The secret attraction
The Mersey Tunnel tour is something that will even have escaped the attention of most Liverpudlians. Don’t be put off by the title, though; this is no dry geek-fest; you’ll discover unique Art Deco architecture and decoration, and a web of tunnels that have remained hidden from view for decades.
The machinery itself is a bewitching combination of high-tech and industrial iron, all beautifully explained by the tour guides who display the quick wit that makes Scouse humour the keystone of the city.
The tour takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings as well as Saturday mornings, and it lasts for approximately two hours.
Where to eat lunch
No visit to Liverpool would be complete without taking the Mersey Ferry and you should take the time to step off the boat for a bite to eat. An old booking office might be an unlikely setting for a restaurant but the Home café at the Woodside ferry terminal at Birkenhead is the perfect place for lunch.
The interior is unpretentious and elegant and the food is sublime: I recommend the halloumi sandwich served with a homemade salsa verde, which was one of the best things I ate in the whole of 2015.
Where to drink
If it’s sunny you might like to spend the afternoon sipping a gin-based cocktail in Liverpool’s latest pop-up bar, The Botanical Garden. An unprepossessing industrial estate in the Baltic triangle might not be the most obvious place to find one of the best gin bars in the UK – and I have to admit that it does take some finding – but it’s well worth the effort.
If the sun is shining you can sit back and bask in the walled courtyard while sipping something wonderful, and if it’s cold you can huddle under a blanket while clutching a hot water bottle. Yes, that’s right; you can enjoy your gin in the open air no matter how cold it gets – and if you get peckish, why not try some of the wonderful Cuban street food they serve there, too?
Where to stay
Located in the iconic Royal Insurance building in the heart of the city, Aloft Liverpool offers 116 rooms, many of which offer panoramic views across the city. The stained glass window in the lobby offers a spectacular introduction to your stay in an old building that manages to mix its original architectural features with bold, contemporary flourishes.
There is an onsite gym for those of you who are disciplined enough to want to try and burn off some holiday calories, while the rest of us will enjoy sipping a drink in the hotel’s bar or eating a meal in the NYL restaurant and bar that is located in the same building. (If you’re feeling very lazy, you can even order room service from there too…)
Where to shop
While Liverpool has some of the best shopping in the UK, why not pop down the road to enjoy the discounts available at Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet?
With more than 140 brands on offer, Cheshire Oaks is where fashion-conscious northerners flock for the latest designs at bargain process. There are a number of great places to eat and drink too, plus free parking. Oh, and Cheshire Oaks is also home to the biggest purpose-built Marks and Spencer in the world! (Not a lot of people know that…)