A Hard Day’s Night in Liverpool
I am in need of a warm welcome. I could even do with a hug. It feels like we have been wet and cold for a month as the floodwaters have washed across Northern Britain. At home in Cumbria we’ve had water under the floorboards and it’s ebbed and flowed in our cellar like the tide at Morecambe Bay. At times it felt like an ark would have been handy, but with no sign of Noah on the horizon, we opted for the next best thing; a short break in Liverpool to stay at the Holiday Inn. In this sponsored post we tell you about four arty and cool things to do with family in Liverpool in early 2016, and look at how Holiday Inn is working to make it easy for families to relax and have the perfect hard day’s night….
The Holiday Inn’s You’re Welcome campaign embraces messy kids and muddy feet and we have brought both. I stand dripping at the reception desk at the central Liverpool hotel after a morning walk where the weather once again turns grizzly. The children throw themselves onto comfy chairs and within seconds Matthew is asleep. We have been invited by the hotel chain to try out its family offering but the advertising says nothing about welcoming snoring teens?
We are efficiently booked in to a twin and a triple and handed five welcome packs. Matthew transfers himself to a bed to sleep. The other two log onto the free wi-fi and settle down. But we have the whole of Liverpool to explore and I would like our teens and tween to put down their phones? Yet this is supposed to be a weekend for them. What can we do?
It’s not possible: it’s real
Liverpool’s FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) has a new exhibition about our relationship with the online world that’s perfect for luring the teen out of the bedroom. With the help of a giant balloon that inflates with every mention or follow, and a video production studio, FACT’s ‘Follow’ exhibition is an interactive and engaging way of exploring our addictions to ‘personal marketing.’ Fake Instagram fans on a gallery wall compete for our attention with imaginary products in trippy videos. I am forced to consider my own identity within the context of my online existence and how I measure success, self image and importance with a click. And then on the way out I Instagram the experience to see how popular I really am.
Altered reality continues when we spill out onto Bold Street and into Central Perk, the café brand from Friends. The TV show is playing on a loop while good looking people relax by the fire or lounge on the red sofas. Our teens need no further invitation.
Liverpool’s Follow the Art Trail app takes us some of the way back to our hotel where we stamp our muddy boots once more through the revolving doors. Matthew considers another snooze but is cajoled into a pre-dinner robot table football tournament. Four of us spin and slice the air with silver androids on sticks while Cameron logs on to the free iMAC at the workstation in the open lobby and recharges his many devices on sockets with USB ports.
Social life at the Liverpool Central Holiday Inn revolves around this ‘open lobby’ concept. Although the building has been occupied by the hotel chain for a decade, Food and Beverage Operations Manager Barbara Liu tells me it had a refurbishment in February. Designers turned it from a beige canvas to the funky lime green studded space it is now, where smart coffee booths and a lounge and bar area merge into the pancake bar and restaurant. We relax over dinner in the restaurant while local hero Bill Shankly looks down on us from a huge picture wall.
For dinner we choose steaks and ribs while the two youngest eat for free from the kids’ menu. As part of the You’re Welcome offer two children under 18 stay for free when sharing a room with up to two adults while those under 13 can choose a free lunch and dinner from the children’s menu if they are eating with an adult.
Matthew is finally fully awake and the others are buzzing. Cameron invents a photography project using the quirky objects and sculptures that inhabit the shelves. Hannah decides to join him, climbing over seats and crawling under tables.
“Are they testing the boundaries of the ‘You’re Welcome’ offer?“ questions Stuart, eyebrows raised.
We set them all a table soccer challenge while we relax over coffee.
This location couldn’t be any more central. The panoramic restaurant windows look straight out to Lime Street Station where the last commuters of the day rush home and the lights twinkle amongst the steel girders and the stars. Just beyond our hotel the poppies of the Weeping Window provide another light in the dark on the steps of St George’s Hall.
Rise and shine
When morning comes we leave the teens catching up on their sleep and take a sunrise walk of the city, watching full colour seep into the world once again from behind the big wheel. Over the urban rooftops the silvery crown of the catholic cathedral blesses the day while the tall ship in the Albert Dock catches the moon on its mast.
We celebrate the weak yet welcome sunshine with a quick coffee on Bold Street. Then, after a late buffet breakfast back in the hotel, (also free for under 13’s with the deal outlined above) we take a sprint to Tate Liverpool for the only chance to see Matisse’s The Snail outside of London in our lifetime. Matthew, of course, sleeps right through it all.
Things to do with family in Liverpool this Spring
In this feature we picked out four cool and arty things to do with kids in Liverpool. But of course there are many more; particularly if you love culture. Liverpool has a clutch of amazing theatres (as well as LIPA; a cool theatre school that regularly puts on shows.) The Liverpool Philharmonic puts on world class concerts and the Echo Arena offers touring bands and comedians. The Camp and Furnace warehouse space hosts music festivals, art exhibitions, vintage fairs, and pop-up events. It can be found in the Baltic Triangle which is said to be the latest creative hot spot.
Whenever we are in Liverpool, we try to visit Tate Liverpool which offers free art for all as well as special exhibitions. As well as the Matisse show (till May 2nd,) we paid just under £20 for a family ticket to the An Imagined Museum exhibition which runs until 14th February. Not far from The Tate you can see the Dazzle Ships; decorated by artists to commemorate WW1. And in January there’s a last chance to catch the touring cascade of poppies. You’ll find the Weeping Window on the steps of St George’s Hall. I saw it in the daytime when it first opened but found it more moving at night this time around when the crowds had gone home and there was only me and my camera.
Curators at Liverpool’s FACT always put on a stimulating exhibition with free entry. You can explore some of the complex visual ideas of ‘Follow‘ until 21st February. And you can do the self guided Liverpool Art Trail at any time by downloading the app.
If you are interested in other Holiday Inn stays check out the following posts:
Cathy Winston and her toddler went to Holiday Inn Brighton
Gretta Schifano and her family also went to Holiday Inn Brighton
Jen Howze and her family went to Holiday Inn Camden Lock
Disclosure Note: We’re working with BritMums and Holiday Inn highlighting its warm family welcome. Holiday Inn is where you and your family can always be yourselves. Visit Holiday Inn for more information.