If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that we live in Manchester – in fact less than 5 miles from the city centre. So you might find it a little strange that we decided to spend last Saturday night at the Roomzzz Aparthotel Manchester City Corn Exchange but after an intentionally quiet September we were all ready for a little adventure and some quality time together that didn’t involve getting jobs done around the house, watching too much TV or generally not paying each other much attention!
Despite Manchester city centre being on our doorstep, we don’t actually go into town with the children all that often unless it’s for something specific like the Bee in the City tour or a trip to the theatre. There are so many place we’d never explored before so when Roomzzz offered us a night’s stay we decided to take them up on it and make the most of doing something a bit different in our home town.
The Manchester City Corn Exchange Aparthotel is quite possibly one of the most centrally located hotels I’ve ever stayed in. Right opposite the Exchange Square tram stop and within spitting distance of Manchester Victoria Station. Because we didn’t want to have to worry about parking overnight in the city, and to add to the sense of adventure, we decided to get the tram into to town on the Saturday morning dropping our bags off at Roomzzz before walking over to the Science + Industry Museum.
The Science + Industry Museum is free to visit and just shy of a mile’s walk from Roomzzz Manchester Corn Exchange. Ridiculously it was somewhere we hadn’t got round to visiting before, especially as both Ben and Dave have a keen interest in Science and Technology! As it was, by the time we’d had some lunch in the cafe we didn’t even cover half of the museum. I think the boys could have easily spent a full day there, Amy not so much – she loved the practical “Experiment” activities where she could really get hands on but was understandably less interested in some of the other displays and exhibitions. Visiting museums isn’t something we have really done much as a family so it was nice to see how Ben and Chloe were drawn to different exhibitions and to see them reading the information and learning about the things in front of them. Ben and Dave spent ages working on the various puzzles in the Experiment exhibition and the teacher in me took great pleasure in watching Ben persevere and apply his problem solving skills!
Once we had stretched Amy’s interest in the Science + Industry Museum for as long as we could, we stopped for a drink and to share a cake in the cafe before heading back up towards the Roomzzz Aparthotel via M&S to pick up supplies for the evening. Eating out with the kids can be expensive and if I’m honest it wasn’t something we really wanted to do in the middle of Manchester on a Saturday night – instead we decided to treat ourselves to an M&S tea and make the most of the fully fitted kitchen in our apartment. We let everyone choose whatever they fancied (pizza for Ben and Amy, spaghetti bolognese for Chloe) and took it back to Roomzzz to enjoy at our leisure. We slipped up and made the mistake of buying food which couldn’t be cooked in the microwave or on the hob so Dave had to dash back and buy extra meals – luckily M&S was only round the corner and the fact we had a full sized fridge meant we could keep the rest of the food cold and take it home for tea the next night!
Staying in a hotel with young children can be hard work – sharing a bedroom and trying to get everyone to sleep at a reasonable hour is never easy. We’ve done the whole keeping them up a bit late so they’re really tired thing, we’ve done trying to stick to a normal bedtime routine, we’ve hidden in the bathroom and we’ve all gone to bed at the same time . . . We’ve been quite lucky on the whole that our three are pretty good at going to sleep and staying asleep, so the odd night or two in a shared room has been manageable if not ideal. However we’ve now reached the stage where, as a family of five, we don’t fit into your average hotel family room – mostly these allow for two adults and two children plus a travel cot. As soon as the third child is out of the travel cot, they don’t allow you to use a family room despite the fact I know perfectly well that my girls are more than happy to share a single bed together.
Roomzzz provided the ideal set up for us – we had two apartments with an interconnecting door – the children had a smaller room which had an extra single bed set up in it, an ensuite shower room and kitchen space. The apartment Dave and I stayed in was much larger with a separate kitchen & living area (including a dining table and sofa) and a large bathroom with both a bath and shower. Having an interconnecting door meant that we all had our own space but we knew we could easily get to each other without the children having to wander the corridor. The living space was great as we were all able to sit and watch Strictly together on the sofa, or enjoy our meal without having to have a bit of a bed picnic!
Once the kids had finished their tea and were ready for bed, we tucked them all in and allowed them the luxury of watching the rest of Strictly in bed (we don’t have TVs upstairs at home so this was a huge novelty for them!) whilst Dave and I enjoyed our meal in the living room. We couldn’t get over how quiet the apartment was – despite being right in the middle of town and above a number of busy bars and restaurants we never heard a peep from outside on the street or other guests in the building. We were truly cocooned in our own little Roomzzz bubble and it was bliss. I had planned to have a bath and make use of the gorgeous White Company toiletries but I couldn’t get the plug to fit properly so I took myself off for an early night instead! (Just as well really as the kids decided to wake us at 6.15am!)
Roomzzz offer a “Grab and Go” breakfast which is basically hot drinks, juice, yogurt and some pastries – normally I’d be disappointed by this as I like a proper sit down hotel buffet breakfast – but we had big plans for lunch time so didn’t want to be over full anyway! The kids loved being able to choose their breakfast, pop it all into a bag and take it back up to our apartment. It all just felt so relaxed – we weren’t worrying about getting in anyone’s way or disturbing other guests – we could just do our own thing and crack on with the day.
Once we were all packed up we checked out, leaving our bags at Reception for later, and set off for a wander around the shops. We’d given the children a little spending money and Chloe was keen to hit up Smiggle, whereas Ben was all about the LEGO (although the LEGO BB8 he has his heart set on was decidedly out of budget – one for the Christmas list I think!). We took Chloe to Next to try and buy some jeans – I let her pick out a few bits herself too and we went to the changing rooms for a proper try on – not something we’d ever done before so she felt really grown up! We failed on the jeans front (everything that was long enough in the leg was just too big round her waist) but she did fall in love with a pinafore dress which she didn’t really need so I offered to go halves with her. She couldn’t make her mind up so decided to wait till we go shopping with Aunty Custard later this month and see if she still like it as much then.
After we’d finished pottering around the shops, we made our way up to Black Milk in the Northern Quarter – this is somewhere we’ve been meaning to go to for a while but needed to find a good excuse as it’s a serious treat . . . We broke all the rules and didn’t have a proper lunch at all, just ordered massive desserts! If you’re in the mood for a cake based splurge, then Black Milk definitely needs to be on your hit list!
Although we didn’t travel far from home, we felt like we’d had a really good break – we visited places we’d never been to before and took time to explore. Our stay at Roomzzz left us all well rested and feeling that we had really benefited from some quality time together as a family.
* Read more about our thoughts on the Roomzzz Manchester City Corn Exchange Aparthotel here.
* Also, see what Lisa and her family thought of Roomzzz Stratford
* Sarah and her family have also stayed at the Roomzzz Manchester City Corn Exchange
*Thanks to Roomzzz for inviting us to stay free of charge for the purposes of writing about our stay. We have been compensated for our time in creating this content however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*