Where to stay in Manchester, UK | Area & Hotel Guide

Where to stay in Manchester, UK | Area & Hotel Guide

Disclosure: I may earn a small commission from the companies or products mentioned in this post.

Not sure where to stay in Manchester? Don’t worry, neither was I on my first visit to the capital of the north.

Despite being one of the most walkable cities in the UK, Manchester is still divided into several distinct neighbourhoods, each with its own charm and unique things to see and do.

The best area to stay in Manchester for you will depend entirely on the type of trip you’re taking and your personal travel preferences. Want to be close to the main landmarks and attractions? The City Centre may be for you. Visiting to experience the city’s world-famous nightlife? Try the Northern Quarter or Gay Village. Prefer a more chilled and local vibe? Check out the outer neighbourhoods of Ancoats or Castlefield.

Want to know more? This comprehensive guide will help you decide exactly where to stay in Manchester, from the best area for your style of trip, to the best hotel to suit your budget…

Where to stay in Manchester

Manchester City Centre

Best place to stay in Manchester for: shops, entertainment and historic architecture.

Manchester Exchange Square, where to stay in Manchester
The bars and restaurants of the Corn Exchange in Manchester’s Exchange Square

Manchester’s City Centre can be split up into three primary districts; the Millenium Quarter, the Civic Quarter, and Picadilly.

The Millennium Quarter, also known as the Central Retail District, is the neighbourhood surrounding lively Exchange Square. After being bombed by the IRA in 1996, much of the area has been completely rebuilt and is now one of the most modern parts of Manchester, filled with large shopping centres, department stores and entertainment complexes.

Just to the south of the Millennium Quarter, you’ll find the more historic Civic Quarter. Centred around Albert Square, Manchester’s Civic Quarter is home to some of the city’s most beautiful Victorian architecture along King Street, including the striking neo-gothic Town Hall.

Finally, Picadilly is a newly renovated neighbourhood in the east of the city centre that runs between Picadilly Gardens and Picadilly Station, Manchester’s main train station. Here you’ll find many high street shops and big chain restaurants.

Manchester City Centre is one of the best places to stay in Manchester if you’re a first time visitor to the city or you have limited time. Staying in the city centre, you’ll be right in the heart of everything, surrounded by many of the most famous landmarks and attractions, and with hundreds of restaurants, bars and shops right on your doorstep.

Pros:

  • High concentration of landmarks & attractions 
  • Packed with places to eat, drink and shop
  • Home to city’s primary train and coach station

Cons:

  • Busy area with large crowds of tourists
  • One of the more expensive places to stay in Manchester

Manchester City Centre Highlights:

  • Albert Square – central square that hosts festivals and markets, incl. Manchester’s Christmas market
  • Manchester Town Hall – one of the finest examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in the UK
  • Manchester Central Library – 1930s building with domed roof, impressive to view from outside
  • Manchester Cathedral – Manchester’s 600+ year old Gothic cathedral
  • Chetham’s Library – oldest free public reference library in the English-speaking world
  • Exchange Square – modern square surrounding by shops, restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues
  • Manchester Arndale Shopping Centre – the largest city centre shopping centre in the UK
  • Printworks – buzzing entertainment complex featuring a large cinema, restaurants and nightclubs
  • National Football Museum – football museum with memorabilia and interactive exhibitions

Where to stay in Manchester City Centre:

Mid-Range Hotel | Motel One Royal Exchange – chic and modern hotel in a central location, with rain showers, an on-site bar and optional breakfast

Mid-Range Hotel | BrewDog DogHouse – a unique hotel owned by brewery and pub chain BrewDog, with quirky modern features, in-room draft beer taps and shower beer fridges, plus a rooftop bar and Taco Hut

Luxury Hotel | Stock Exchange Hotel – contemporary boutique hotel housed in Manchester’s former Stock Exchange, offering a welcome drink, concierge service, private parking, restaurant and bar

Apartment | Roomzzz Manchester Corn Exchange – private apartment units with sofa areas, desks and fully equipped kitchenettes, as well as an on-site gym and complimentary Grab & Go breakfast

Spinningfields

Best place to stay in Manchester for: high-end restaurants and bars.

