

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The Arndale Centre

 

Manchester has got some fantastic shopping, and the high street is one of the best places to go for this. You’ll find every kind of high street, designer and department store you can think of, and the enormous Primark is also home to the newly opened Central Perk Friends Cafe which is hugely popular with locals and tourists alike. Located five miles west of Manchester city centre, The Trafford Centre is of course another obvious choice for shopping, and boasts a fantastic range of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. There’s also plenty of leisure options for those that don’t fancy shopping or eating, with an Odeon cinema, laser quest, mini golf course, escape room and even a Sealife aquarium offering a fantastic day out for all the family.

 

Visit one of the many museums

 

The National Football Museum

The National Football Museum

 

Manchester has some great museums, many of which are free to enter and are suitable for people of all ages. From football and music to art and fashion, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The National Football Museum, just a stones throw from Victoria station, is one of the city’s most popular attractions, detailing the successful history of the beautiful game. The Science and Industry Museum and the Manchester Art Gallery are well worth a visit, as is the Imperial War Museum located right on the waterfront at The Quays. For those of you who are soap lovers, Coronation Street The Tour at MediaCityUK in Salford is a great day out for all the family. You can explore the historic cobbles, wander through Weatherfield and even see where the pints are pulled in the Rovers Return.

 

Have a night out in Deansgate

 

 

One of the liveliest parts of Manchester, the Deansgate area is a great night out and is brimming with bars, clubs and restaurants. We had cocktails in the All Star Lanes bar, which is complete with a full bowling alley at the back, and then headed to Rudy’s for pizza. We passed the Peaky Blinders bar, a popular new hangout right in the centre of Deansgate, and also passed tonnes of other clubs and bars too. This area of the city is the place to be for a great northern night out, with the mile long road home to trendy eateries such as The Living Room, MOJO and The Botanist.

 

Getting around

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The trams in Manchester

 

Manchester is quite a big city, so you may need to use public transport or taxis to get around, but the central area is best discovered on foot. You can walk from the high street up to Exchange Square in around 10 minutes, and head to the Victoria or Piccadilly train stations which are either a 5 or 15 minute walk away too. For a proper Mancunian experience, hop on a tram to get around like a local and explore everything much more quickly.

 

Where to stay

 

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Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa

 

We stayed at the 4* Manchester Macdonald Hotel & Spa which was located a little out of the city centre, but was just a 3 minute walk from Picadilly train station. The hotel was in a perfect location for our Ice Lolly event as the office building was right around the corner, but we did have to get Uber’s/ taxis in and out of the city centre as the 25 min walk was a little too much for some of us who were wearing heels in the evening! The hotel had plenty of facilities including a tecnho-gym, swimming pool and spa with infra-red sauna, sensation shower, eucalyptus steam room and even an ice igloo. Please note that the spa was only accessible by paying a £10 supplement per person. I was in a room of 4 and we had 2 double beds between us which were super comfy and the bathroom was amazing. I’d definitely stay here again on my next visit as it was the perfect place from which to base ourselves during our 24 hours in Manchester.

 

Where to eat 

 

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Yard & Coop Manchester

 

Manchester has a great foodie scene, and we spent most of our time having lunch or eating dinner around the Deansgate area where we were going out on the Saturday night. There are some brilliant restaurants to choose from, with popular chains including Bella Italia, Nandos and Wagamama, but we opted to eat at Rudy’s which has been voted as one of the UK’s best pizza restaurants. For lunch the next day we headed to the Northern Quarter and ate at Yard & Coop, a speciality chicken restaurant serving every kind of chicken dish you could think of! Other great foodie areas include Peter Street and the Ancoats.

I had a great 24 hours in Manchester exploring all that the city had to offer, but I know there’s lots more that I didn’t see during my short time there. If I had longer I definitely would have spent more time seeing some of the museums and exploring the older buildings, as well as venturing out to the Trafford Centre too, but I definitely got a good feel for the city during my 24 hours in Manchester. Have you been to Manchester before? I’d love to know your top tips!

NB. My spending money during my time in Manchester was gifted by Hotels.com but all views, words and photos are of course my own.

