Ryan Giggs on the Manchester he loves

Ryan Giggs has gone from United legend to successful entrepreneur, with a string of ventures in the city, including the boutique, five star Stock Exchange Hotel which is due to open later this year. Here, Giggsy tells us why Manchester is so important to him.

My earliest memory of Manchester is...

I was born in Cardiff and moved to Salford when I was seven, so one of my earliest memories was making friends with kids in the area by playing curby and wallie in the street.
Then as I got older, we used to go to the Arndale every Saturday after football.
I’d go into town with £1.
I’d spend 10p on the bus, 30p on a chippy, and with what I had left I used to go to the joke shop and buy some bangers.
We also used to hang around Stolen From Ivor, and when I thought I was a bit more cool, I went to Afflecks Palace, and sometimes to the underground market.
Tapas restaurant El Gato Negro on King Street, Manchester (Image: Photo by Joby Catto / www.anti-l)

My favourite place to eat in Manchester is...

In the city centre, El Gato Negro.
It’s really authentic Spanish food and has a great atmosphere.
I could probably recite the menu by heart.
They do this one dish called Bikini, it’s a toasted sandwich with jamón ibérico and manchego and I order it every time I go.
And wings of course, it’s by far the best Chinese in the city!
There’s also a family-run Italian in Swinton where I grew up called Puccini's, it's one of my favourite places to eat.
I’ve been going there with my family for more than 20 years, my two children are big fans too and have had lots of birthdays there.
Café Football in Hotel Football Old Trafford is a regular of mine and all of the Class of 92 lads, I probably eat there at least twice a week for lunch or breakfast, it’s just good, well cooked food and it’s really relaxed.

My favourite Manchester bar or nightclub is…

When I was younger my go-to places like the Hacienda, it had such a unique sound, we used to go quite a lot on a Saturday after a game and Boardwalk, to Yellow on a Friday night, where it’s been known for me to throw a few shapes!
I couldn’t go to Boardwalk as often as the Hacienda though as I would normally be playing on a Saturday.
Nowadays, its Albert's Schloss and Mojos.
Both have great music and a nice chilled vibe, but if you go to Mojos, you know it’s a big one.
I also really enjoy a few classes of wine in George's in Worsley on a Friday night when there’s a live singer on.

My favourite place to shop in Manchester is...

I’m not a big shopper to be honest, I prefer to do it online.
But when I do come into Manchester to shop, I go to Flannels in Spinningfields.
The buyer, Tim is a good friend of mine and he knows my style and what I like.
We have a good relationship, even though he’s a Scouser!
Ryan Giggs at Hotel Football (Image: Dominic Salter)

The last gig or show I saw in Manchester was…

It was quite a long time ago... U2 at the Manchester Arena.
I also saw Oasis at the Apollo.
I have to admit, I’ve not actually been to that many gigs, I don’t know why I haven’t because I’ve really enjoyed the ones I have been to and I love live music.

My favourite hidden gem in Manchester is…

Gary and I bought a hidden gem a few years ago… the old Stock Exchange on Norfolk Street.
It’s a Grade II listed building and we’re turning it into a boutique five-star hotel.
The team is doing a brilliant job at restoring it to its former glory, especially the dome which used to be the trading floor.
There are so many of the original features including the marble, woodwork and stained glass still in fantastic condition, more than 100 years later, so it will be a very unique addition to the hotel and hospitality industry here in the city.
Stock Exchange Hotel is set to open at the end of 2019 (Image: MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS)

The best Manchester band of all time is...

I’m a fan of The Stone Roses and Oasis but I grew up with The Stone Roses and Fools Gold is my all-time favourite song.
I’ve met Ian and Mani as they are both big United fans.
Mani came onto the team bus as we were about to leave for the San Siro in our quarter-final game in ‘99 against Inter Milan.
He shouted down the bus: “Lads make sure you get them slapped!” to the bemusement of Sir Alex – and we did slap them too!
The first time I met Ian Brown was at a furniture shop, but that’s more of a boring story.

Manchester has everything except...

A good park in the city centre.
That’s one of the great things about London and New York, the green spaces they have right in the city centre.
Also, the traffic is an absolute joke at the moment so our traffic system needs sorting out.
I know this is something that Andy Burnham is working on, together with homelessness.

People’s biggest misconception about Manchester is...

That it rains all of the time.
It actually only rains most of the time!
No seriously, I think the biggest misconception is that’s there’s only one big football club, there’s actually two - Manchester United and Salford City FC.

The thing I love most about Manchester is...

The people and the fact that it has something for everyone.
We’ve got incredible sporting venues, we’ve got MediaCity and you only need to look at the number of cranes in the city – I heard we have the most in Europe - to know that it’s progressive.
It’s a forward thinking city, on the up.
I really enjoy Christmas in Manchester too, the markets are one of the biggest in Europe and seem to get bigger every year.
Manchester is an exciting place to live and have businesses in, as it’s open to change.
And you only need to look at what we’re doing with UA92 to see that, it’s a game changing university concept.
Hotel Football is located across the road from Old Trafford and offers a number of unique features, including a rooftop pitch and event space, Café Football on the ground floor and Old Trafford Supporters Club in the basement.
To book and for more information visit www.hotelfootball.co.uk.
Stock Exchange Hotel is set to open at the end of 2019, for more information and for pre-opening enquiries visit www.stockexchangehotel.co.uk
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