For a place that calls itself the UK’s smallest five-star hotel, its cheeky reference belies a big experience for guests.
I am in the taxi from Liverpool Lime Street Station with my partner heading to the Hillbark Hotel and I have to say I am excited and curious to see what this hotel has to offer.
Originally built in 1891 for soap manufacturer Robert William Hudson by two of Liverpool’s very own architects George Enoch Grayson and Edward A. L. Ould, the now hotel was moved brick by brick, timber by timber from Bidston Hill Birkenhead to its present location at Royden Park on the Wirral.
As we turn off the road onto the pebble stoned drive, I set eyes on the wonderful building surrounded by beautiful green scenery, as we pull up by the fountain in the courtyard by the entrance to the hotel we are promptly greeted by the concierge staff and I can see why this is the only 5-star hotel on Merseyside.
Stepping into the hotel feels like taking a trip back in time with solid oak beams, leaded windows filling the hotel with light and hitting the carved woodwork, this hotel just oozes character.
Check-in was speedy and efficient and whilst our luggage was whisked away to our room, we were given the option of refreshments in the Contessa’s Bar, which serves hot and cold beverages along with alcoholic drinks.
A log fire is crackling away and the chic furnishing complimented the traditional pieces, with the glass and oak bar as the centrepiece. We sat by one of the large windows and relaxed gazing out to the wonderful picturesque gardens that seem to stretch for miles.
It was time to see our rooms and we are escorted up the main staircase, we walk through the wooden corridors and then across a balcony overlooking the main lounge with its stained-glass windows, carved wood panelling and another magnificent fireplace. This, I am told is where the hotel holds industry events and weddings where a marque can be added for additional guests.
The Hillbark hotel has 18 rooms to choose from, they range from family, classic and junior suites with each having its own unique design and furnishings, we will be staying in the bridal suite for the weekend.
Opening the door revealed a luxurious Victorian Master bedroom, the large four-poster bed with its dark oak surroundings and warm colours dominates the room and the furnishings accentuate this. Dark wooden beams were juxtaposed against the high white painted ceiling and we also had a long dining table and a lounge area with two sofas placed perfectly by the attractive fireplace.
As you would imagine the bathroom perfectly complemented the bedroom with a black and grey marble interior and built-in luxurious tiled jacuzzi bath with a walk-in shower.
Walking into Solaia spa you can instantly feel the change in atmosphere, a peaceful tranquillity starts to take over, we’ve definitely come to the right place to relax. The lovely Claire who is the manager at the Solaia spa greets us on arrival.
The staff are friendly and put us at ease straight away giving us refreshments while running through the treatments we had chosen and we are asked what we would like to gain from our Solaia spa experience. I was certainly impressed that they wanted to fulfil our needs and expectations from our spa experience.
We both had a hydro bath treatment first for those who are not familiar with this treatment it is a relaxing steamy experience and you can feel the stress strains and tensions start to ease from your body and of course, our glass of champagne added that little luxury and more bubbles to our hydrobath experience.
We are being escorted to our treatment rooms. I have chosen the Solaia afternoon escape which I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to leave feeling rejuvenated and lifted.
The facial treatment I received was out of this world with the different textures, aromas and temperatures from the different oils, creams, scrubs and mask were absolutely astounding – all the products used are from the Carita Paris collection. I then had the full body massage that was outstanding and I leave the room walking on air; my face is glowing and my body feels brand new.
My partner has chosen the sports massage, which is perfect for those who have just finished a round of golf, he describes this as a relaxing but firm massage, which relieved the tension in his muscles. The masseuse used an oil which was warm and helped give depth to the massage and really get deep into the muscles.
They started on his back, then progressed to his hamstrings, calves and feet. Then turning over on to his chest, arms and legs, his comments of “I feel like I have been placed in a new body”, did make me smile, but I know exactly what he meant.
After our massages, we were taken to the chill out zone with relaxing music, refreshments and best of all recliners so we could drift off to complete what has been a wonderful afternoon.
All that relaxing has got me famished and I couldn’t wait to eat. On entering the restaurant we are greeted by our server for the night, Shani who was very friendly and made sure all our needs were met so we could enjoy our dining experience.
Our table is in the wine cellar and we are sharing this space with over 700 bottles of wine – my Irish ancestors would certainly be proud of the company I keep – The Hillbark hotel also offers this as a private dining experience.
The bottles are stored in a glass cabinet that surrounds the room and is aesthetically stunning, with the candlelight setting and Graham, the pianist, playing classic tunes the setting couldn’t be more perfect.
Hats off to the chef the food was spectacular. We ordered two starters, the thinly sliced octopus in lemon oil and the tomato, mozzarella and basil salad.
For the main course, we have opted for the pan roasted rack of lamb, which I would definitely recommend, and the grilled rib of beef with a side order of Lyonnaise potatoes, steamed broccoli and glazed roasted carrots. The meat was cooked to perfection, the different flavours and soft textures just had you wanting more.
How could we not end the perfect day by sitting next to the roaring log fire in the bar, with a few glasses of wine? It has been a wonderful day, from the moment we hit the pebble stoned drive, to sitting here next to the fire, the staff have been attentive and looked after our every need, the elegant spender and history of the hotel, and how can I not forget our new bodies courtesy of Clare and her staff at the Spa.
The Hillbark hotel is perfectly placed for all the golf courses on England’s Golf Coast and the bustling city of Liverpool, its nightlife and of course its fantastic football team, all you need to do now is book your stay.
To book your stay, visit www.hillbarkhotel.co.uk