or “Alty on the cheap”
Bargain rates for Travelodge are few and far between recently, but I did get 2 nights in Altrincham for £24 a night during the Beer Festival which can’t be beat. You do have to avert your gaze as the tram passes Old Trafford, though falling asleep on the way back from Piccadilly on Thursday had the same effect.
I’ve used Alty a few times to get into Manchester; it’s a quick (20 minutes) ride and there’s free street parking if you know where to look in the posh bits towards Hale. The one time I stayed overnight it seemed a bit quiet, and the pub scene quite staid. Jeff Bell recently wrote about Costellos, a Chorlton-style beer café in the town’s most atmospheric square, but that’s been the only new Beer Guide entry for some time.
Compared to, say, Chorlton up the road, it does feel more like a proper town, with proper shops (Iceland) and a proper football ground. Its Beer Guide pubs have included some real boozers over the years, including a good Sam Smiths (Malt Shovels). There’s busy traffic both sides of the shopping centre though, and that does tend to take some of the shine off some otherwise attractive streets.
The Old Market Place is the gem, with some still-wonderful black and white buildings, stained glass and two Beer Guide regulars. The Orange Tree is up for let, but the Old Market Tavern was going strong on Thursday night, offering some low-key acoustic music and decent local beer (NBSS 3).
Yesterday I found some real signs of life in the old town. The most striking of these was the developments in and around the Market Place itself. After the best chicken baguette imaginable at Nationale 7, I stumbled on the stunning Market House, a collection of upmarket foodie places to rival Borough Market. Too expensive for me of course, but one to treat Mrs RM to on a return visit.
Altrincham has long had a branch of the excellent Pi opposite the market, and some Belgian bars I’ve avoided, but Stamford New Road looks to be finally waking up as well.
Ultimately though, Altrincham is a perfect place from which to access by train the greatest drinking town in the world, as I did 20 years ago and last night :-