Mersey, Mersey me

[slideshow_deploy id=’19004′]


Since 2008, when it was named the European Capital of Culture, the transformation of Liverpool has brought a new artistic confidence and vigour to the great port-city. Liverpool now has more galleries and national museums than any other city in the United Kingdom outside London. National Museums Liverpool, which includes the stunning Walker Art Gallery, is the only English national collection based wholly outside London. The glorious Tate Liverpool, now showing a spectacular Mondrian show,  is the second largest exhibition space (after Tate Modern) dedicated to modern art in the United Kingdom.

Add to that a vibrant music, theatre and literary scene with the acclaimed Liverpool International Music Festival and the Liverpool Shakespeare Festival both drawing in record crowds internationally, its reputation as an epicentre of culture is as good as sealed. This year, with the reopening of the legendary Everyman Theatre (whose alumni include Julie Walters, , Jonathan Pryce, Pete Postlethwaite, Antony Sher, Bill Nighy, Barbara Dickson, Matthew Kelly, and Cathy Tyson), and the Liverpool Biennial (the largest international contemporary art festival in the UK), the city is once again in the spotlight.

Cultural happenings aside, Liverpool’s regeneration has seen a rejuvenation of its dining and hospitality scene as well, with places like Lunya, Fazenda Rodizio, the new Everyman bistro and the London Carriage Works as well as cafes like the cool Lox & Caper leading the way. No wonder that all these changes have attracted a host of both tourists and corporate visitors to the city of Merseybeat. Liverpool in 2013 was the fifth most popular destination for international visitors with 562,000 and was  8th most popular destination for all domestic visitors (1.47m overnight visits). It is also sixth for purely holiday trips (703,000) and also sixth for business tourism (289,000) – all increasing rapidly every year. Glass profiles one of the best hotels in Liverpool, the Hope Street Hotel.

Neroli. That’s the scent that greets you when you enter this urban oasis, in the heart of the hip Hope Street area of the city. That and a sense that something special is in store (its seductive glass and wood exterior, designed by local architects Falconer Chester Hall being the prelude).  A quick, cheerful and attentive check-in service later and you are whisked to your room – one of 89 individually designed affairs – and this is when the magic truly unfolds.  Each room is airy, contemporary yet homely with wonderful touches (Jacob Jensen telephones, Bose iPod docks, well placed TVs, easy-to access free Wifi, a complimentary minibar and an even a wine fridge in some rooms) – thought of in a way that only someone with a true understanding of luxury hospitality can.

The bedrooms at Hope Street Hotel are designed for peace and calmness with king-sized beds draped with Egyptian cotton and lots of natural light and views over the Mersey bay and the Welsh mountains, whilst the spacious bathrooms have raindance showers and are filled with soothing Ren products.  Staying in is a joy – offering fantastic tailor-made cocktails brought to your room, 24-hour room service and extensive DVD and CD libraries, it is no wonder Hope St is a favourite for a lazy weekend away from home.

The hotel’s restaurant, The London Carriage Works, voted one of the top 10 restaurants outside London, is a celebrated fixture on the foodie diary with its emphasis on fresh, seasonal and local produce with suckling pig, prawn , crab and artisanal cheeses on the menu when we visitied.  The restaurant acquired its name when during construction works the original sign above the restaurant doors became apparent in the stonework. The building housing the restaurant, which adjoins the hotel facade, was built in the 1860s in the style of a Venetian Palazzo, was once the home of a coach and carriage builders.

Hope Street Hotel also has a gym, meeting rooms and resident’s bar, and is a stone’s throw to the newly re-opened Everyman’s Theatre.   Local happenings and facts can be found in the hotel’s very own magazine – hshhh – and the concierge’s entertainment and dining recommendations are excellent. It really is no wonder that it have won a string of awards and commendations (from the Conde Nast Traveller to the Sunday Times).

“It really is the staff here that make the ultimate difference,” says Mary Colston, the hotels inimitable creative director, who humbly refrained from taking credit for this glorious haven when we met. It is very true – the impeccable service certainly sets a bar for UK boutique hotels, even those in London. But it is also the clear vision of Colston and her colleagues, who have created something truly special in the heart of one of the most exciting cities in the UK today.

by Ethan Long

Hope Street Hotel, 40 Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9DA

Telephone: 0151 709 3000