I’m no stranger to Liverpool and, with just 25 miles or so separating the city from Chester, I’m guessing most of you aren’t either.
But have you ever had the chance to really play tourist there – staying in a swanky hotel, bar-hopping, being a real culture vulture, the whole shebang? Because that’s exactly how I spent my weekend – road-testing Liverpool as a city break destination, albeit one where you can avoid the faff of luggage weight restrictions, painfully slow queues to get through passport control and the inevitable delays to your flight.
First things first, my boyfriend and I kicked our trip off by checking into the four-star Pullman Liverpool Hotel at King’s Dock, slap-bang in the heart of all the waterfront action and just a short stroll from Liverpool ONE’s 170 plus shops, restaurants and bars. Our deluxe corner room on the seventh floor boasted gorgeous views of the city skyline and River Mersey from its floor to ceiling windows and plenty of gadgets to make our stay as comfortable as possible.
Stomachs growling, we headed to Bill’s in Liverpool ONE for a hearty dinner of roasted butternut squash and lentil salad, truffle sauce macaroni cheese and banana and honeycomb cheesecake, all washed down with a few amaretto sours. It may be a chain restaurant but its cosy decor and charming waiting staff could easily see you mistaking it for an independent. And its menu more than catered for awkward vegetarians like me.
The shortest of walks later, we were drinking hot toddies at Bar Hütte underneath all 30 metres and 280 love hearts of the iconic Liverpool ONE Christmas tree, which made for the perfect antidote to a chilly wintry night and a tasty night-cap.
Rising bright and early the next morning after an excellent night’s sleep and delicious breakfast at the Pullman’s newly opened Marco Pierre White restaurant.
We began our jam-packed day in the city with a healthy dose of culture at Tate Liverpool. ‘Artist Rooms: Roy Lichtenstein in Focus’ offers a rare opportunity to see the renowned pop artist’s distinctive work – which is influenced by comic strips and advertising imagery – right here in the north of England. Showing until June 2018, this free exhibition is not to be missed if you’re an art and design fan.
Then we explored the iconic and always interesting Albert Dock, which is now the North West’s most visited free tourist attraction.
One of the things I love most about Liverpool is how it’s so compact without feeling cramped or lacking in personality, and the Albert Dock is like a a microcosm of that; with so many bars, restaurants, and fabulous museums neatly contained in one super-stylish area.
Next up was a visit to The Beatles Story for a colourful and fascinating history lesson on the Fab Four, where we were taken on an immersive journey to learn about the lives and times of Paul, John, George and Ringo. Even if you’re not an out and out fan of The Beatles, you’d have to try pretty hard to fail to be impressed by this award-winning exhibition’s telling of their story.
Finally, we rounded off our whistlestop mini-break with a slap-up meal at contemporary restaurant PANAM, which was once home to ITV’s This Morning during Richard and Judy’s heyday. Spoiled by picturesque views of the Albert Dock and Three Graces, we sipped on Bellinis and filled up on tasty tortellini.
Experiencing Liverpool as a proper tourist really made me see it in a different light. This buzzing city is chock-full of great places to eat, drink, shop and soak up some culture. It has everything you could want in a city break and, best of all, it’s just a short journey away. So next time you’re thinking about booking a getaway, why not consider somewhere a lot closer to home?