You might be confused about where to stay in Manchester if it’s the first time visiting the city. It’s hard to know which area and which hotel you should stay in.
With its central UK location, exciting atmosphere and fascinating mixture of cultures and people, Manchester is a very popular destination for tourists from across the world.
Planning where to stay in this big city can feel like a challenge, especially when you have so many options.
But in this guide, we’ve helped you out by breaking down Manchester’s best neighborhoods and best accommodation options.
As we did with its neighbor city Liverpool, we’ve covered many options of many styles in this guide. No matter your budget, the people you’re traveling with, or the type of travel you like, we’ve got something perfect for you.
We’ve also listed all the exciting events and attractions that Manchester has to offer – along with a guide on where you can find them all.
So, let’s start! 🏴
If You’re In A Hurry, Here’s Our Advice In Short
Manchester’s city centre is the best choice for first-time tourists. Though it’s a little busy, it’s the best location for enjoying most of Manchester’s events and attractions – and it’s brilliantly connected to all other areas via public transport.
The city centre is also a great place to fully experience the exciting cultural amalgamation of Manchester and its people.
Top attractions in the city centre:
- Manchester Cathedral
- The Arndale
- National Football Museum
- Manchester Art Gallery
- … and so much more!
Before we break down all the best areas and accommodations here are a few Manchester facts:
- Currency: Pound Sterling – £
- Language: everyone speaks English. Everything is written in English. These things make Manchester a very easy city to visit and navigate
- Population: Around 530,000 in the city proper (source)
- Tourists per year: around 119 million (source)
With so many Manchester tourists comes many Manchester accommodation options. Because there are so many places to stay, it’s important to choose a good one… so we’re here to make that task easy for you!
Here’s a guide to the different areas in Manchester:
The Best Areas and Neighborhoods to Stay in Manchester
Manchester is located in the north of England and is a fairly compact city. Because of that, its individual areas and districts often overlap – and each area is pretty small. But generally speaking, here are the five areas that tourists need to know about:
- City Centre
- Northern Quarter
- Salford Quays
Because all of these areas are small, Manchester is a very walkable city. All areas can be reached from one another by foot.
But if you don’t want to walk, Manchester has many other options. Manchester’s excellent and easily-navigable public transport network is made up of buses, trams and trains. In Manchester, all public transport is very regular.
If you like to cycle, Manchester is also a very bike-friendly city. Many locals get around with nothing but a bicycle.
In short, it’s easy to get between all of Manchester’s different areas, however you decide to do it!
1. Manchester City Centre
No prizes for guessing that this area is the very centre of Manchester.
Manchester’s city centre is full of stores, bars, restaurants, and cafes. Though the city centre is mainly made up of big chain names, there are a selection of exciting independent venues too. In the city centre, there are endless places to eat, drink, and shop.
Busy, vibrant, and exciting, the city centre is a great place to watch life pass by – and to get a taste of Manchester’s unique atmosphere.
The city centre also has lots of exciting tourist attractions and it’s very well-linked to the rest of the city, making it a perfect place to stay for exploring the rest of Manchester. Overall the city center is a nice place to stay in Manchester.
Here are the top things to do in the city centre:
- Manchester Cathedral: grand and imposing, Manchester Cathedral’s gothic decor is jagged, nuanced and packed with detail. With a 600-year history, it’s a fantastic place to get a taste of Manchester’s heritage. The cathedral offers tours, classical music concerts and ancient archives, so it’s not your average religious building.
- National Football Museum: Manchester is home to two of the biggest football clubs in the world – Manchester City and Manchester United. This museum is an excellent exploration of English football’s history and heritage, with exciting interactive displays. Take some penalties, test yourself with skills challenges and read about some of football’s most influential figures. For football-mad kids (and adults!), this is one of the best museums in the world.
- Manchester Arndale: a huge shopping centre full of endless stores. Whatever you want to buy, you’ll get it here. There’s also a fantastic food court in the Arndale, full of cultural cuisine from Japan, Mexico, India and more. For cheap and delicious morsels and meals, go here.
