Recommended: Liverpool

As I was brought up by the sea, I have found that the older that I get, the more landlocked I feel, longing to see the sea. Often, weekend breaks (particularly where we live with the Peak District, Wales and Lake District all close by,) are focused on historic cities or rolling countryside, yet I prefer a town I can get dressed up for, culture to absorb and a coastal influence, so en route home to Southport for Easter, we spent a day and night in Liverpool. When I was growing up, Liverpool was where I would venture for decent shopping and many a family day out was spent at it’s Albert Docks, but so much has changed since then it’s worth another look now. Liverpool gets a terrible rap whether it’s for the accent or sweeping generalisations about the people which are outdated and (like so many other stereotypes) ignorant. I’m proud of the city and I hope my little round up will encourage you to consider visiting and enjoying it – there is something for everyone.

We started off at the newly built Malmaison Hotel. Overlooking the river, it’s in a regenerated area that previously hardly existed and perfectly located next door to the Liver Building for walking along the river front into central Liverpool. I’ve mentioned the great deals you can get in most Malmaison hotels and we took advantage of a Room, dinner and cocktails for two offer, for just £99 and you can park next door for 24 hours for £10.

The next morning, after a Mal breakfast feast we bundled up (Liverpool is ALWAYS cold, due to the bracing wind off the Mersey,) and headed off towards our first stop, the Albert Docks. In 2008 Liverpool was European Capital of Culture and has been vastly regenerated as a result. We walked past the new Museum of Liverpool in it’s incredible purpose built building (free to visit) towards the Albert Docks which house the Maritime Museum (focusing on the city’s naval history and strong links to the slave trade triangle between Africa, Liverpool and the Caribbean,) The Tate Liverpool and where we were headed, The Beatles Story. I’m not a huge Beatles fan, but Pete is and wanted to see it, plus from a cultural perspective it’s an interesting take on an era. Our tickets were £12.95 and we spent about 2 hours going around with the audio guide. It was a little repetitive in places but a must for a fan, I would say.

Other cultural attractions in the city include The World Museum (a more traditional museum with egyptian mummies, dinosaurs and a planetarium,) 2 cathedrals and performances at the Liverpool Empire and St Georges Hall.

For me Liverpool was always a shopping destination and the shopping area was very disparate from the Albert Docks. The creation of the new Liverpool One shopping centre and surrounding sleek glass arcades and streets now house shopping to rival Manchester and you can literally cross the road from the Albert Docks and be there straight away. There are also restaurants and an Odeon cinema. After a quick Pret lunch we headed into the shops for a bit of a spree and ended our day walking back along the river front to pick up the car and head back to Southport. You can also explore nearby Mathew Street for a boutique area and lots of musical references as it was originally the site of the famous Cavern club.

Our Liverpool adventure didn’t end in Southport however. On Easter Sunday we drove back to Crosby to walk on the beach and see Antony Gormley’s Another Place. A public art installation, it consists of 100 life sized iron men positioned along 3km of coastline and up to 1km out. As it is an estuary, your experience of the men varies according to whether the tide is in or out and many of them are partly or completely submerged at different times of the day, particularly when we visted at the spring high tide.

The men are strangely haunting and spooky, meant to represent ‘the individual and universal sentiments associated with emigration – sadness at leaving, but the hope of a new future in another place.’ You’d be best driving here (probably 15 mins from central Liverpool or less, and there are directions, or public transport information here. We were lucky as it was sunny but wrap up whatever the weather to avoid freezing on the beach!

Have you ever visited Liverpool or have I encouraged you to plan a trip today? If you happen to be a Liverpool local and have any recommendations, for sightseeing or eating/drinking, do leave a comment below!


Recommended: Malmaison London

Going to London for me is often about trying out new places but with a hectic schedule of sightseeing or friends to catch up with what I actually crave is familiar luxury and a warm welcome. Luckily, you can get seductive style and comfort in London at a reasonable price in a great location, with the London Malmaison.

