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It”s not often an invitation comes through to stay in Liverpool”s first Beatles-themed hotel, so I jumped at the chance to have a look at the City of Culture 2008”s instant icon, the Hard Days Night hotel.
Set right next to the famous Mathew Street ” home to the equally renowned Cavern Club where it all started ” Hard Days Night has become something of an instant focal point for Liverpudlians.
Adorned with statues of Liverpool”s most famous sons, the property ” developed by Bowdena - opened in January this year and is run under Hospitality Management International.
It”s a pleasant stroll from Liverpool”s Lime Street station into which Virgin Trains operates several times a day, although for anyone with heavy suitcases, it may be as well to ask the doorman to help as there is an immediate steep set of steps to reception.
There, immaculately-dressed staff operate a swift check-in, while the visitor can take in the immediate surroundings ” soft black, brown and white colours all framing enormous contemporary pictures of Paul, Ringo, John and George in their pomp.
The black and white photographs provide a real sense of context to the hotel, especially as it”s only a few guitar lengths down the street to the Cavern; you can almost hear the screams coming out of the pictures but there are a couple of poignant visuals too ” a sombre looking McCartney at a tribute concert for George while an ever-youthful John Lennon stares impishly back.
So what are the rooms like? Well, I was on the top floor which comes with a balcony and a very decent-sized bed overlooked by a giant picture of Paul. A large plasma TV hangs on the wall and each of the 110 guest rooms has artwork created by artist Shannon ”from the basement to the roof.”
For those with a few pennies spare, there”s always the Lennon and McCartney suites of course, that come in at a cool ”650 per night.
If you”re feeling peckish, Hard Days Night offers two restaurants ” The Brasserie and Blakes ” which offer reasonably priced and tasty fare but it is Bar Four that appears to have become the talk of the town.
In the relatively short time since it opened, Bar Four seems to be the latest place to meet up ” and generally before a night on the town. The bar”s super-stylish ambience, coupled with deep armchairs and sofas ” backed up with attentive and knowledgeable staff ” make it a genuinely interesting way to enjoy a couple of sundowners before the evening begins.
And to judge by the clientele while I was there ” it”s open to residents and non-residents alike ” it”s a real mixture of those on business and those who want to start their Liverpool night in style. A comprehensive, if slightly pricey ” this is a smart hotel after all ” list of drinks including several cocktails is also available.
And what of Liverpool itself. I have to say my family heritage is in the city but not having been back for several years, I was genuinely surprised by the scale of development and change. The omnipresent sound of building is everywhere, while the Queen happened to be in town to open a mammoth facility that was very much finished ” Liverpool One ” a huge shopping complex that will give the city centre a real buzz.
The streets are clean, the traffic relatively manageable, and the whole place can be walked around without the need to constantly jump in and out of taxis. Centre piece to a visit ” apart from the iconic ”Three Graces” of the Royal Liver, Cunard and Port of Liverpool Buildings, is the Albert Dock, the gloriously-restored waterfront square of water that has risen phoenix-like from the ashes after many moons of neglect.
Royal Liver building
And it”s here that the ”Yellow Duckmarine” ” the first of many excruciating puns (”Wat-er way to see Liverpool””) is based. Constructed around an old army truck, the garishly-painted vehicle is actually rather a fun way to spend an hour seeing the city ” from land and sea.
Featuring wise-cracking Scousers ” is there any other variant? ” the tour takes in the waterfront sights as well as heading into the city past the famous Hope Street ” home to Metropolitan Cathedral Christ the King and the Anglican Cathedral, the Philharmonic hall, the Chinese Arch and then into the water to see docks such as Salthouse, Wapping, Queens and Coburg.
It”s difficult these days to appreciate just how much bombing Liverpool endured night after night during the second world war ” its prime location as one of the UK”s foremost shipping ports made it a natural target for the Luftwaffe and they made swift work in pulverising vast swathes of the city.
However, after a period of stagnation, especially during the 1980s, Liverpool is once again establishing itself as one of the UK”s major cities. The intense rivalry with its neighbour down the road has created two genuine North-West powerhouses, although the staggering indifference with which Liverpudlians pointedly ignored Manchester United”s triumph on Champions League final night was evidence of a great footballing rivalry ” if you needed any.
Everton is of course Liverpool”s other footballing powerhouse and The Toffees are currently ” as with Anfield ” negotiating a move to a new super-smart stadium, despite grumbling that the new site will not technically be in the city centre limits. And you”re welcome to mention the idea that the Reds and the Blues should share ” a la AC/Inter Milan ” stadiums and see what reaction that engenders. This is a city that reverberates to the pulse of tribal football fault lines. Sharing is not an option.
One must-do is to take, yes, the ”Ferry ”cross the Mersey” down by the Royal Liver building. Quite apart from having that song in your head, it”s a great way to approach Liverpool ” and the way countless millions of people ” including slaves and vast numbers of American and Canadian troops ” would have done.
And just to cement the city”s status as European City of Culture 2008, Sir Paul McCartney himself returned to his roots and played a sell-out Anfield a couple of weeks ago to rapturous acclaim. A long way from Mathew Street indeed.
Hard Days Night HotelAddress: North John StreetLiverpoolL2 6RRTelephone: 0151 236 1964Reservations: 0151 236 1964Fax: 0151 255 1263Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgWebsite: www.harddaysnighthotel.comRoom rates: Luxury rooms: from ”170 per nightDeluxe rooms: from ”190 per nightLennon Suite: ”650 per nightMcCartney Suite: ”650 per nightDress code: Smart Casual dress is required throughout the public rooms
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