The Ivy Spinningfields
The Ivy Spinningfields

Branded “The Canary Wharf of the North” by the Financial Times, Spinningfields is a modern, up-market area just to the west of Manchester’s city centre. The vibrant Manchester neighbourhood is where you’ll find plenty of high-rises offices, designer shops and stylish bars and restaurants.

Spinningfields is one of the best areas to stay in Manchester for lovers of glamorous cocktail bars and exclusive award-winning eateries.

Pros:

  • Lots of quality restaurants and bars
  • Less packed with tourists
  • Just a few minutes walk from the main landmarks & attractions of the city centre

Cons:

  • Primarily a commercial district so there are fewer hotels to choose from
  • One of the most expensive areas of Manchester

Spinningfields Highlights:

  • The John Rylands Library – working research library in a beautiful Victorian neo-Gothic building
  • People’s History Museum – national museum of democracy located inside a converted Edwardian pumping station
  • Manchester Opera House – Grade II listed opera house hosting musicals, ballets and concerts
  • The Ivy Spinningfields – swanky, multi-story dining oasis with a modern Asian restaurant, British brasserie and a rooftop garden
  • The Oast House – popular rustic style pub with a large beer garden
  • The Avenue – luxury shopping street filled with flagship designer stores

Where to stay in Spinningfields:

Mid-Range Hotel | YOTEL Manchester Deansgate – a super modern hotel with bright and quirky decor, city views, smart features and an on-site restaurant and bar

Luxury Hotel | Manchester Marriott Victoria & Albert Hotel – 4* chain hotel on the banks of the River Irwell with cosy, rustic decor, a riverside restaurant, buffet breakfast and off-site swimming pool and spa

Luxury Hotel | Manchester Hall – a luxury boutique hotel in a former Freemason building, with 8 rooms named after Manchester’s most historic icons, sitting on the edge of Spinningfields and the Civic Quarter

Chinatown

Best place to stay in Manchester for: delicious Asian food and late-night karaoke.

Faulkner Street’s Paifang Gate in Chinatown

Manchester’s Chinatown is the second biggest in the UK (after London) and the third biggest in all of Europe. The neighbourhood is packed with fantastic Asian restaurants, from Chinese bbq to Japanese Pho, as well as a great nightlight scene, with plenty of lively pubs and fun karaoke bars.

Other than the food and drink, the neighbourhood is mainly offices and hotels so there’s not as much to do during the day. Fortunately, it’s just a few minutes walk away from the many attractions of the city centre.

Pros:

  • Lots of great Asian eateries
  • Lively nightlife scene
  • Affordable area to eat and drink
  • Short walk to city centre
  • Close to Picadilly Station

Cons:

  • Can be a little noisy at night

Chinatown Highlights:

  • Faulkner Street’s Paifang Gate – golden arch gifted by China in 1987
  • Manchester Art Gallery – home to important artworks spanning over six centuries
  • Happy Seasons Restaurant – tasty Chinese dishes in authentic family-run restaurant
  • K2 Karaoke – modern, neon-lit venue with nightclub and privatre karaoke booths

Where to stay in Manchester’s Chinatown:

Budget Hotel | ibis Manchester Centre Portland Street – simple modern rooms with desks and in-room tea and coffee facilities, and a lively restaurant and bar just downstairs

Mid-Range Hotel | Hotel Brooklyn – New York loft inspired hotel with lots of exposed brick, unique decor, in-room bathtubs, and its own restaurant and bar that hosts live DJs each weekend

Mid-Range Hotel | Clayton Hotel Manchester City Centre – elegant 4* hotel with spacious family rooms, a stylish restaurant and bar, and an on-site fitness centre

Apartment | Roomzzz Manchester City – stylish apartments in a former Victorian cotton warehouse, with sofas, work desks and fully equipped kitchenettes

Gay Village

Best place to stay in Manchester for: LGBTQ+ scene and nightlife.

