With a flourishing independent scene Manchester is one of our favourite UK cities.  Surprisingly on our recent visit we were blessed with dry, bright weather and so were able to explore on foot and via tram.  We stayed in the Maldron Hotel in the city centre, as there was limited accommodation options due to a number of music events in the area. We were however pleasantly surprised by the hotel.  It was clean and modern and staff were friendly and attentive, so it should definitely be considered.

Our first stop was the Northern Quarter the cultural hub of the city.  Here you will find quirky shops alongside high end retailers, impressive street art and plenty of bars and places to eat.  We spent many hours browsing the independent vinyl and and art shops.  Our teenage daughter particularly enjoyed a visit to Afflecks, which describes itself as 'an emporium of curiosities'. Over 60 independent traders are spread over three floors.  So many creatives under one roof and lots of retro gifts and collectables to be found.  

Next we headed to Ancoats which is East of the Northern Quarter.  This area has been transformed since our last visit to the city and we enjoyed people watching while enjoying a cold drink on Ancoats marina on the canal side.  There is still development happening around this area so it's definitely somewhere to visit next time.  We spotted a number of independents on our route back to the city centre including The Flat Baker who are famous in the area for their pistachio ice cream croissants, such as shame the gluten eating members of the group were still stuffed from breakfast. 

On the evening we visited Etci Mehmet a turkish steakhouse close to where we were staying.  According to their website they also have UK restaurants in Liverpool and Birmingham.  The service and quality of the food was outstanding.  Staff were knowledgeable on gluten free options and as a result I was able to adapt my meal with easy and it was delicious.  The place had a performative air with staff cooking and carving meats and customers celebrate birthdays with song and sparklers. Definitely one to visit if you are looking for something different to the usual chains but still in the same price bracket. 

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