Best Hotels in Manchester City Centre
Luxury pick: The Edwardian
Winner of Leading Hotel of The Year in 2019, each room has Italian marble bathrooms, beautiful decor and incredibly comfortable beds. Previous esteemed guests have included Simon Cowell among other huge household names. The on-site restaurant won Best Luxury Restaurant 2019. And there’s a fantastic spa!
Mid-range pick: Holiday Inn Express Manchester City Centre
All rooms have an LCD TV, perfect for relaxing after a long day of city sightseeing. Each room also comes with an excellent and varied free buffet breakfast, with plenty of selection for everyone. This hotel is nothing spectacular, but it provides excellent convenience with a brilliant location. It’s the perfect mid-range hotel for anyone seeking a city centre location.
Budget pick: Easyhotel Manchester
The location is excellent, and the facilities are great given the price. You’ll find no frills here, but you will find plenty of comfort and convenience for a low price. Budget hotels don’t get much better than this.
2. Northern Quarter
Famous across the city as the hippest part of Manchester, the Northern Quarter is full of trendy eateries, thrift stores and unique and unusual things to do. From bars with ping pong tables to pay-per-minute cafes to curry canteens, the Northern Quarter is leftfield and bizarre, but with little pretension.
With independent record stores, bohemian bars and incredible street art, the Northern Quarter is an attraction in its own right.
If you like to explore the weirdest, wildest parts of town, you’ll love it here.
Here are the top things to do in The Northern Quarter:
- Afflecks Palace: if you like unusual shopping opportunities, this is one of the best in the world. A self-proclaimed emporium of eclecticism, this indoor multi-storey market is a bizarre cornucopia of shopping and shock. With second-hand clothes, tarot readers, arcade games, gas masks, personalized Lego figures, badges and full-face rubber masks, it’s a fun place to spend a couple of hours. There’s even an on-site cafe… which sells nothing but breakfast cereals.
- Rice ‘n’ Threes: a Manchester institution, these places can be found all over the city. But the best of them are all in The Northern Quarter. In these curry canteens, you can get three curries with rice (hence the name rice ‘n’ three!) for a very low price. It’s like a school canteen, but with some of the best Indian food you’ve ever had. All of these eateries are owned by Indian families, so they’re a great way to experience authentic Indian food. Our favorite is This & That.
- Band on The Wall: Manchester has a fantastic music heritage, home to huge names like The Smiths, Oasis and The Stone Roses. Band on The Wall is a great place to experience the new up and comers emerging from the city’s music scene. From rock to reggae to folk, this former cinema space is an absolute must for all music fans.
Best Hotels in the Northern Quarter
Luxury pick: Crowne Plaza
With bold, beautiful decor, excellent continental breakfasts, aromatherapy kits, super-comfortable beds and Sky Sports in every room, the Crowne Plaza is as luxurious at the Northern Quarter gets.
Mid-range pick: City Stop Manchester
These serviced apartments are beautifully furnished, with a great kitchen. If you like a little more privacy than a hotel typically offers, you’ll absolutely love these apartments.
Budget pick: Selina NQ1
Much more chic and luxurious than your average hostel, this is a great place if you like hostel vibes, but with a little more comfort and decadence. With beautiful pastel decor and a very friendly crowd, this is a really wonderful place to stay.
3. Salford Quays
Salford, though it’s super close to Manchester, it’s actually a separate city – which native Salford residents are always keen to remind us of (and rightly so!).
Salford Quays is the best part of Salford. Only 15 minutes by tram from Manchester’s city centre, this former dock area is now a beautiful area of affluence and charm.
Laid-back and relaxing, this area can be a welcome antithesis to Manchester’s busy city centre.
Here are the top things to do in Salford Quays:
- Old Trafford: one of world football’s most famous stadiums, Old Trafford is just outside of Salford Quays. If you have any interest in football, this place is a must-visit. Watching a live game here is a great way to experience the unparalleled atmosphere and passion of English football. If no games are on while you’re in the city, you can get a stadium tour or visit the museum. For those who prefer Manchester City, the Etihad Stadium is on the eastern side of the city.
