Reviewed by Rebecca Banasko
There is nothing better than breaking away from life for a weekend and exploring one of our great UK cities. My friend and I headed to Liverpool for a little city break, disembarking at the city’s main train station Liverpool Lime Street. It took us just 5 minutes on foot to reach the Adagio Aparthotel on Fairclough Street; set in the iconic John Lewis building, the Adagio is in a great central location. Just minutes walk from the main shopping street and museums plus numerous other attractions within the city.
We were welcomed at reception by very friendly and helpful staff who took an interest in what we had planned for our weekend, helped out with suggestions and advice and even supplied us with discount options for a range of local restaurants. The Aparthotel was very secure, entry is only via a buzzer without a card key and once you are checked in, other floors are only accessible using the card key. There is also lift access to all parts of the building making it easily accessible to all. Its pet-friendly and has nearby secure parking at a reasonable cost.
If you were in any doubt as to which city you were in, you just needed to look at the pictures on the corridor walls. They were covered in images of the beautiful buildings and iconic sights from around the city, which helped add to the excitement of getting to see them in our explorations the next day.
Our room was very clean, spacious and comfortable with everything you might need for both a short or a longer term stay. It was very modern and tastefully decorated, it had a very upmarket feel, like everything was new. Our ‘mini-apartment’ boasted a bedroom with TV and coffee pod machine. We had two big windows over-looking the city with a view of St. George’s Hall, Liverpool Lime Street Station and the Adelphi Hotel not far from us. In addition, a separate toilet and bathroom which were very clean with complimentary soap and shampoo, towels and hairdryer. The kitchen was compact but very well kitted out with fridge/freezer, microwave, hob, kettle, dishwasher, plates and cutlery. It would be easy to have a cosy night in and cook a meal from scratch if you decided not to go out.
The rest of the hotel provides a gym, laundry room, dry cleaning and meeting room facilities. We headed out to find somewhere to eat in the evening and found that we were spoilt for choice by the plethora of different food restaurants just minutes away from our the Adagio. From Mexican to Moroccan, Korean to Libyan, Italian to Turkish. We had no problem finding a great restaurant without having to venture too far. If you are looking for somewhere local, even the fussiest of eaters will find a whole world of choices on Bold Street, just minutes away.
That night and surprisingly, despite the size of the hotel, we had a great night’s sleep. The hotel was incredibly quiet, you would never have guessed that we were in the middle of the buzz of the city centre, there was no noise from the street below. The room was perfectly set-up for a peaceful night’s sleep, with very effective black-out curtains which succeeded completely in blocking out the light to keep the room nice and dark.
The following morning, we headed to the restaurant for our buffet breakfast which provided lots of variety including cereals, continental breakfast, full English and pastries. It was just what we needed to set us up for the day ahead exploring Liverpool.
Our first visit was to the Pier Head Terminal at the docks to board the famous Mersey Ferry on a River Explorer Cruise. This was about a 10 minute walk from the Adagio and was very easy to find as it is opposite the famous Royal Liver building and next to the Museum of Liverpool. Here we collected our tickets and were given help and advice from the lovely and knowledgeable staff at the desk. We were provided with a leaflet containing our ferry route, as well as some highlights that can be spotted along the Liverpool and Wirral docks amongst the many stunning buildings that line the waterway. Whilst we waited, there was also a cafe and Beatles gift shop for us to peruse to pass the time.
Once on board the ferry we found seats both inside and outside in addition to a well-equipped cafe serving hot food and drinks. However, no matter where you sat on the ferry you still got a great view of the scenery and could also move about as much as you liked. The trip was 50 minutes with an audio commentary playing out to explain and highlight some of the buildings around the Mersey and the story behind them. It really was fascinating, entertaining and very informative about Liverpool’s rich and diverse history. The first stop was the Seacombe Ferry Terminal where families can visit the Playport Soft Play centre to burn off some energy. We stayed on board, heading to the second stop, the Woodside Ferry Terminal. Here, we could enter the U-boat story, this is included in the price of the Ferry ticket and is the site of the World War 2 German Submarine U-534 which was retrieved from the seabed in 1993, following its demise in 1945 when it suffered damaged at the hands of an aircraft attack after the order of surrender had been given.
The exhibition brilliantly takes you through life onboard the submarine; see the remnants of the wreckage and belongings found on-board, which have been astonishingly well preserved in the silt of the seabed. Read the individual stories of the men who escaped and what happened to them afterwards. The U-boat has been sectioned off and can be viewed through glass to give you a real feel for the living conditions and the immense structure of the submarine. There is a cafe and gift shop here, but we enjoyed every second of our time at the exhibition and didn’t want to miss a thing. It really is a humbling experience and a remarkable exhibition; with audio visual commentary, stories and lots of interactive activities to enhance the experience plus an enigma coding machine. We stayed for an hour and then caught our ferry back to continue our journey back to the Pier Head Terminal.
The River Explorer Cruise ticket included entry to the U-boat Story, which is a fantastic deal, other combinations of tickets can be bought to get the most out of your visit to Liverpool. For the River Cruise and U-boat Story, tickets are £11 for an adult and there are concessions available for children and families. To purchase your ticket go to www.merseyferries.co.uk/our-cruises/.
Once back on dry land we went on the catch our City Explorer bus, boarding just outside the Cunard building on The Strand we grabbed our seat on the top deck and were greeted by our friendly tour guide, Chris. The route took approximately 55 minutes. Gary, our driver took us smoothly around the city as Chris expertly guided us around its building and history including lots of great local stories, myths and legends that kept us entertained and engaged throughout. As we drove past the Liver building, through the different quarters, witnessing different stages in history, stories from the museums, hospitals and factories, from the grand Cathedrals to the local Breweries we were given a very succinct and thorough insight into this great city. The tour seemed to fly by, and I could have stayed on the bus and done it over and over. Liverpool is a city that has so many layers of history, stories, diversity, achievements and landmarks to offer, I’m sure not even a full day touring would scratch the surface!
Tickets on the City Explorer Liverpool cost from £11 for adults with concessions available for children and families. They can be purchased from cityexplorerliverpool.co.uk and there are a range of other tours available.
Our visit to Liverpool did not disappoint and if anything left is wanting to come back again very soon and absorb even more. The Adagio is a perfect base to recharge your batteries ready for adventure. There is so much to do that even a week here would not be enough, however the tours are a brilliant way to access the city and learn about its rich culture from local and wonderfully friendly experts who are quite rightly proud of their great city.
I could not recommend this experience enough to anyone wanting to discover all that Liverpool as to offer.
For more information or to make a booking at the Adagio Aparthotel Liverpool, visit www.adagio-city.com.
Adagio Aparthotel Liverpool, 1 Fairclough Street, Liverpool, L1 1FS