Manchester - One of the most romantic destinations in the UK
- Credit: Archant
The city was recently named as one of the most romantic places in the UK but does it really match up? Janet Reeder goes to find out.
In its recent countdown of 50 best towns and villages Manchester came out as one of the best places for romance. Yes that’s right…romance.
The article cited all the cafes, bars and venues as fertile ground for love – beaten only by the capital London.
And while those of us growing up in the shadow of the Arndale’s renowned facade (once dubbed the “biggest lavatory wall in Europe”) we have to admit the city has a certain gritty allure.
What the city doesn’t have in picturesque gardens, riverside walks and major architectural backdrops, it makes up for in sexy bars and cool clubs – and as you wander around, yes! There are places that could give “Gay Paree” a run for its money. Here are just a few of them.
The Northern Quarter With its charming streets reminding us of Manchester in its “back in the day” heyday of cobbles and terraces, this is now arguably the city’s version of Paris’s Marais. Except the Marais has been invaded by chain brands and the Northern Quarter hasn’t.
It’s got lovely independent shops to browse around selling everything from beautiful bouquets to vintage clothing and at night it really comes alive as the bars and restaurants attract a mixed clientele ( many of whom we are certain are looking for love and find it!). The indie music clubs, galleries and vintage tea shops make this spot v.cool, so you feel it too! For major hand-holding possibilities we rate the Blue Pig, which is a French Brasserie with a fantastic bar stocked with the finest spirits. Head there at the weekend for a brunch of deli delights, or Sunday lunch, or drinks and live music at night.
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Albert Square Do as they do in Paris and sit on the steps of a fountain or statue to gaze at some magnificent monument – in this case Manchester’s rather gorgeous neo Gothic Town Hall. Not only is this an impressive symbol of the city’s industrial past but it is now a film set. Most recently leading men James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe have been spotted in the vicinity during the filming of Frankenstein.
Castlefield OK. Paris has got the Seine but Manchester has its “waterways” and prettiest of these are down by the village-like area at the bottom of Deansgate known as Castlefield – that’s because it was the site of a Roman fort several centuries ago. You may even want to wander over and take a look at the unprepossessing Roman remnants. OK not as impressive as say Chester but a quieter more laid-back area that will definitely work as a romantic location. Here you can enjoy a drink or lunch alfresco at a waterside location, or do something romantic and cinematic like cadge a lift on a barge. On Sunday morning take a stroll through the market and then wind up having lunch as Duke’s 92, which opened funnily enough in 1992. That’s not how it got its name however, it was because it was lock number 92.
Manchester Art Gallery There’s something about looking at paintings that’s a bit erotic – well I suppose that depends on the art. Steer clear of the George Stubbs at Manchester’s art gallery and head for the Pre Raphaelites, for romantic inspiration. Or perhaps discussing the merits of the latest exhibition Time Machine, by Joana Vasconcelos will fire your passion for each other? The Portuguese artist’s helicopter covered with pink Ostrich feathers will ensure you’re not stuck for anything to say if you’re on a date that’s for sure! www.manchestergalleriestimemachine.org
Manchester University Let’s face it, with the biggest student population in Europe, the chances of romance are high. And not just for students. Think of all those hunky medics and intellectuals like Professor Brian Cox who hang around the bars and cafes in the area. There’s nothing like stimulating discussion to move things onto the next level!
Shopping Shopping is high on the list of things couples do together and the nicer the shops the more romantic the activity. Ergo, a run-down high street is no place to make or take a date. Thankfully, Manchester has lots of fantastic places to buy gifts for each other and they are also the perfect backdrop to being intimate. For label junkies Harvey Nichols, Hervia, Hermes, Selfridges and Spinningfields are the best places to hang out and if you really want to impress your other half then head for the “Jewellery Quarter” around King Street and pick up some hot rocks!
Theatres What could be more romantic than heading out to see a show or a gig? This is where you’ll be spoilt for choice. Something drop dead romantic and classical at the Bridgewater Hall perhaps? Opera at the Opera House? Or taking a seat at the Royal Exchange for their forthcoming production of The Last Days of Troy by Simon Armitage, starring former model Lily Cole (got to be worth a look at least?) www.royalexchangetheatre.co.uk
Manchester has… Castlefield Manchester University The Northern Quarter Manchester Art Gallery Albert Square Spinningfields
Paris has… The Seine The Sorbonne The Maris The Louvre Place De La Concorde Galeries Lafayette
John Whaite – Romantic ManchesterTV Chef and winner of the Great British Bake Off ‘I say that romance lies in the heart of the Northern Quarter. In the little bars and cafes is where I first fell in love.’
Charlotte Balbier – Cheshire wedding gown designer ‘Eclectic Hotels which include Didsbury House Hotel are very popular and intimate and romantic. We have stayed at all three and they’re really nice.’
Liz Taylor of event planners the Taylor Lynn Corporation ‘What could be more romantic than looking over the city on a clear night –the private bar in Cloud 23 @ The Hilton Deansgate Manchester Hotel with a bottle of champagne and their glorious truffles. It’s the perfect romantic spot!’
Flic Everett – Writer Dimitri’s restaurant on Deansgate, for two reasons- firstly because it’s like going on a mini break to Greece, because you can sit outside in the covered passage under the heaters, and it feels like being on holiday, and second because I used to go for lunch there with my husband before we got together and were just friends, so happy memories.
Andrew Spinoza – PR and marketing guru The most romantic place in Manchester is the top of the tower at the amazing Venetian Gothic masterpiece that is the Palace Hotel. Formerly the Refuge building, it’s a grand and dramatic place and the rooftop is not open to the public. However, many moons ago while it was empty in between owners, a security guard who looked after it at night, allowed my then flame and I private access to the tower. A swoon-ful, memorable night.
Photography: Paul Morgans
Models: Pedro and Jennifer Nemesis Agency www.nemesisagency.co.uk