Just a few hours by train from London is Liverpool, most famous for its waterfront, rival football teams, the ready wit of the locals and, of course, four local lads who conquered the world. But does Liverpool’s lure begin and end with The Beatles? We headed north to find out.
What to do
For serious Beatles fans, the Beatles Story at Albert Dock is a must. Taking you right through the band’s history to their split and solo careers, there’s lots of detail here with plenty of memorabilia to bring the audio tour to life. Things not to miss include the recreated Cavern Club, George Harrison’s first guitar and a pair of John Lennon’s spectacles.
Liverpool also has no fewer than seven national museums including the northern branch of the Tate (also at the Albert Dock) and the Walker Art Gallery that’s home to a fine collection of art from the 13th century to the present day. For our flying visit we plumped for the new Museum of Liverpool housed in a striking building on the waterfront. It’s a vast repository of Liverpool artefacts that delves into Liverpool’s history and culture; a highlight is the reconstruction of a working class Victorian street.
Where to stay
We stayed at the 4-star Hard Days Night Hotel in the Cavern Quarter.
The hotel is best described as Beatles inspired rather than themed – you hear snatches of song, there’s Beatles artwork and you can drink cocktails named after Beatles songs. But thankfully, the emphasis here is on modern style rather than a wholesale Austin Powers-style trip back in time. Rooms are cool and classy with just enough psychedelic verve and mop-top charm to remind you of the hotel’s raison d'être. Don’t miss the regular live music nights in the Live Lounge.
Where to eat
Since opening in 2010, Lunya Catalan deli and restaurant has scooped numerous awards for the quality of its ingredients and a dedication to authentic Spanish cooking. Spread over two floors of an airy converted warehouse, it’s a great spot for light tapas or a more serious investigation of Spanish flavours over a long dinner. Owner Peter Kinsella talks us through the enormous menu with a passion and expertise that’s reflected in the dishes that arrive at the table. Order the Catalan version of Liverpudlian Scouse (a local meat stew), for a true taste of Spain via Merseyside, and wash it down with one of Lunya’s excellent Sherries.
Where to drink
When asked whether there were any negative aspects to his enormous fame, John Lennon replied that he ‘missed having a drink in the Phil’. And well he might. The Philharmonic is one of Britain’s most ornate and spectacular pubs. Built in 1903, it boasts curling art nouveau gates, intricate mosaics, Corinthian columns and urinals in pink marble.