Planning a city break? Here's our guide to Liverpool, including hotels, restaurants and things to do

·7-min read

Thanks to the events of the last two years (you don't need a reminder), staycations have officially become the new vacations. Yep, international travel restrictions have meant we've all spent a whole lot more time on home soil and, you know what, it's not been too much of a bad thing. We've been able to explore plenty of what the UK has to offer right on our doorstep - from coastal getaways to rural road trips and weekend city breaks.

So, in the spirit of our collective newfound love for British city staycations, I headed to Liverpool - Manchester's smaller (and, IMO, just as cool) sibling.

With a high student population and plenty of young people working in the city, Liverpool has a notoriously booming nightlife. Still, it's not all clubs and bars; for every nighttime drinking venue, you're sure to find an equally as bustling brunch spot to nurse your hangover in too. And if food's what you're after, you'll find restaurants serving pretty much every type of cuisine you can think of.

Photo credit: Alexander Spatari - Getty Images
Photo credit: Alexander Spatari - Getty Images

As for culture, it's by no means in short supply. Thanks to the likes of The Beatles, there are a range of museums and art galleries to check out too.

Easily accessible by train from locations across the UK, Liverpool is a shout for those who don't fancy a long slog in the car. Still, if you choose to drive, it's well-connected via motorway too. Plus, the city is small enough to explore in just a couple of days, so if you only have the weekend to spare, it's an ideal spot.

So, if you're planning a trip and need some inspo, here are some of our favourite recommendations...

Where to stay:

Malmaison hotel Liverpool

For a city break, a central location is best, and that's what we got with Liverpool's Malmaison hotel. It's just one mile from Liverpool Lime Street station, so (for those arriving by train) you can take a short drive or a longer walk if you fancy seeing some sights on your way.

Situated right on Prince's Dock, the city centre location is matched by views of the water, and the hotel is just up the road from Liverpool's famous Royal Albert Dock too.

While city breaks can often feel busy, the Malmaison was the perfect place to relax and reset when we weren't out and about. Our room had both a huge bath *and* an open monsoon shower, which were a real treat for those of us used to dealing with cramped bathrooms and rubbish water pressure at home.

As for sleep, we all know there's no comfort like a hotel bed, and this one did not disappoint. We opted for a twin room and, thanks to some luxuriously comfy pillows, woke up feeling super refreshed and ready to get out and about the next day.

There's the option to have breakfast included when booking the Malmaison too which, of course, we did. You can choose from a standard hot menu plus a continental buffet. Delish.

Plus, with the Malmaison's in-house Chez Mal restaurant and accompanying Chez Mal Bar, you could essentially eat all your meals there without having to leave. Of course, sightseeing called us, but the idea of going down to breakfast in PJs was very tempting.

Rooms at Malmaison Liverpool start at £74 per night.

Where to eat (and drink)

Food

Eating and drinking = an important part of any trip, IMO. Owing to unfortunately terrible weather outdoors (hey, sadly that's one thing that can't be helped in the UK), we actually tried the food at the Malmaison's Chez Mal brasserie during our first afternoon. Exposed brick walls and hanging artwork offered up a v stylish atmosphere as we browsed the menu - which includes everything from burgers and steaks to Thai and Indian dishes. Plus, there's the option to eat al fresco by the waterfront (when the weather is on side).

For coffee, brunch and independent shops, head to Bold Street - famous for its range of cute café options. Bold Street Coffee is known for its Egg Buoys (scrambled egg with melted cheese inside a lightly toasted brioche bun), and you'll find understated classic breakfast options on the menu too - from avocado toast to a bacon butty.

On Bold Street, we also stumbled upon The Italian Club, perfect for those in search of an authentic Italian in the city. There are all the pizza and pasta options you could wish for, and family photos scattered across the walls add a homely touch. Plus, there's even a corresponding bakery just round the corner.

Liverpool's Baltic Market, close to Royal Albert Dock, is a a bustling option for more casual dining. Food options from a range of traders means there's something for the whole friend group, and fun seasonal events pop up from time to time too.

Drinks

As an alternative to the city centre, head to Lark Lane where you'll find a range of cool, independent bars. Close to Sefton Park south of the city centre, the street has a reputation for being the trendy, "bohemian" part of the city.

We tried out Lark Lane's The Old School House, which offered up a range of cocktails creatively named after playground games (see: Duck, Duck, Goose and Cat's Cradle). School desk-type seating adds a nice touch to the theme too, while huge tables in the middle of the room are ideal for a big group gathering.

For busier bars and clubs, there's Concert Square, where you'll find a lot of the city's nightlife concentrated in one area. There are tonnes of venues to choose from if you're planning a big night out (and the pedestrianised area means you can easily switch from bar to bar). Plus, there's a Popworld which (for me) really is a selling point all on its own, tbh.

What to do

Liverpool's famous Royal Albert Dock is a must-see, and you'll find yet more cafes, bars and restaurants there too. If you're after a museum or a gallery to browse, it's close to the Tate Liverpool too (which is free to enter).

Of course, you can't think of Liverpool without thinking of The Beatles. The band's famous Cavern Club (where they played 300 times) is a favourite for music fans, and the club offers information on a whole range of other Beatles-dedicated activities and tours too.

Sefton Park in the south of the city is perfect for walks all year round. And a handy tip for getting about? Try the city's new e-scooters. Liverpool started an e-scooter pilot scheme back in October 2020, meaning you'll find scooters dotted about the city available to hire via your phone. Efficient and lots of fun.

Photo credit: CassielMx - Getty Images
Photo credit: CassielMx - Getty Images

How to get there

As a regular train-traveller, I'm a big fan of sitting back and enjoying the journey without having to do any extra work. Liverpool is well connected to the rest of the country via rail and we travelled up from London in about 2 hours 20 minutes, affording lots of time to take in the views of the British countryside.

You'll find departures to Liverpool from across the country, and planning your journey is easy via National Rail. Plus, the Let’s Get Back on Track initiative is offering exclusive food, drink and theatre discounts for travellers too.

Alternatively, you can drive in Liverpool via the M62 which connects the city to Manchester and then onwards to Leeds and Hull.

If you're further afield, you can even fly into Liverpool John Lennon Airport from across the UK and Europe, while Manchester Airport is just 45 minutes away.

Prices for a return journey to Liverpool Lime Street from London Euston start from £18 from www.avantiwestcoast.co.uk. When you travel by train you can book with confidence with fee free changes up to 6pm the day before you travel. Plan your next journey at www.nationalrail.co.uk.

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