Just south of Chinatown, you’ll find Manchester’s vibrant Gay Village. Centred around Canal Street, a pedestrianised road beside the Rochdale Canal, the Gay Village is the heart of Manchester’s LGBTQ+ scene and is known to be one of Europe’s most exciting gay neighbourhoods.

Packed with lively gay bars and clubs open throughout the day and night, you can expect colourful drag cabaret shows and huge parties that keep going until sunrise. No matter what your sexuality, the Gay Village is without a doubt one of the best nightlife spots in the city.

The neighbourhood is also the epicentre of Manchester’s annual pride celebrations over the August bank holiday weekend every year.

The Gay Village is the best area to stay in Manchester if you want to head out and enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife into the early hours of the morning. But not if you’re looking for good night sleep.

Pros:

  • One of the UK’s most LGBTQ+ friendly districts
  • Nightlife hub 7 days a week
  • Regular drag performances (Yaaas queen!)

Cons:

  • Can be very noisy throughout the night

Gay Village Highlights:

  • Canal Street – pedestrianised road packed with LGBTQ+ friendly bars and late-night clubs
  • Sackville Gardens and the Alan Turing Memorial – memorial to the gay mathematician and WWII codebreaker

Where to stay in Manchester’s Gay Village:

Budget Hotel | New Union – basic rooms but you really can’t beat it on location, the hotel sits right above a popular late-night LGBTQ+ pub and bar on Canal Street, with lively drag cabaret shows throughout the week, one of my personal favourite cheap places to stay in Manchester

Luxury Hotel | Velvet Hotel – stunning boutique hotel with “boho chic meets glitzy cosmopolitan” decor and a lively downstairs restaurant and bar with nightly DJs, located right on Canal Street

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Northern Quarter

Best place to stay in Manchester for: craft beer pubs, cool bars and independent boutiques.

Manchester's Northern Quarter, where to stay in Manchester UK

The Northern Quarter was once home to the very first cotton mills that helped transform Manchester into a central player in the Industrial Revolution. Today, many of the old warehouses have been renovated and the previously run-down area has been transformed into a trendy, bohemian neighbourhood and the city’s creative hub.

Independent shops sit side by side with local coffee roasters, craft breweries and an array of international restaurants. Whether you’re looking for vintage clothes, vinyl records or somewhere to enjoy some live music, the Northern Quarter is definitely one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Manchester. A hipster haven.

Pros:

  • More affordable than city centre
  • Lots of independent shops
  • Great food and drink offering
  • Lively nightlife and live music scene
  • Lots of colourful street art

Cons:

  • Some petty crime (pickpocketing) at night
  • Noisy during the evenings

Northern Quarter Highlights:

  • Affleks – indie shopping emporium with several floors of independent stalls, small shops and boutiques
  • Mackie Mayor – food hall inside a former Victorian market with vendors serving pizza, burgers, noodles etc
  • Band on the Wall – one of Manchester’s most famous live music venues

Where to stay in the Northern Quarter:

Budget Hotel | easyHotel – affordable chain hotel with small, clean rooms and en-suite bathrooms

Mid-range Hotel | Selina NQ1 – colourful boutique hotel-hostel in a renovated Victorian building, offering private and dormitory rooms with shared bathrooms, as well as large group rooms, family rooms and suites

Apartment | Church Street by Supercity Aparthotels – modern, spacious apartments with city views, balconies, kitchenettes and living spaces

Anacoats

Best place to stay in Manchester for: a cool, local atmosphere.