- Coronation Street Tour: the longest-running soap opera in TV history, Coronation Street is an English institution. Here, you can visit the actual set which is used for filming. Tours last 90 minutes, and are a fascinating insight into not just the show itself, but TV dramas in general.
- The Lowry: named after esteemed English painter LS Lowry, this is a great gallery. But it’s even more than that. There’s an excellent exhibition of Lowry’s work along with a fantastic program of exhibitions, theatre, talks, tours, digital art and more. Lowry’s work is a fantastic insight into the history and heritage of working-class north west England.
Best Hotels in Salford Quays
Luxury pick: Copthorne Hotel
With sleek interiors, beautiful food and a suave atmosphere, this place exudes elegance. The rooms are big and spacious, and the beds are unbelievably comfortable.
Mid-range pick: Holiday Inn Express – Salford Quays
With an excellent buffet breakfast and a waterfront terrace, this is a great hotel for the price. Rooms are fairly basic, but they’re very clean, modern and well-decorated.
Budget pick: YHA Manchester
Okay, this place isn’t quite at Salford Quays. But it’s pretty close – and it’s the best budget hostel in Manchester. The YHA Manchester has a great kitchen area and a sociable vibe.
Serene and relaxed, Castlefield has green spaces, quaint canals and lots of laid-back fun. Though it’s just outside of the city centre, it often seems far removed from the hustle and bustle of Manchester’s most busy central areas.
But it’s also full of fun things to do.
If you prefer a relaxing break over the busy city centre atmosphere offered by Manchester’s more congested areas, you’ll love Castlefield.
Here are the top things to do in Castlefield:
- Science and Industry Museum: inspired in part by Manchester’s industrial heritage, there’s so much interactive entertainment on offer in this museum. You can visit the world’s first railway warehouse and the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station. With live demos, science shows and plenty more, this is lots of fun for kids and adults alike.
- Castlefield Bowl: permanent outdoor music venues are a rarity. But this one is incredible. This venue hosts some of Manchester’s best gigs, with household names from across the globe. When it’s not teeming with tunes, the bowl also plays host to food festivals and other events.
- Mamucium: England has a huge Roman heritage. This fort is an excellent exploration and celebration of much of that history. Dating back to AD79, this is a must for history buffs.
Best Hotels in Castlefield
Luxury pick: Hilton Deansgate
Hilton hotels always provide a reliable slice of genuine luxury. And this one is a great example. Floor-to-ceiling windows, incredible city views, a fantastic spa and an abundance of sleek, shiny fixtures and furnishings, the Hilton Deansgate is all class and elegance.
Mid-range pick: Jurys Inn
Excellent breakfasts, executive-style rooms, exposed brickwork facades and beautiful pastel colours, this provides a little more luxury than your average mid-range pick. But it’s a very affordable option.
Budget pick: YHA Manchester
The best budget hostel in Manchester, this place is right in the heart of Castlefield. With a great kitchen area and a sociable vibe, this is a good place to make friends on your trip.
Hip, cheap, and full of students, young tourists who visit Manchester love spending time here. Yes, it’s a little rough around the edges and it’s not the most picturesque part of town, but it’s got a great atmosphere, full of cheap eats, cheap drinks and frenetic fun.
Lots of Manchester’s students live here. If you’re a young traveler and you want to interact with Manchester’s young population, this can be a great place to stay.
Sandwiched right between Fallowfield and central Manchester is Rusholme, home to the Curry Mile. This unique street is one of the most concentrated areas of South Asian restaurants outside of South Asia.
Here are the top things to do in Fallowfield:
- The Curry Mile: though it’s name is a little misleading, this place offers over half a mile (or around 1km) of South Asian eateries. Offerings include delectable delights from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Lebanon, Afghanistan and more. And it’s not just restaurants – there are cafes, candy stores, grocery markets and more. For foodies – and anyone interested in exploring unique areas – this is a fantastic place to spend a little time.
