Manchester has always been a hive of activity with plenty to see and do - and the city seems to be buzzing all the more with its recent regenerations.
There’s been a major influx of people and businesses at Salford Quays, dubbed the “new city on the old canal” which now houses the MediaCity, the new home of the BBC, ITV, Coronation Street and the University of Salford.
The docks gleam with glass and steel and house the Imperial War Museum North and the Lowry Centre as well as offices, apartments, shops and restaurants - all adding to the vibrance of Manchester as a whole, being accessible within 15 minutes by tram from the city centre.
We were staying in Manchester’s centre, at Roomzzz Aparthotel which provided a luxurious base for us to explore the city.
Each apartment has a well-equipped kitchen, a computer with free wifi and there is a 24 hour concierge.
A handy pantry full of living essentials like toiletries, milk, groceries and ready meals is available in reception but the building sits opposite Chinatown, where the scent of delicious food wafted across and proved too enticing for us to resist for that evening’s meal (and we weren’t disappointed).
The next day we wolfed down Roomzzz’s complementary grab and go breakfast - tea/coffee, fruits, pastries and juice - to fuel our day of exploring.
We indulged in hours of shopping as the city spoils you for choice with its unique, quaint shops as well as high street chains.
In the trendy Northern Quarter, Afflecks Palace, on Church Street, is worth a visit. The building houses fabulous individual, quirky stores and there was something for all of us to look at.
There was vintage clothes a-plenty, for creative kids there were craft shops as well as jewellery, fun accessories and a skate shop.
Although the rain tried to put us off there were yet more retailers braving the weather to sell their wares at The Piccadilly craft and gift market, with beautiful cards, glass art and jewellery as well as sweets for the kids and flowers.
We also stumbled across Fashion and Vintage market on Tib Street. Now a Manchester institution, the next-big-things of the fashion world are here, showing off their gorgeous clothes, bags and accessories which can be from any era or any country.
Manchester’s popular Christmas markets will also be popping up from November 17.
Other family attractions in the city included the People’s History Museum, in a £12.3, redevelopment beside the River Irwell at Spinningfields, which charts the history of democracy and social equalities in the UK.
One of the country’s finest art collections can be found at Manchester Art Gallery, on Mosley street, which recently underwent a £35m transformation and has hands-on activities for children.
Thill-seekers should make their way to Trafford Park to experience indoor skydiving at Airkix - if you’re brave enough.
Backpackers’ and travellers’ bible Lonely Planet recently described Manchester as ‘truly special’ in its most recent guide to the UK.
For those who may have taken the city for granted, being so close to our doorstep, would do well to pay it another visit soon and also explore the bustling Salford Quays.
It all has the big-city excitement factor - especially for the children - but also keeps its own unique character, promising something for everyone.
Roomzzz Aparthotels offer spacious apartments in Leeds and Manchester, with affordable pricing and the option to stay from one night to a year.
The aparthotels also reward loyalty with its The Royalty Club scheme.
Its silver membership card is free to join and offers a ten per cent discount.
The gold membership card is issued on staying 25 room nights per year and offers a 15 per cent discount.
The platinum membership gard is issued on staying 75 room nights per year and offers a 20 per cent discount, complementary upgrade and late check-out.
On select days between November 11 until the end of March 2012, Royalty Club members can get 50 per cent off all apartments.
Visit www.roomzzz.co.uk or www.visitmanchester.com for more information.