“I’m a Mancunian born and bred,” says Nick Hague, who came of age here during the 1980s through to the noughties, and attended Manchester University in the late 1990s. He’s seen a lot of Greater Manchester’s changes first-hand, and “experienced the city evolving and reinventing itself”.
The city George Orwell once called “the belly and guts of the nation”, famous for everything from Coronation Street to Joy Division and Man United, is now home to the 200-acre MediaCityUK mixed-use development and has a growing tech scene, with the digital sector worth £2.9bn to the local economy, according to the 2017 Tech Nation report.
The Greater Manchester area is also fast becoming a property investor’s dream, with prime sales up 22% in 2017 to nearly £230m and high-net-worth individuals eyeing new-build opportunities, according to Investec’s new Prime Property Hotspots report.
The founder and current head of growth at the Manchester-headquartered B2B International, which uses research and insight to help business-to-business brands across a variety of segments, gives us his insider tips on what to see, where to eat and what to do.
Visiting friends speak highly of King Street Townhouse. I’ve always lived in and around Manchester, so haven’t often had the need to stay downtown, but this hotel, five minutes’ walk from Manchester Town Hall, comes highly recommended. There’s even a heated, infinity-edge spa pool on the seventh floor, overlooking the city.
“For great vibes, hang out in the Northern Quarter, which is the creative centre of Manchester.”
You can’t move for restaurants in Manchester – you name a type of cuisine, we’ve got it. For great views, I’d suggest 20 Stories, and for superb sushi and tempura my go-to is Australasia.
I love that the Corn Exchange has kept its original Edwardian beauty. It’s recently been renovated and provides an amazing mix of different restaurants to suit anybody’s taste, from Brazilian at Cabana to Vietnamese at Pho and Indian at Mowgli.
My favourite café is not your average coffee shop. Eastern Bloc Records – set up by the founders of [Manchester band] 808 State – used to be a regular haunt for me when I was growing up and buying my vinyl. It has moved a few times in its life and evolved into a café, but it’s still a hidden gem where you can listen to the latest tunes.
If you’re after a co-working space, I recommend Workplace, which offers a great boutique-style office space, private desks in open spaces, hot-desking and a comfortable business lounge. B2B International, where I work, has recently joined forces with an agency called gyro, so we now have the luxury of having offices in central Manchester.
For great vibes, hang out in the Northern Quarter, which is the creative centre of Manchester. Its name was only created in the mid-1990s, but since that time it has grown to include some of the coolest bars, cafés, restaurants and shops.
I’m a keen walker, cyclist and runner. To clear your head and see some of the beautiful nearby countryside, head out to the Peak District (the train to New Mills is only around half an hour from Piccadilly station). Hayfield has some great walks and tracks, including the path to Kinder Scout, the highest peak in the Peak District.
Shopping-wise, Manchester has gone from strength to strength since the IRA bombing in 1996, and in a strange kind of way, it kick-started the city’s mass regeneration. New Cathedral Street houses the latest fashion from high street brands through to Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.
Must-sees? Well, Manchester is the home of football, with two great clubs, Manchester United and Manchester City. I’d go on the tour of Old Trafford. (But then again, I am slightly biased, being a Man U supporter!)
Music is central to everything in Manchester, from The Smiths and New Order through to the Happy Mondays and Oasis. The Haçienda used to be the go-to place for clubbing in the ’90s. Even though that’s long gone, I’d still urge anyone to take in a gig while they’re here to really get a feel for what the city’s about.
To read about England’s other prime property hotspots, you can read our report here.