Liverpool, famous for football and the Beatles. Our intention was to go up to celebrate Tim’s birthday and to show that it’s not just about that. We explored what else there was to do for our most recent staycation.
OK, We LOVE a staycation (Margate, Whitstable, Suffolk, Brockenhurst and Kings Cross to name a few) and this was no exception. Using the rouse of Tim’s birthday I whisked him off to Liverpool to catch some football and see the sites. We are both MASSIVE Kieth Haring fans so the main attraction was the exhibition on at the Tate Liverpool.
Liverpool is well connected. Megabus, National Express, Two train stations, a ferry port and of course roads. We opted for the trains as the quickest and easiest route. Booked in advance and with our two together railcard it wasn’t as steep as it could have been. We try to keep an eye on the prices and book in advance. Always book through the actual train companies too as they don’t tend to charge a booking fee.
We were spoilt for choice when it came to picking hotels and hostels. As it was Tim’s birthday and we only had one night, I wanted something special. The Airbnbs were as expensive as some of the hotels so we went for a deal we found on Booking.com for the Hope Street Hotel. Not only did it have great write ups but it lived up to them too! It was beautiful, we stayed in their new wing, and they looked after us so well. Modern, with a sort of Scandinavian feel and so so clean.
OK, so some of the trip was a shameful attempt to get to a Watford away day in Liverpool. Which, as ever was a miserable failure BUT the trip in itself was great. The Evertonians were so lovely to us, one taking us under his wing to show us the way and pay for our cab to the ground. Football pie and beer in hand, we watched Watford lose 0-1 away. On the way back we went for a walk back to town and stopped off at Anfield so that Tim could have a look at the ground having never been there. They do tours and the shop was open, and I don’t think either of us realised just how close in distance they really are!
Liverpool Gin Distillery*
We were so lucky to be offered the change to do the Gin Lab experience at the Liverpool gin distillery. We got taken through the history of gin and the Liverpool distillery, and the process of making gin. The best part of it was that we then got to make our own bottle of gin, flavoured by us and named by us. It was so cool! We wrote a whole post about how amazing it was here for your perusal, but the main things to take away were the gin is delicious; the bar is beautiful’ the staff are amazing and the gin lab experience is well worth the money, time and investment. It was so informative and so much fun!
Almost Famous Burgers
Jess knew of Almost Famous from her days in Manchester. Think dirty dive bar and the best burgers in the North. Well, Liverpool now have their own version and they do it just as well. The only downside to our visit was the fact that we had to wait over 45 minutes for food, with nothing to be able to order to snack on in the meantime. The food however was exceptional. Two completely heart-attack inducing burgers and chips and chicken bites were perfect, spot on for the ravenous beings.
Bombed out church
After having a wander around in the dark (goodness me Liverpool was full of hen dos), we passed by the amazing looking bombed out church. Sure, it was shut, but it was BEAUTIFUL. So serene and weirdly calming. There’s an amazing statue of the truce of December 1914, depicting a German and British soldier with a football between them that is awfully poignant and beautiful there too. You can go in to the church, and we would recommend you do, and you can find out when it is open on their website alongside more information about it.
We are not the party monsters we once used to be, but both appreciate a good bar. Jimmy’s isnt just good, it’s great. A neon festival, one of the coolest-looking bars we’ve ever been in; even on a Saturday night they straddle the fine line between music too loud you cant hear yourself think and too quiet to have a dance. With live music on often, it’s a great place to experience Liverpool at its best. The brilliant lava lamp wall behind the bar was specially crafted in collaboration with Mathmos and the neon in the corner is THE neon from the 1975 album and single art. Of course it is.
There are other places you can go in Liverpool, its brimming with nightlife, but we wanted somewhere without hen dos and without the queues round the block like the Cavern Club. We couldnt recommend this place more and we weren’t paid to say that!
What could be better the morning after the night before than a coffee? Well, Moose is the place for that. They also do a banging brunch but if you’re going on a Sunday, to either branch, we’d recommend booking in advance to get a seat. Don’t go if you’re in a rush, they’re not built on a rushed meal, but one to savour with friends or family. The decor is brilliant, based around the moose, and the coffee is fabulous (and that from Tim the coffee nerd). We stopped in for a take out coffee on our way to explore more, which was just as good!
Liverpool is unusual in having two cathedrals, and although we didn’t go in both, we were lucky enough to see them both and how different they are. We did on the Sunday, manage to pop into the Anglican cathedral, but the The Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Liverpool is less than half a mile away. The Anglican cathedral was impressive, in fact they both were. It was free to enter, but you can book to do a tour at other times that does cost. The Cathedral resembles many other buildings we love, and that is of course because it was designed by Giles Gilbert-Scott and built in 1904. There was also an exhibition about its history on, some impressive stained glass windows and a lovely neon instillation. Definitely worth a visit, and if you time it right, you might be as moved to tears by the choir as we were!
One of the main reasons we went up was because both of us have a shared love of Kieth Haring, and the amazing Tate Liverpool had an exhibition of a huge number of his works on. It was such a treat to see such a big and groundbreaking exhibition outside of London, and there wasn’t a better place for it. From posters to stories, clothes to collaborations, graffiti to his inspiration, it was all phenomenal. Although that finished last weekend, they’re about to have two new amazing exhibitions. The first being Theaster Gates: AMALGAM – from one of the most influential living artists, the new exhibition explores issues of race, territory, and inequality in the United States. The exhibition after that is Don McCullin’s exceptional exhibition that was in the Tate Britain in London, about all his conflict images from the last 60 years.
