Disclaimer: The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.
I love Manchester, and I feel so lucky that we live here. Why? I hear you ask. We have traveled up and down the country as a family of 4 – with additional needs A LOT in recent years with my voluntary work and blogging partnerships and I kid you not, there has been no other place in England, Scotland or Wales that was more accessible than here at home. I remember when we first went to London and thinking because it’s the capital, major tourist attraction etc it’d have amazing access everywhere for a wheelchair user like myself, however, upon our arrival it was like we’d turned the clock back a decade. Half of their tube and platform access is non-existent! It was crazy how hard it was to simply get around.
When we travel, I always use hotels.com and search e.g serviced apartments Manchester because unlike a lot of budget hotel websites (we won’t name names) hotels.com allows you to search for hotels with specific features such as having connecting rooms (great if you need a carer with you) and facilities like having an accessible bathroom, path of travel, in-room accessibility – which includes room for a wheelchair user to navigate, emergency cords, sockets up high etc, roll-in shower and wheelchair accessible rooms in general. They let you book the hotel accessible room right there on the website and you get that same deal as everyone else. No faffing around booking directly with the hotel for double the price, just for the guarantee of an accessible room and it allows people with disabilities to have the same spontaneity when it comes to booking a night away!
We decided our first stop had to be The Printworks, it’s been a while since we’ve been to see a film together as a family and with the girls out of school for half-term it seemed the perfect opportunity! The Printworks is a wealth of entertainment from the Vue cinema, to bowling and arcades, to big-name restaurants like Nando’s, Frankie & Benny’s and Bella Italia. Just a 3-minute walk from Victoria Station makes the location ideal for anybody traveling on public transport and most importantly is all level or lift access!
We were spoilt for choice for kids’ movies, what with the new Addams Family, Abominal and the latest Shaun the Sheep, it was quite difficult to choose. Our 7-year-old loves anything like Hotel Transylvania and their Dad (the 3rd child) was itching to see it, so it was a no-brainer, especially with Halloween just around the corner that we went with cartoon remake of this creepy classic! This trip was that bit extra special because it was Ava’s, our 4-year-olds first cinema experience.
We paid just under £30 for 2 adults and 2 children under 12, which was surprisingly reasonable = especially as you end up spending a lot of money on food. The girls thoroughly enjoyed the film, despite never growing up with the Addams family. The producers did their best changing it up to cater to this generation which wasn’t to our liking, BUT it was lovely to actually sit and watch a film the whole way through at the big screen with the girls for the first time ever!
Treetop Adventures Mini Golf
Next, we decided to check out a fairly new addition to The Printworks – Treetop Adventures Mini Golf. Scouring their website the night before to check the wheelchair access, I was pleasantly surprised to read that the whole golf course was supposedly wheelchair/pushchair friendly which to be honest I’ve never come across before. Usually, companies don’t put much thought into wheelchair users wanting to participate in family activities like mini-golf, that’s why we’d never got to dabble in some healthy family competition before now. So a big Thank You going out to the designers behind the scene of this venue!
You have two landscape options to choose between – Tropical Trail and Ancient Explorer, Abbie picked the later and to be honest it felt like being inside the game Crash Bandicoot! The lady behind the desk kitted us out with clubs and gave me a special version meant for wheelchair users, the difference being that it was more lightweight and had a hinged club part which was really interesting. As we’d never played mini-golf together before, it was funny how competitive we got and the girls loved exploring each part of the 18-hole golf course as some features are animated when you get a hole-in-one. I would say it is wheelchair accessible for anybody who doesn’t have a particularly wide powerchair, but those with mid-wheel drives would struggle to get over the 3″ step ridges between course areas. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun.
To be honest this place needs a review blog all on its own so watch out for that in the future!
Time to Eat!
By now the girls had started tugging at us exclaiming their starvation, so it was time to look for somewhere to eat as it was now late afternoon.
Frankie & Benny’s has always been a winner for us. With a picky eater, it kind of dictates where we go and we know Abbie will find something she likes at F&B. Saving the mealtime battle for another day, today was all about having fun as a family.
Abbie and Ava shared the 10” Vegan Margherita Pizza, with cheese alternative of course and some healthy sweet potato fries. Daddy had his favourite Frankie and Benny’s Classic Meatball with Penne dish and I went for the Vegan Penne Mushroom Bianca. I don’t drink due to medication so instead, I treated myself to a Cucumber & Lemon Spritz Mocktail which was absolutely delicious, the beauty of it being non-alcoholic is that the girls helped me polish it off. Sadly, I still have no choice but to restrict my fluid intake drastically when out and about through lack of Changing Places toilet facilities. Want to learn more? Check out my Changing Places Campaign content.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without giving in to the girls chants for ice cream for their afters, which was the cherry on the top to finish a wonderful day out!
We’d like to thank Hotels.com for this collab, giving our family the opportunity of an impromptu day out this half-term.
Do you have any recommendations for families with access needs to visit in the Manchester area? We’d love to hear them!