What to do on a weekend away in Manchester

life of luce in 20 stories

Manchester date night ideas

So I’ve recently been an a lovely weekend away for my boyfriend’s birthday. Living in Leeds, I rarely tend to venture into other cities anymore. Call me bias, but I reckon Leeds has it all!

Anyway, I wanted to surprise my boyfriend (well he wouldn’t let me tell him…), with a weekend away. Instead of buying him another bottle of fancy whisky or some aftershave. I initially was torn between Liverpool and Manchester. Liverpool has amazing bars and the Titanic hotel that I’ve been dying to stay at. But after a quick research on Trip Adviser, Manchester just seemed more Dan. Read on to discover what I got up to in Manchester, *spoiler*, it’s full of date night ideas.

Arndale Centre Manchester
cosy club manchester

What to do on arrival in Manchester

After parking up near our hotel, The Abel Heywood, we walked the short two minutes to the Arndale Centre. I’ll be writing a full review on The Abel Heywood very soon. The hotel is located in the Northern Quarter and is ideally located for shopping, restaurants and bars. If The Abel Heywood isn’t really your thing, make sure to check out reviews on Trip Adviser. I found reviews very helpful in planning my trip to Manchester!

Shopping in Manchester

As soon as we walked into the Arndale Centre, we weren’t very impressed. It seemed to be quite old fashioned and the shops on offer were a bit odd…I’m talking butchers and poundshops! But as we headed further into the Arndale Centre, we’d realised we’d actually entered through the market section, oops! The further round we walked, we spotted some of my faves like Boux Avenue, Topshop and Newlook.

The food court seemed pretty good too. It had the likes of Five Guys, Nandos and Bella Italia to name a few. However, we were put off eating at the Arndale Centre by how close the seating was to other shoppers walking past. Typically food court seating is set back a bit, but this wasn’t the case in the Arndale Centre. But a short walk across Exchange Square is the Manchester Corn Exchange, home to a variety of restaurants.

Lunch options in Manchester

We settled on lunch at the Cosy Club. Although there’s one in Leeds, I’ve actually never been. And as we just wanted something light, this seemed like the ideal choice as the menu is filled with a wide variety of salads and sandwiches. We both opted for The Cosy Club Sandwhich, with butter milk chicken, bacon, lettuce and chipotle mayo. And I obviously had to add some sweet potato fries, with Dan opting for fries. With a drink each, the bill came to £30.

If a chain restaurant isn’t your thing (it’s normally not mine, but we were very hungry at this point), there’s so many amazing independent cafes restaurants in Manchester. And there’s especially plenty of good veggie and vegan options available.

life of luce 20 stories

Cocktails at 20 Stories

Cocktails at 20 Stories was a recommendation from a good friend of mine. If you’re wanting to find a bit of luxury in Manchester, a cocktail in 20 Stories will definitely deliver!

Located in the fancy Spinningfields area of the city, 20 Stories is probably the most breathtaking bar I’ve ever been to. If you’ve ever been for a drink up The Shard, 20 Stores is a very similar vibe. The inside section was very glam, but my favourite part of the bar was definitely the plastic igloos located on the outside terrace. The outside section of the bar was filled with up-market garden furniture and plastic heated igloos. I’m currently kicking myself for not taking more photos!

I treated Dan to a whisky based cocktail name the Blackberry Smoke. And I opted for the Manchester Tart Punch, with rum, cherry liqueur, lemon and apple juice and finished with coconut syrup. Both cocktails were a little bit prier than what I’d normally pay. But the taste of the cocktails 100% justified the price!

Food at Cottonopolis

I decided not to book a three course sit down meal and instead opted for more of a light tapas style meal at Cottonopolis, located in the Northern Quarter. I don’t know about you, but if I eat a big meal, I’m ready for bed. So I wanted to avoid that bloat and save some room for cocktails later on in the night.

After visiting Tattu in Leeds, I’ve become even more obsessed with authentic Chinese and Japanese food. So when I stumbled across Cottonopolis online, I thought Japanese style tapas would be the perfect choice for our date night in Manchester.

The waiter explained people typically choose three or four plates each. But as we didn’t really want a lot of food, we just selected three dishes between us an item off the ‘snack’ section. We opted for the avocado sushi, the chicken skewers with peanut sauce, mushroom and truffle gyoza and the crispy gyoza skins with avocado salsa. All the food had amazing flavours and I really couldn’t fault the quality. The service wasn’t amazing in Cottonopolis (wrong order brought, wrong items on the bill and slow on drinks). But as it was a Friday night and it was really busy, I could understand why there was a little bit of confusion.

Finishing the night with drinks at The Fitzgerald

Not too far away from Cottonoplis, there’s a lovely little bar hidden away called The Fitzgerald (thank you social media for this discovery!) The Fitzgerald is a probation themed jazz bar, with cool furniture and a fairly decent cocktail menu.

The Fitzgerald was the right sort of busy you’d want for a date night, with a reasonably fast service. I would 100% recommend this bar for a date night, but it’s not really the type of vibe you want for a girls night. Although as a place to celebrate Dan’s birthday, The Fitzgerald was the perfect venue to end the night.

Have you visited any of the places I’ve mentioned here? What would your recommendations be for date ideas in Manchester? Please let me know in the comments!

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