Is the frosty weather making you long to wrap up in a cosy winter setting somewhere like you’re the main character in a Christmas movie? Let us introduce you to the Smithy Lodge in Heaton Park.
Nestled against a treeline in Manchester’s beloved Heaton Park, home of festive favourite Lightopia and, of course, the legendary Parklife festival, is the historic Smithy Lodge, a quaint little cottage perfect for living out your Cameron Diaz in The Holiday fantasy.
Seriously though, this beautiful Grade II listed building dates all the way back to 1806 – named after a local blacksmith’s workshop situated nearby on Middleton Road – is one of the most picturesque little hideaways that we’ve come across in Manchester.
Cut to today and the lodge is now a luxury two-floor space that makes for an ideal staycation for those who want to get out of the city but don’t want to travel too far.
Sleeping four people and having quickly become a popular site for couples getaways, the Smithy Lodge not only feels like a blast back through time but the pristine, traditional and fundamentally rural surround makes it feel like a high-end experience that few other Manchester hotel stays can offer.
Complete with all the modern amenities you need as well as private parking, an electric car charging station and nearby access to the golf course combines English heritage with the expected hallmarks of modern city break culture.
Better still, if you’re travelling from out of town and still looking to head into the city centre or any of Greater Manchester‘s surrounding boroughs, the Heaton Park tram stop is just across the park.
This former octagonal gatehouse might be a little bit more updated and mod-con than Hagrid’s Hut but it’s definitely giving us the same cosy winter vibes.
Fans of the space queued down the street for its final few days in Bethnal Green, before its eventual closure on Wednesday 1 February.
Their statement said: “Sad news. We’ve received notice to vacate our premises at Bethnal Green by the end of this week. As a property guardianship, we’ve always been aware that we may be asked to leave with very short notice. We’re disappointed that it has come so soon.
“@Enter_theVenue the creative hub with whom we share our space, have also been asked to leave. The Vagina Museum will continue to operate in the digital world as we search for a new home.”
The message continued: “We’re sad about this development, but incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished in the ten months we’ve been at our Bethnal Green premises. We’ve welcomed more than 40,000 visitors through our doors, and received so much love and positive feedback.
“In our time at Bethnal Green, we’ve once again demonstrated just how much the world needs and wants a Vagina Museum.
“Times are, once again, uncertain for us, but we’ve been through this before and risen stronger than ever. With a community like you supporting us, we know we can get through this too.
“We’re actively searching for a new home, and if you know of any vacant spaces (or have one yourself!) please don’t hesitate to reach out. In our home in Bethnal Green, we and ENTER demonstrated that we can transform an empty, unused building into a thriving heart of a community.
“If you don’t have a building, you can still help! Please consider making a donation; a donation of any size makes a huge difference and will help us to weather this storm, just as we’ve weathered storms before.”
The Vagina Museum concluded its thread with: “We’ve made it through a pandemic and a period of temporary homelessness before. With you, together, we can make it through this too.”
Five great date day ideas around Manchester for Valentine’s Day inspiration
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and if you like to celebrate with your loved ones then you’re probably scrambling around for ideas in Manchester.
You might be getting ready for a night out with friends, to shower your other half with affection, or even marking the occasion with family.
Whatever your situation, and whoever you’re spending 14 February with, we’ve got a perfect day out in mind for you – whatever you’re in to.
And even if you’re really not arsed about Valentine’s Day, you can bookmark this for future date inspiration.
Keep reading for five perfect date days around Greater Manchester, from where to go for food to where to hotel inspiration if you want to make a night of it.
For those who love an activity
It’s not all about being wined and dined – some of us would rather get stuck in, get a bit competitive, and have a laugh.
There are competitive gaming experiences popping up all over Manchester (you can see a full list here) that are perfect for Valentine’s Day.
What to do: Head to Roxy Ball Room (there’s one on Deansgate, but the site at the Arndale is our favourite) for an afternoon of bowling, ping-pong, shuffleboard, arcade games and even Crazy Pool. It’s rock and roll vibes with a healthy dose of competitive spirit.
Where to drink: Open through until the early hours, NQ64 is a graffiti-splattered, late-night Northern Quarter bar with retro arcade games, old-school consoles, and gaming-inspired cocktails.
Where to eat: There’s a newcomer in town that should fit the bill – Calcio has opened (also in the Northern Quarter, so minimal walking), bringing retro games and live sport to town. The kitchen is run by What’s Your Beef, so expect glorious burgers, hot dogs, wings and loaded fries.
