Travel: Let’s live it up in Liverpool
Think Liverpool and, a survey says, eight out of 10 people will think of The Beatles.
The other two were thinking football – apparently there are one or two good teams up there.
Though if pressed many will remember Liverpool was the European Capital of Culture in 2008, the ferry across the Mersey will get a mention, the Cavern, the huge shopping centre, Albert Dock and possibly the impressive cathedrals.
Because there is so much more to Liverpool than four chaps who had a few hits (sorry Beatles fans) and 22 blokes chasing a ball (not sorry at all).
Liverpool has something for the whole family – and it’s just a short drive up the M6. It actually boasts more museums and galleries than anywhere in the UK outside London.
The waterfront is a Unesco World Heritage Site. A key draw to the area is Albert Dock – the reinvented former warehouse and dock buildings now home to a vibrant nightlife.
Among the attractions in this area are the Tate Gallery, The Beatles Story, Mersyside Maritime Museum and the striking Museum of Liverpool which opened just 10 years ago and houses 6,000 exhibits.
On the waterfront is the Ferry across the Mersey which no doubt has at least one person singing the Gerry and the Pacemakers song on every trip.
A must-see is the British Music Experience. From a Queen drum kit to Bowie outfits, Adele lyrics and a Honey G jacket there are exhibits from every generation with genres ranging from Skiffle and jazz to New Romantic and Madchester, heavy metal and glam rock to Britpop.
Exhibits come to life with holograms and interactive displays – and you get to play the drums, guitar, keyboards, practice dance moves and even record a song. Such fun!
The experience is situated in the Cunard Building one of the Three Graces, landmark buildings on Pier Head including the Royal Liver Building and iconic Liver Bird statues and the Port of Liverpool Building.
From here it is a short walk to Mathew Street and the famous Cavern quarter, a Mecca for Beatles, Cilla Black and in fact all music fans.
The main Fab Four sights can be visited on a number of city bus tours. We joined the City Sights Beatles and City Tour which lasts 90 minutes and includes such landmarks as Penny Lane and John Lennon’s home but also takes in many city sights. If you aren’t interested in the Beatles there is a 60-minute city-only tour. Both are hop on and hop off buses.
Impressive landmarks in the city are the Anglican Liverpool Cathedral and the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. The traditional building has a panoramic view of the city – guaranteed to take your breath away after the 108 stairs to get 150m above sea level.
The Catholic building opened in 1967 and is a circular design, hence the nickname Paddy’s Wigwam, with stunning coloured glass and artworks.
To enjoy some retail therapy hit Liverpool One which has 170 shops, bars and restaurants. While the nearby Bold Street has been voted one of the best shopping streets in the country by Lonely Planet and has many independent stores selling funky clothes and art with a host of interesting places to eat too. We lunched at Love Thy Neighbour here. With the promise ‘we want to make you feel good’, Love They Neighbour offers an eclectic choice of dishes.
Catering for all, the menu offers a variety of mouth-watering options for vegetarians, vegans and those requiring gluten free or dairy free.
I opted for the sizeable marinated Peruvian-style chicken breast, tomato and basil buckwheat salad with avocado dressing while my partner enjoyed a spiced falafel with salt baked beetroot and courgette skewer, with cucumber and mint buckwheat and chilli vegan yoghurt.
There is a far-too-tempting cocktail menu but I was good and went for one of the gorgeous smoothies. Though I did experiment with a Black Velvet activated charcoal latte – much nicer and more indulgent than anticipated.
After the fantastic food and relaxation we did indeed ‘feel good’ as we left.
There is a huge choice of accommodation in Liverpool but we found a real gem – an apart hotel which proved a real home from home in the heart of the city. Dating back to 1906, the Richmond Apart Hotel Liverpool is a restored Grade II listed building in Hatton Garden close to a range of restaurants and bars and a short walk from the waterfront.
A £10 million refurbishment of the former Merseyside Travel Transport department of Liverpool Corporate building has retained and restored significant architectural features such as the high ceilings and grand staircases.
The reception areas and R Bar and Brasserie feel elegant, airy and stylish – but still warm and inviting. It is easy to see why the hotel is so popular for weddings.
Key to the stay for us was the spacious apartment which meant after a day’s sightseeing you could kick off your shoes, put on the kettle and collapse on the sofa.
The Richmond has 52 four-star apartments of up to four rooms with the largest sleeping 15 people.
Or you could just enjoy one of the lovely rooms including the sumptuous executive rooms. With the delicious breakfasts on offer in the brasserie we were quickly tempted out of the apartment in a morning anyway.
Part of the Best Western Premier Collection, the hotel is described as affordable luxury at its best which applied to both the accommodation and the brasserie. We took advantage of a tremendous specials menu, at £25 for three courses, which enabled us to enjoy fine dining without breaking the bank.
My beetroot carpaccio with whipped goat cheese chive and crushed cob nut dressing was one of the finest starters I’ve ever had. The main was roasted chicken breast with tarragon red wine jus, creamy mash and sprouting tender stems and finished off with a gluttonous crème brûlée. My partner’s sticky toffee pudding would feed two!
We may have taken advantage of a low season offer but the main menu prices were very reasonable.
The Richmond was the icing on the cake of a weekend that really did have something for everyone.
So to quote famous Scouser Gerry, we will be heading back to Liverpool very soon ‘cause this land’s the place I love and here I’ll stay’.
- The Richmond hotel, prices start from £59 room only midweek and an extra £10 per person for breakfast. The prices on Friday and Saturdays start from £109 room only. Visit richmondliverpool.com or call 0151 236 1220.
- Love Thy Neighbour: Twitter: @lovethyneigh1
- For attractions visit www.liverpoolcitysights.co.uk or call 0151 298 1253. Tickets start at £12 for an adult, £6 per child and £29.50 for a 24-hour city tour but it is only £16 for an adult for a 48-hour Beatles and city tour ticket.