It’s time to take Liverpool seriously. This waterfront destination is gaining popularity as a cultural hotspot with more museums and galleries than any other city in Great Britain, outside of London, says Joe Keggin, press officer for Visitor Economy, Marketing Liverpool.
In 2013, Liverpool was the fifth most popular destination for international visitors with 562,000 overnight visits; the destination was also the fifth most visited for domestic travel, with 1.68 million overnight visits; and in 2013, Liverpool saw about 26,000 visitors from the U.S.
That uptick in visitors is due, in part, to cruise passengers, since Liverpool is a waterfront destination. “The 2014 season,” says Keggin, “saw visits from 50 vessels, bringing in 57,844 passengers with a boost to the local economy of around £4.49 million [$6.84 million]. This will increase in 2015, with 54 ships bringing more than 80,000 passengers.”
Recommend was invited to visit Liverpool during VisitBritain’s Hosted Buyers Marketplace (HBM) in 2014 (what is now called ExploreGB).
While there, we were schooled with some interesting “Did You Know” tourism facts: Liverpool’s Mersey River was made famous by the 1960’s tune “Ferry Cross The Mersey” by Brit band Gerry & The Pacemakers; Liverpool’s waterfront was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004 for its important role in the growth of the British Empire, the development of modern dock technology, and for its part in the transportation of the masses, from slaves to emigrants heading to America; and Liverpool is home to Europe’s oldest Chinese community, with about 10,000 Chinese residents living in the city.
Avanti Destinations’ product manager for Northern Europe, Gabriela Anderson, who was in Liverpool for HBM, says, “Liverpool stays in 2015 are off to a great start, since we’re already showing an increase of 15 percent. After my visit, I was so impressed with everything that Liverpool has to offer, that it seemed natural to offer a London-Liverpool package for 2015, A Beatles Experience.”
The itinerary includes a tour of The Beatles Story, the Magical Mystery Tour, a private tour of Liverpool, and a 1-hour cruise on the Mersey River.
For four days, Liverpool was ours. From sunrise to sunset, the city by the Mersey River presented its best in arts & culture, dining, shopping, a lively pub scene, and, let’s not forget, a saturation of rock n’ roll history, for here is where The Fab Four came to be. Some memorable moments include:
- Mersey Ferry Cruise: Liverpool’s world-famous waterfront was awash in a light fog on the day we boarded the ferry that would take us on a 50-minute ride along the Mersey River. Complete with commentary on the waterfront’s history, with snippets of the “Ferry Cross The Mersey” song playing in the background, the ferry cruise sliced through the river where the mercantile buildings, Albert Dock and the city’s museums are on full display. The cost for an adult ticket for the 50-minute river cruise ride is $12.95 pp (at press time).
- Crosby Beach: About a 20-minute drive north from the city-center lies Crosby Beach and its spectacular Another Place installation of 100 cast iron figures, all strategically placed along two miles of shoreline. The life-size statues are made from casts of the artist’s own body, each staring out to sea in silence—in high-tide, some of the figures are completely submerged in water. Swimming is prohibited at Crosby Beach, but it makes for an ideal photo-op.
- The Beatles Story and Magical Mystery Tour: A trip to Liverpool is not complete without a visit to The Beatles Story, an audio exhibition retelling the musical group’s history narrated by John Lennon’s sister, and the 2-hour Magical Mystery Tour bus ride in and around Liverpool. Whether a fan of The Beatles or not, learning about how this influential group came to be, where they grew up, and seeing the places that inspired their music (Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane) is a must-do. The Magical Mystery Tour ends at The Cavern Club, a renowned club where The Beatles, and other great names in rock and pop music, played.
- Anglican Cathedral: The UK’s largest cathedral, and the fifth largest in the world, is an imposing structure. The church’s tower is open to the public and stands 500 ft. high; entrance to the Cathedral is free, but there is a small fee to access the church’s tower. The Anglican Cathedral was also where fans and family gathered to remember John Lennon in March 1981, and in May 2009, hundreds were present when the bells of the Cathedral rang John Lennon’s song, “Imagine.”
- Liverpool’s Cultural Scene: From its International Slavery Museum—a moving museum chronicling the transatlantic slave trade and located on Liverpool’s Albert Dock, where 18th century slave trading ships were repaired and outfitted for the journey—to the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the Museum of Liverpool and Tate
Liverpool, the city is awash in art, culture, and history. The Museum of Liverpool, which opened in 2011, is the first national museum devoted to Liverpool’s history, while just along the waterfront stands Tate Liverpool, home of the national collection of modern and contemporary art in the north of England (in 2015, exhibitions include pieces by Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock).
The Malmaison Liverpool is where we rested our weary bodies after hours of sightseeing. The boutique brand of hotels, with 13 in the UK, is situated along the banks of the Mersey River and features modern suites designed in colors of deep purple, red and brown; every floor is dedicated to The Beatles with music from the band playing 24/7 (this writer loved it). The hotel’s onsite restaurant, Brasserie, serves a hearty breakfast buffet, and guests also have access to a gym and Le Petit Spa. Room rates range from £79 ($120 at press time) a night to £91 ($138) for a suite and breakfast, and £99 ($150) for weekend rates.
Another option is the newly opened Aloft Liverpool. A Starwood Hotels & Resorts brand, the Aloft Liverpool, set in a 110-year-old historic building, is situated near Liverpool’s shopping areas and nightlife, and features 116 loft-style guestrooms, the brand’s signature w xyz bar and complimentary WiFi. The property is the fourth Aloft hotel in Europe and the second in the UK. Rates range from £79 ($120) to £189 ($288).