Below you will find some information about getting to and around Manchester, and about accommodation.
The conference will take place at the Core Technology Facility on Grafton Street, between the main University of Manchester campus, and the University Hospital. The venue is walking-distance from the Oxford Road train station (21 minute talk) and the Piccadilly Station (24 minute walk). Of the two, the walk from Oxford Road Station would be considerably nicer. Alternatively, you can hop on one of the many buses along Oxford Road. It is rumoured to be the busiest bus route in Europe (probably an urban legend), but essentially any bus that says it’s going to or via the University will be fine. Traditionally, you tell the bus driver where you’re going as you get on (for you it’s ‘University’), and they’ll tell you a fare which will be different every time you take the same bus for the same distance at the same time of day. It’s a mystery. This bit of information might turn out to be irrelevant, because the bus fare system in Manchester is about to undergo a revolution that promises to make the fare predictable and not more than £2. We shall see. In any case, they’ll charge you something and you can pay contactless on most, if not all, buses.
Note that a big chunk of Oxford Rd is not accessible to private cars. If you try to order an Uber in that area, double-check the location, because they won’t be able to pick you up from some places.
You will need to arrange your own accommodation. We recommend the Hyatt Regency on Booth Street West. It’s a fifteen minute walk from the conference venue, and also walkable from the city centre. There is a special rate for guests attending an event at the University of Manchester (that’s you!) if you book directly with the hotel. Follow the booking link, click ‘Book now’, choose ‘Corporate Code’ in ‘Special Rate’ and enter the code 138884.
Alternatively, you can choose from one of the many hotels in Manchester City Centre. Anything along Oxford Rd or one of the side streets, up to Whitworth Street or Portland Street or thereabouts, would make sense in terms of distance. If you’d like something more budget-friendly than the Hyatt, the Ibis on Princess Street / Charles Street is a popular choice. You will also find some budget options if you go the other way, i.e. not towards the centre but south-east from the conference venue. These could turn out to be a bit more adventurous. My insight into the Manchester hotel base ends here, but I couldn’t help but notice there’s a new trendy hotel called *The Alan*, and apparently the food’s amazing.
If you’re flying into Manchester, you will need to find a way to get to the city centre from the airport. The fastest way is by train. There’s a train station at the airport, the trains to Piccadilly go regularly, and there are also quite a few trains that go to Oxford Rd. You can get tickets from the machines at the station. The train fare is somewhat unpredictable (you are perhaps beginning to notice a pattern here). The machine has about twenty different fares to choose from. Some are tied to a specific train at a specific time, some are tied to a specific operator, some are for more broadly-defined times of day, and some are fully flexible (any train any time). You could beat the system if you knew which train company you’ll be travelling with, but that is inside information, where ‘inside’ could be interpreted metaphorically (you know the system inside out), or literally (you will find out the operator once you’re inside the station having already bought a ticket). If you’re not an insider, select the Anytime fare (it’ll be something like £5-6). You’ll be overpaying, but try not to think about it.
There is also a tram (called ‘Metrolink’) that goes from the Airport to the City Centre. Astonishingly, this particular mode of transport has a fixed fare system. The ticket costs £4.60 and you can even pay contactless by tapping your debit/credit card at a card reader before you get on, and tapping it again after you get off. Unfortunately, your enjoyment of this futuristic innovation might be spoilt by the tram snaking through Manchester suburbs for 50 minutes.
There is a lot of disruption to the rail services in the UK at the moment. The London-Manchester route is particularly affected, there are many cancellations and it’s difficult to get tickets. For that reason, we do not recommend flying to London and trying to catch a train to Manchester from there.
Further on the subject of disruptions, there will be rail strikes on 5th and 7th November. You are advised not to travel on those days, and disruption on the day after a strike day is also very likely. If you’re travelling to the airport from the city centre on 5th November, take the tram.