Voted by TimeOut as one of the top 20 coolest neighbourhoods in the world in 2021, Ancoats has recently undergone a huge regeneration project to turn the run-down mills and factories of the suburb’s past into elegant apartment blocks overlooking pedestrianised streets filled with independent bars and restaurants.

Sitting just north of the Northern Quarter, Ancoats is one of the city’s most popular neighbourhoods amongst Manchester’s cool, young local crowd. Much like the Northern Quarter, it’s known for its nightlife and many pubs and bars. But with a slightly more chilled and laid back vibe than the NQ. There’s also a number of great restaurants to choose from too.

If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Manchester for a longer trip, Ancoats is a great choice.

Pros:

  • Local atmosphere
  • Lots of great restaurants and bars
  • Lively nightlife scene

Cons:

  • Primarily a residential area so there are no hotels, only rented apartments to choose from
  • Slightly further from the city centre

Ancoats Highlights:

  • Mana – Manchester’s only Michelin-starred restaurant
  • Rudy’s Pizza – voted one of the world’s best pizzerias in the international pizza guide
  • Ancoats Coffee Co. – local coffee roasters and coffee shop in a converted red-brick warehouse 
  • Chaology – quaint Japanese tea house
  • Hope Mill Theatre – award-winning independent theatre
  • Street Names – many Ancoats streets are named after Manchester’s violent Victorian Scuttlers gangs

Where to stay in Ancoats:

Apartment | Copper and Blossom – a beautiful split-level apartment that can sleep up to 8 people, with extravagant floral decor in every room, neon signs and high-tech features, an Instagrammer’s dream

Apartment | Loom St – two-bedroom apartment with chic, modern decor, a fully equipped kitchen, dishwasher, and washing machine

Castlefield

Best place to stay in Manchester for: canalside bars and tonnes of history.

Sitting in the very south of Manchester, just before you hit the suburbs, Castlefield is a lovely local neighbourhood with plenty of green spaces and charming canalside restaurants and bars. With a more village-like feel than the rest of the city, it’s a great place to escape to at the end of a busy day.

Despite its more relaxed atmosphere, Castlefield is also home to several important cultural attractions, including the remains of the Mamucium Roman fort that gave Manchester its name and the city’s large Science and Industry museum.

With much of its attraction centring around its beautiful waterways and canalside drinking establishments, Castlefield is one of the best areas to stay in Manchester during the warmer summer months.

Pros:

  • Many charming canalside restaurants and bars
  • More local and relaxed vibe
  • Affordable accomodation options
  • Several important historical attractions right on your doorstep

Cons:

  • Slightly further from some of the attractions of the city centre, espeically the millenium quarter

Castlefield Highlights:

  • Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum – large museum showcasing Manchester’s contribution to the fields of science, technology and industry
  • Manchester Liverpool Road Railway Station – the oldest surviving mainline railway station in the world, dating back to 1830
  • Bridgewater Canal Basin – picturesque waterways once used by Victorians to transport goods
  • Castlefield Bowl – outdoor live music venue used for food festivals and music gigs
  • Mamucium – remains of a Roman fort

Where to stay in Castlefield:

Hostel | YHA Manchester Hostel – colourful hostel with private and dormitory-style rooms, a 24hr reception, communal kitchen, cafe bar and cinema room with film nights

Mid-Range Hotel | Castlefield Hotel – large 3* hotel with spacious rooms, on-site restaurant, gym, pool, sauna and conference rooms

Luxury Hotel | The Edwardian Manchester – 5* Radisson Collection hotel with city views, luxury health spa, an on-site restaurant serving contemporary Japanese and Mexican dishes and a cocktail bar

Apartment Hotel | Lock Keepers Cottage – a unique 3 bedroom home located in a historic 1800s lock keepers cottage overlooking the Rochedale Canal


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Emily is a born and raised London girl, starting life in the north of the capital then moving down to Fulham in the south west. She has a masters degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University College London and now works as a freelance travel writer, digital marketer and VA, splitting her life between London and travelling the world.

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