Friday, 29 August 2008

Hard Day’s Night Hotel review – Beatles themed hotel in Liverpool, England

The Hard Day’s Night Hotel is a new luxury hotel in Liverpool, Merseyside, England. It opened in 2008 as part of the city’s European Capital of Culture celebrations.

A dirty weekend with Ringo Starr?
“I’ve brought a scarf,” said The Good Lady, clearly pleased with her innovative solution to what had become a distressing potential problem.
“Just in case it’s Ringo,” she responded, with an air of conspiratorial wisdom. “The others I can cope with, but I’m not doing anything with Ringo looking down on me.”
Similar thoughts had gone through my mind, although a blindfold for Ringo was probably a little excessive. We were going for a dirty weekend in the world’s first Beatles-themed hotel, and weren’t really sure what to expect. The Hard Day’s Night Hotel has only just opened in Liverpool, and all we had to go on were a few rumours.

Beatles theme
Just how Beatles-themed would it be? The odd signed album cover in the lobby, or full-on regalia in each room? I was plagued by the image of looking up mid-flow to see Paul McCartney grinning, with his thumbs aloft. That sort of thing could scar for life.
And there were other hideous thoughts too. What if the TV suddenly burst to life with “A Little Help From My Friends” the moment that a few saucy extras were pulled out of the suitcase? Would there be Sgt Pepper dressing gowns? Or John and Yoko dolls in the bed on arrival?

Grade II listed building
Mercifully, it appears as though the taste police have largely held sway throughout the whole operation. The Hard Day’s Night is in a Grade II-listed building with marble columns and staircases, and gives off the air of a grand old hotel that has been given a modern twist.
The Beatles-theme is relatively prominent but unobtrusive. It’s feasible that the perpetually unobservant simply wouldn’t notice if they didn’t know in advance.

Statues of the Fab Four
The classic example of this is on the outside. There are four statues (no prizes for guessing who) adorning the building’s imposing facade, but they seem like they’re supposed to be there. A passing glance, and you probably wouldn’t twig it was the Fab Four, despite the guitars they’re holding.
Inside, it’s in the same vein. The staircase is lined by a stream of limited edition photos taken throughout the Beatles’ career, but that’s probably the most in-your-face aspect.

Modern-looking lobby
A modern look is in place for the lobby – a circumspect reception desk and some bold, stylish furniture. The rounded orange chairs would ordinarily not fit well in a building like this, but as everything from the lift to the rooms has been moulded to the contours of the building, everything looks just natural enough to pull off some of the odder quirks.
Throughout the lobby are cabinets containing memorabilia, such as the musical score for Yesterday, and there’s the odd totally incongruous artefact placed for a bit of fun. That’ll be the Yellow Submarine Jukebox then.

Blake’s restaurant in Liverpool
The restaurant – Blake’s - has a sleek modern-classic look to it, with the occasional maverick touch, such as the massive lights with seemingly hundreds of bulbs in. It’s named after Sir Peter Blake, the designer of the Sgt Pepper Album cover, and there’s a hanging wall of his photographs. All of them feature people who were on the world’s most famous record sleeve, and again it’s surprising that they seem to slip into the background.
The bar is a little more heart on sleeve, but the big splashy-paint pictures of the boys are pretty cool, and work nicely amongst the wavy chocolate carpet and settees melded into the wood panelling.

Expensive cocktails
However, it does strike the hotel’s first bum note. It’s trying to appear a lot classier than it is – there’s a £750 (AU$1,635) cocktail on the menu, and even the normal ones cost £8.95 (AU$19.50). That could work if they didn’t have tacky names like Honey Can’t Buy Me Love, Strawberry Fields With Pepper and Yellow Matter Custard. The latter isn’t even yellow.
Bar Four leans a little bit towards what a footballer’s wife would regard as classy. And, sad to say it, it’s impossible to get delusions of grandeur when the cocktail waitresses have broad Scouse accents.

What are the rooms like?
But let’s face it, no-one goes for a dirty weekend to spend their time looking at furnishings downstairs. It’s the rooms that count, and that’s where the true horrors potentially await.
We opened the door nervously, half expecting a movement sensor-triggered blast of “All You Need Is Love” as we crossed the threshold.

Facilities including wireless internet
Such fears were – unfortunately, for those of a more childish disposition - unfounded. The rooms are rather stylish, and mercifully subdued. All the mod cons are there – wireless internet, flat screen TV built into the wall, rain showers and heated towel rails in the bathroom – as well as a few neat extras. You can’t go wrong with a free fruit bowl, complimentary chocs and some posh biscuits near the coffee-making facilities.

Temperature control
There’s a computerised panel by the bed for light dimming/ turning off and temperature control. However, unless you’re made entirely of ice, you’ll probably need to open a window. Who in their right mind thinks that 22 to 28 degrees is a reasonable range of temperatures to sleep in? They may as well park a radiator under the bed.
In fact, we could only find two Beatles-themed touches. The first was on the bathtub’s showerhead – it’s shaped like a microphone, which is unquestionably dead cool.

Picture over the bed
The second, of course, was the picture over the bed.
“Praise George Harrison’s Sweet Lord... it’s not Ringo.”
It was Paul, but mercifully not the Frog’s Chorus and Mull Of Kintyre wacky thumbs version. A young, beardy incarnation, wearing something of the granddad cardigan, his gaze is averted from the bed. Good job there’s an alternative use for scarves...

Getting to the Hard Day’s Night Hotel in Liverpool, Merseyside, England
The Hard Day’s Night Hotel (Central Buildings, North John Street) is just around the corner from the famous Cavern Club in central Liverpool. It’s within easy walking distance of Liverpool Lime Street Station.

More information: Hard Day’s Night Hotel website

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