July delivers a plethora of art, music and welcoming liverpudlian pride as careertraveller and family take to the energetic streets of this Merseyside mecca, naturally named European Capital of Culture in 2008.
From the city’s oldest and largest railway Liverpool Lime Street Station beneath a glittering elegant nineteenth century glass and cast iron curved roof, we take a 5 minute va-va-voom taxi ride to Albert Dock, the city’s stunning world heritage waterfront. Imposing UNESCO red brick renovated warehouses stand proud with romantic archways and Grade 1 listed columns that entertain the most fashionable assortment of eateries, boutiques and surrounding attractions.
Originally built to accommodate sailing ships back in 1839 this stylish regenerated metropolis is a testament to British architect and engineer Jesse Hartley, who added 10 miles of quayside to the dock estate and ingeniously changed the landscape of Liverpool.
Awash with maritime charm and pier front eye candy, Liverpool’s charm and history is seized on the fourth floor of the Holiday Inn Express Liverpool Albert Dock, a trendy converted warehouse hotel, like no other in the UK! Contemporary and airy with all mod cons and centrepiece window view of the River Mersey, Museum of Liverpool and architectural gems Three Graces. Drenched in light beneath impressive restored cast iron girders we bathe in light that beckons a 10-minute stroll to the Liverpool Pier Head ferry terminal.
Greeted by the extraordinary Dazzle Ferry, aka ‘Snowdrop’ or Mersey Ferries Dazzle Ship (the UK’s only operational vessel), we embark on a 50 minute Explorer Cruise that brings a nautical twist of art and dockland history across the centuries. Designed by British artist Sir Peter Blake, we discover this moving piece of patterned artwork decorated with 800 litres of paint tributes WW1 artists who used dazzle paint to camouflage British ships from German U-boats.
Amidst the seafaring colour and monochrome optical art we ferry across the Mersey, all 70 miles, and admire the Merseyside riverside, which recounts tales of merchants, industrialisation and city landmarks. An on-board display of dazzle ships curated by Merseyside Maritime Museum and Tate Liverpool is a celebration of the arts and insight to the city’s rich cultural heritage, justifiably named the top UK city and third in the world for people to visit in 2014 by travel bible Rough Guides.
Back at the bustling Liverpool Pier Head, an £8 million landing stage reopened in 2012, we drift into Merseybeat wanderlust and slip into the dockside Beatles Story museum that smacks of 1960’s music, memorabilia and Fab Four history.
Built for ultimate experience we enter a tardis of full on family fun, imagination and sophisticated 4D special effects in the form of Fab4D, a 3D computer generated simulation inside a state of the art cinema. Moving seats, drops of water and air spray to the sounds of Beatles music with psychedelic animation, depicting lyrical scenes on a Beatlemania rollercoaster ticket to ride!
The careertraveller favourite; Beatles Hidden Gallery is a black and white photographic blast of 1963-1964 rock and roll reminiscence, exposing 38 inimitable Beatle moments and emotions by photographer Paul Berriff.
Back at the Albert Dock Beatles Story Discovery Zone the kids revel in playing authentic vinyl records in a mock 1950s record store in between playing Beatles tunes on a giant interactive piano. Funky and educational, it is little wonder Liverpool Council has awarded the zone a Blue Badge for learning outside the classroom.
Expectations of Liverpool explode with breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express Liverpool Albert Dock, a breath-taking choice of dockside vista or imposing riverside Wheel of Liverpool and 10,600 seat Echo Arena and Convention Centre.
Brunch is a Magical Mystery Tour that delves into the lives of the Beatles with a 2 hour round trip of the stars’ childhood homes, birthplaces, schools and meaningful places that shaped their musical careers and personal lives. Our excursion begins with the arrival of a poignant yellow submarine-like coach that echoes the Fab Four’s lyrical journey with pit stops including Penny Lane, an everyday place in the lives of Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison.
From Ringoland, officially Toxteth, we uncover the once home of Ringo Starr, who recalls his early years in the album Liverpool 8, to the celebrated Strawberry Field, a favourite bolthole of John Lennon in his younger days. Outside the original gate of this former Victorian Salvation Army Children’s Home we uncover evocative lyrics, heartfelt memories and roots of Liverpool’s renowned music scene.
A canny stop at the Cavern Club completes the tour with full-blown Beatlemania wanderlust. Live music booms from this grotto of charismatic soul, with hip souvenirs from the swinging sixties to 1999 when Paul McCartney performed his last gig. Amidst low ceiling arches and graffiti adorned walls bursting with rock and roll images of the The Rolling Stones and Queen, we lunch with the stars and enter an era of music that crosses generations. Sublime!
Liverpool surpasses all expectations with no ordinary Afternoon Tea at the Hard Days Night Hotel, the World’s only Beatles inspired hotel. Suspended replica music sheets above the lobby alongside graceful stairwells beautified with Beatles photographs, sets the scene for a luxuriously unique experience.
A live lounge, 2 bars and contemporary Blakes Restaurant, decorated with Fab Four Sgt Peppers album influences from Einstein to Martin Luther King, narrates an artistic account of their musical journey via paintings, pictures, even guitar shaped table in the uber cool McCartney suite!
Bar Four redefines glamour with leather armchairs, Italian marble cocktail bar and psychedelic oil paintings by international artist Paul Ygartua, who befriended John Lennon at Liverpool Art College. No detail is spared in this cosmopolitan Grade II listed building, which dating back to 1884 exudes design, play and imagination with a clever twist of the classic versus quirky!
Summer Cooler Afternoon Tea in the Lounge and Bar is a regal selection of beautifully cut finger sandwiches that sit poised prettily amongst a luxurious collection of cakes and delectable warm scones. The finishing touch is the ‘drum roll’ Beatles inspired grass infused vodka Strawberry Fields with Wild Pepper cocktail, which shaken with lemon thyme and strawberries excites the palette with a crack of black pepper.
Extraordinary, visionary and stimulating, Hard Days Night Hotel carries Liverpool into the 21st century with a subtle nostalgic razzmatazz, the kind that makes a return visit inevitable, Liverpool rocks!
Details of Holiday Inn Express Liverpool Albert Dock can be found by clicking on the hotel’s website Holiday Inn Express Liverpool Albert Dock.
Information about all attractions visited can be found on the links below:
The Beatles Story
The Magical Mystery Tour
Hard Days Night Hotel can be found by clicking on the hotel’s website Hard Days Night Hotel.
Official tourist information can be found on the website Visit Liverpool.