Your 2019 guide to Northampton (and a bit beyond)…
Want to visit but have no idea what to see, do and try? We do! We do!
It’s been over a year since we did the Insider’s Guide to Northampton, so we reckoned you lot might like a wee update. Northampton has had its fair share of ups and downs in recent years, but like the phoenix from the flames, it seems to be finding its footing (shoe town, geddit?), and putting its name back on the map. There are some fantabulous places to eat, drink, shop and stay (we’ve strayed out of the town borders into neighbouring towns for some bits, but they’re worth it), many of which you tell us about. So here they are in one handy place; your favourites and our favourites. Step inside…
Rise and shine! Start your day off right by enjoying some of the best sourdoughs, croissants and Scotch Eggs at Magee Street Bakery; these guys really do know good food. If you’re an early riser you’re in luck as these delicious treats tend to sell out fast, yup, that’s how good they are (Muddy Ed once stood on the pavement and ate a sausage roll; such was her eagerness to partake).
You’ve all probably seen the renaissance of St Giles Street, and it offers some lovely little cafes perfect for a cheeky brunch. One of Northampton’s much loved cafes, Dreams Coffee Lounge, rarely disappoints, serving a large selection of breakfast options including their vegetarian breakfast. Another guarantee for delish food is The Bread & Butter Factory, who always seem to deliver some new and exciting dishes (don’t forget to try their plate of Eggs Bens’ so louche it might actually be illegal). Bringing a little French luxury to Northampton, Café Marseille is a hidden gem, beautifully decorated and serves some mouthwatering options, perfect for lunch with a selection of macaroons, cakes and croissants for a little treat after. Caffe’d’Italia in the town centre has amazing coffee, tasty Italian food (especially the Tiramisu!) and a great atmosphere. Just sit down and start talking! Located bang in the middle of the town centre, the quirkily designed Zapato Lounge offers a good selection of food including a vegan and gluten free menu and the best part is that its dog friendly! It’s a chain, but we’ve included it because inner town dog-friendly places are rare (especially ones that serve proper cocktails). If you are around on a Sunday, head to The Old White Hart for one of the best Sunday roasts in town. Time for dinner? The Lighthouse offers decent fish and chips, but if you are not a lover of fish, check out their great tasting pies using 100% free range British meat and the freshest ingredients. If it’s date night or if you fancy a little luxury, the stunning Church Bar & Restaurant is a 12th century building serving a fabulous A La Carte menu, in a warm, friendly environment.
If you’re anything like us and love gin, then enjoy some of the finest flavours to suit all taste buds at Gin and Temple, a cozy and intimate gin bar in the town centre. Let one of the four passionate and knowledgeable experts pick your flavour for you and relax with friends or family. If beer is your drink of choice, do not miss Maule Collective Bar, a stylish and Scandi-industrial setting offering 20 lines of beer including Alphabet and Cloud Water.
You can even take some home if you can’t decide on what one you like best! You can also enjoy a selection of wines and cocktails that are put together by trained cocktail heroes. The Old House is a stylish pub and kitchen, with comfy seating and open fireplaces to kick back and relax in front of, with a drink from the large selection on offer. The Victorian building is located on the corner of The Wellingborough Road, a short walk from the town centre. A little place but big on choice, Beer Guerrilla caters to the craft beer and ale lovers. With limited seating, this is a bijoux place to treat your hubby, or yourself to a new flavour whilst you enjoy a delicious cider or soft drink. If you enjoy it that much you can take home their iconic Beer Guerrilla Growler, where they fill it up with your favourite beers or cider straight from the tap. If a cosy pub is more you, Northamptonshire has some lovely little gems to choose from. The Cromwell Cottage, Yeoman of England, Britannia and Brampton Halt are some of our favourites.
The ‘oldest new brewery in the country’, Phipps NBC and Albion Brewery Bar, has been in Northampton for over a century and it delivers an atmosphere of entertainment, pub food, award-winning beer, and original gin. It’s located at the bottom of Bridge Street, the more ‘youff’ nightlife hotspot of the town. The Princess Alexandra boasts good beer and a friendly neighbourhood vibe. Pull up a seat in front of the log burner, get the papers out, and relax. They also do awesome pizzas and a nice selection of drinking nibbles. A pub that’s recently been revamped and reopened is the The Wedgwood in the heart of Northampton. Whether you’re after a chilled meal or a wild night out, they specialise in both. The roof terrace is one of the town centre’s destination spots; the hanging lights illuminating many an early evening meal, after work drink and late night get together. Did someone say cocktails and supper? If you’re wanting to feel just a little bit exclusive, Haycock and Tailbar on Derngate is a basement bar where you can enjoy fine drinks and good conversation (some of the BEST cocktails we’ve tasted). Sometimes you have to call beforehand, sometimes you can just get in; we play roulette and leave it to chance (when we’re feeling dangerous). If you’re looking to let go of your inhibitions a wee bit, Sazerac cocktail bar is quite cool, although it can be a bit hit or miss (sometimes VERY busy and rowdy). It does offer bar-tending masterclasses though, after which you can dance like no one’s watching in their ‘Back Room Club’. Budget for an Uber home.
Coffee lovers we have you covered, be sure to check out Yellow Bourbon Coffee, The Grain Coffee House and The Old Grocery Espresso Bar, just some of our favourite places to get that little pick me up we all need now and again.
Yeah Premier Inn and Ibis tick a location box, but who doesn’t love a stay in a luxurious hotel occasionally? After extensive refurbishment, Barton Hall located in Barton Seagrave near Kettering is a beaut. It’s a grade II listed building with 29 bespoke bedrooms, many with period features adding to the boutique style atmosphere. Full of character and charm, this is a place worth visiting (we’ve been twice). Whittlebury Hall is a fave for the spa crowd (winner of The Muddy Best Spa Award no less). Located in our beautiful countryside, the hotel offers a huge spa area and is a great option for large groups or even get lost on your own. The Poplars Hotel is an awarded guest accommodation in the picturesque village of Moulton, just under five miles from the town centre. A traditional stone-built property offering guests a luxurious stay and a 4-star experience. With a room to suit all budgets, guests can enjoy a night in a relaxed atmosphere with delicious home cooked meals.
Voni Blu on Castillian Street which is in the Cultural Quarter of Northampton offers a lovely selection of womenswear fashion pieces, stocking designer, luxury pieces, it’s a true independent. Browse the selection of clothing, accessories, perfumes and more in this relaxed boutique; the owner is very passionate which keeps the regulars going back. A tres cool place to shop is 32 The Guild, also located in the Cultural Quarter. Serving an eclectic selection of brands and suppliers of fashion, gifts, fragrances and more; there is something for everyone. The founders are footwear designers, which is evident in their personalised service providing quality and craftsmanship (check out some of the goods here).
Whilst you shop you can enjoy a coffee from their espresso bar. No wonder it was voted The Times Boutique of the week and Drapers lifestyle independent of 2017. Another shop you are bound to love is Mooch; again located in the Cultural Quarter, we can’t seem to get enough of it can we? the Mooch empire is growing, with a shop on Kingsthorpe Road, one in Bell interiors and a very new one in Olney, all offering a beautiful range of gifts and homeware. It’s a lovely, warm and relaxed shop with friendly staff who always go above and beyond, finding you the perfect gift for someone or yourself. If you are after a new candle, piece of art, cushion or just something to freshen up your home, Mooch is the smart place to go. Story is another boutique who source clothing, accessories and gifts from far and wide. Whether you are looking for something to wear or something you didn’t think you needed, Story will spoil you for choice. Hidden away in St Crispins Retail Village, this little gem is a perfect place to discover something new and exciting.
HEALTH AND BEAUTY:
Just opened, NO34 Beauty is the go-to spot for a variety of services including dermaplaning, HD brows and even bridal hair and make-up. Ran by make-up expert Aimee Garner and skin queen Ruth Barron-Munns, this is a welcoming place to come out feeling like a queen! Lynsey Jess is a professional make-up artist who runs her own home-based salon in Upton. Offering waxing, nail, facials and tanning treatments as well as men’s grooming and junior treatments you can sit back, relax and enjoy. One for the gents, well they’re spoilt for choice really. Dapper Chaps, The Gentleman’s Quarters, Teddy’s Barber Shop and Aces Barber Shop are some of the best places to treat your other half or your son or brother or any man in your life to a fresh trim, with additional treatments including beard trims and shaves (we love a beard oil here at Muddy).
THINGS TO DO:
Northamptonshire has some gems for an amble around. Take in the surroundings at Castle Ashby, Stanwick Lakes, Irchester Country Park or Delapre Abbey, just to name a few. Rushden Lakes is not only great for some shopping but a place you can explore on their nature trail or hire a canoe and head onto the water and explore the Nene waterways. Rushden Lakes is also great for the kids, with their new Rock Up climbing centre where you can let your kids climb on the 26 walls or play in the soft play area (yup, we’ve been and conquered). If the weather isn’t on your side you can visit The Northampton Filmhouse, a luxury cinema with comfy, spacious seating that shows arthouse and blockbuster movies. Oh, and our favourite part, you can take in wine, yay! If you are looking for something a little unique and exciting to do, Trapp’d is an immersive escape experience where you will have to work as a team to search for clues to escape, good luck.
Contributing words: Ciaran McGonigle