Shropshire Star

Travel review: Scran, bevvies and shopping in Liverpool

My name is Caroline and I am a Christmas panic buyer.

The Christmas markets in Liverpool. Picture: VisitLiverpool

Yes I am one of those people. I clog up the tills the day before Christmas Eve, frantically trying to find thoughtful gifts for my loved ones, shoving people out of my way and getting irritated by the fact that I, and so many others, have left everything until the last minute. Again.

And even when I’m not panic buying in the lead-up to the big day, I’m panicking that I am not panic buying with all the other panic buyers. My mind races with the question of what are they panicking about that I have forgotten to panic about?

This year I decided to change my ways and on Saturday I headed to Liverpool with a friend to do some calm and relatively early Christmas shopping.

Having been one of my favourite cities to visit since childhood, I know that Liverpool is not just for Christmas. There truly is something for everyone throughout the year.

I have some very happy childhood memories of visiting Liverpool with my parents and grandparents, and on my visits over the years I have seen how the city has transformed. It keeps changing and developing and every time I visit I find something new to do. It is impossible to get bored in this wonderful city.

Last weekend, as we headed into December, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the big city. The lights were sparkling, faces were glowing and the festive drinks were flowing.

The new me was going to pick out some wonderful, kind and thoughtful gifts for my loved ones...while sampling the many gastronomic delights that Liverpool has to offer.

Bar Hutte in Liverpool ONE. Picture: VisitLiverpool

It was an early morning start (well for a Saturday) as we boarded the train at Ruabon excited about what the weekend ahead would bring.

A cheeky gin later and we were in the mood for a boozy, foodie, shoppie... you name it... mini break.

After leaving our bags at our accommodation, we headed off in search of some fun Liverpool-style and would head back to check in later.

Ready to shop / drink till we dropped our search took us to Liverpool ONE, a very short walk away from our apartment.

I was delighted to track down my house of worship, John Lewis. The Nespresso shop was a favourite with me. I usually buy my Nespresso pods online so it was great to be able to have a wander, try out some samples, and get advice on the different blends. A trip to the Disney shop reminded us that Christmas was in full flow as we fought our way through to the tills to buy a Mickey Mouse snow globe for my friend’s little girl.

Bill's restaurant in Liverpool ONE

It was definitely time for a refreshment break.

We made our way to Bill’s restaurant a short walk away in Liverpool ONE. This place is a must for hungry shoppers. I had heard good things and read some fantastic reviews – and the staff and food did not disappoint.

We received a warm welcome and were shown to our booth. Our much-needed drinks were swiftly delivered and it was time to refuel with a festive lunch. I had a glance at the impressive choices on the regular menu, but as we were both feeling festive, we decided to order from the Christmas menu. I went for smoked chicken terrine to start, the pigs in blankets mac and cheese for main and chocolate orange mousse for dessert.

My friend opted for the feta, walnut, cranberry and apple salad to start, pan fried seabass for main followed by Christmas sticky toffee pudding. The food tasted as good as it sounds and lived up to our expectations. A real must for tired and hungry shoppers.

A view of the Christmas markets from the big wheel fairground ride

Heading back to the shops we stumbled, quite literally, upon Bar Hutte, located underneath the famous Liverpool ONE Christmas tree. We were drawn in by the festive music, oh and the selection of winter warmer drinks including toffee apple cider and hot toddies. Our little hutte was warm and cosy, drinks were delivered and we tucked into some mini mince pies before building up the courage to have a go on our personal karaoke machine. A couple of drinks later we were singing our hearts out. From the reaction of passers-by I think it’s safe to say I do not have the voice of an angel.

Feeling rather merry we had a further wander around the shops then it was time to head back to our accommodation.

The new Quest apartments in the heart of Liverpool city centre are an ideal choice for a mini break. A real home from home, our apartment had everything you could wish for and the city centre location is ideal – everywhere we wanted to visit was only a very short walk away.

The shops in Liverpool ONE. Picture: VisitLiverpool

After a relaxing hour in front of our TV we headed out for some dinner. We made our way to Pho Vietnamese restaurant on Bold Street. A family-run business famous for serving healthy and fresh Vietnamese street food, this is another that didn’t disappoint.

We both opted for a rice bowl, I chose crispy beef in betal leaf, while my friend opted for the chargrilled pork. Both were an absolute delight, fresh and bursting with flavour. This was my first taste of Vietnamese food and it is certainly something I would definitely head back to this restaurant for. It was absolutely delicious.

After a comfortable night’s sleep it was time for more retail therapy / eating / drinking. A welcome healthy breakfast of yoghurt, fruit and orange juice was delivered to our apartment door which set us up for the morning.

Quest apartments in Liverpool city centre

We decided to head over to Liverpool’s Christmas markets at St George’s Plateau. We were greeted by a host of stalls offering a range of delicious food and drink, and others offering unique Christmas gifts for people of all ages. The markets were incredibly busy and the atmosphere was warm and inviting. There was time for another quick wander around the shops in Liverpool ONE before it was time to head home.

Our plan for the day had included a visit to Kasbah Moroccan restaurant on Bold Street which I had read great things about, but unfortunately we ran out of time.

During our stay we had also wanted a trip to the famous Beatles Museum on Mathew Street, which is home to the largest collection of authentic Beatles items in the world. Unfortunately though, time ran away with us.

View from Quest apartments in Liverpool city centre

With so much to see and do in this incredibly busy city, it is difficult to get everything you want to see into an overnight stay.

They will be must visits, among other places, for our next visit in the new year. After all, Liverpool is for life, not just for Christmas.

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