Holiday Inn Express Manchester East
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100 (1484 reviews)/
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Trendsetting Manchester in England’s north-west possesses eye-catching architecture, top museums and shopping galore plus cheap, mid-range or luxury hotels. This self-assured city is rightly proud of its industrial and cultural heritage. Harbouring some of England’s best entertainment and nightlife, Manchester retains lots of the swagger characterized by the 1980s and ‘90s “Madchester” music scene. Served by Manchester Airport and conveniently located near the M6 and M62 motorways, the city also excels at the beautiful game with two heavyweight football teams slugging it out for silverware.
Manchester is a crowd-puller for weekend shopping breaks. There’s an impressive range of shopping options including the vast Trafford Centre at an out-of-town location, and the centrally-located Manchester Arndale. Further shopping hotspots in the city centre, where there are many hotels, include the area around Exchange Square and Corporation Street. It was modernized following a 1996 bomb blast and is known for upscale department stores and fashion retailers. Nearby Deansgate is also among Manchester’s best-loved shopping streets. Those who prefer exploring independent shops can head for the Northern Quarter.
Feeling peckish after all that shopping? Central Manchester brims with restaurants serving international cuisine, including Japanese, Italian, Greek, Indian and Chinese. To refuel on local delicacies, try a gastro-pub where you might find regional favourites like Lancashire hotpot stew, traditional meat pies and black pudding, a stodgy sausage made of pork blood and fat plus oatmeal. If there’s room for dessert, try an Eccles cake made with puff pastry and currants.
Football is arguably the sporting opium of the people in Manchester. Many Mancunians passionately follow one of their city’s two top sides with an almost religious fervour. Manchester United boasts one of world football’s weightiest trophy cabinets and plays at the huge Old Trafford stadium. Meanwhile, Manchester City plays at the City of Manchester Stadium in the eastern suburbs. City’s recent cash injection has reinvigorated the Manchester derby, and now both teams boast superstar squads. Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Agüero and Wayne Rooney are among the talents who have represented the teams. Due to the clubs’ popularity, holidaymakers wishing to see matches should plan ahead to secure tickets, particularly for the Manchester derby that usually occurs twice a season. Alternatively, supporters can enjoy stadium tours or visit their team’s superstores to purchase the latest merchandise.
The passion for sport in Manchester goes beyond football. As a legacy of hosting the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the city features top swimming, cycling and squash facilities. These are easily reached wherever your hotel is because extensive public transport options exist like trams, buses and trains, many of which connect to the airport. There’s also the Old Trafford Cricket Ground, which is the place for enjoying cricket during the summer. Not only does the stadium host Lancashire County Cricket Club matches, but also it frequently stages England internationals.
An intriguing blend of industrial heritage and commercial success has left Manchester studded with eye-catching architecture and historic sites. The well-preserved canals recall a time when the city’s textiles and manufacturing industries prospered after the Industrial Revolution. Moreover, the towering neo-Gothic Manchester Town Hall impressively illustrates how some of that Victorian wealth was invested.
Exploring Manchester’s industrial roots is the fascinating Museum of Science & Industry. Set within the former Liverpool Road station, visitors of all ages can learn about Manchester’s boomtown heyday. Exhibits include locomotives, original factory machinery and the world’s first computer to store a program in its memory. Near Manchester Victoria railway station is the National Football Museum, which charts the growth of British football from its Victorian origins to the megabucks phenomenon of today. Don’t forget to visit the Manchester Art Gallery, showcasing a mesmerizing collection of British art. Highlights include Turner watercolours, Pre-Raphaelite paintings and 20th-century artworks. Two city centre libraries - the Gothic-inspired John Rylands Library and Chetham’s Library - are well worth a visit. The former contains a wonderful Victorian interior of ornate columns and staircases. Meanwhile, Chetham’s Library, dating back to the 15th century, is notable as the place where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels met to begin writing their defining Communist Manifesto.
West of Manchester city centre are the redeveloped dockyards at Salford Quays beside the mighty Manchester Ship Canal, which opened in 1894 and enabled oceangoing vessels to sail right into the city’s once thriving port. The Lowry, a bold steel-and-glass structure, is one of this district’s top attractions, combining art and performance spaces with shops and restaurants. It displays the distinctive paintings of local artist L. S. Lowry, celebrated for depicting England’s industrial north-west. Another quayside highlight is the stunningly metallic Imperial War Museum North designed by Daniel Libeskind.
Since Manchester is the home of much-admired bands like The Smiths, Joy Division and Oasis, it’s unsurprising that the city loves live music as much as it does. Major venues include the Manchester Arena, Albert Hall and Manchester Apollo. Elsewhere, filmgoers can see the latest movies at the Printworks entertainment hub containing restaurants and cinemas. As central Manchester features more than 500 licensed premises it’s perfect for nights out at craft ale pubs, traditional watering holes, cool nightclubs or swanky cocktail bars towering above the city skyline. There’s also a thriving gay village comprising bars and nightclubs in and around Canal Street.