- Platt Fields: one of Manchester’s biggest parks, Platt Fields has tennis courts, basketball courts, a skatepark and one of the biggest outdoor BMX tracks in Europe. There’s a boating lake and plenty of space for picnics.
- Wandering and walking: Fallowfield is a great place for simple exploring. The perfect place to people-watch, it’s full of great little cafes and eateries where you can stop off for a quick, affordable bite to eat. For a different – but equally bustling – perspective of Manchester life, Fallowfield is a fantastic place to spend some time.
Best Hotels in Fallowfield
Luxury pick: The Safari House
This is a pretty humble homestay – but as far as homestays go, there’s lots of luxury on offer. The beds are very comfortable, the rooms are spacious and the shared lounge and kitchen are very well-equipped. This is situated just outside of Fallowfield but it’s very well-located for the Curry Mile.
Mid-range pick: Manchester Inn
Rooms are basic, but comfortable and well-decorated, and the on-site bar is a great place to enjoy spending some time. The hotel staff are very friendly and the prices are great.
Budget Pick: Ladybarn Lane
A cozy little homestay with a shared lounge and friendly hosts. This is a very pleasant way to enjoy the ambience of a slightly more personable stay.
Manchester Hotels: Tips and FAQ
Areas to Avoid in Manchester
Though Manchester is generally a very safe destination, there is a small amount of organized crime in the city. Though crime is low, and though tourists rarely encounter any problems at all, there are some areas you should stay clear of.
Moss Side, Cheetham Hill and Rusholme can be dangerous especially at night.
Though the main street of Rusholme – where you’ll find The Curry Mile – is busy, well-lit and safe, the smaller streets may not be.
You should also stay clear of train stations in the early hours of the morning.
Generally speaking, you should be cautious about walking alone at night, especially in unlit areas.
If you’re not interested in nightlife, you should try to avoid busy nightlife areas after 11pm. British people like to drink a lot. A very small minority can become aggressive when drunk.
But remember – you’re very unlikely to encounter any trouble in any part of Manchester.
A note on other places to avoid: many of Manchester’s outer areas have nothing of interest for tourists. To be close to the action, ensure you stay in one of the places we’ve recommended.
If you don’t stay in one of the places we’ve recommended, you’ll have to spend lots of time traveling – and you won’t enjoy all the fun and excitement that the city has to offer.
Where to Stay for the First Time in Manchester?
If it’s your first time in Manchester, it’s best to stay in the city centre. Though it’s very busy, it’s the best place to explore all that Manchester has to offer – and it’s great for accessing other parts of the city.
Above, we’ve already listed the best three options in this area. But in case you missed them…
Luxury pick: The Edwardian
Winner of Leading Hotel of The Year in 2019, previous esteemed guests have included Simon Cowell among other huge household names. The on-site restaurant won Best Luxury Restaurant 2019.
Mid-range pick: Holiday Inn Express Manchester City Centre
Each room comes with an excellent free buffet breakfast, with lots of selection regardless of what you like. It’s the perfect mid-range hotel for anyone seeking a city centre location.
Budget pick: Easyhotel Manchester
You’ll find nothing special here, but you will find plenty of comfort and convenience for a low price. Budget hotels don’t get much better than this.
Where to Stay in Manchester on a Budget?
In the UK, the best pick for budget accommodation is pretty much always a hostel. In the UK, hostels are of a great standard, and provide an excellent way to get some cheap shut-eye along with the chance to make some travel buddies.
Some of Manchester’s hostels have private dorms, so you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice all of your privacy in order to save some cash.
For great money-saving stays in Manchester, here are your three best options:
1. Selina NQ1
Way more chic, cozy and luxurious than your average hostel, this is a particularly beautiful location, for backpackers who like a little more class than your average hostel goer. With beautiful pastel decor and a very friendly crowd, this is a really wonderful place to stay.
