Since moving to Cheshire six years ago, Manchester has been my nearest big city, and yet I still don’t know it all that well. So earlier in the week I hopped on the train and spent the day exploring Manchester’s Northern Quarter. I managed to cram quite a lot into a few hours but that only left me wanting to go back for more. There’s so much to do and see in Manchester that you can only scratch the surface in a day. It’s well worth staying over in a hotel or one of the many serviced apartments Manchester has to offer to make the most of your visit.
Just a short walk from Piccadilly Station, the Northern Quarter is full of quirky, independent shops and cool places to eat, including plenty of vegan options. It’s also where you’ll find most of the city’s vintage shops, which I was eager to visit.
My first port of call was Retro Rehab. Located on Oldham Street, Retro Rehab is a little treasure trove of preloved, vintage garments. Of all the vintage and charity shops I visited that day, this was my favourite.
The softly-lit interior is warm and welcoming, which was just what I needed on a grey, rainiy day. I spent a good 30 minutes looking through the clothes. I was tempted to buy a black jacket (mainly because I loved the buttons) but I recently bought one from a charity shop so decided against it. There was a pair of corduroy culottes that caught my eye, but sadly they were too tight on the waist. I left empty-handed but I’m sure I’ll be going back before long.
I’ve been to V-Rev once before and loved it, so when it was time to refuel I made a beeline for Edge Street. Last time I had a tofu version of a fillet of fish in a bun, but I’d had serious menu envy over Pete’s burger. Confession: I’d had a few glasses of wine the night before and consequently I was craving something substantial (and not necessarily healthy).
I chose the “Whopper Way to Make a Living” burger with chips. I’m not in the slightest bit ashamed to say that I polished off the lot! It was absolutely delicious and certainly set me up for the rest of the day.
After all that yummy food I headed to the Cat Cafe to relax with a coffee and let lunch go down. It’s a little haven of tranquility…you simply can’t be stressed when you’re around cats. It costs £12 per hour but you pay per 15-minute block. All hot and cold drinks are included in the price, but you can buy snacks there too. I stayed for 45 minutes, just long enough to pet a few cats, have a coffee and gear up for more exploring.
Oklahoma is one of my favourite shops in Manchester. I’ve only been once before but it made a lasting impressionon me. Oklahoma opened in 1997 and is now the biggest independent gift shop in Manchester. Showcasing independent artists and makers, the shop celebrates handmade, fair trade and ethical goods.
As you know I’m obsessed with jewellery, so I simply can’t leave this shop empty-handed…quite literally this time because I bought the Materia Rica “Hand-Made” earrings. To be honest, I was tempted to buy several pieces from this brand; they were all right up my street, but I had to exercise a bit of self-restraint. That wild leopard necklace has my name all over it!
There were a few more vintage shops on my list to visit. Working my way down Oldham Street I stopped at Blue Rinse first. It’s a big shop with loads to go at, including a large jewellery section. Nothing took my fancy here but I had fun looking.
My next stop was Cow. I had a look around Nottingham’s Cow when I was there for a night out in October, so I had an idea of what to expect. There were rails and rails of clothes, all well organised according to garment type. Again, nothing caught my eye, but that’s par for the course with vintage and thrift shopping.
My final stop before heading home was The Manchester Shop. I didn’t even know this shop existed, I just happened upon it and simply had to go in. As you might expect, it’s full of items celebrating the city.
Manc and Proud was created from the love of bees, Britpop and chip butties. We wanted to create a brand that spoke to all Mancunians and Honorary Mancs. In the wise words of Ian Brown, “it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.”
The worker bee is one of the best-known symbols of Manchester and has been an emblem for the city for over 150 years. The bee denotes Mancunians’ hard work ethic and the city being a hive of activity. It has also come to represent the sense of unity in the city.
The majority of products sold in the Manchester Shop are printed in the city by a dedicated team, supporting Mancunians in their jobs and keeping the independent spirit of Manchester alive. Sales also support local charities such as Forever Manchester and Manchester’s Womens Aid.
The website states: “We are open 7 days a week, even if its p*ssing it down”. And it often is in Manchester, but that won’t dampen your spirit, not when there’s so much to enjoy 🙂
I had a fantastic day exploring Manchester’s Northern Quarter, but a day isn’t enough really. I plan on making regular trips into the city to enjoy it’s vibrant cultural scene…and indulge in a spot of vintage shopping 😉
Disclaimer: This is collaborative post with Hotels.com. The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own