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Confessions of a Shopoholic...
Member Name: biv2k
Date: 13/04/10, updated on 13/04/10 (82 review reads)
Advantages: Easy to Get To, Wide Variety of Chain Stores, Futuristic, Good Proximity to Other Attractions
Disadvantages: Expensive Parking, Little Atmosphere, Disfunctional Design, Few Unique Stores, Pay Toilets!
Liverpool One is very easy to get to. It is in walking distance of the city train stations. If you are visiting by car, the nearby motorways do a great job of landing you in good proximity of Liverpool city centre, and fairly simple network of a-roads make driving there a relaxing experience.
One thing to note is that the parking charges at Liverpool One are high; at time of writing it is £1 for every 25 minutes, up to a maximum of £14. Given that you could easily spend 6 hours shopping, exploring the albert docks, and having a meal, it's quite easy to rack up these charges. We felt £14 was obscene; almost like paying the entrance fee to a theme park, and tends to be much higher than other shopping destinations in the wider proximity, such as the Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, and the Trafford Centre (which is free!). Naturally, we opted to park in a multi-storey less than a mile away and paid £5 for the day.
Our first impressions of the complex were positive; the area around South John Street looks fantastically futuristic, full of slender curves and clean angles. Chavasse park, raised off the ground with the curved Hilton hotel and apartments either side, is a great location for eating - I was disappointed to see that half of it was fenced off though for no apparent reason, as we were looking forward to relaxing on the grass after shopping. One critique of the overall design however is that it didn't fit in the surrounding city centre streets, which I couldn't help but notice looked dilapidated in comparison; making Liverpool One seem like an inappropriate statement of wealth in a sea of recession.
Liverpool One boasts a large variety of chain stores, including many premium label stores such as G-Star, Jane Norman, Ted Baker, and Radley but to name a few. I cannot see any fashion conscious shoppers being disappointed here; Liverpool One is certainly not overshadowed by other shopping destinations in this respect. I would have liked to see more unique stores however, and I'm sure there are more original stores off the beaten trail. Again, spoilt for choice with places to eat, from popular chain restaurants such as Cafe Rouge and Zizzi to more independent ventures such as Dinomat. Oh, there is an Odeon cinema too.
Unfortunately, we found it a bit difficult to get our bearings at first. After sitting in a car for a while our first priority, naturally, was to nip to the loo before setting off any further. The map indicated that toilets were on the ground floor the south end of the complex - but these were nowhere to be found. Were they in the car park entrance? Upstairs at Chavasse park? Down the un-signposted escalators (that also led to the car park)? Eventually, we noticed that they were sealed behind a giant wooden 'Liverpool one' board, with no notice. So we cheekily nipped in John Lewis. Good job too, as the functioning toilets were behind a payment barrier!
At times this frustration continued. Lack of signage, angular walkways forcing you to 'zig-zag' to reach your desired store, dislocated elevators only serving certain floors, angles of concrete enforcing random steps, and one-way escalators proved an annoyance. On the positive side, walkways and stores felt spacious, compared to the 'cram' of places such as the Trafford Centre.
The futuristic, minimal design did continue to please. Stores too tended to share the vision, by fitting out their interiors with glossy black floors with studded lights, curved walkways and glass barriers.
I didn't feel that there was much atmosphere in Liverpool One. It didn't feel vibrant; I kind of missed the features of other city centres - the deluded street entertainers, occasional protester, one-off stands, the noise and culture of the shoppers, flashy light displays and art. It all seemed a bit controlled and sedate.
In considering Liverpool One, it's always worth considering its proximity to other attractions, including the Albert Dock, Tours, the Cavern club, and other Beatles related Shenanigans.
Unfortunately overall as a tourist, we felt underwhelmed by Liverpool One, and felt that better value, mix of stores, and atmosphere can be found in other northern cities such as Leeds and Manchester. A great regular destination for Liverpudlians; and to be honest probably just what Liverpool needs to kick start some regeneration. But as a tourist, not somewhere I would consider visiting regularly.
Summary: A great regular destination for Liverpudlians, but not for tourists.