Imagine – no don’t imagine, just go and visit the City of Liverpool. The city of culture in 2008 has moved on again and is now rated as one of the Best in Britain. The play on words (sung by John Lennon) is fitting as we have just been to Liverpool and stayed at the amazing Hard Days Night Hotel on North John Street. This ‘Beatles’ inspired hotel has been transformed over the years to depict the rise of the Beatles from ‘moptops’ to world renowned artists. The stunning Grade 2 Listed hotel opened on 1st February 2008 to coincide with Liverpool’s tenure as the 2008 Capital of Culture .
However you arrive at Liverpool you can not fail to be impressed. Lime Street Station has been upgraded to compete with stations all over the country. We arrived by car and could not be more impressed by the creative and exciting architecture. Liverpool is a mixture of Old and New, and the blend is very impressive. To get to the hotel you pass the iconic Liver Building and park your car in the Q1 park – which could not have been easier. The car park is light and well signed and a lift takes you to the 5th floor. A walk through the Liverpool ONE shopping area takes approximately 3 to 5 minutes, past Debenhams and on to the hotel. When in doubt just ask the people of Liverpool, they are friendly and helpful, but you may end up talking to an American, Canadian or any other nationality for that matter. Liverpool draws people from all over the world. As the Hard Days Night Hotel is an inner city hotel there are no on-site parking facilities, but the hotel does do a discount system for people staying at the hotel.
From the friendly, helpful door man (who has been there since the opening and has a badge to prove it), to the efficient and friendly staff, this hotel has a cutting edge on most hotels I have stayed in. The access to the hotel is by steps, but a lift is available for disabled and the door man will help you with your luggage. The Beatles inspired theme is infectious, Beatles music playing, not loud just in the background, the pictures, information, the artwork all go to make this an unforgettable experience. The rooms and suites are all Beatles themed. There are two suites, one which pays homage to John Lennon. There is even a white baby grand piano in the room. The ‘Paul McCartney’ themed suite has a suit of armour reminding us of his knighthood. Also on the wall is the certificate of ‘Freedom of the City of Liverpool’ that was presented to Paul.
We visited Blake’s restaurant for our evening meal. It was inexpensive for the status of the hotel and the food was excellent, well presented and tasty. It is named after Sir Peter Blake who is famed for his iconic design on the sleeve cover of the Beatles’ album ‘Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band’. We visited the Hari bar which is Hari Krishna themed in memory of George Harrison. And what about Ringo? Well he just said that he would “go with the flow” on the design of the hotel. Also in the centre of the hotel is the John Lennon’s ‘Peace Garden’ – hidden behind a lace curtain. To get in to the garden you have to ask for the key – it is like ‘The Secret Garden’ – with a fountain and plants to commemorate the life of John Lennon and what he was fighting for when his life was cut short so early.
Just around the corner on Mathews Street is the Cavern Club. Not the original (which was further down the street), but an identical replica. It’s a bar with two stages and artists that play Beatles music day and night. People come from all over the world to experience the famous Cavern Club. We spent the evening reminiscing, dancing and singing to all our old favourites. The Beatles Shop is on the corner of Matthew Street and North John Street, so an easy walk to get your Beatles souvenirs.
The home city of the Beatles is diverse and interesting. “Ticket to Ride” is a guided coach tour about the city, which is a must if you are a stranger in town, or take a taxi for a Magical Mystery Tour of all the locations that you hear in the songs – for instance Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and of course the grave of Eleanor Rigby. From the hotel you can also walk to many of the numerous attractions. The two Cathedrals situated on Hope Street are sights to behold in their own right. The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is awe inspiring. From its central crown of thorns over the alter to the strikingly, colourful stained glass, this space can hold up to 3,000 people at any one service held there. The Anglican Liverpool Cathedral is a massive building that has been extended over the years to create a space of grandeur. You can also climb up the tower – the cathedral has evening viewings available for people to walk up to the top of the tower and see the city lights.
The River Mersey has a romantic appeal due to all the songs which have been sung about it. Not many people know that the river also has a dark past. The International Slave Museum has exhibits on the slave trade that was carried out on the river. There is a wonderful Titanic display on at the Maritime Museum. It is free to enter and is well worth a visit. The Albert Dock is a must. It has restaurants, bars, craft shops and even a sweet shop. Liverpool Council have over the years upgraded the area, and now apartments and shops have taken over from the bustling port that was once Liverpool’s pride. You can of course cross the Mersey on the ferry – another song comes to mind!!. You can get off and go to Birkenhead and visit Port Sunlight or New Brighton – or just stay on and and sing ” Ferry Across the Mersey” like Gerry and the Pacemakers as loud as you wish.
The Liverpool tourist transport is very varied. There’s a City Explorer Bus that you can hop on and hop off which has 14 stops. The Yellow Duckmarine has daily tours and is great fun. The vehicle is amphibious and tours the sights of this impressive city on wheels, then plunges into the dock area and sails around the waterfront.
Don’t forget the sport! Liverpool is a leading sports destination, home of two of the Premiership’s biggest football teams, Liverpool FC and Everton FC and of course the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse. Also remember that Liverpool is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, like the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The city won the status in 2004 because of its impressive waterfront, which represents a: ‘Supreme example of commercial port at the time of Britain’s greatest global significance’. This stretches from Albert Dock along the pier head and up to Stanley Dock.
We felt privileged to visit this stunning hotel and visit this amazing city. It was only a short trip, but we will be back and look forward to returning to a city that gave us icons that will be loved forever by the world.