The best budget hostel in Manchester, this is an excellent pick if your top priority is a simple bed at a cheap price.
This isn’t the most luxurious place in the world, but it’s an excellent place to meet other travelers. There’s a pool table, a very sociable bar and plenty of events and opportunities for making friends.
Where to Stay As a Solo Traveler?
If you’re traveling solo, you’ll probably want to make friends while you’re on your trip. If that is indeed your plan, staying in the city centre is the best option, with lots of hostels and lots of friendly fellow travelers.
If you’re a young solo traveler, you might want to stay in Fallowfield. During university term time (September until June), there will be lots of students your age – so it’ll be easy to make friends with them.
For those who are keen to make friends, it’s best to stay in a hostel. A good hostel offers sociable areas, atmospheres and events. We’ve listed Manchester’s best three hostels above. But just to reiterate, they are:
Where to Stay for Couples?
It depends what type of couple you and your partner are!
There’s no particularly romantic part of Manchester. But there are many varied and exciting atmospheres on offer.
If you like trendy hotspots and music venues, stay in the Northern Quarter. If you like shopping and busy, bustling streets, stay in the city centre. If you like the laid-back atmosphere of waterways and canals, stay in Salford Quays.
But throughout the whole city, Manchester has plenty of heart-stopping hotels perfect for couples of all descriptions. Here are three of the best:
With 23 floors and floor-to-ceiling windows, the beautiful city views here are a fantastic backdrop for a romantic break. With a whirlpool tub, sauna, spa and a glass-roofed swimming pool, there’s plenty of indulgence to be enjoyed with your partner.
2. Hotel Gotham
Brass fittings, sleek black decor, comfortable beds and leather accessories, this hotel aims to be “the sexiest in Europe”. The five inner suites have no windows, but are surrounded by nothing but black walls. Perfect for spicing things up.
With high ceilings, cast-iron bathtubs and a decadent library, this is like staying on the set of a romantic movie. Huge windows and comfortable beds make for a great lusty getaway.
Where to Stay in Manchester with Family and Kids?
If you’re visiting Manchester with kids, it’s important to find events and attractions which they’ll love. Luckily for you, Manchester is a fantastic city for little ones, with exciting museums and events and plenty of fun green spaces.
If you’re visiting Manchester with kids, you should stay in or near the city centre. In the city centre, there are lots of chain restaurants and eateries where it’s easy to find foods which your kids will love.
In some other areas of the city, many of the cafes and restaurants are independent and a little unusual, so they might not have the simple foods that your kids like.
Staying in the centre with your kids also means that you won’t have to spend too much time traveling from place to place.
But regardless of the area you stay, it’s important to find accommodation that’s well-suited to your little tikes. Here Manchester’s three best child-friendly hotels:
With an excellent location and a fantastic breakfast, this is great for a little kid-friendly convenience. The hotel is built for families and couples, making it a perfect place if you want a hotel that’s accustomed to dealing with little ones.
Serviced apartments can give your kids a little more free reign to be loud and have fun. If that’s the type of atmosphere you’re looking for, these apartments are an excellent choice. They’re central, with spacious rooms, excellent kitchen facilities and TVs.
This is very luxurious and decadent, but don’t let that fool you – it’s still an excellent place to stay with kids. The restaurant serves globally-inspired small meals for little ones, and each room has a small tuck box of free chips and candies. Children are also offered bathrobes, toys, coloring books and other snacks and drinks.
Where to Stay in Manchester for a Luxury Vacation?
If you want a luxury break, Castlefield is the best area. It’s tranquil and relaxing, but within a five-minute walk of the city centre, with its busy atmosphere and endless activities and eateries.
But no matter which area you stay, Manchester has a number of luxurious hotels for a perfectly indulgent stay. Here are our three picks:
Winner of Leading Hotel of The Year in 2019, each room has Italian marble bathrooms and lots of other finesse and flair. Previous esteemed guests have included Simon Cowell among other huge household names. The on-site restaurant won Best Luxury Restaurant 2019. There’s also a fantastic spa on-site. If you’re seeking sumptuous luxury, this place offers it in abundance.