Hotel Review: The Francis Hotel, Bath – 4* Luxury in the heart of Bath Spa

 

 

Last week on my press visit to Bath Spa with Visit Bath I was invited to stay at the gorgeous Francis Hotel, a luxurious 4* hotel located in the heart of Bath. Formerly a row of Georgian terraced houses, the hotel has been glamorously restored and fitted with the newest mod-cons, whilst retaining the same 18th century charm that was once present on site. With fluffy pillows, retro in room telephones and cosy tea rooms, The Francis Hotel offered a luxurious and comfortable stay during my visit to Bath. Here’s my full review of this stunning hotel…

 

The Location

 

The exterior of this #hotel is so beautiful 😍 #bath #visitbath #Igersbath #tbt #getaway #UK #GB

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Set in the popular Queens Square area, The Francis Hotel is in a perfect location from which to enjoy the best that Bath has to offer. Both the city centre and all the major landmarks are within walking distance, and there are an abundance of shops, cafes and restaurants within easy reach. The hotel offers onsite car parking on a first come, first serve basis, and is easy to find. If, like I did, you’re arriving by train, the station is just a 10 minute walk or 5 minute taxi ride away.

 

The Room

 

 

This hotel isn’t just 4* for it’s fab location, the rooms are gloriously spacious and comfortable with little luxurious touches. We stayed in a superior twin room that was complete with en-suite shower room, large wardrobe with slippers and dressing gowns and an LCD TV and desk area. The room was so lovely and a really welcome place to return to after a busy day’s sightseeing! We were left a little note and a sweet treat by the hotel staff which was a really lovely touch, and I just LOVED the retro in-room telephone!

 

The Facilities

 

The lounge area at The Francis Hotel- I'm still in love! 😍🇬🇧 #bath #visitbath #hotel #getaway #UK #GB #igersbath

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This isn’t a spa hotel so there isn’t a spa, sauna or swimming pool, but the hotel does boast a range of other facilities making it worthy of its 4 stars. There are really beautiful lounge areas in which to relax and indulge in some quintessentially English afternoon tea, and there are bar areas too. There’s also a lovely little secret garden at the rear of the hotel offering guests the chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre.

 

The Staff

 

 

We found the staff at the hotel to be really friendly and helpful during our stay. Our room wasn’t quite ready when we arrived, but the concierge and reception staff were on-hand to make sure our bags were kept safe and were subsequently delivered to our room whilst we were out exploring. They opened the doors and lifts for us and we were greeted with friendly smiles whenever we walked in and out of the hotel. A big thank you to the lovely staff for making our stay so special!

 

The Verdict

 

Overall we had a really wonderful stay at this stunning hotel right in the heart of the city. I would highly recommend staying here on a mid-week or weekend visit to Bath for a truly luxurious stay. We didn’t have breakfast so I can’t comment on that, but if you wish to opt for breakfast you can do so at a cost of £19.50pp. The Francis Hotel is genuinely one of the best UK hotels I’ve ever stayed in, and I already can’t wait to plan a return visit in the not too distant future!

 

So there we have it, my full review of the wonderful Francis Hotel. I cannot recommend the hotel highly enough for anyone looking for a comfortable and luxurious stay in the heart of Bath – thank you for making our stay in the city such a pleasant one! For more information or to book a room please visit their website directly.

NB. I was a guest of The Francis Hotel for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are of course my own.

 

Wishing I was back at this beautiful hotel on this sunny Thursday! #tbt #bath #visitbath #hotel #getaway #igersbath

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What makes Britain Great?

Hi everyone,

With all the recent Royal Baby Fever that has swept the nation it’s an exciting time to be British so I thought I’d put together an inspiring post of what makes Britain Great! Here’s my personal pick of my top ten favourite places to visit in our lovely country…

1) London

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Steeped in hundreds of years worth of history and offering endless numbers of tourist attractions, the capital city has it all. In my opinion, London is without doubt one of the biggest reasons why tourists flock to Britain year after year. The most iconic landmarks include Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, The London Eye, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey & Buckingham Palace to name but a few. I’ve been going to London many many times since I was young and I never tire of it- I could wander round those streets forever! It’s my dream to live in the city one day and I’m very much determined to make that dream a reality in the not too distant future. London has so much to offer you need a good few days to do it all but there are lots of well organised bus tours and trips that can be done within a day if you are pushed for time. Have a read of my most recent day trip to London here:

