Paris, Venice, Prague and…Manchester? Believe it or not, Manchester actually holds its own when it comes to the romance stakes. From taking in some spectacular classic and contemporary art, to spending a night out at the theatre, there are plenty of other loved-up things to do here with your sweetheart.
Manchester might not be the first place that springs to mind when you really want to wow your date, but you’re in for a pleasant surprise…
There are plenty of romantic restaurants in Manchester, but if you’re looking for one with wow-factor, make a reservation at Australasia. Hidden from sight, the swanky restaurant is actually housed underground, with entrance via a glass pyramid on The Avenue. You’ll literally go ‘down under’ to reach your table at this contemporary eatery specialising in a fusion of modern Australian and Asian-inspired specialities. The cuisine is heavily influenced by South East Asian, Indonesian and Japanese cooking, with a menu featuring top quality sushi and sashimi, traditional robata grilled meats and fresh seafood with ginger, lime, chilli and coconut flavours. If you simply can’t choose (and it’s more than likely that will be the case), Australasia also offers a tasting menu with plenty of small sharing plates so you can have a bite of everything. The drink list is also extensive, with both imported and local wines, beers and sake, as well as inventive cocktails. The bar and lounge area are open late on weekends with resident and guest DJs spinning tunes from midnight to 3am.
Just four miles from the city centre is one of the most romantic places in Manchester – Heaton Park. At 600 acres, you’ll have more than enough space to find a secluded spot for a special picnic lunch, before taking a dreamy boat ride on the lake or a look at the beautiful neoclassical 18th century country house, Heaton Hall. If you’re the active kind of couple, there’s an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, a driving range and putting course. There’s actually something for everyone here – there’s also an animal farm, ornamental gardens, an observatory and even a cute tram track. Make sure you find the Temple – it’s the highest point in all of Manchester and offers breathtaking views across the golf park and further afield.
Shop til you drop
No matter your budget, Manchester is sure to have some shops to suit you. If you (or your partner) want to splurge, head to the luxury stores like Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Spinningfields to make a very good impression, or else pick up something special and sparkly at the Jewellery Quarter around King Street.
Cuddle up at the theatre
A night out at the theatre, opera or ballet always ranks high on any romance list – and Manchester certainly has its fair share of swoon-worthy spots! The Royal Exchange Theatre on St Ann’s Square is sure to impress – the seven-sided pod has been built inside the Great Hall of the historic Old Royal Exchange building. The whole thing is actually suspended by four columns, with only the stage and ground-level seating resting on solid ground. The unique design means you feel closer to the actors than ever before. Depending on your tastes, you can also check out what’s showing at the Palace Theatre, the Lowry Theatre, the Opera House or Bridgewater Hall.
Relive your teenage years
If you’re not really one for soppy PDAs, then you can skip the five-star wining and dining and get back to some old-school fun. TwentyTwentyTwo has a special place in every Mancurian’s heart – it’s a hip bar in the Northern Quarter, where you can also have a friendly game of ping pong with your partner. The walls are adorned with artwork from local artists, there are regular live gigs and DJ sets, and there are plenty of drinks to quench your thirst. You can also go bowling at the retro-cool All Star Lanes or take the leap of love at Airkix Manchester – it’s like skydiving but without a plane!