Boutique on a budget: Inside Manchester's coolest new hangout

Fitness, Travel

A multi-use apartment hotel with BLOK’s first gym outside of London and a trendy social hub has opened in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and it’s causing quite the buzz. Sam went to check it out…

Native Manchester

I’m not sure if it’s the exposed brick walls, big open spaces or industrial features but I love a good warehouse conversion. Plus I’m really tired of staying in boring cookie-cutter hotels, so I knew as soon as I clapped eyes on Native’s new aparthotel it was going to be right up my street.

Situated a stone’s throw from Manchester Piccadilly station on Ducie Street, Native’s latest property is set within a huge iron-framed warehouse that has a history dating back to 1897 when it once housed a cotton factory. The Grade II listed building has been transformed by the architects behind Chiltern Firehouse and London’s new Standard Hotel to provide 166 modern apartments, which all have fully equipped kitchens. And the best bit? Rates start from a very reasonable £76 a night.

BLOK

Photo: Max Oppenheim

Healthy-minded travellers, like myself, will also be attracted to the fitness facilities on the ground floor where you will find boutique fitness studio BLOK. The brand is known for its industrial-chic decor so it makes total sense it’s chosen this building to open its first gym outside of London. The fitness studio has the same aesthetic as its East London sites with retro Lonsdale punch bags hanging from the ceiling, as do the simply decorated barre and yoga studios. The timetable is packed with 25 different class types from boxing to power yoga, so you won’t have trouble finding a workout to match your mood.

Cultureplex

Photo: Cultureplex

But where can I brunch, I hear you cry? At Cultureplex, the third venture in the warehouse development which serves breakfast until midday. The menu features healthy smoothies and a matcha chia seed bowl, while sluttier options include crispy potatoes with a fried egg and chorizo and pancakes with candied bacon and maple syrup. This area, with its leather sofa and booths, has turned what would otherwise just be the hotel lobby into a workspace for local creatives: think Shoreditch House vibes without the membership fee. However, laptops are banned after 6.30pm and at weekends to encourage people to switch off.

Northern Quarter

While it’s very tempting to hole up in the complex, do explore the local area as Manchester’s Northern Quarter has some absolute gems. A short five-minute walk will take you to a stretch of vintage stores and independent record shops. There’s also a number of cute cafes – lookout for Ezra and Gil and Fig and Sparrow – and definitely stop for a drink at Jimmy’s, which is a firm fixture on any Northern Quarter bar crawl.

By Sam

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