When hotels.com got in touch to work on another collaboration to create a Liverpool city guide, I was very excited. Liverpool is a wonderful city rich in history and culture. Famed for The Beatles, Cilla Black, Ken Dodd, two premiere football teams and the beautiful River Mersey, there is a lot to love. The streets of Liverpool are packed with hidden gems, from pop up vintage shops, vegan cafes and independent radical bookshops tucked away on the Victorian side streets.
When you’ve finished exploring the world class museums and art galleries, popped into a vintage shop to pick up some vinyl and stopped for a vegan bite, there are some fabulous hotels in Liverpool from the unusual boutique offerings, palatial luxury historic hotels to loft apartment style stays. Here’s my 24 Hours in Liverpool, England travel guide…
The Tate Gallery: Back in the 1980s Alan Bowness, then Director of Tate, made it his mission to create a ‘Tate of the North’, as the project became known, a space dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art work. A disused warehouse building on the Royal Albert Dock was chosen to house the ambitious exhibition space. The Albert Dock was once an epicentre of trade, back in the days of the industrial revolution. The ships would bring in goods from all over the world, like tea, spices, silk and tobacco from Asia. Fast-forward to present day and you’ll find that the vast warehouses on the dockside have all been renovated and boast, shops, gallery spaces and hotels. The Tate Liverpool is the jewel in the crown of the Royal Albert Dock, playing host to world class contemporary exhibitions.
As you would expect The Tate has a well-stocked gift shop with lots of impressive art books and handmade ceramics. If you’re visiting with children, on the second floor there’s the ‘discover’ area, a space dedicated to soft play and fun. You could probably dedicate the whole day to roaming around the Tate and the Albert Dock or just pop in to browse one of the visiting exhibitions. The Liverpool waterfront is a place of extreme contrast, you can see the ultra-modern Museum of Liverpool (which looks a bit like an air conditioning unit) set against the back drop of the historic Royal Liver Building. The Royal Liver Building is one of the most iconic landmarks of the city of Liverpool and is home to two fabled Liver Birds that watch over the city and the sea. Legend has it that were these two birds to fly away, then the city would cease to exist.
Shopping: One of the great things about Liverpool city centre is that you can access everywhere easily by foot. You can stroll through the open air Liverpool One Shopping Complex, pass all the high-street shops you could think of from John Lewis to Harvey Nicholls and gradually make your way up to the more bohemian and hip Bold Street. Liverpool’s Bold Street is packed with restaurants, coffee shops and brunch spots. You’ll also discover lots of hidden gems like Food From Nowhere. Food From Nowhere is hidden in the basement room of the radical and hugely-influential left-wing bookshop, News From Nowhere a place run by volunteers and rather than prices, the menu lists suggested donations. Address: News From Nowhere Bookshop, 96 Bold Street, Liverpool, L1 4HY
Maray Restaurant: Bold Street is home to Maray Restaurant, once a former clothes shop, the space is compact but stylishly decorated with pendant lights and exposed brickwork. Staff are friendly and the vibe is low-key relaxed. The menu offers small plates, packed with all the flavours of the Middle East. From the lightly spiced olives to the innovative drinks menu, you will not be disappointed. Maray offers a full gluten-free and vegan menu, so you’re spoilt for choice!
Between two of us we shared the Aubergine Shawarma served with tahini, crispy shallots, pickled chillies and date syrup. Mouthwatering Hake with chard, roasted red pepper, dill sour cream, sherry and pomegranate reduction, the dill sour cream was a revelation! Buttermilk Fried Chicken served with harissa, aioli and pickles. Each dish was imaginative and beautifully flavoursome. To drink we opted for mocktails, I drank the “Noloko” which is a kaffir lime and pomegranate tonic. A crisp and refreshing palette cleanser, which accompanied the small plates perfectly. Address: Maray Restaurant, 91 Bold St, Liverpool L1 4HF
Afternoon Treat: Once you’re done browsing the vintage shops on Bold Street, you could head to The Nakery a short walk along the aptly named Berry Street. The Nakery is an all-vegan cake shop making raw treats and ‘naked’ cakes that are gluten and refined sugar-free. Unfortunately you can’t eat in, think traditional bakery style shop, so you’ll have to pick up a treat on the go. Expect to find cookie dough slabs, salted caramel shortbread bars, raw raspberry bars and CBD brownies. Address: The Nakery, 44 Berry St, Liverpool L1 9DF
Antique Shopping: Along the street from The Nakery is 69A, a shop in a townhouse packed with antiques, world-wide curiosities and vintage clothing. Amid the rapid gentrification of cities, rising rental rates and overdevelopment, it’s not often that you discover a hidden gem like 69A. Reassuringly cluttered, this is my kind of antique shop! Inside you’ll find curiosities, from perfectly weathered oversized religious statues to cabinets lined with vintage jewellery. You get the feeling that this eclectic mix of goodies have been a lifetimes work in accumulating, there’s even a very cute resident cat, comfortably watching over everything as you browse. Address: 69A, 75 Renshaw St, Liverpool L1 2SJ
Top tips: Wear comfy shoes, you’ll be walking a lot. Pack a scarf as the waterside can get pretty bracing in the sea breeze. Take your time to browse and meander through the streets of Liverpool, there’s always a “surprise, surprise” hidden gem just waiting to be discovered!
(The spending money for this post was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views and recommendations are very much my own)