Tuesday, 15 November 2016

How to Swap your Child’s Birthday Party for a City Break without Breaking the Bank!




A couple of years ago I found myself totting up the money we’d spent on a couple of hours in a play centre for my twin daughters birthday and realised that we could get a family weekend away for the same price. So we decided there and then that every second year we’d swap their birthday party for a family weekend city break. A couple of weeks ago saw us do just that for my 5 year old's birthday, we took ourselves off to Manchester for a fun filled weekend.



How did we get there?

I used my old reliable Skyscanner to search out the best prices for the dates we wanted. I bagged a flight to Manchester with Ryanair for just €82.58 for 2 adults and 5 children return including all taxes and charges.



Where did we stay?

After a hunt around the usual discount hotel sites I decided to book with Premier Inn directly as they had a better rate. I booked Premier Inn Manchester City Centre (Portland Street) for 2 nights B&B for 2 adults and 2 children for £175/€197 as it was slap bang in the centre of Manchester. Our room on the 3rd floor was huge with plenty of space even after a king size bed 2 single beds a roll out bed and a travel cot set up. The ladies on reception couldn’t have been more welcoming and even gave Cillian a packet of cookies and a sachet of hot chocolate when they found out it was his birthday.



How did we get from the airport to the hotel?

Easy, it’s a 5 minute walk from the terminal to the train station and we got the train directly to Oxford Road train station which is a 3 minute walk from the hotel. Tickets cost £5/€5.63 for adults and £2.50/€2.82 for children one way, under 5’s travel free. We didn’t get return tickets as Sunday off peak prices were cheaper at £4.80/€5.41 for adults and 50p/56c for children.



What’s to do in Manchester?

Manchester had oodles of things to see and do, so much so that we had to cross some things off our list, we simply couldn’t do them all. We went to the Imperial War Museum, the Science Museum, the Transport Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Museum, Trafford Centre, Legoland Discovery Centre and Manchester Sea Life. We managed to pack in lots of culture including a trip to China Town which was right around the corner from our hotel and educational things as well as the fun stuff.


Did we use public transport to get around?

While Manchester has a constantly expanding tram system it doesn’t go to the intu Trafford Centre so we used the bus as the bus stop was conveniently located right in front of our hotel. The cheapest ticket for a family is the Dayrider Group ticket which can be purchased on the bus costing £7/€7.88 for unlimited use across all bus routes. It’s valid for 2 adults and up to 3 children, under 5’s travel free, it expires at 4pm the following day so it suited us perfectly.




Anywhere in particular we’d recommend in Manchester?


Absolutely, if you’re looking for somewhere for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea I highly recommend a visit to the Sculpture Hall Café in Manchester Town Hall. The Victorian Neo-gothic architecture makes you feel like you’re walking onto a set for a Harry Potter movie. The setting is stunning, leather seats with crisp white linen and sculptures all around, nestled in the middle of a historic building that was completed in 1877. Do you want to know the best bit? The prices are amazing. It cost us just under £30/€33.79 for drinks, fancy cakes for all and a glass of wine for me! I just wish we’d gone there for breakfast; they had my favourite breakfast Eggs Benedict on the menu priced at just £3.95/€4.45. It’s located just across the road from the Art Gallery a stone’s throw from our hotel.

Is there anywhere we wouldn’t recommend?

Unfortunately yes, when we were in the Trafford Centre we decided to go to Mardi Gras (Wetherspoons) for lunch. Let’s just say save your money and go somewhere cleaner with better service.



Cillian had a blast, he was thrilled when they announced it was his birthday on the flight over and he got to see the cockpit when we landed. I let him wear his birthday badge for the weekend so lots of people wished him a happy birthday which he said made him feel famous! Check back next week when I’ll tell you all about Legoland Discovery Centre and Manchester Sea Life.



Have you been to Manchester? Is there anywhere you’d recommend?

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