We like Liverpool. We like it so much we live here and we write a frickin’ website about how much we like it. But sometime we like to go somewhere else. Travel broadens stuff, and shit, yeah?
This weekend we went to Chester and then we went to York. York , while beautiful and as close to ‘enchanting’ as any British city could really be described, is it a little too far out to feature on a website about Liverpool, but Chester? It’s just around the corner really.
And 40 minutes on that odd train from Central, chugging through Liverpool’s very own underground system and then Birkenhead, and then Port Sunlight and then Bromborough and then… the countryside. It doesn’t take long.
Chester is beautiful. Not as beautiful as York, but still beautiful. It has walls and shops and pubs and restaurants. And hotels. Places like York and Chester can be tough to find good hotels in because, let’s be honest, they’re not buyer’s markets. People always want to go to them.
We went for a nice French meal and at night we retired to Oddfellows: part restaurant, part cocktails bar, part hotel, part roof terrace with pool thing, part fine dining, part meeting room thingy.
Oddfellows leverages the shit out of its synergies. You could spend an entire weekend there without really having to leave the place. Breakfast, afternoon tea, drinks, evening meal, cocktails, nightclub, bed. We didn’t, because we wanted to go out and see a bit of Chester but retired to bed, at the very top of the building, replete.
You can tell the four bedrooms in Oddfellows are at the top of the building because they’re full of beams and sloping roofs and skylights. This is, we think, charming, in its oddity and its nose-thumbing at the conventions of hotelling. The room is quite large and is well appointed, with a massive bed that’s the softest we’ve ever laid upon. A fat bloke would never be seen again, should he jump into the middle.
The bathroom is a decent size too, with a huge shower and a lovely free-standing bath and subdued, hidden lighting. But there are signs of wear and tear too – cracked tiles and stains on the walls and floor and two wall-mounted lights that don’t work.
Back in the main room there are luxury teas and comfortable chairs and WiFi and a telly on the wall. But there’s also a mini bar, the appearance of which with its tiny measures and horribly inflated prices always seems like a little reminder than you’re here to be milked. Another reminder comes in the breakfast menu that points out a price of over twelve quid.
This is something that’s becoming quite common in hotels but again, to us, it seems like a small but pointed FU to paying guest, especially ones that are paying £200 a night at Oddfellows (we got a cheap deal on LateRooms – we’re not mad).
There’s another, significant, un-ignorable problem at Oddfellows. Downstairs there’s a nightclub. Not way downstairs. The next floor down. And it goes on until well after 2AM. This is flagged up on the website, but the noise is so intrusive that it makes sleep impossible while the music is on, which it is until late at the weekends. A subtle ‘some noise disturbance may occur’ caveat does not cover the phenomenal noise disturbance that certainly does occur.
Bass and drums hum through the woodwork, throb through the walls and rattle the two quid mini bottles of coke in the minibar. Soundproofing? The shouts and screams of drunken revellers come up the stairwell like an unwanted draft. As if to illustrate the point, we’re woken by a woman noisily climaxing in a nearby room the next morning, and there aren’t even cooked breakfasts to numb the pain.
As for the rest of the week, we’re not sure, but we find it hard to believe that anyone who stays overnight at Oddfellows while there’s an event on downstairs ever returns to spend the night.
A shame, because lots of other things were so right. Throw in a breakfast and we’d be back in a flash during the week, when things are – presumably – quieter. We’d like to try out a few things on that menu and we’d like to explore this fascinating, peculiar building more.
And it would need to be at significantly less than the supposed, quite barmy, asking price of two hundred quid per night. But, then again, this is Chester, and there will always be people along to fill hotel rooms.
Even without sausages in the morning or a good night’s sleep.