As I sprawl out on the bed, I look deep into the eyes of John Lennon. A large depiction of him dominates the room and when I click on the television, it plays the song, A Hard Day’s Night repeatedly. That’s just another reminder that I’m staying in a Beatles-themed hotel, located in the central Liverpool where the Fab Four lived and first came together.
Open in 2008, the property is named Hard Days Night after the song, movie and album (issued in 1964) – and it’s the first of its kind in the world. And just by luck, I got to stay in a room with John Lennon artwork over the bed. Other rooms feature other members of the band and a Beatles-related artwork, like the cover image from Yellow Submarine. It’s the work of Shannon, an American painter considered “the world’s greatest Beatles artist,” at least according to the former Lord Mayor of Liverpool.
The four-star contemporary hotel is housed in a grade II-listed building erected in 1884. It has 110 rooms, including suites named for Paul McCartney, featuring a real suit of armor, and John Lennon, his complete with a white baby grand piano.
Fans especially love this property’s location. It is conveniently located, just around the corner from Mathew Street and a reconstruction of The Cavern Club, the venue that helped launch their careers. Go for a drink and a dance and shout when Twist and Shout is played, but keep in mind that the original version of The Cavern is gone and this is just a mostly satisfying facsimile. It’s not exactly how it looked in the early ’60s, but it’s pretty close.
The location of the hotel is convenient, if you want to walk five minutes to see The Cavern and its fantastic Beatles cover band. But it’s bad news if you happen to have a room facing the street. When the bar closes, drunken patrons make quite the ruckus, which can be annoying if you’re trying to get some shuteye and you’re your jetlag. Bring earplugs just in case.
Since it opened, opinions have been mixed reviews. Despite decor touches such as a large mural Fab Four in the hallway, light fixtures crafted out of Beatles sheet music, numerous photos of the lads adorning the walls of the onsite bar and restaurant, plus a Yellow Submarine jukebox in the lobby, some fans feel that it doesn’t go far enough with the Beatles theme.
I’m on the other side of the fence. I like the subtlety and its tasteful tact. I expected a Disney-approach with everything possible linked to the band — Sgt. Pepper outfits on the staff, the Yesterday café, the Please Please Me concierge desk? Instead, the approach is not heavy handed and I thought it worked well.
During your stay in Liverpool, do make the time to visit The Beatles’ Story, the closest thing there is to an official Beatles museum. It features another replica of The Cavern Club, but this one is better lit so you can actually get a feel for the place. An audio tour that takes you through the history of The Beatles, from the time when the boys first got together to their off-the-charts fame and flirtation with Indian spiritualism. The weird thing about The Beatles’ Story, at Liverpool’s Albert Docks, is the people who go there. It’s not just the older folks who remember the group from the 1960s and 1970s.
There were packs of 10-year-olds pushing their way closer to a displays about the band’s trip to Hamburg. It turns out that the Beatles are part of the local school curriculum, as an integral part of their city’s history. Studying the lyrics to Eleanor Rigby is considered homework for them. Nice.
More than 600,000 Beatles fans make the trek to Liverpool every year and leave about 50 million dollars behind. New developments in the last decade have given it a new cool that attracts the curious and Fab Four fans.
From the hotel, you can get to iconic Beatle sites like Penny Lane, the gravestone of Eleanor Rigby at the St. Peter’s Anglican Church (also where John and Paul first met), Casbah Coffee Club (one of the first venues The Beatles played), the house in Woolton where Lennon lived with his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George, and Paul McCartney’s family home at 20 Forthlin Rd., in the Allerton area of Liverpool. From the Albert Dock, you can hop on a bus for The Magical Mystery Tour that includes many of those places and many others.
Where you’re worn down by a full day of exploring, it’s lovely to bed down for the night at Hard Days Night. It’s a comfy modern hotel with star appeal that really makes you feel like you’ve spent some time with John, Paul, Ringo and George.
Michele stayed as a guest of Hard Days Night and Visit Britain. As always, her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos courtesy of Michele Sponagle, Flickr/The Liverpool School of English and Hard Days Night.