Walking up the stairs of an office block that houses the hidden cafe hangout that is Ziferblat, I didn't know what to expect. Tucked away on Edge street in Manchester's Northern Quarter, this little gem is easy to miss, yet fits in perfectly with all the quirky and hipster-ish bars and café's in the area. Ziferblat gives you exactly what it says on the tin, or rather, everything it says on its sign outside. "Everything inside is free, except for the time you spend". In my opinion, a brilliant idea.
The place really gives off some wonderful first impressions as you walk into a wide-open space which is brimming with big comfy sofas and chairs, numerous food options and not to mention a kitchen, as well as a workspace area.
Upon entering, all you must do is give your name at the desk for your time in Ziferblat to begin, then you are free to treat the place like your own. And they really do mean like your own! The staff do not serve you, you are free to go into the kitchen and rummage through the cupboards, drawers, the fridge and the even the freezer. You get out the mugs and bowls and make your own tea and cereal (and really there's nothing like your own tea let's be honest).
As we move on from the kitchen over to the general food prep area, you'll find in front of you a selection of cakes, biscuits, bread and cereals all waiting for you in copious amounts. Coffee and juices are also on offer, not to mention an array of fine teas to tickle your fancy.
All the staff ask you to do in return for the endless refreshment is to clean your plates and dishes after using. Quite a fair deal I'd say.
Once refreshed we move onto getting comfy and in Ziferblat it's very easy. The furniture on offer is lavished in a variety of designs and the number of couches and armchairs to choose from will leave you spoilt for choice. A homely feel is definitely given off by the set-up though, the place is so casual that you could even put your feet up and take a nap on the couch if you wish. It's that laid back.
If coming with friends, Ziferblat also offers its own forms of entertainment with board games stacked on shelves ready for you to use at any time, as well as the latest newspapers and even large tubs of Lego (which I would've indulged in, however seeing as I was by myself I thought best not).
The inside décor of this large, open plan room is a definite triumph. From the walls hang some lovely pieces of art. Notice boards can also be spotted around the room which display information on other things that Ziferblat offers. Their event space is open to be rented and used. On each day of the week, they host one event or another, whether its creative writing classes, yoga or even martial arts sessions.
Having been open for just over a year in Manchester, Ziferblat is up there with my choice of hang out spaces. In addition to all the free goodies, they also boast free Wi-Fi and are even dog-friendly! With great disability access, also available. In terms of pricing you are charged 6 pence per minute, equating to £3.60 an hour, which for what they offer is quite a good deal, considering that it could cost you about the same for a Starbucks coffee.
All in all, the next time you find yourself on Edge street in Manchester, keep your eyes peeled for Ziferblat's sign! Perhaps the only critique I can make of Ziferblat is that it may be quite hard to spot, I know I certainly missed it the first few times I walked passed it. Situated right next to the chicken restaurant 'Yard and Coop' all you have to do is press the buzzer on the door to enter truly, a home from home.