Let me guess, this place is Rolling Stones-themed? Ha ha! Close – 2018 marks 10 years since the first and only Beatles-themed hotel in Liverpool, England, opened its doors. The self-proclaimed “Fab Four star” property is found smack in the middle of the “Beatles Quarter”: a marketing concept in the making.
On Penny Lane? Nope, the Grade II listed building, dating back to 1884, stands in the heart of the city centre, on the same block as another Beatles haunt: the Cavern Club (in the early 1960s, the Fab Four performed at the venue nearly 300 times).
The hotel building has no direct link to the band but it is brilliantly located, only a 15-minute walk to waterfront attractions including the Royal Albert Dock and the Beatles statue at Pier Head, or a short cab ride to Goodison Park stadium, home to the city’s first football club (the blue one, not the red). When you are not sightseeing, the city’s best shopping, dining and nightlife come together on your doorstep.
“I’m only sleeping”; where? There are 110 rooms – over five floors – in which you may find yourself “Lying there and staring at the ceiling. Waiting for a sleepy feeling” (that’s a 1966 song reference, for those at the back).
Each room features a portrait of one of the Beatles; I got Ringo Starr, looking as though he’ll not have to wait long for that sleepy feeling. The two most sought after and expensive suites – Lennon and McCartney – are on the top floor. The Lennon Suite is all white and comes complete with a bedroom, a lounge and a baby grand piano, the decor incorporating large photographs of John, including one of him with Yoko Ono, in London’s Savile Row.
What’s on the menu? Macca and cheese? How did you guess? Blakes Restaurant is named after acclaimed British pop artist Peter Blake and an entire wall is covered in shots of all those who appeared on his cover for the Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
“Fixing a hole” may not be the greatest gastronomic tagline, but Blakes delivers on its promise with British classics such as fish and chips. In addition to Macca and cheese, other painfully pun-tastic dishes include “You say Good-Pie, I say Hello” and “The Magical Pastry Tour”.
Ouch. I feel like I need a little help from my friends, gin and tonic. You’re in luck because in addition to Blakes you can also wet your whistle at Bar Four, The Lounge & Bar and Live Lounge, the last of which features performances by local bands. Expect more than a few requests for Yesterday.
There is also the residents-only Hari’s Bar – an awkwardly named homage to George Harrison and Hare Krishna, the mantra popularised in the West by the Beatles’ lead guitarist. Hari’s enjoys a 2am curfew as it’s in the basement, meaning there are no rooms within earshot.
Any memorabilia? It’s not the Hard Rock Cafe, but the ground-floor Lounge & Bar features some Beatles memorabilia and autographs. The original staircase houses a gallery of black-and-white photos of the band running in chronological order, starting at the bottom with their first incarnation as the Quarrymen and rising five storeys, to the most recent shots, on the top floor.
What about my fellow guests? The property is, of course, popular with Japanese and American tourists, but increasingly Chinese and Brazilian visitors are making the musical pilgrimage to Liverpool. In 2011, Beatlemania was replaced with Biebermania as the then 17-year-old superstar made the Hard Days Night Hotel his home for the night. The thousands of screaming fans in the streets must have taken older Liverpudlians back a few decades.
Can’t buy me love, but you can buy me a stay at this place. Errr … right; the hotel currently has an All You Need is Love package for two that includes champagne and other goodies for £225 (US$290) per room, per night.
Cathay Pacific flies direct from Hong Kong to Manchester, which is less than an hour from Liverpool by car or by train.