BACKGROUND The Staybridge Suites Liverpool, which opened in June, is the first property outside the brand’s birthplace in the US, where it launched in 1997 as an upscale extended-stay offering from Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG). Six more UK properties are due to open in the next two years, including one in Newcastle (April 2009), two in Birmingham (January 2010), two in London (April 2010) and one in Glasgow (April 2010). Further afield, the brand was due to launch in Cairo in October, and next year will see openings in St Petersburg, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, with a second Kuwait property and one in the western Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod scheduled for 2010 and 2012 respectively. WHAT’S IT LIKE? Enter the sleek glass foyer and go up a flight of stairs to your left and you come to the airy reception, with a bowl of chocolate chip muffins and a friendly, informal welcome from the staff. Décor is modern and neutral – the public areas are in shades of cream, cappuccino and burgundy, with Liverpool-inspired prints on the walls. WHERE IS IT? A few minutes’ walk from Albert Dock and the city centre, in a new-build property opposite the Arena and Convention Centre. ROOM FACILITIES All guests receive a welcome gift of milk, tea and coffee sachets, a packet of crisps, a bottle of water and a chilled beer. The rooms vary slightly, but my one-bedroom suite was spacious and airy with double-glazed windows. The open-plan living room had a reclining armchair, stereo, phone, safe, air conditioning, flatscreen TV, and coffee table with an empty picture frame (bring your own photos). Kitchens include a coffee-maker, oven, microwave, dishwasher, fridge, toaster and hob, as well as an ergonomic chair and marble-topped table. Wifi is free throughout the property. Bedrooms feature a TV with wireless keyboard and pay-per-view options, and a digital alarm clock, while my compact bathroom had a combined bath/rainshower (studios have walk-in showers only) and huge bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel by Washing Line. RESTAURANTS AND BARS There are none on-site – instead, there’s a 24-hour Pantry, where you can help yourself to anything from cereal, pasta sauce and medicine, to tinned soup, biscuits and frozen ready-meals. (Alcohol is available from reception.) Staybridge has an “honesty policy”, which means no one oversees the shop – guests fill in a form and pay at check out. There is also a wide range of take-away menus available at the front desk – have a pizza delivered to your suite or to the Den, where you can read or play board games. From Monday to Thursday (6pm-8pm), the manager organises a themed after-work reception, which includes free drinks and nibbles. Breakfast is provided in the Hub kitchen (6.30-9.30am weekdays and 7.30-10.30am weekends) – help yourself to juice from a carton in the fridge and toast a bagel (a range of cooked items are also laid out buffet-style). During the day, cookies and coffee are always available. There are also barbecues outside on the wood-decked terrace by the Living Room. BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES None on-site, but the newly built Arena and Convention Centre opposite has a 1,350-seat auditorium, 18 breakout rooms and up to 7,000 sqm of exhibition space. LEISURE FACILITIES There is a small gym open 24 hours next door to the “Socks and Smalls” laundry room. (The property does offer a laundry and dry-cleaning service.) Jogging routes for the area are available from reception. VERDICT The property is ideal for long-stay business travellers. Staybridge Suites feels secure, informal and relaxed, but still offers high-class service when you need it and comfortable surroundings.
Fact fileHOW MANY ROOMS? 132 suites in two categories (one-bedroom and studio) over seven floors. They are all non-smoking. Prices are per room, so you can use the sofa bed if you have a one-bedroom suite - ask reception for extra bedding. ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The refreshments/snacks on the table and free bottle of beer in the fridge are a welcoming touch, and the free wifi, fully fitted kitchen, comfortable furniture and option to use the sofa-bed for extra guests at no extra cost really make it feel a home away from home. PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in November started from £116 for a studio. The longer you stay, the lower the price. CONTACT Staybridge Suites Liverpool, 21 Keel Wharf; tel +44 (0)151 703 9700; ichotelsgroup.com.