“The best pub in the world is right around the corner,” the front desk clerk told me eagerly as I checked into my hotel.
A joke? No, he’s serious; A bold statement indeed. But a good first impression of Liverpool. I quickly added the drink red lion according to my plans to visit the city preparing to welcome this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
On the eve of this year’s epic Europe-wide music festival, with the northwest of England replacing last year’s winners Ukraine due to Russian invasion, I’ve come – here for the first time – with the hope understand what this second-by-one city is like. must offer to potential visitors.
I’m not the only one coming up from the south. While I was embarking on one of the many strolls along the River Mersey, King Charles III and Queen Camilla made their stage debuts for Eurovision at the M&S Bank Arena, which will host the semi-finals on May 9 and 11. , as well as the final on May 13.
Alas, the different itineraries meant I didn’t get past the soon-to-be-crowned king to enjoy schweinshaxe at a new German restaurant or hunt for knick-knacks at 69A Intandane like I did in the area. the city’s Ropewalks, the boho heart of Liverpool.
I begin and end my days here, staying at The Resident on Seel Street, which, like many others in the district, is housed in a 19th-century red-brick warehouse building that was once used for manufacturing. rope (hence the name); It is this industry that also gives Ropewalks its distinctive layout of long parallel roads.
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Gone are the workers who twisted the threads together. They have been replaced by groups of students, dating couples, friends buying rings. The shops are seriously dwarfed by restaurants and cafes, bars and pubs ranging from cocktails to craft beer, Japanese noodles to Lebanese mezze. Bold Street is the most famous street here, leading from Liverpool Central railway station to St Luke’s Church, also known as the “bombed church” (it was bombed during the Second World War and kept as a pile of rubble).
Ropewalks are as beautiful by day as they are lively at night, especially spilling out of Concert Square; good for an outdoor cocktail or clubs if you’re desperate, but you’re better off staying at a lot of pubs nearby. There is a new challenge to the “place to be” crown in the form of the Baltic Triangle, where a decade-long transformation has transformed warehouses into creative spaces, bars and restaurants.
Farther north, there’s a real buzz across downtown. Too many city centers and towns have become dull, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic; here it’s lively all week long, with major and indie street chains (plus a statue of Beatles manager Brian Epstein) all circling the 138m-tall St John’s Beacon.
There is also the waterfront, a network of docks and associated canals around Pier Head. I stopped for lunch in Malmaison, eating in the hotel’s newly refurbished restaurant by the water. The colorful high-ceilinged dining room looks fantastic, and the addition of a Josper oven to the kitchen makes it an obvious choice if you’re looking for a steak.
Eurovision’s hosting status has given Liverpool the chance to show how they can confidently step into the limelight as the UK’s modern city breakout destination. More than 100,000 visitors are expected to take part in the week-long competition, with NatWest estimating that the event could bring in around £40 million in visitor spending. This could be a legacy-building event for Liverpool, coming 15 years after it became the European Capital of Culture.
Dr Michael Jones, senior lecturer in the music industry at the University of Liverpool, told BBC that Eurovision is a “huge hit” for the city, an “expression of confidence”.
And there’s a long list of reasons why Liverpool should stand up from the post-industrial downturn and become one of the hottest weekend getaway destinations.
That it’s a compact city ticks one of the key boxes for a short stay, alongside the good Metro network and the fact that you can easily get around on foot. Walking is also your best way to fill in another highlight: the jumble of incredible architecture. The Three Graces are clear stars, three 20th-century icons in Liverpool’s skies most appreciated from a ferry on Mersey.
But equally impressive is the Neoclassical magnificence of St George’s Hall and Royal Albert Dock, the latter of which is the largest collection of Grade I-listed buildings in the UK, no affected by the stripping of Unesco’s World Heritage status.
Liverpool has claimed to have more museums and art galleries than any British city outside of London and, outside the capital, the most visited attractions of any city before the Great Depression. pandemic. Admission to most is free, including the brilliant International Slavery Museum, which confronts the past sensitively, and the Walker Gallery, where you’ll find works by Rembrandt, Rossetti and Monet in a quaint Victorian building near Lime Street station.
There are some great food options to be found too. Wreckfish, by chef Gary Usher, is one of the best, serving imaginative bistro cuisine without overcomplicating things. Another lauded option is Roski, a small space offering an interesting tasting menu with excellent wine pairings; kitchen operator is Chef King: Expert 2012 winner Anton Piotrowski.
For something simple, Leaf on Bold Street is well worth a visit; it’s a coffee shop that specializes in tea during the day and at night turns into a laid-back restaurant with cocktails influenced by a variety of loose leaf teas. The menu is a mix of dishes, which hopefully means there’s something to suit every taste.
And as for the Resident Hotel, located just off the Leaf, you can’t fault its location: right next to the bustle, with “legions” and clubs closed, but still quiet as you walk in. inside. Rooms have kitchenettes (microwave, fridge and kettle), comfortable but functional. Downstairs feels more on-trend and the staff seem to really know their stuff when it comes to giving advice on what to do locally.
But what Liverpool do really well is obsessively drinking. The “dirty old town”, made famous by The Pogues, rushes out of Irish pubs when the doors open; sports bars are filled with fans wearing soccer jerseys when Liverpool or Everton play; natural wine line at Bunch Wine Bar; and speakeasy-style cocktail spots are springing up everywhere.
In the end, I spent more time than planned at the Red Lion, which has been dubbed “the best pub in the world”. It’s a fun hangout: real beer on tap, homemade sausage rolls for snacks, and a bright interior true to the business’s traditional pub roots. Outside, I found myself chatting with a group of about twenty-somethings talking about Eurovision. One person told me succinctly: “A bank holiday going on in Eurovision fun – crazy.”
One pint turned into three, and there was no shortage of pride in their adoptive city (out of the four, only one was Liverpudlian born and raised). That is the confidence that Liverpool need to exploit.
As for whether Red Lion is the best pub in the world, I’ll let you decide that. But with the confidence of Scouser, who claims it, I heartily recommend booking a stay in this northern powerhouse, even after the Eurovision circus has left town.
The Resident Liverpool offers double rooms from £49 a night. Members of The Resident’s membership program can enjoy 15% off bookings, room upgrades, 25% off drinks and snacks, and early check-in and late check-out. Residenthotels.com
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