How much time do you realistically spend in a hotel while on a city break, or when staying overnight on business? Perhaps more pertinently, how much time do you spend conscious in that hotel. Chances are that the figure in question is only an hour or two – and if you’re planning a night on the town then perhaps two, three minutes?
It’s unlikely you’ll want to spend much time of your break in the hotel bar or restaurant; after all, you’ve spent cash to visit a city, to experience its delights culinary, sporting, leisure or culture – not experience the interior of a hotel.
All of this has clearly come to the attention of Robert Nadler, head honcho at the expanding base2stay empire (we’ll excuse the lower case for now; just know that we’re vaguely irritated by it, but not enough to make a point of changing it). base2stay is stripped down the to the necessities of providing comfortable, functional, attractive rooms at an attractive price – and not a huge amount more.
No bar, no restaurant, no gym, so spa, no car-park. Instead a network of deals with local restaurant and car-parks to provide amenities that the hotel does not. As a result the hotel’s footprint is tiny, considering there are over 100 rooms.
That amount of space is also impressive given the hotel’s location – slap bang in the middle of Ropewalks. Concert Square, Liverpool One, FACT, the Albert Dock, Lime Street, Bold Street, Chinatown and Central station can all be reached in five minutes.
Funnily enough you might as well be in space though, due to triple-glazed unopenable windows that are something of a double-edged sword. It could certainly get very noisy, with Slater Street and Concert Sqaure close by, at the weekend, so the sound-proofing is welcome. However, the inability to simply open a window – due to some utterly insane local planning regulation designed to protect residents – which ones? – from noise in what most be one of the noisiest neighbourhoods in Liverpool lends a vaguely claustrophobic feel, despite the aircon and roomy suites.
What of the rooms? Spacious, clean, minimalist without feeling clinical, well-appointed, comfortable and clever. Black leather, white fabrics and muted colour schemes are bold without being vulgar, while the exposed brickwork and beams – some of which reputedly date back to being used as timbers of Liverpool ships – are sympathetic to te building’s former lives.
Each room has a mini-kitchenette – including a fridge and microwave – and a number of added-value extras such as a music library, free national phone calls, free WiFi and internet via television and keyboard. SevenStreets was recently in a much more (notionally) swish hotel; wrangling for hours with the WiFi, sign-ups and passwords; being charged £17 for the privilege; and ending with a 30-minute argument with a member of staff over said charges. Free internet and WiFi are not to be taken for granted in many of the UK’s chain hotels.
There may be plenty of details in base2stay that you might not expect from a hotel – but the functional tag does not mean the minimalist, vaguely brutal aesthetic of budget, self-service hotel chains or the daylight robbery of ‘no frills’ airways. Charges are clear and upfront – if you don’t want breakfast you don’t have to pay for it. If you do it’s of the continental variety from Lunya, down the road, which also offers meals to base2stay patrons at a 20 per cent discount. There are several other eateries that offer money off to hotel patrons, but the Lunya deal is the best for our money; in terms of value and quality.
Meanwhile, the thoughtful design is impressive and, in the case of some of the rooms, rather lovely with exposed beams and artwork by the proprietor’s step-son. Single rooms are small, but cosy; some of the larger rooms will sleep four and offer acres of room. There’s also, somewhere, a roof garden apartment that looks like a Bond villain’s lair.
The fact that another old building in Ropewalks has been put to good use – and not by another bar – is something else to be pleased about, with numerous grants going towards the redevelopment of the old building; and base2stay’s presence is also reflected in its sponsorship of a mural on a derelict building opposite.
The hotel site has apparently been an ironmongers, a beeswax factory, a printworks and cork warehouse – now Nadler is keen to see that his hotel has the smallest viable eco impact, so it’s not just architecturally responsible, it’s eco-friendly to boot.
So, what’s not to like? Practically nothing. The location, the design, the service, the pricing and the concept as a whole are winning. The only downside we can see is those windows, but we would recommend base2stay Liverpool to anyone visiting the city. It’s a hotel, but not as we know it – and it’s all the better for it.