A long, hot and rather stuffy summer in Dubai left me feeling a little homesick. So, as you can imagine, when I was invited by Visit Manchester to jet back to Blighty, a mere 30 minutes from my childhood home (and my mum’s corned beef hash), I jumped at the chance. I’ve always thought that I knew the city of Manchester like the back of my hand, but reading through my trip itinerary I realised there were many stones unturned, and could not wait to re-discover a city bursting with history and culture. Map at the ready, it was time to be a tourist on my own turf.

On arrival we were whisked off to our four-star accommodation, and when travelling in style there’s only one place to stay – The Midland. A Manchester landmark in itself it first opened its doors in 1903 and has since welcomed guests such as Winston Churchill and Bob Dylan. It’s also the very spot where Mr Rolls and Mr Royce formed their partnership, depicted in a relief just outside the hotel’s entrance. After check-in, we headed to our rooms to unpack. My suitcase was alarmingly bigger than others, the weight of which I blamed on bulky winter coats and boots, the truth being that I always pack way more clothes than needed.

Walking around the vast corridors you feel the presence of the hotel’s fascinating history, where old letters and postcards of past guests hang on the walls, some dating back almost 100 years. My room was to be my haven for the next three nights, and that it was. A ridiculously comfy bed made me hit the snooze button a few times too many, and complimentary Wi-Fi ensured I could check in with work whilst donning my Midland robe and catching up on some much missed UK TV. After a spruce up, we headed down to the hotel’s 2 AA Rosette awarded restaurant, The French. Fun facts: David and Victoria Beckham had their first date here and The Beatles were once refused entry for being inappropriately dressed. The food was sensational, some of the tastiest sea bass I’ve ever eaten, and of course I managed to fit in a chocolate soufflé for dessert – delish!

Following a much needed night’s sleep, we reconvened in the lobby for a walking tour of Manchester. First stop, the Town Hall, a Victorian neo-gothic building dating back to 1877 that stands proud in Albert Square. As well as being the city’s municipal offices, Hollywood blockbusters The Iron Lady and Sherlock Holmes filmed scenes within its walls. Lancashire was once integral to a huge cotton industry, and The Royal Exchange (now a theatre) traded the spun yarn to the rest of the world. Manchester was originally named Cottonopolis for this very reason.

After a day of walking off last night’s meal, it was time to eat again, so we headed to the recently developed area of Spinningfields, home to Mulberry, Armani and our destination for the evening, Australasia. The entrance to the restaurant is via a glass pyramid, taking you beneath the shops and offices to one of Manchester’s hottest spots. I managed to squeeze in three courses, one being the prettiest dessert I’ve ever seen; pink meringues with rosewater ice cream. Post dinner we checked out The Alchemist. Known for it’s extensive list of creative cocktails, it’s a great place to end the day.

Time to shop! We had a lovely treat in store at Selfridges; lunch in Aubaine, followed by an OPI manicure in the impressive beauty hall, and a mini make over with the girls at the Armani counter. Of course, I didn’t leave empty handed, my arms were adorned with the renowned yellow bags.

The afternoon was spent exploring a few of the city’s museums, People’s History, National Football Museum (Manchester is home to two of the UK’s biggest football teams), Whitworth Art Gallery and Platt Hall Gallery of Costume. The latter houses a great display of fashion throughout the decades, including archival issues of women’s magazines. A must visit is John Rylands Library on Deansgate; a stunning building that holds some of the world’s oldest and rarest books.

Our final day saw us hop on the Metro to Salford Quays, an area of the city that has been totally regenerated and is home to the likes of Old Trafford, Media City UK and The Lowry – a theatre dedicated to the famous English artist. You can see his work hanging inside the theatre, capturing factory workers amidst industrial landscapes in the early to mid 20th Century. After a wander round the Outlet Mall and a Millie’s Cookie store, it was time to bid farewell to Manchester.

Four days of exploring left me with a newfound love for a city I had totally underestimated and in the words of Dorothy Gale: “There’s no place like home.”