If you don’t want to pay for the exhibitions, there is loads to see in their free entry galleries – most of the museum in fact. From Hirst to Riley and everything in between there are different collections, displays and exhbitions alike. Finally, they have one of Ugo Rondinone’s Magic Mountains, aptly called the Liverpool Mountain, like the ones in the Vegas desert!
The Museum of Liverpool
One of the newer (opened in 2011) and free museums in Liverpool is the Museum of Liverpool. We were told to go and visit the Double Fantasy exhibition all about the relationship between John Lennon and Yoko Ono. When we did this, and it was fantastic, but did take up most of our time in the exhibition. We also managed to see their exhibition Blitzed: Liverpool Lives on until Summer 2021 showcasing some extraordinary photos of Liverpool during the Blitz and the incredible life on the home front. The museum is amazing even without these exhibitions. They normally have amazing temporary exhibitions but don’t miss the permanent displays. From the history of humans, to the industrial revolution, slavery and obviously the Beatles, there’s an overwhelming amount covered in a way to keep the flittiest minds engaged for a long time! Definitely should be on your must visit list for things to do in Liverpool.
Tim works in hospitality and has the most amazing app that we make the most of in the UK – it’s called Code and it’s for people that work in hospitality to get deals in…hospitality. So we thought we would try it out in Liverpool and ended up in the Alchemist. We had the most amazing service and the restaurant is amazingly beautiful, the décor right up our street, but there were a few hen dos in for lunch on a Sunday too. They hardly bothered us though so that was great. We had fancy colour changing cocktails with all the theatre and drama that you could imagine. Jess mixed hers herself and Tim’s came alive in front of our eyes. The food was pretty brilliant too, considering that it’s known for its brilliant drinks. We both had vegan options and they were exceptional! Could recommend if you’re looking for somewhere fancy but not bank breaking, and with good food and drinks!
Oh my goodness me. Liverpool is full of green spaces. Loads of them, and they’re all beautiful with something different about each of them. We were lucky to catch Liverpool on a fine weekend, which meant we could take advantage of walking about and walking through some of them, but should you find yourself with more time, you should explore as many as you can. Though Liverpool is often famed for its waterside features, the city also houses a number of parks and gardens to relax in or for simply escaping the busy city. Some of them are:
Wavertree Botanic Gardens
Croxteth Country Park
Everton Park Nature Gardens
And loads more that you can find on Liverpool’s website here.
Other things to do
Antony Gormley – Crosby Beach
About 20 minutes by car, or 45 minutes by bus outside of the city centre lies Crosby Beach. It’s sandy, a rarity on British soil, but more importantly it is full of 100 cast-iron, life-size figures spread out along three kilometres of the foreshore, stretching almost one kilometre out to sea. The Another Place figures – each one weighing 650 kilos – are made from casts of Antony Gormley’s own body standing on the beach, all of them looking out to sea, staring at the horizon in silent expectation. They’re there all year round and all through all tides, and well worth a visit.
The Beatles Story
You can’t really do Liverpool without the Beatles. Although they are everywhere you look, the best place to experience the Beatles is at Beatles Story. It is £17 a ticket (that you can book here) but it is award-winning for a reason. It is an immersive journey of The Beatles, in the hometown of the Fab Four. It’s a permanent exhibition and the largest in the world (for good reason). It documents the Beatles’ rise to fame and covers the lives, times, culture and music of the world’s greatest band.
International Slavery Museum
The International Slavery Museum is the only one of it’s kind and looks at the aspects of historical and contemporary slavery. Expect to be taken on a thought-provoking and moving explorative journey beginning at life before slavery. It looks at the people of West Africa and their rich and varied history anbd culture developed, long before European slaves. Free for all and more information can be found on the ISM here.
If you’re not taking a “Magical Mystery Tour”, then there are some famous Beatles sites you can see for yourself. One of these is Strawberry Field, a former Salvation Army children’s home. The name of the home became world famous in 1967 with the release of The Beatles single ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. Today, fans are able to visit Strawberry Field to view the replica of the world-famous red gate. Around the corner from the landmark is Lennon’s childhood home and McCartney’s home on Forthlin Road. It’s had a bit of work done recently and is now a learning hub for young people with learning difficulties. It also now houses a new visitor experience including an authentic interactive exhibition with media guide; a stylish cafe and shop; and tour of the gardens of John’s childhood.
A fully interactive museum that is right up our street. Space themed, with a planetarium and exhibitions that are…out of this world (sorry!). It really is an all-ages inspirational journey through space and science at Spaceport. Tickets are about £10 and can be bought online here.
There are a load of free museums in Liverpool; we just didn’t have enough hours in the day to visit them all. There’s an amazing website dedicated to all the free ones called National Museums Liverpool and it’s well worth checking out which ones you can visit!
*Some activities and experiences in this staycation were gifted. They would have been planned into our weekend without the kind help of those involved anyway; so you know we only accept those things that we love.