With beautiful interiors, a stunning foyer and great breakfasts, this hotel does everything so right. It’s maybe the most beautiful hotel you’ll ever stay in. And considering how great it looks, the prices are surprisingly low.
3. Hotel Gotham
With a rooftop terrace and bold yet elegant fixtures and fittings, this place oozes class. If you like luxury and you’re traveling with your partner, it really doesn’t get any better than this – the five inner suites have no windows, but black walls. There’s a reason some consider this hotel to be “the sexiest in Europe”.
Where to Stay for Local Vibes in Manchester?
Undeniably, this is the Northern Quarter. The atmosphere in the Northern Quarter is a perfect snapshot of hipster Manchester, with trendy eateries, independent stores and the unparalleled eclecticism of Afflecks Palace.
Many of the city’s students spend time here, making it an excellent way to become acquainted with the city’s trendy younger population. Manchester has a huge number of students from all over the world.
For local food, the Northern Quarter is one of the best spots – this area’s rice ‘n’ threes are an iconic part of Manchester’s culinary landscape.
The Northern Quarter also has lots of interesting music venues. And in a city with such a huge musical heritage, it’d be a crime to come here without seeing some live music.
As noted above, here are the three best places to stay in the Northern Quarter:
Luxury pick: Crowne Plaza
With bold beautiful decor, excellent continental breakfasts, aromatherapy kits and super-comfortable beds, this is luxurious at the Northern Quarter gets.
Mid-range pick: City Stop Manchester
These serviced apartments are beautifully furnished, with a great kitchen.
Budget pick: Selina NQ1
Much more chic and luxurious than your average hostel, this is a great place if you like hostel vibes, but with a little more comfort and decadence. It’s also a great venue for meeting like-minded travelers.
Where to Stay for Hiking Near Manchester?
It’s rare that people who want to hike use Manchester as a base for their trekking escapades. As a base for hiking, it’s not a great place to stay. That said, if you want to tackle a serious hike while you’re in Manchester, you should go to the Peak District, one of England’s best national parks.
Because the park is so big, we won’t recommend any particular accommodations. But if you want to take a trip from Manchester to the Peak District, we recommend spending at least a weekend in the park.
You’ll find many accommodation on this page to choose from.
Wrapping Up the Best Places to Stay in Manchester
One of the biggest cities in the UK, Manchester has so much to offer, from award-winning attractions to fascinating museums to one of the most diverse populations in the north of England. It’s a fantastic place to explore northern English life.
It’s a hugely popular city for tourists from across the globe. And because of that, it offers many accommodation options. Many of them aren’t a great place to spend your vacation. But each one we’ve listed is a fantastic place to overnight while you enjoy all that Manchester has to offer.
Our number one pick of Manchester hotels is the Holiday Inn Express Manchester City Centre.
Central, affordable and comfortable, this place offers all you need for a great stay. The buffet breakfast is fantastic and the location is excellent. For the price, you won’t find anything better than this!
For budget travel our number one pick is Selina NQ1.
Though it’s not the most affordable hostel in Manchester, it’s certainly the best. Because of its quality, it attracts typical hostel goers along with families, couples and everyone in between. The decor is beautiful, the staff are very friendly and the pastel palette is relaxing and charming.
A note: remember, if and when you do travel, you should absolutely always take out travel insurance. It’ll keep you covered, it could save you money, and it’ll mean that you don’t have to spend your trip fretting about staying safe!
And you’ll get all of these comforts for a very small fee.
We recommend the excellent World Nomads. In a sea of untrustworthy providers, they’re perfectly reliable.
Paul is a handsome and hilarious travel writer and travel journalist from the UK. He’s hiked, hitchhiked and laughed his way through more than fifty countries, and he’s always looking for a new place to call home. Originally from Newcastle, he’s lived all over the UK, spent more than three years in Asia, and most recently lived in Vietnam. Here’s his website.