Longtime Liverpool lover, Johanna Payton, makes new discoveries down on the dock with a stay at Pullman Hotel Liverpool Waterfront and an Albert Dock adventure
People ask me why I keep going to Liverpool: I do go there a lot. I’m not from the city and they seem to think, because the Fabs were ages ago, there’s a limit to my Beatles love and devotion*.
But Liverpool isn’t a place you need to live in, or to be from, to belong.
And there is always something new – Beatle-related or not – to discover here.
On my most recent visit I stayed at the sexy new Pullman Liverpool, in Kings Dock, for the first time.
Liverpool isn’t a city you need to live in to belong
This beautiful waterfront residence is tucked away behind the Echo Arena, in the shade of the cathedral and the observation wheel; it’s just beyond the lovely peace monument, dedicated to John Lennon.
It’s ideally placed if you’re going to a show at the Echo Arena and a great base for exploring Liverpool’s lauded – and regenerated – waterfront.
The staff, purveyors of desk-free registration (how I love sitting in a comfy chair while the host sits beside you, fiddling with an iPad to check you in – it’s so much more civilised than standing at reception) are Liverpool-level friendly, keen to make sure you have everything you need.
The reception area, bar and restaurant is open plan, chic and a great place to hang out in, with many references to Liverpool’s port heritage, so you certainly don’t feel in a rush to get your room key.
Check-in rapidly sorted, I was promised a room with a great outlook, but nothing could have prepared me.
My eighth-floor room showcased stunning views across the sparkling Mersey through floor to ceiling windows to the south (reminiscent of the views you enjoy on a cruise ship), and to the west, a picture-perfect window on the Liverpool skyline.
I’ve never had a hotel room in the ‘Pool with a Liver Bird vista, so I sat in the cushioned window seat just to take it all in – and experienced quite the skipped heartbeat.
After an hour of lounging on the super-comfortable king-sized bed, I ventured out to the docks (it’s not how it sounds) to check out the rejuvenated waterfront.
There’s just so much to do, it’s hard to know where to start.
I wandered back past the Echo Wheel and through the adjacent Albert Dock, peeping in the new bars and restaurants dotted around.
A day isn’t really enough to “do” Albert Dock in its entirety. You can spend hours museum hopping for starters: there’s Tate Liverpool to enjoy and the Merseyside Maritime Museum, which houses the harrowing but vital International Slavery Museum.
The museum is perfectly placed to recount Liverpool’s epic history, with a focus on its role as a major global port and, basically, centre of the universe. (See, it’s not just me who thinks so.)
After so much history and culture, under bright blue skies and a stiff Mersey breeze, I was in need of refreshment.
Cocktails and mocktails were served at Revolución de Cuba back on Albert Dock – and were gratefully received.
After a restful night in the huge bed, and a very high quality breakfast in the hotel restaurant (smoked salmon, seeded bagels and scrambled eggs, anyone?) my sights were set on The Beatles Story.
As an unashamed fanatic, I’ve been there on many an occasion, but there’s always something new on the go.
After a slow saunter around the main museum at Albert Dock (the replica Cavern just never gets old and the nod to Cilla has taken on new, special significance now she’s passed; the same can be said for the studio, adorned with the late George Martin’s handwritten notes) and a good splurge in the brilliant shop (I came home armed with a Yellow Submarine clock: don’t judge me), I skipped off to the Beatles Story’s second site at Pier Head.
Here was the main event: an exhibition of Pattie Boyd’s photographs.
George is my favourite Beatle. Pattie is my style icon. So you can imagine how much I adored getting up close and personal with her private collection of shots from the time when she was Mrs Harrison – then Mrs Clapton.
Head dizzy with delight, I had one final treat in store before boarding the train back to London: a quick glimpse of the Peter Blake designed Everybody Razzle Dazzle ferry, zipping off across the river.
Bright, beautiful and head-turning, with an avant-garde vibe, that cheeky little boat captures everything that’s great about this city, a city I love more with every visit.
*There is no limit
How to get to Pullman hotel Liverpool waterfront without flying:
Johanna took a direct Virgin Trains service from London to Liverpool Lime Street.
From the station, Kings Dock is around 20-25 minutes’ walk, taking in Liverpool One on the way, or you can take a black cab from the station and be there in 10 minutes. Uber also operates in Liverpool if you have an account.
If you’re driving, Pullman hotel residents get a discount on the Liverpool Waterfront Car Park, next door to the hotel.
Word: Johanna Payton for Feet on the Ground
Images: Johanna Payton