If there's one place I'd happily spend the rest of my life, it'd be Liverpool - I'm not far, just the other side of the Mersey in fact, but sometimes that ten minute bus ride seems to make me feel a little like a tourist; and not in a bad way. I grew up in Liverpool, my weekends as a teenager included tons of us gathering at the courts, in St. John's Garden or down at Pierhead - and as I've got older I've found different (and much more pleasant) haunts. So, in collaboration with Travelodge, I've written a list of some of Liverpool's secret gems by those of us that spent way too much of our time curled up in them.
LEAF, Bold Street
LEAF, Bold Street
There are a couple of restaurants in Liverpool that cater for just about everyone but LEAF is one of the most affordable and also the most charming. No matter what time of the day that you go to LEAF there are always such a mix of people in there - middle aged women catching up over coffee, students using the free WiFi, families eating breakfast and elderly couples enjoying the various goodies on offer. There's something truly magical about a place that seems to be packed to the rafters between 9am and 2am - and with offerings for the vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian amongst us, and considering they even have a fully stocked bar as well as a whole menu of loose leaf teas, it's not hard to see why LEAF is one of Liverpool's Best Kept Secrets. It's well worth going a little out of your way to grab a bite here (or checking out their sister venues - Oh Me Oh My and The Garden @ Fact), and if you're lucky you might even stumble across a Vintage Fair or an Open Mic Night in their upstairs venue.
There are actually three Utility's around Liverpool, two up Bold Street (one gifts, one homewares) and one in Liverpool One (mostly gifts) but all three are worth checking out. If you're looking for them summed up in a nutshell, they're like a high end ikea mixed with Paperchase - find the latest up and coming homeware designers alongside beautiful stationary brands such as Happy Jackson and Ban.Do and you can literally browse through everything for hours. The shops, particularly the Liverpool One branch, take the time out to showcase not only the best of designers but also the best of Liverpool designers - and if there's one thing scousers love, it's other scousers that are doing well for themselves (we'll never let The Beatles or Cilla Black be forgotten, they were from here, did you know?). There's just something lovely about a shop wherein you can buy an offensive card and a mug made right on your doorstep in the same beat, and it's definitely worth checking out if you're around one of them (and you're never far from at least one.) These guys also supported my first ever meet up - it was awesome.
If you want a cheap, tasty lunch then P&D's is your safest bet - on the corner of Williamson Square, you need to take the time to get there before or after lunchtime in order to get a seat as this place gets seriously busy, seriously fast. With authentic Italian dishes on offer, from pizza to filled sandwiches, alongside some of the most amazing cakes and ice cream you'll ever see (if you can get the Nutella Cake, do, it's a bit of a local celebrity as food goes) for the price of a McDonald's meal - it's not hard to see why this place is as popular as it is. It's worth waiting for a seat, or coming back in half an hour, because the food is so much more amazing than the fast food prices would suggest.
Pop Boutique was infamous when I was at school - racks and racks of checked shirts, northern rock bags and £1 tote bags made this the coolest place to shop and, although it fell out of favour a little for a few years, since it's reopening of a shop up in Bold Street, this has definitely had a resurgence. If you're looking for something a little bit different, a little vintage, this is definitely the shop for you - you could spend hours browsing through different bits and pieces and still not see everything. Definitely worth going to have a look.
So there are my favourite picks! Where are your hidden gems for Liverpool? If you're interested in coming to visit all my picks - you can stay in plenty of hotels in Liverpool, check it out!