2) Stonehenge

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One of the most iconic monuments in English history is the legend of Stonehenge in Wiltshire; a circular group of Stones that were said to have been a place of healing in medieval times. Alleged to have been built in 2000BC, the Stones offer a wealth of history and have been a tourist attraction for hundreds of years. People flock from all over the world to see Stonehenge, and it’s easy to see why with so much history. Also named a UNESCO heritage site, Stonehenge offers an interesting day out for all the family although the entry prices aren’t cheap! As a tip, you can see the Stones from the main road if you don’t want to pay to view them up front!

3) Cornwall

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I’ve been visiting the beautiful county of Cornwall pretty much every year since I was born- it was the first ever holiday I was taken on as a baby and we’ve returned as a family countless times since then. Our most recent visit was in 2007 but we are heading back this July for a week and I’m so excited! The little fishing village of St Ives is my all time favourite part of Cornwall, bringing back so many of my childhood memories with every visit. Situated around the harbour, there is such a buzz about the place and there are lots of things to see and do. Enjoy the famous cream teas in a local Cornish pub, visit the well known Tate Gallery, fish off the end of the harbour, while away the hours with the kids in one of the many sea front arcades or simply relax on the beach. The rest of Cornwall has so much to offer, including the nearby Flambards Themepark at Helston, the mystical Zennor where you can learn about the local mermaid myths, the beautiful beaches of Kynance & Sennen Coves and experience the famous Eden Project at Bodelva. For a truly amazing and magical day out head to Lands End- the place where it really does feel as if you’re standing at the edge of the world.

4) Liverpool

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I’ve grown up visiting Liverpool since I was born and my family are from there but, although I am obviously a bit biased, there are tonnes of reasons why this city is on my list! Named European Capital of Culture in 2008, it’s easy to see why it achieved that impressive title with all the things there are to see and do. The historic Albert Docks are one of my favourite parts of the city and my grandad always has endless stories from his Royal Navy days to tell me & my sisters whenever we visit! Shopping and nightlife in Liverpool are fantastic, with so much choice you’re never stuck for somewhere to go! Head to the new Liverpool One shopping centre for a mix of high street and designer stores, or check out Concert Square for an evening of night time clubbing and entertainment. The historic Cavern Club, where it all began for 60s icons The Beatles, is also a must see attraction. Read my most recent Liverpool write up here:

5) Oxford

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Ok so I know that this one’s going to be biased AGAIN as this is my home city but no visit to the UK is complete without a trip to Oxford! Famous for its first class global university status, Oxford has it all. Go punting on the River Thames, wander round the many impressive Churches or museums, take a picnic in the uni parks or hit the shops on the pretty high street; there really is something for everyone. For me, I love nothing more than exploring the landmarks that are tucked away behind the hidden side streets- don’t miss The Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library and The Bridge of Sighs. Oxford isn’t the largest city so you don’t need too long to see the sights, but you can make the most of your day by hopping on one of the tourist buses and doing everything all at once. A visit to the nearby Blenheim Palace in the picturesque Cotswold village of Woodstock is also an absolute must. It’s the birth place of Sir Winston Churchill so it’s an obvious tourist destination and I’ve blogged about Blenheim ALOT lately as I’ve recently become a season ticket holder, but it really is a fantastic day out for all the family and should definitely be included in a visit to Oxford. Read my latest Blenheim & Oxford write ups here:

6) Bath

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Named a UNESCO world heritage site and famed for its Roman roots, the city of Bath is stunning and well worth a day trip when visiting our historical country. Relax in the thermae spa’s, the only place in the UK where you can bathe in the same natural hot springs as the Celts and Romans did over 2000 years ago. Visit the Roman Bath museum to learn of the origins of the hot springs and the roles they played in Roman times, and listen to an interactive audio commentary as you explore. Other famous attractions are The Royal Crescent and Pultney Bridge which are beautiful pieces of architecture. Dining in Bath is very good, with a lovely selection of bars and restaurants the city caters for all types of appetite. Don’t forget to enjoy afternoon tea with cake and scones at one of the many traditional cafe’s in the heart of the city. Shopping wise, Bath offers a mix of well known high street and designer stores and everything is located close by. Don’t miss the stunning Abbey which is truly spectacular, especially when lit up at night. I visited the Christmas markets a few years ago and there were hundreds of little wooden stalls located in the Abbey grounds, along with carol singing in the Church itself which was just magical. If you have time, climb up to the top of the Abbey for magnificent views across the city.

