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Timageshey call it the ‘Lipstick Effect’: in these straitened times we seek small boosts to perk us up, rather than splashing out on something stupidly profligate, like, say, a ticket to the Liverpool Music Awards. For some it’s a MACC lipstick, for others it’s a top-drawer burger (and you’ll have more choice tomorrow, if that’s your thing, as Almost Famous opens next to Brink on Parr Street). What’s your less costly little luxury?

Aperol Spritz cocktails at Circo, Albert Dock

There are cocktails, and there’s the Aperol Spritz. Created in 1919, Aperol fuses bitter orange, rhubarb, gentian and other goodies to create a Campari-like summer quencher. Circo does a mean Aperol Spritz – the most refreshing summer cocktail for these balmy nights. And, this Friday, the freaks are out, as Friday Circus adds acrobatic shenanigans to the cellars of Albert Dock. More here.

Massage at Liverpool Wellbeing Centre, Hope Street

Every masseuse Liverpool’s fabulous Wellbeing Centre, whether offering indulgent aromatherapy or deep Swedish lymphatic drainage, guarantees to free you from city stress for a blissful half hour or longer.More here.

x2_8dca037Wine time at Scatchards, Great George Street

The good people at Liverpool’s longest-standing wine merchants, Scatchards, know their flinty Sancerre from their spicy Pinot Noir. Right now they’ve got two ‘top dog’ wines from Colli Vicentini, perfect for summer drinking. Torre Dei Vescovi Pinot Grigio Vicenza 2012 (£7.95) and Pinot Nero 2012 (£8.50). Both light and delicate, perfect drinking for summer nights. More here.

Decleor Facial at John Lewis

Ever been in the secret world of the ‘cabines’ at John Lewis? It’s like Narnia, but with whale music instead of overt Christian symbolism. And that’s fine in our books. A 60 or 90 minute facial will leave you glowing and gorgeous and – if you spend £25 quid on products, – the whole shebang is free. That’s zero pence. For a facial. Argue with that. Decleor’s light, botanical range of lotions and potions will put the spring back into your sallow cheeks. And possibly on your face too. Ask at the Decleor counter in John Lewis.

facial-treatment-with-acupunctureAcupuncture Face Lift, Grassendale

A lift of another kind…can sticking a few pins in your mush make you look younger? Well, there are plenty who say yes – something about the tiny pricks bringing a rush of fresh collagen, an increase in blood supply and a release of ‘qi’ to the energy meridians. Yeah, they lost us on that last one. But the treatment is incredibly relaxing. Which is odd, when you think that you’re lying there looking like something from a Clive Barker novel. Try Alternatively Better, on Aigburth Road. More here.

Light a nice candle, Utility, Liverpool ONE

When all else fails, turn off the lights, get a DVD on, and judiciously place some scented candles around your gaff: voila, you’re transported to a romantic hideaway UT22355on the shores of some exotic island. Utility has some fresh, summery Verbena and lemongrass jar candles that are currently making chez Seven a fragrant little Baltic outpost. More here.

Eggs Benedict at Moose, Dale Street

If there’s a better start to the day than this, we want to hear about it. Moose has American and fancy breakfasts sewn up in this city – and their eggs benedict is a thing of beauty: crispy pancetta ham, perfectly poached eggs, and a creamy dollop of Hollandaise sauce, served over a toasted muffin. Yes, it’s your daily calorie intake before 10am, but you’ve got all day to work it off… More here.

Gin Tastings, Vinea, Albert Dock

The spirit of the summer, gin is enjoying something of a Renaissance. But do you know your Islay Botanic from your Shetland Blackwood? The guys at Albert Dock’s Vinea do – and they’re keen to spread the love and confirm, should you need it confirming, that there is much, much more to gin than Gordons, this Friday. With tapas to accompany your mothers’ ruin. More here.

Cheese Board at Unit 51, Jamaica Street

We love Unit 51. Yes, they’re our neighbours, but their relaxed post-work into early-evening platters are just the thing to refuel you ready for a night out. Go for their cheese/tomato salsa/olives/ toasted bruchette platter. No, wait, go for their Salmon, avocado and red pepper stack, served with a dressed salad and a side of toast. No, wait, go for both, with a huge wedge of Victoria Sponge cake to follow. Trust us on this one. More here.

Thai Massage at Kanokphons, Birkenhead

We’ve talked about this place before – but we’re still kinda hooked on it. Don’t let its location put you off, this is a seriously immaculate outpost of eastern calm (and charm) in the middle of Birkenhead. Tough, knot-untangling Thai is the order of the day here. It’s heavy duty stuff, but the hot-towel head massage to finish is worth all the bone-snapping contortions, and you’ll leave as light as a feather. Recommended. Tel: 0151 647 1920

Cush_itw_webBuy something lovely at Nook and Cranny, Bluecoat

We’ll leave the choice to you. But the last lovely thing we bought was from Nook and Cranny’s ace new home, main pic, opposite the equally gorgeous Bluecoat Display Centre. Is there a cooler cushion? Maybe. But this is ours. Go find something special, and revive that tired guest bedroom, as we think they say on those god-awful programmes. More here.

Late Night Tours, Liverpool Cathedral

We’re taking the word ‘lift’ literally for this one. Climb the stairs, take the elevator, navigate the frankly terrifying inner ascent of the bell tower for the Cathedral-night-time-view-620x350most amazing view of the city – through the slats atop the Cathedral Bell Tower. Transcendental, truly. More here.

Afternoon Tea at 60 Hope Street

Cucumber sandwiches? Check. Earl Grey? Check. Fancy little cakes on a three-tired stand? Naturally. The cool, clubby basement at 60 Hope Street is our current favourite bolt hole: made all the more comfortable and decedent by the addition of a long, leisurely, heat-escaping afternoon tea, a real treat. Take your mum. More here.