The knowledge: Jen Scrafton’s guide to Manchester
salford quays

Every week we provide you with ‘the knowledge’ about a different UK town or city.

This time Jen Scrafton, the fashion and lifestyle blogger behind English Rose from Manchester, shares her tips about style, going out, and things to do in the North’s biggest city.

My favourite shops and boutiques…

The most enjoyable shopping experiences happen in the independent stores of the Northern Quarter, where uniqueness reigns supreme. My absolute favourite is Junk, with its sustainable “reworked vintage” fashion, gorgeous quirky trinkets and the distinctive décor of the store. I definitely plan on attending one of their dressmaking courses.

[Junk Shop in the Northern Quarter – picture: Jen Scrafton]

My favourite areas for trend-spotting…

Spinningfields is a great place to head, especially in summer. From its outdoor cinema where you can relax with a picnic, to the designer shops and the superb cocktails served at the chic bar/restaurant The Alchemist, it’s a great spot for trend-spotting. The themed pop up bars like last summer’s Riviera themed Yacht Club always attract a fashionable crowd.

My favourite weekend hangout…

My favourite day date so far was a walk around Salford Quays and the chic new setting of the BBC at Media City on a gloriously sunny day. The Quays are just a five minute tram ride out of the centre, and worth the trip if the weather’s nice. The waterside setting and gleaming modern buildings are stunning, and we even ended up exploring the Imperial War Museum – my personal favourite of the Manchester museums.

[The beautiful waterside view at Salford Quays – picture: Jen Scrafton]

My favourite place to watch a stage show…

Manchester is a fab theatre location – something that was recognised with the Manchester Gets It First scheme, where the central theatres (Manchester Palace and Opera House) were selected to preview exciting new shows such as Ghost.

Speaking for myself, I can’t recommend the Lowry Theatre enough. It boasts a lovely waterside setting, has a fantastic programme of shows and events to rival the city centre theatres, and because it’s a modern theatre it’s so well-designed that even the cheapest seats have a fantastic view and loads of leg room (an important factor for tall-ies like me!).

Where I go for a quick bite to eat…

My favourite place for a casual bite to eat is a fairly new find. Bakerie in the Northern Quarter is a bread and wine bar, and does exactly what it says on the tin. I can recommend their tasty bread boards, with hearty chunks of freshly baked bread plus a selection of meats, cheeses or veggie delights – and a decent glass of wine to wash it down.

… and a special meal…

For a slap-up meal you can’t go wrong with King Street as your destination – there’s sure to be something to suit most tastes. Personally I have a soft spot for Restaurant Bar and Grill, whose seemingly simple menu is always done unbelievably well. It’s always nice to have your expectations exceeded. And they have a lovely outdoor heated balcony bar where you can enjoy eating and drinking alfresco.

Hidden gems I don’t mind sharing…

I would always recommend the Castlefield artisan market, which is held under the Castlefield arches by the canal on the first Sunday of every month. It offers something a little different with stalls selling antiques, crafty items and fresh locally produced food, drink, treats and cosmetics. It’s nice to follow a visit here with lunch in one of the canal-side bars too.

Another hidden gem is the lovely Richmond Tea Rooms, which truly is hidden away behind Canal Street. There are plenty of lovely places to enjoy tea and cakes in Manchester, but this one comes complete with Alice in Wonderland whimsical decor as well as a delectable cake display.

[Inside Richmond Tea Rooms – picture: Jen Scrafton]

Manchester-based designers you should know about…

Manchester Craft Centre in the Northern Quarter is both a base for working creatives, and a place to buy the work of the artists and designers direct from their studios, including lovely and unique jewellery collections, clothing and cards. I often walk around the studios on my lunch break as I love the atmosphere and the building itself, which was apparently a former Victorian fish market.

My ideal 24 hours in Manchester…

…would have to involve shopping – preferably taking in both the high street and a few independent boutiques or a market. I’d also aim for a spot of culture in one of Manchester’s fab museums, afternoon tea during the day and a slap-up meal at night, a show at one of the city’s theatres, and ideally a cocktail or two to finish the day in style. There is plenty of choice for all of these activities, as you can see above.

One of the nicest things about Manchester is that you can explore its many faces, from the vintage teashops and indie boutiques of the Northern Quarter to the chic cocktail bars and restaurants of Spinningfields and King Street, in the space of a day.

Everything is pretty much within walking distance, and choosing to walk from one side to the other always results in some lovely finds – such as cute shops you’d never normally seek out.

Discover more from Jen at English Rose From Manchester, and you can also find her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Do you have your own Manchester tips to share? Tell us more below, on Twitter with #wow247 or Facebook