AWAITS IN REGENERATED LIVERPOOL
It’s often hard to believe that the regeneration of our major cities has turned them into some of the most wanted places to visit.
Take Liverpool for instance, before its massive regeneration it was not somewhere you would chose to spend a staycation or weekend break – but fast forward and with the massive investments in redevelopment and restoring its once grimy Victorian buildings its become a vibrant, booming and a ‘must have’ place to visit
Cruise ships full of foreign tourists on the round Britain voyages dock here to soak up its cultural history and thousands pose for their pictures infront of the Beatles statue, take trips to Strawberry Fields, visit the Cavern and the famous Royal Albert Dock and visit dozens of other tourist friendly attractions.
But the biggest change to the Liverpool scene is the investment in hospitality and top class hotel accommodation.
Situated in Old Hall Street, The INNSIDE by Melia is only a short distance from Lime Street Railway Station and provides the perfection location to explore the local culture, the shopping district and the iconic Robert Albert Dock – which are all within walking distance.
When we arrived at the hotel it brought back memories of my early days as a ‘news hack’ for this building was the former Echo and Daily Post building. There seems to be a fashion now about creating former newspaper offices into hotels and the Echo & Post is no exception.
But what has been created from the shell of a building here in Liverpool has just as much life, vibrance and energy as it did when it was the hub of creating news – and I should know as I have spent half my career in the newsroom environment.
I fondly remember often coming to see my friend a reporter on that publication. As we mounted the stairs it all came flooding back and I felt I could almost hear the raised voices, phones ringing and general hulla-bulloo of the newsroom. This building is still as exciting as it was back in the 70’s.
Running through the whole ground floor of the hotel, is The Gino D’Acampo Old Hall Street Restaurant, a stylish open plan 200 cover restaurant with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the street whose name it bears whilst flowing seamlessly into the dining space is a beautifully styled lounge bar.
The hotel’s reception is light, airy with a contemporary twist and is a good overture for what you can expect when you get to your room. The staff are some of the friendliest and most obliging I have come across for a while. Check in was easy and quick and nothing was too much trouble – even finding coins for the parking meters outside and telling me where the nearest place was to buy a good brand mascara!
Once through the door the lift took us to our room in double time. Not having stayed at one of the Melia Groups hotels I just didn’t know what to expect – but all I can say is our room had the contemporary wow factor!
The design of our river view room was amazing. It was so well planned and spacious. I loved the fact that we had windows on all sides with amazing views over the Mersey. The T.V. was mounted on a half wall and at the back of this was another area with table, chairs and an expresso machine – morning coffee overlooking the river whilst my partner was still in the land of nod was a real treat for me as hack-like I scribbled my notes as many had done in the past in this very building.
The bathroom was another thing again well planned with a large rainwater shower and copious amount of good class toiletries, fluffy towels, robes and flannels.
There were other thoughtful touches too including a mini-fridge and lots of complimentary mineral water and the bed was blissfully comfortable with crisp linen sheets.
After unpacking and a short walk we decided it was time for a reviving drink in the lounge. Gino D’Acampo’s bar has one of the largest selections of prosecco, sparking wine and Franciacorta in the country.
I decided to try a glass of Prosecco Rose and I was not disappointed it was bubbly and had real flavour and didn’t leave me with a headache as most Prosecco’s do whilst my partner, who has lived in Italy ,enjoyed a Peroni Nastro Azzurro part of the craft beer collection which is available.
Once into our glad rags it was time to venture to 18th floor and the Gino D’Acampo 360 Sky bar and experience yet another wow factor!!!
This bar has panoramic views over the city that are simply amazing – and are even more amazing at sunset. (see our main picture).It’s a very romantic place too and just the kind of spot to celebrate a memorable occasion or anniversary or even to pop the question. It’s also a place to give your swish outfit an airing as it has a very sophisticated atmosphere.
The 360 Sky bar serves some awesome cocktails. I loved the Stary Sky with Henricks Lunar Gin, Orange Angostura Bitters and Simple Syrup whilst my partner sampled Catch Flights Not Feelings with an unusual mix of Discarded Banana Peel, Rum Banana Liquor, Pineapple, Lime and Almond Syrup.
The 360 Bar is a place to be savoured and has a wonderful atmosphere and comfortable seating – it’s a great place to make memories in.
Reluctantly it was time to leave the 360 Bar and its marvellous views and make our way down to the restaurant
The restaurant has a seasonal menu with new dishes added that focus on the season’s key ingredients all hand picked from the best producers in the UK and Italy including pasta from Pastificio Liguori, one of the oldest pasta producers in Italy.
Do try the new carefully curated sharing board, as we did, which is exceptionally good value as the overture to your meal. The Tre Cicchetti is a great choice with Parma Ham and Ndjuga, King Prawns, Chilli Mayonaise and Tomato and Basil on toasted Ciabatta and the portions are very very generous.
On the new menu are two seasonal variants on pizzas, new classic Italian meat and fish dishes, four new pasta and risotto dishes, and one of the highlights from Gino’s T.V. series the lamb stew Pugliese which combines red wine, Leccino olives, peas and toasted ciabatta.
Even the dessert course has a new twist with Nutella calzone served with caramelised banana and toasted hazelnuts – a perfect combination of sweet and savoury and the yummy Chocolate Cake with Ferrrero Rocher.
After your meal there’s plenty of space to sit and enjoy a nightcap in the lounge or in your room overlooking the twinkling lights of the port – before its lights out!
After more years than I care to mention sampling hotel breakfasts I can tell you honestly that these can be hit and miss – but breakfast at Ginos is one of the very best I have sampled for a long long time.
We opted for the Tradizionale of the many hot breakfasts on offer. The juices we started with were freshly squeezed and you could taste that immediately and my English breakfast tea arrived in a pot – which I always love.
But our main course was absolutely amazing and worth waiting for with free range eggs from Cumbria, smoked streaky bacon, portobello mushroom, roast cherry tomatoes, sausage and was served on a massive platter with sour dough toast. The breakfast portion was more than generous!
It was now time to say farewell to the INNSIDE reluctantly but this is a hotel I would gladly come back to and would have no doubts about staying at any of their other properties.
Twinned with the fabulous Ginos this is a match made in heaven.
The location of the hotel and restaurant is Old Hall Street, Liverpool L3 9LQ
For hotel information visit www.innside.com/liverpool
For further information on the restaurant or to make a reservation visit Liverpool@ginodacampohotelsandleisure.com or Tel: 0151 832 4517
Liz Coggins is a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers.