Image: Liverpool Anglican Cathedral (taken by James Chapman)
Whilst we’ve raided the opinions of plenty of people for our Insider’s guide features recently, we decided to look a bit closer to home for our next one. Our editor Jimmy Coultas has lived in Liverpool for sixteen years now since arriving to study in the city, so we thought he’d be best placed to discuss what to do when you get there.
Where do you live and why do you live there?
I live smack bang in the middle of Liverpool city centre. I arrived in 2000 and the reason I’m still here is because quite simply it’s the best city in the UK in my eyes; hands down.
What makes the city so special?
Scousers. You’ll be hard pressed to find a funnier and more welcoming set of people than the ones that live in Liverpool. There’s a lot of negative stereotypes that are out there about the city and its inhabitants, but it’s mostly bollocks.
The accent can take a bit of getting used to but the vocabulary is another of the strong points and soon enough you’ll think everything is boss. Because most things in Liverpool are.
Where’s your favourite places to eat there?
Bold Street is now the place to eat in Liverpool. Maray, Mowgli and Elif, a Lark lane favourite now boasting a city centre establishment, are all killer hotspots. For breakfast Moose and Moonshie is a corker if you want to walk a little bit further up to hope st, and the Pen Factory further long down there is decent too.
My personal fav though is the UNI curry house on Renshaw Street. It’s exactly what you want when you go for an Indian, a little bit tacky but with great food. You can get a booth as well with a dimmer switch and a curtain which sounds horrific but is actually amazing.
And the best places to go out?
One thing Liverpool has improved on in recent years is the pubs. There’s some cracking ‘old man’ style establishments, Rigbys and the Ship and Mitre on Dale St probably being the best examples. You get really nice ales and bitters here, and the resurgence in popularity of these types of drinks has filtered into the student pubs as well. The Font is a classic example; it’s student friendly but pours a cracking pint, which certainly wasn’t the case in the places I was drinking ten years ago. The guys that run it look like Adams family extras though.
Bar wise the best places tend to be around the ropewalks, so you are likely to spend your night drifting between Brooklyn Mixer, Salt Dog Slims, Santa Chupitos and El Bandito (where they serve tequila and mezcal to 5am) when you first get to the city, and that’s not certainly not a bad thing.
I’m biased as I DJ there but 81Ltd is great, you need a code to get in but that’s not difficult unless you’re really lairy and the cocktails are the best in the city. Obviously the music is amazing.
From a clubbing perspective Liverpool is really good, it’s such a good place to rave. The most famous night in the city is Circus and if you like your house and techno it’s certainly going to be somewhere you’ll spend a lot of time. Their Birthday is at the end of the month with Seth Troxler headlining, and is guaranteed to be great. This weekend is also a great example of why the city is so good from a choice perspective. Chibuku have Disclosure on Saturday with plenty more, Friday night you’ve got Horsemeat Disco’s Severino playing at the Blade Factory and best of all Freeze are in Haus Warehouse with Innervisions. If you want a night of intense musical excellence this is the place to go this month.
Overall the clubbing scene here tends to be quite cyclical. There’s always the constant presence of the big players, but the smaller nights come and go in waves but it feels like right now it’s really solid. Haus Warehouse, Shipping Forecast and Drop the dumbells all have loads of good regular parties on and the midweek rave is back, which is great for students. It’s also easy to get involved with as well; there’s a wave of student DJs and promoters doing well in the city so if you’re wanting to do more than just give it large at the front then Liverpool has the scene to enable you to do that. I think that makes it unique form other cities.
For someone about to come to the city for the first time, what are the three things they must do before the year is out in the city?
Everyone says it but they do so for a reason; visiting the Cathedrals is a must. If you pick the right day to get to the top of the Anglican as well you’ll be rewarded by the most amazing view, and even if you’re an atheist it’s hard to not appreciate the splendour of both buildings. They’re within walking distance from one another so when you have a spare few hours (and you’re not hung over) go and visit them both.
Also head to Lark Lane. It’s much better when the sun is shining (which is probably going to be few and far between in the next few months) but this is a student friendly part of the city that a lot of people don’t cotton on to till they are in the second or third year. If you fancy a change from Smithdown or town for a few beers this is probably the best place for you to do just that.
And then finally, go to a rave in an unusual venue. Freeze have put parties on in the Williamson Tunnels, The Bombed Out church, St Georges Hall and even the Anglican Cathedral over the last few years, and each time they are unreal events, so keep your eye out for when they do something similar. They have Hernan Cattaneo and Danny Howells in the Williamson Tunnels on Saturday 5th October (main ticket link).
What’s the city’s greatest hidden secret?
Liverpool is deceptively small so there isn’t really a great deal of secrets. Nightlife wise nothing remains hidden from everyone else for long so and that extends to the leisure activities as well. But I’d say that during the summer or as soon as it gets sunny again, go and have your lunch in the gardens of St Nick’s Church which is down by the Town Hall. It’s not really a secret but as it’s in a part of town most students will never embroil themselves in it’s well worth that extra walk. It's beautiful.
And finally, what one bit of advice would you give someone hitting the city for the first time?
Get involved and embrace everything about the city. If you’re a student its quite easy to live in your own bubble of halls, student nights and social circles but the sooner you get to know more about the city and the people the better, and the more you will appreciate it.
Liverpool has a history and a heritage which predates the industrial revolution by a good couple of hundred years which puts it apart from its noisier northern neighbours (even if it’s mired in the guilt of the slave trade), and the soul of the city is evident in the way that they’ve reacted to some well publicised injustices in the last few years. The sooner you get to understand the heartbeat of a very unique and varied place to live the quicker you’ll appreciate its charm beyond being simply a great place to have a session. But let’s not forget, it’s still all about those nights out.
Like this? Check out our other Insider’s guides to Liverpool, from Jess Heaton and also from Doug Bolton.
For more information on our Fresher’s coverage head to our dedicated Fresher’s section here