Last year during the London Dream Find Do workshop, Michelle and I were guests of the London Mal. Tucked away in historic Charterhouse square you immediately feel cosseted by the sumptuous decor. We arrived late and headed straight down the the Brasserie where we were immediately soothed and revitalised by modern tuna cerviche and perfectly cooked lamb followed by chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream and an impressive cocktail list. Afterwards, the room was exactly what the doctor ordered. Super soft beds, heavy weight linens, power showers and relaxing toiletries; that luxury feeling that comes as standard at The Mal.

After a rested night we opted for breakfast in the room and were wowed by the breakfast basket tray that was delivered with more breakfast on it than even this hungry girl could eat. The croissants? Heaven.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Malmaison hotels. For me they are reliably good with a bit of cheeky naughtiness, always stylish and often unexpected buildings, with great breakfasts and locations. What’s even better is the range of offers that extend to London too, with the same Sunday Stopovers, Sunday Brunch and bargain room offers as the rest of the country with only a small mark up considering it is London. In a city that can sometimes be confusing when it comes to hotels, this one gets my seal of approval for a romantic weekend or a girls’ getaway.

Have you stayed at The Malmaison London?


PS! If you’re interested in the next Dream Find Do workshops keep your eyes peeled for an announcement of more dates coming soon!

Disclaimer: Rebecca stayed for one night as a guest of The Malmaison London, but if she wouldn’t recommend it to a friend, you wouldn’t be hearing about it here.

Recommended: Malmaison Leeds

A little while ago, when I was heading over to Leeds for the PenDo extravaganza, I needed somewhere to stay. It’s surprising how many places in the UK are devoid of boutique hotels and when that is the case, or I simply haven’t got the time to do the researching leg work, I tend to turn to the Malmaison group for a reliably stylish retreat.

The Leeds Mal wasn’t the first I have stayed in. I spent a brilliant weekend away with a group of work friends a few years back in Edinburgh and have frequented the Birmingham Mal too. They’re always in a great location, and often a notable building, lending character which is always nice.

The Malmaison Leeds was in a brilliant location for my visit, just a couple of streets away from a few of the places we frequented and really close to the station too.

What I like about the Malmaison is the decor. I love that ‘hotel chic’ look and the moody dark look to the public spaces. The bar was buzzing when I came back after a day out with the girls and I found myself looking longingly towards the restaurant and their Brasserie French food when my tummy was rumbling before dinner!

The room was, no exaggeration, massive, with a huge bed and a really warm but stylish look. The bathrooms are stocked with one of my favourite touches, large-sized toiletries that you are encouraged to take away (and I did!) After a long day and an appropriately tiring night it was heaven to sink into the huge bed and slip into a deep sleep with a lie in in the morning thanks to the super heavy curtains.

It was a tough call after THAT bed, but the highlight was breakfast. Again the brasserie was buzzing and I settled into a corner with my copy of the morning paper and a selection from the continental breakfast. I am partial to an egg when I have time for breakfast, so I opted for the eggs benedict. From now I’d like all my butter to come wrapped up in little packages like this please. One lovely touch was the locally sourced ingredients, including yogurts from a West Yorkshire dairy farm. It’s always nice when a chain hotel goes the extra mile to keep things local.

I had such a great stay that I’ll definitely be considering a return trip if I’m in the vicinity or if I’m visiting another city. There are Malmaison hotels in Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford and Reading if you’re looking for a city break and you can often get rooms for bargain rates by booking ahead. I think the Friday Wine and Dine is a brilliant deal – Room, dinner and a bottle of wine for £99. Go on, treat yourself…

Have you stayed or eaten at the Malmaison? I’d love to hear your thoughts as ever…


Disclaimer: Rebecca stayed for one night as a guest of the Leeds Malmaison, but if she wouldn’t recommend it to a friend, you wouldn’t be hearing about it here.

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