7) York

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Similar to Bath, the city of York is a rich in romance and culture with history dating back to Roman times. Famed for its winding streets, cobbled roads and one of the largest pedestrian only areas in Europe, York is the perfect place for a quintessentially English break. Take a ghost tour after dark to explore the mythical haunted areas of the city or visit the York Dungeons for a jaw droppingly spooky experience which is fun for the whole family. The Jorvik Viking Centre and the iconic York Minster are also must see attractions. When visiting York I love nothing more than sitting in a cosy little pub enjoying traditional British (and Northern!) pie and chips on a cold winters day. A visit to Betty’s Tea Rooms in the heart of the city is also a must and their world famous cakes aren’t to be missed. York in December is particularly special with all the Christmas markets and the Minster looks even more beautiful especially when lit up at night. There are many bars, restaurants and a few clubs in the city which make for a brilliant night out- just watch your heels on all those cobbles!

8) Bournemouth

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The seaside town of Bournemouth is always popular with tourists and residents alike, especially during the summer months when we catch a rare glimpse of the sun! Typically, our weather over here is incredibly dull and rainy but when the sun shines it’s certainly brightens the place up and hundreds of people flock to our beaches to try and tan their pasty legs! Bournemouth is lined with arcades, bars, cafes and restaurants all along the sea front and the pier is one of the main attractions. Home to a brilliant Sea Life Aquarium, National Exhibition Centre and the best fish and chips in England (Harry Ramsden’s is a must visit!!) Bournemouth is a brilliant day out for all.

9) Stratford upon Avon

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Set on the River Avon in Warwickshire, Stratford is the birthplace of the great William Shakespeare and is a typical example of a historical little English town with lots of attractions on offer. The buildings in Stratford are beautiful, and with so many to marvel at you could easily while away the hours wandering round the streets just admiring the architecture. The centre of the town is situated around the river with canal boats often cruising up and down making their way through each lock. On my most recent visit a couple of years ago I hired a boat and rowed down the river with a friend- on a lovely day it’s a great way to enjoy some fresh air! The Royal Shakespeare Company put on some great shows at their flagship theatre and there are many references to the man himself throughout the town. Visit his birth place and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage to get your fix of tourist attractions. Stratford also has many high street shops, lively bars and pretty pubs if you’re looking to relax and take some time out.

10) The Lake District

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Home to many beautiful national parks, The Lake District is one of the most outstanding areas of natural beauty in the whole country. I’ve been visiting most years since I was little and have never had so much fresh air in one week! I’ve spent hours climbing up mountains and hills, going on endless dog walks, and cruising along the lakes in large boats whilst breathing in the wonderful sea air. The Lake District is a perfect getaway if you’re looking to explore the wilderness and be away from the hustle and bustle of normal city life. The winter is a great time to visit although it does get bitterly cold! Admire the stunning snow topped mountains, cosy up in pubs with roaring log fires, and visit a number of pretty national parks. The Lake District is simply English countryside and landscape at it’s very best.

So there you have it, my list of top ten places to visit in the UK. I’ve also been to many other cities including Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff that haven’t made the top ten but are still worthy of a visit if you are in the country! I’ve primarily been to places that are based in England which is why there is no mention of Scotland and Ireland, but there are also lots of other cities which I am still yet to tick off my list and am planning on visiting in the near future. Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh and Newcastle are in the pipleline for me so hopefully I can squeeze in a few trips sooner rather than later! Are there any places I’ve missed off that you would like to have seen on the list? Comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Love Jess x

N.B All photos are my own, other than the Stonehenge images 1,2 & 3 and York images 3&4 which are from Google Images.