Where to sleep: Seeing as your entire date has been based in and around the Northern Quarter, you might as well kip there too – head over to Native, the stunning aparthotel in Ducie Street Warehouse. The bonus is that you have your own little apartment for the night, so you can whip out the playing cards and keep fuelling your activity obsession.
For those who love to get dressed up
Valentine’s Day is a special occasion, so it’s a lovely excuse to whip out the glad rags, slap on a face of make-up and play princess for the day.
Despite its sometimes-rough and ready appearance, Manchester has got plenty of glamour going on.
What to do: We’d love to suggest a day spent at Soho House, but it’s not open yet – so you can while away a few hours in the shopping hotspots around town. There are the lovely boutiques around King Street, or you can hibernate inside Harvey Nichols and Selfridges in the heart of Manchester – which both helpfully have champagne bars inside, serving a special San Valentino cocktail for Valentine’s Day.
Where to drink: For the best views in town, it’s got to be the beautiful 20 Stories. Have a cocktail or a glass of fizz on the roof terrace (it’s heated) and take in the Manchester skyline.
Where to eat: You don’t want to waste all the effort you spent getting ready, and one of the places to be seen is The Ivy, which has one of the most decadent interiors in town – though you’ll be spoilt for choice in Spinningfields. Other front-runners include Australasia, Rosso, and Tattu.
Where to sleep: King Street Townhouse, obviously – it has a rooftop pool that is always all over Instagram, a pretty special place to visit even with its view of Manchester Town Hall currently slightly marred by scaffolding.
For those who love live music
This is really what Manchester does best, and a lot of us would find a night of live music the perfect Valentine’s Day – or date at any time of year.
This is how to nail a day out if you’re with a music lover.
What to do: There are loads of grassroots music venues around town – look for gig tickets for Band on the Wall, which recently underwent a huge upgrade. Nearby, you’ll also find Night & Day Cafe, Gullivers, and Matt & Phreds Jazz Cafe.
Where to drink: Ramona and The Firehouse is famous for its margaritas, and for its free late-night entertainment. Grab a drink and prepare to watch their talented artists dance it out on the runway.
Where to eat: Assuming you opt for Band on the Wall, Mackie Mayor is an ideal pre-gig dinner spot – it’s right next door. There are dozens of brilliant food and drink operators crammed under one roof, and it’s a properly stunning location to dine in too.
Where to sleep: Music runs through the heart of the new-ish Brewdog Hotel in the city centre. Each room comes with a record player and an acoustic guitar, and they’ll even hand you a pint at the check-in desk. Ideal.
For those who are absolutely skint
This time of year is brutal for our finances at the best of time, but the cost of living crisis is making it even worse.
Thankfully, there’s loads you can do around Manchester without spending a fortune this Valentine’s Day.
What to do: Even if you live here, we can’t recommend taking a walking tour of the city enough – there’ll be so much you don’t know about Manchester. This company – Free Manchester Walking Tours – are some of the best, and you just pay what you can at the end. There are also loads of galleries and museums that are free to visit.
Where to drink: For the cheapest pint in town, it still has to be Sinclairs Oyster Bar in Exchange Square. Phones and swearing are totally barred (don’t even try it) – just grab a pint for a couple of quid and get cosy in this incredibly old-school boozer.
Where to sleep: Probably at home, in your own bed, if you’re on that much of a budger – but there are usually fairly affordable deals to be found around town, like at the new Wilde Aparthotel. Just avoid The Britannia, whatever you do.
For those who love to escape the city
Had enough of Manchester? Weirdo.
But no, on a serious note, one of the best things about living in the north west is all the countryside that surrounds us, from the Saddleworth Moors to the Peak District to the Lake District. So let’s hit the road.
What to do: Put on your hiking gear and get the train out to Glossop. It’s only a quick journey but you’ll find yourself right on the edge of the Peak District, where loads of walks will unfold in front of you.
Where to drink: Pubs, obviously. The highlights in Old Glossop include the lovely pub The Bull’s Head, and brewery taproom Distant Hills. Or you can head into Glossop a bit further and take a trip to Harvey Leonard’s, a wine and ale bar in the old Conservative Club.
Where to eat: There’s modern pub grub at The Oak Wood, but if you can face the trip across to Hayfield, The Pack Horse is easily one of the best gastropubs in the country. Don’t just take our word for it…
Where to sleep: The Pack Horse sadly doesn’t have room, but they have rounded up some brilliant Airbnbs in the area – what could be more romantic than a cosy fireside night in a riverside cottage, or a converted barn? Sold.