Here's a place for people who have had a belly-full of hotels.
Specifically, people who are fed up with being ripped off for services they don't want, facilities they don't need and hidden costs they don't know about. Right at the forefront of a new trend for budget luxury tourist accommodation, Base2Stay in Liverpool shows that less is certainly more.
As far as traditional hotel facilities go, it has few: no restaurant, no gym, no bar, boutique or breakfast room. What it does have is bags of style, oodles of comfort and, quite frankly, everything you could need from a city hotel, including a 24-hour reception and concierge. It is, in short, exactly as the name suggests, a base to stay. But, in my opinion, it is a five-star one sold at very affordable two-star room rates.
The hotel is set in the central Rope Walks district, part of a Unesco World Heritage site, with cobbled streets, galleries and lively bars that were the nightlife hub during Liverpool's year as European City of Culture in 2008. Thankfully, rooms are double-glazed with acoustic glass, so you don't have to join in the party from your bed.
The building, a former print works, dates from the 1850s and has been cleverly restored and extended, with exposed brick in the bedrooms and corridors. The overall look is slick and contemporary, employing black leather and dark-wood furniture, set against cool grey-blue soft furnishings. But the best of the building's original architectural detail has been incorporated into its design, including some lovely double-height bedrooms with vast floor-to-ceiling windows, and roof timbers that are said to have come from 18th-century ships.
The hotel opened in August and is the second of what will likely become a nationwide franchise, given the success of the concept. The flagship hotel in Kensington, which opened in 2006, has received a coveted Gold Award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme for its eco-friendly fundamentals. This sister hotel follows the same principles, which includes a "responsible visitor charter".
This all sounds a bit worthy, but it amounts to a hotel that's confident enough to send guests out into the surrounding city to eat and drink and spend their money, rather than holding them hostage. A refreshingly ego-less stance that means Base2Stay can uphold its promise that "the price you pay at check-out is what you expected when you checked in".
There are 106 rooms in seven categories, including "super singles" that cost just £65 a night (£52 until the end of November). These are a steal for business travellers, considering they have plush 4ft beds, oversized showers and all the bells and whistles found in other rooms: air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, mini-kitchen (with microwave, fridge, sink, kettle and Fairtrade tea/instant coffee). Plus HDTV with free music, games and on-screen internet. Furniture is custom-made for the rooms. Most have sofa beds making them even more of a bargain for families, and double-height rooms have lofty gallery sleeping areas, and can accommodate a total of four adults at the same room rate (£135 per night, or £110 until the end of November).
The food and drink
The hotel can pre-order breakfast to be delivered from local cafés: either £5 or £7 for cold or hot food. My £5 order could have done with a pastry rather than the meagre serving of bread and jam, but the coffee was excellent. There are plans to add posh coffee machines to the rooms eventually. The very friendly staff at the front desk has a good selection of menus from local restaurants that will deliver. They will also recommend places to dine out, some of which have discount agreements with the hotel.
There aren't any and that's the point. So go out and explore. The hotel is just a few minute's walk from the swanky Liverpool One shopping centre, the Beatles Story, the Tate and the other museums, and sights of the Victorian docks, including the venerable old Mersey ferry.
The hotel is wheelchair accessible, has induction loop and a number of specially equipped DDA guest rooms.
A standard double room costs from £75 (£60 until the end of November).