For a city that has long been defined by its admirable work ethic (ahoy to Liverpool’s famous port and pivotal role in the country’s industrial revolution), this metropolis of the north certainly knows how to play. Taking stock of both aspects of its character – tradition and a tendency to let its hair down – the Aloft Hotel chain acquired a stunning residence in the form of the historic Grade-II listed Royal Insurance Building in 2014, and injected it with colour. The Starwood Group approached the project with £18m in their wallets and a helping hand from the folks at Liverpool City Council and English Heritage. The resulting Aloft Hotel Liverpool is a luxe lodging with an attitude so tongue-in-cheek that I almost expected to find a dictionary on my pillow to guide me around the local dialect*.
*what in God’s name is ‘scran’?
It’s telling that Aloft Hotel’s only other UK location is in London’s ExCel; a mecca for businesspeople flocking towards seasonal trade shows (myself included; it’s only a few days until the Destinations Holiday and Travel Show!). The foyer projects the stock prices of the hour and we were greeted with Bloomberg reports, but this place is just as much as venue for a girls’ city break as it is a bedchamber for business trips.
No detail has been spared a luxe touch in the reception area. It’s a lifestyle blogger’s dream with lofty marble pilasters reaching up to a perfectly-restored (or ever-undamaged) classical ceiling. Abandoned in the 1980s and reopened as the hotel in 2014, there are unrelenting reminders of its former glory. The original stained glass window is a highlight.
After taking in such a smorgasbord of funky design, I was pleased that our quarters had a more muted tonality. That’s generally speaking; we had a bunch of emoji balloons to celebrate the launch of its TiGi (text it, get it) service, which I’ll expand upon shortly. Our room was on the sixth floor (room 611, to be precise. I tell you this only in case you want to book specifically for a preferable view) and looked out onto a Lowry painting of a cityscape. Up this high, it felt like we had our own private slice of the Liverpudlian skyline, unburdened by pretences and taking pride in its reality.
Our generous sleeping chambers displayed nary a departure from comfort. The floating beds were so obscenely cosy – I’m not convinced they didn’t skin some poor cherubs to make those sheets quite so soft – that it would have been nigh on impossible to peel ourselves out of bed if it wasn’t for the stream of light beckoning us out into the city for another morning of escapades (more on that later).
I mean, there was also the hangover making it difficult to get up, but let’s not focus on that…
Crucially, there was enough space for us to do some drunken yoga and booty-shaking with room-service wine in hand. And one more thing on the room-service: it’s unique, to say the least. They’ve launched an emoji-led TiGi (text it, get it) service, whereby you can WhatsApp a couple of emojis to front desk, and they will appear at your door with whatever you’ve asked for. Genius. At the moment, the emoji menu is four-strong, though I wouldn’t be surprised if this grows over time. I hear the service has taken its New York hotels by storm.
Please, please forgive me for that awful photo. I probably should have dolled myself up for the occasion but you know the saying: can’t polish a turd.
Despite Aloft Hotel Liverpool being so primely positioned in the city centre (though in a city so small, this is perhaps the least of the hotel’s drawing points), Donna and I stayed true to form by spending far too long in The Old Blind School restaurant and had to haul ass into a taxi to cross town. It was £2. Less than a flat white. £1 each, if it was worth splitting. Bloody hell, we’re not in London anymore, Toto.
Officially, I suppose this hotel is a business destination; but the dizzying vibe I got was that it’s equally hospitable to city breakers and cool-chasers. Aloft Hotel Liverpool has slotted itself into its surroundings with ease, stretching one arm around the city’s work ethic and one around its naughty side. winky emoji face
Some photos come courtesy of the kind folk at Aloft Hotel Liverpool, who were also kind enough to host Donna and myself that evening.