CREATIVE HUBS: LIVERPOOL
The last time I went to Liverpool, I got stuck behind a band of football supporters singing: “Weeeee’re not English, we are Scouse”. It’s a chant that taps into the particular strain of pride that has found a home in Merseyside. This, after all, is the city that birthed the best-selling band of all time.
But there is more to Liverpool than the Beatles and football. Scouse pride runs deep, with roots that are tied up with the city’s ability to bounce back from adversity (the Eighties were a time of social deprivation due to the decimation of many local industries). In 2008, Liverpool received the accolade of European Capital of Culture, which did a lot to challenge simple stereotypes while also boosting the economy and visitor numbers. But perhaps the programme’s most important outcome was that it thrust Liverpool into a multifaceted cultural light.
Creative enterprises are thriving here (there are over 7,000 of them) and the city’s gaming industry is riding high on a new wave of confidence. Liverpool’s Albert Dock famously transformed from dereliction to destination thirty years ago, and is now home to the Tate Liverpool as well as a whole host of upscale bars and restaurants. A similar metamorphosis is currently taking place in Stanley Dock, of which the Titanic Hotel is a key part.
The Baltic Triangle is another historic area that’s enjoying something of a cultural renaissance. Once a warehouse district, this spot is now home to studios for photographers, architects and musicians. It’s also an increasingly popular nightlife hub, with hangouts like Camp and Furnace taking up shop in sprawling former factories.
The Baltic Market is one such venture. Having opened in June of this year, Liverpool’s first food hall has been set up by Tim Haggis of Meet Frank hotdogs and the team behind @IndependentLiverpool. Located in the Cairns brewery, the project showcases a curated selection of the city’s best restaurateurs, alongside cocktails and live music. It’s part of a grassroots movement across the city to support independent artisans, and it’s a good example of the spirit that binds this city together.
WHERE TO STAY
Hope Street Hotel
Liverpool’s first boutique hotel is located in the Georgian quarter and has seen the likes of Yoko Ono and Kanye West take refuge beneath its roof. It’s managed to keep low-key, mind – minimalist rooms feature exposed bricks walls and lots of natural wood.
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So this one hasn’t opened yet, but if the recent unveiling of the Principal in the neighbouring city of Manchester is anything to go by, we’re sure it’ll be one for the list. Look out for this newbie next year – it’s taking up shop in the former site of Martins Bank.
Housed in a former warehouse in Stanley Dock, this three-year-old hotel is a spacious alternative to Liverpool’s city centre haunts. There are soaring ceilings and atriums aplenty, as well as a subtle maritime theme that translates to a palette of sea-greens and blues in the rooms.
WHAT TO SEE
The Albert Dock
Curious about our place within the #universe? You'll enjoy Aleksandra Mir’s free exhibition, #SpaceTapestry. Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry and the anonymous artists who depicted Halley’s Comet in 1066, these works invite you to consider the #romance in #science and our relationships to one another. #TateLiverpool #AleksandraMir Photography by Norbert Miguletz
The Albert Dock was once the heart of Liverpool’s shipping industry, and is today a cultural hub and home to a number of bars and restaurants. The Tate Liverpool is based here and has hosted exhibitions of art masters (Klimt, Monet, Twombly) that rival even the London programme.
Located on Wood Street, The Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) is the UK’s leading organisation for film, video, and new media art. The place is home to three galleries, a café-cum bar and a Picturehouse cinema.
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This 300-year-old art centre is one of Liverpool’s key creative spaces, hosting a variety of shows that span visual art, music, literature and dance, as well as housing studio space for budding artists. Independent retailers line the front courtyard and there’s a restaurant upstairs too.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Leaf is an independent café and bar that has become something of an institution in the city. It’s a popular spot for freelancers during working hours and serves a mean brunch at the weekend (we love the huevos rancheros). Keep an eye on their website for information on live music nights, workshops and bookclubs.
The Baltic Triangle
This is Liverpool’s most recently rejuvenated area and is home to design studios by day and on-trend hangouts at night. Check out the two month-old Baltic Market, a street food hall that showcases a curated selection of the best vendors in town, as well as the live music programme at Camp & Furnace.
The Art School
This weeks-old restaurant has been opened by Chef Paul Askew, who is dedicated to seeing Liverpool receive its first Michelin star. Located in the city’s Georgian quarter, The Art School presents a series of prix-fixe menus that champion local suppliers.