With its brown tiled and mosaic facade, The Castle Hotel certainly stands out among the usual Northern Quarter drinking establishments. The pub was first opened in 1776, changing hands and names several times, with its current frontage being added in 1898. Under new ownership since 2009, the current owners have taken great pains to restore the interior very much to its 19th century glory. Over the course of the 20th century, The Castle cemented itself as an important venue for musicians and music fans, with the pub being a popular stopping point before going to Band On The Wall and also hosting the famous 1979 interview between John Peel and Ian Curtis. Today, the concert hall still plays host to gigs, comedy shows and film screenings.
The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester, UK, +44 (0)161 237 9485.
The Marble Arch is home to one of the finest traditional pub interiors in Manchester. The listed building, first built in the 1880’s, has tiled floors and mosaic walls, with grand design which is altogether quite staggering when observed for the first time. In addition to demonstrating the possibilities of pub architecture, there is award winning beer courtesy of the Marble Brewery available, a full bar and a good jukebox. There is also a kitchen which has garnered acclaim among critics and patrons, with booking being required in busy periods. It is quite a small pub but there is plenty here for foodies, real ale lovers and architecture and design buffs.
The Marble Arch, 73 Rochdale Road, Manchester, UK, +44 (0)161 832 5914.
Nestled in the gay village just behind Canal Street is The Molly House, an homage to post-Victorian drinking for ‘discerning gay boys and girls.’ The pub takes its name from 18th century Molly Houses, the precursors to today’s gay bars, where men could meet other men without the fear of persecution. It is split into the ‘tea room’ and ‘bordello’ on the inside and also has an outdoor veranda, all of which are decorated with vintage and delightful shabby chic items. There is a vast array of beers, wines, spirits and cocktails as well as tapas and special lunch and brunch selections. It attracts a diverse clientele which serves as a good reminder that Manchester is one of the original multicultural, liberal cities.
The Molly House, 26 Richmond Street, Manchester, UK, +44 (0)161 237 9329.
One of the classic city centre pubs on the list, in spirit at least, is The Seven Oaks. The interior is simpler than others, with stools generally being used in favour of the more lavish leather sofas and generally more space on the floor than in other pubs. Built in the 1920’s, The Seven Oaks is exemplary of the type of pubs that were being built around this time. There is a good range of real ales, ciders and lagers and a simple but hearty menu of pie and mash. It has a warm and friendly atmosphere, but be warned, it gets very busy when there is football on.
The Seven Oaks, 5 Nicholas Street, Manchester, UK, +44 (0)161 237 1233