Liverpool ONE is Grosvenor’s £1billion shopping and leisure complex – the last hurrah for those ‘Big Developments’ ushering in the new millennium. And it was Liverpool’s luck that we snuck in just before the bubble burst. Although, when it was mooted that a private developer (actually the Duke of Westminster) would own a 40-acre chunk of the city centre there were, understandably, a few furrowed brows in the city.
It’s hard to put up a convincing argument against the project’s success now. With its pleasingly juxtaposed architectural styles, its attention to detail (Italian marble/stunning zig-zag staircase illuminated at night/surprising sight-lines from the shopping streets right down to the Liver Buildings, connecting the city to the river again) this mammoth new intervention in the heart of the city works pretty much perfectly. It alone has catapulted Liverpool back into the UK’s top five shopping destinations.
The only gripe? This isn’t a place for the idiosyncratic or the independent (with some notable exceptions, such as Liverpool’s excellent Utility gift shop, on Paradise Place, opposite John Lewis, Lunya’s Catalonian quarter in College Lane and Liverpool’s high-end Jewellers, David M Robinson, on South John Street), instead, you’ll find all your high street favourites here – anchored by John Lewis and Debenhams, and a boutique sized Harvey Nichols, focused – of course – on make-up and fashion. Apple’s store on Paradise Street is geek central, and Zara Home, South John Street, offers glitzy home-wares with an Iberian touch.
Fashionwise, Superdry (Paradise Street), Pull and Bear (South John Street), Zara (South John Street), Jigsaw (School Lane), Office Shoes (South John Street), Aldo (Paradise Street), Urban Outfitters (Paradise Street) and Ted Baker, Hugo Boss and Reiss Peter’s Arcade) are worth a look.
The leisure terrace, on the first floor, incorporates a sweeping procession of restaurants (Wagamama, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Cafe Rouge and the like) with al fresco seating, overlooking the heart of Liverpool ONE – the grassy expanse of Chavasse Park – and on to the waterfront. On a summer’s evening it’s a delightful place to enjoy a meal after an afternoon’s shopping. On the park, Tavern on the Green is a jauntily-shaped pub with real ales and good lunches. The management team at Liverpool ONE does well in animating the central park area with seasonal fairs, ice-bars, and pop-up events co-inciding with school holidays.
There’s also an Odeon cinema, a Hilton hotel (with WAG-central nightclub, Playground) and a sleek Thai restaurant cum nightclub, Chaophraya/Palm Sugar, playing chart-bothering R’n’B.) The Bierkeller is a huge barn of a place, offering refuge for staggering stags and cackling hens (Thomas Steers Way).
Technically also in Liverpool ONE, although not of it, is the Bluecoat arts centre (School Lane), with retail tenants including the city’s indomitable vinyl loving record store, Probe, Alla Mode fashions (Liverpool made and upcycled) and the quirky cards and gifts of Nook and Cranny, and home furnishings of Landbaby. The Bluecoat’s own Display Centre features gorgeous (though not cheap) ceramics, jewellery and glassware.
Take a look in Gostins Arcade, 32 Hanover Street, for an eclectic mix of bookshops (Bluecoat Books is one of the city’s best for art and hobbies), retro collectibles and art works.
Liverpool ONE opening hours
Open Mon-Fri til 8pm, Sat til 7pm, Sun til 5pm. There are three car parks at Liverpool ONE. And, on Canning Place, a good bus interchange, with routes to all corners of the city. Liverpool Central is your best bet for trains, but it’s only a short walk from Liverpool Lime Street and James Street.
Taxi ranks can be found at Hanover Street and North John Street (by Debenhams entrance).