A review of Liverpool's latest glam five-star The Municipal Hotel & Spa

the municipal hotel and spa liverpool
24 hours at The Municipal Hotel & Spa Liverpool The Municipal Hotel Liverpool

My last trip to Liverpool, in 2014, was quite odd. As a travel editor I’d been invited to film an episode of The Hotel Inspector on Channel 5 with Alex Polizzi - we stayed at Epstein House, a strange little B&B on the outskirts of the city once owned by the Beatle’s manager Brian Epstein. Let’s just say it didn’t leave me longing to return.

Since that whirlwind 24-hour trip, Liverpool’s hit the headlines for all kinds of positive reasons including hosting Eurovision in 2023, revitalising Royal Albert Dock, being made European Capital of Culture plus some exciting new openings like Scandi-meet-Brit NORD restaurant and, most recently, The Municipal Hotel & Spa, a five-star adding some serious glamour to its city break credentials. Clearly it was time to revisit and banish the memory of thick pink (slightly stained) carpets and creaky beds.

Five-star you say?

municipal hotel and spa liverpool
The grand facade The Municipal Hotel Liverpool

Yep, this is a big, luxurious hotel that feels like it could be picked up and plonked in London or New York and fit right in, which would be a shame because then it wouldn’t have all the amazingly friendly staff who make this place such a treat to visit.

Based in magnificent former council offices on Dale Street in the heart of the city, the sandy-stoned building dates back to 1868 and, as my dad would say, ‘they don’t make them like that any more’. And he’s right, it’s grand in an old school way, complete with columned facade, wide steps and a clock tower, the kind of building you know would have some great stories if the walls could talk. It’s also super convenient to reach, being just an eight-minute walk from Liverpool Lime Street station.

What’s it like inside?

the municipal hotel liverpool
The Municipal Hotel Liverpool

It’s got the kind of soaring ceilings, wide corridors and sweeping staircases you’d expect from another era, but the furnishings are bang up-to-date. After a warm welcome from Charlotte on reception I was ushered to room 247, a large family suite (I was travelling with my two children in tow) with two double beds and a super long desk with plenty of plugs - clearly the designer knew most youngsters now travel with a range of gadgets that need constant charging. Line drawings of city landmarks, velvet cushions and tan leather chairs added a cosy vibe, despite the room’s size, and the dark blue bathroom was immaculate, think herringbone tiles, walk-in monsoon shower and Culti Milano toiletries. I loved the art deco influences throughout and retro touches like a dial telephone, something the kids seemed fascinated by.

a bathroom at the municipal hotel liverpool
My immaculate bathroom The Municipal Hotel Liverpool

Confession time. The hotel’s so big I did get a little lost. In my defence, there’s a lot to navigate - 179 bedrooms, nooks, corridors, staircases and fire doors - but the good news is even if you do happen to lose your bearings, friendly staff are around to guide you plus most routes eventually lead back to Palm Court, the vast, beating heart of the hotel.

And what about the food, as good as the decor?

botanic tea room at the municipal hotel liverpool
Botanic Tea Room The Municipal Hotel Liverpool

Absolutely. This is ‘treat’ territory, the kind of place you book for an anniversary, birthday or first romantic weekend away. I loved afternoon tea served (noon-5pm) in the high-ceilinged Botanic Tea Room with enormous windows overlooking Dale Street, curved banquettes, white columns and a blossom tree dominating the centre of the room.

The overall effect is Manhattan-meet-Liverpool and the tiers of sandwiches and cakes that arrived and lengthy tea menu (including Dragon Well, a famous Chinese green tea) were just as impressive. We started by demolishing the salmon, ham, egg and cheese finger sandwiches, then moved up a tier to the scones (still warm, served with fresh cream and jam) and finally made it to the top tier, filled with delicate strawberry cheese cake, mini carrot cakes, macaroons and, the pièce de résistance, an edible flower pot complete with soil and petals. Blooming marvellous.

palm court at the municipal hotel liverpool
Palm Court The Municipal Hotel Liverpool

In the evening, hotel guests and smart-looking locals congregate around the central bar in Palm Court while a DJ plays and waiters expertly weave between tables. Filled with, you’ve guessed it, towering palm trees, it has a timeless air and at the back lies elegant Brit brasserie Seaforth Restaurant, a great place to soak up the atmosphere while perusing a menu full of satisfying dishes.

seaforth restaurant at the municipal hotel liverpool
Seaforth Restaurant The Municipal Hotel Liverpool

I started with delicate scallops in miso butter and samphire, followed by a hearty main of flaky stone bass with comforting slices of potato terrine and ponzu glazed maitake mushrooms. All delicious, though I was tempted to try the Scouse Signature Dish simply because of the name - braised shoulder rump, beetroot mash, pickled cabbage ketchup, chantenay carrots, swede and charred baby leek. Also tempting were the steaks served with dripping chips and a choice of sauces, including truffle. Plenty of plant-based options too, think whipped goats cheese or wild mushroom starters.

Shout out to our waiter, Michael, who we ended up chatting to for so long we were on the verge of inviting him to pull up a chair and join us. A brilliant advert for legendary Scouse hospitality, he was knowledgable about everything from the menu to the hotel and city beyond, and the kids absolutely loved him.

Is there a spa?

swimming pool at the municipal hotel liverpool
The beautiful spa pool The Municipal Hotel Liverpool

Sure is. It’s adult-only and there’s a long (16-metre) blue-tiled pool, beautifully lit by floor-to-ceiling windows and lined with loungers to laze on, plus a thermal circuit including a Himalayan salt sauna, steam room, laconium, Jacuzzi and experience shower. If you want a massage or facial, there are four treatment rooms including a couples’ suite and therapists use Elemis and Grown Alchemist products. Want to work out? Not a problem as the hotel’s fitness centre is well-equipped with weights, bikes, running machine and more. My only complaint? It’s an additional £30 to use the spa facilities, which I haven’t come across in a five-star hotel before.

Out and about...

The Municipal’s location is 10/10. You're ten minutes' walk from the Liver Building, which I recommend visiting to discover the origins of the city and for the sensational 360˚ views of the River Mersey, docks and city skyline. Footie fans won't want to miss a tour of Anfield, Liverpool FC’s home stadium, while the cathedral’s a 25-minute stroll and well worth a visit.

The hotel’s friendly team’s on hand to advise on opening times, arrange taxis and even provide umbrella’s if it’s raining (thanks!), nothing’s too much trouble and it feels a bit like coming home when you return from an excursion and everyone asks how it was! Truly, this is one of the friendliest city centre hotels I’ve ever visited.

Go there!

Double room from a bargain £108.90pn BOOK NOW

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