I’d only been in Manchester a grand total of five days and I was already in dire need of intense rest and recuperation.
After packing up my flat in London, dragging the majority of my worldly possessions onto the train, arriving in Manchester, trying not to terrify my boyfriend by the sheer amount of shoes he now had to cohabit with and subsequently shopping for a new wardrobe, it’s safe to say I was pretty kaput – and I felt like I deserved a spa break.
That’s why it only took one mention of the newly opened Spa at The Midland for me to realise that it was the perfect solution to all my problems. We were both new additions to the cityscape, so it felt only right I should pay it a visit.
Equipped with my camera, phone, laptop and boyfriend, I hopped on the bus and tried to look as fancy as possible when hopping off near the hotel. From then on, I proceeded to document every step of the journey (with occasional breaks for actually relaxing) – and today I want to share it all with you.
If you’re wondering where to nourish your body, mind and soul in this busy metropolis, this post will answer all your questions! Are you ready for the perfect spa day in Manchester? Let’s go! Yes, you can finish writing that tweet first. No rush. Om.
Kickstart Your Appetite
I wasn’t aware of this prior to my trip to the Spa at The Midland, but relaxing is really hard work. To avoid your stomach rumbling and your thoughts being less zen and more feed-me-now-or-else-I-swear, get a big breakfast before your big spa day.
I’d recommend starting your day with a leisurely walk through the Northern Quarter. It has some beautiful street art, great people watching spots and – most importantly – amazing quirky restaurants. If you’d like something really substantial, I’d recommend a trip to Home Sweet Home. Hash browns with steak, bennies with avocado, fish burgers with guacamole… it’s total Americana heaven!
Sauna and Jacuzzi Time
Once you get into a food-induced state of nirvana, head over to the Spa at the Midland. I’d recommend getting their one-night spa break package – but I’ll tell you more about that at the end of this post. Before your treatment, you can change into your swimming suit, put on some comfy slippers, a plush bathrobe and explore the grounds.
There’s a wooden sauna with a pink Himalayan salt wall, an aromatherapy steam bath and a shower which can mimic a Caribbean storm or Arctic rain. You can also check out the jacuzzi and small swimming pool to stretch those tired muscles.
Massage Your Stress Away
But like I said earlier, relaxing is hard work and you should’t be expected to do it all by yourself. The spa offers many different treatments – from quick manicures, spray tans and waxing to hot stone massages and soothing facials. I opted for a ritual called “Relax in Manchester” which consisted of an hour-long back massage and facial, as well as a short consultation beforehand to determine the best course of action for my skin.
I’m almost ashamed to admit that this was my first ever professional massage. I was mildly uncomfortable with the idea of having a stranger rub my naked back, but it turns out it was totally needless. The massage was amazing, deeply calming and it left my back more relaxed than I ever remember it feeling.
Nourish Your Belly
If you’re feeling peckish, you can have a little snack at the Spa Café. The portions aren’t huge and at around £17 per platter not particularly cheap either, but are very healthy and served in a lovely environment. I’d recommend the “I Can Make You Feel Good” platter full of tasty fish and energy-boosting superfoods – the vegetarian platter sounds great, but the green watercress soup is definitely an acquired taste.
Relax With A Book
I don’t know about you, but reading is one of those things I consider deeply relaxing but rarely ever do. Sure, I’ll pick up a book… but five minutes later I’ll put it back down again, pick up my phone and start working again. I don’t know, relaxing does not come naturally to this one.
Luckily for me, the relaxing area at the Midland spa can break even the most devout workaholics. The soft lighting, the bubbling pots of cleansing tea, the comfortable beds and pods… it’s the perfect setting for an escape into a fictitious realm of your choosing.
There are lots of glossy magazines at the spa, but I’d recommend a fun novel instead. You could even borrow one from the central library which is just across the street from the Midland hotel. With it being the second largest public lending library in Britain, you should be able to find something you like!
Explore The Hotel
Once you’ve had enough reading – or maybe before then, because you wouldn’t want to miss dinner! – take a shower at the spa, blow dry your hair, put on a pretty outfit and exit into the lobby. If you’re staying overnight you can head to your room for a little while, but if you’re not you should at least have a look around the lobby.
I mean, look at that flower arrangement! It’s the perfect place for an Instagram selfie – and it’s right next to the entrance to Mr Cooper’s House & Garden. Which brings me to the next stop on our spa break in Manchester…
Dine at Manchester’s Greenest Restaurant
Oh my, oh my, oh my. Mr Cooper’s House & Garden is one of the best restaurants I’ve been to this year and that’s saying a lot. At the risk of having you salivate onto your keyboard, let me tell you about a few highlights the boyfriend and I tried there. First up, we had buttermilk fried oysters with kimchee purée, pear and pickled fennel, as well as fried scallops with wasabi and radish relish and lotus chips.
May I go on? Great. We followed it all up with Cumbrian rib steak and Herdwick chops with balsamic roasted beetroots, star anise and cinnamon. The steak was probably the least impressive dish we tried – but it was still perfectly delicious and I’d happily eat it again, like, several times a week.
I rarely ever make it all the way to dessert, but I would have happily sat through a seven-course meal here even if it meant growing an extra chin or two. Unlike many fancy restaurants, the portions here aren’t small – they’re just right! The beauty pictured above is caramelised white chocolate with milk mousse and espresso, and I tried the chilled lemon grass soup with coconut sorbet and green tea wafer as well.
In short, it’s no wonder Mr Cooper’s House & Garden – headed by Simon Rogan, the chef behind double Michelin starred L’Enclume – won “Manchester Restaurant of the Year'”! The prices aren’t too high for what you’re getting either – appetisers and desserts start at £7, mains at £13.50. Basically, if you’re in Manchester you need to go… and possibly take me with you.
Crash Into Bed
What better way to end your day than walking a few steps from the restaurant after your big meal, getting into the lift and crashing down onto a soft bed? I’d definitely recommend staying at the Midland, because a) it will make your life extremely easy and b) it’s affordable luxury. For as little as £129, you can get a one-night spa break in Manchester – this includes one spa treatment (like the massage I described earlier), a complimentary lunch in the Spa Café (like the one I told you about), overnight accommodation at the Midland, full English breakfast and free access to the hotel’s private gym!
The rooms’ design is a little old school, but the beds are beyond comfortable and… well, the value for money for a luxury spa break like this is hard to beat! If you ever need a relaxing day in Manchester, this is the perfect solution which will take you from frazzled to fabulous in 24 hours flat.
What’s the last time you treated yourself to a day pure relaxation and indulgence?
I’d love to hear how you manage to de-stress and restore your inner balance!
Do you have a favourite spa or spa break destination?
Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Midland, but all opinions are 100% my own. All photos of me taken by Peter Parkorr, massage photo via the Spa at the Midland.