Titanic Hotel: 30 James Street, Liverpool, UK
The hotel is officially called “30 James Street, Home of the Titanic”.
The idea of renovating the historic White Star (Titanic) Offices, built 1898 and converting it into a hotel is an excellent one. I believe that the renovation cost £7 million. The location of the hotel is near perfect: It is next to a station (James Street), near the Liver building, Mersey Ferry, and a moderate walk to the Albert Dock, various museums, many restaurants and modern shops. Externally the building appears largely original; being designed by Shaw & Doyle, who also designed the former ‘New Scotland Yard’, in Whitehall, London. Internally the hotels has 64 rooms with very unusual/modern décor, with a Titanic theme.
Just to make life more confusing than it is already, there is Hotel in Liverpool called the ‘Titanic Hotel’, that has ABSOLUTLY NO HISTORICAL CONNECTION with the ill fated ship, at all.
30 James Street has two major problems: an identity crisis and customer service issues. Identity: Is the hotel trying to offer a five star experience, for the seasoned traveller that appreciates history and good service? Or is it a budget hotel trying to appeal to Stag and Hen parties? It is difficult to please both.
The room rates were very reasonable by UK city standards, although breakfast is often an add-on to the room rate (around £10pp). When you walk in to the hotel you get the feelings of a five star establishment, with the reception being several desks in an attractive lounge, rather than a traditional counter. The majority of the hotels front-of-house staff and waitresses were young and friendly. However I would suggest that their combined experience was probably less than in many other hotels, who employ at least some more mature staff.
Generally the corridors and rooms look five-star, although on closer inspection of the rooms, a lack of attention to detail in the finish could often be seen. The room that I was allocated was number 11, a junior suite, on the first floor. It was at the end of a black lined leather corridor (black carpet, black ceiling and walls) with minimal lighting. Although the floor 1 corridor décor was certainly original, it was rather like walking into a black cave. I appreciate that décor it is very subjective.
This grade of room has two double beds and was clean. I could actually see the Liver building and a glimpse of the Mersey from the windows, which was nice. The wardrobe was only a standard sized, given the fact that the room can accommodate four people, where would they all put their clothes? There were only four coat hangers. I requested more, but only six more could be found. I was promised more later, but these failed to ever arrive.
The beds were comfortable and linen of good quality. There was a LCD TV, telephone, Kettle, tea/coffee. (I have since read on the website that Netflix was available on the TV, but nothing in the room advised me of this. There should have also been a keyboard for the TV, which was not present).
The wardrobe contained the safe, but this was not bolted down, it was mobile – so hardly very safe at all.
Many small touches were missing, including some that I would expect to find even in a budget hotel:
No iron & ironing board (as stated in the room description).
Dressing gowns and slippers were not available.
I had to ask for a hair-dryer to be provided. There are no “make up my room” or “do not disturb” door signs.
There was no information booklet about the hotel and facilities (although there was a drinks/food menu for the restaurant) and there was no stationery.
There is no room service offered.
There was no laundry service.
I asked for a case ‘stand’, but I was told they do not have any, so my case lived on the floor.
The Wi-Fi is used as a selling point, but it never connect for me, being “two slow” according to my device.
It is important to note that I visited in winter and the room was freezing. It took the air-con/heating unit 3-4 hours to fully warm the room up (but it had little effect on the bathroom). The builders had retained the original windows of the building, but added secondary glazing, which was not very efficient. My room was on the corner of the building, so there was a frosted window in the bathroom, which badly leaked cold air, making the bathroom freezing.
There was no form of heating in the bathroom. There was an electrical spur on the wall, but nothing connected to it. A heater or heated towel rail would have been wise.
I did ask if dressing gowns and slippers were available to keep me warm in the bathroom but was told “no”. (Yet the hotel has a spar).
There were also no hooks in the bathroom to hang the towels. The bathroom did have a large Jacuzzi with a ceiling mounted shower head, toilet and sink which was nice, but it was often too cold to actually use it. Shower Gel and Shampoo was provide in two dispensers, but no soap or shower cap. A tissue box was never replenished. The hot water in the Jacuzzi/Shower was occasionally Luke warm.
Ironically, on occasions hot water came out of the sinks cold tap. I did contact reception about the cold bathroom and they suggested providing an electric fire for the bathroom. However I did explain that this would contravene all Health & Safety Regulations and would necessitate a long trailing mains lead across the bedroom. (I declined).
There was no shaving socket in the room. I asked for an adapter but the staff seemed somewhat puzzled by my request. They asked me to “look again for one”. Was I the only man to ever want to have an electric shave in room 11? It took the staff 14 hours to find me an adapter to use in a regular mains socket, even then I had to go and collect it from reception. From there on I had to shave sitting on the floor of the bedroom, without a mirror.
On the first evening I reported to reception, that at around 10.00pm that there was a party going on in the room next to ours. At 4.30am I was awoken by Queen’s “We will rock you” coming from the same room. The management had failed to do anything about the noise.
In contrast, I’m told that in a ‘Premier Inn’ staff patrol the corridors during the night, every half hour, checking for noise. (Anyway, in a Premier Inn I would have been given back a night’s fee, via their “good night’s sleep guarantee”).
30 James Street has rooms which accommodate 6, 8 and even 20 (yes 20) guests, so it is hard to imagine a sedate experience will be provided by some of your neighbours, unless a party of Nuns book the bigger rooms.
The next day I ran out of toilet rolls. I phoned reception and asked for one. It took another phone call and 30 minutes for it to be delivered. I could have brought one at the Tesco-Metro across the road from the Hotel, much quicker.
One morning there was banging and drilling at 8.15am. (The hotel clearly is not finished).
The Hotel management were very good at verbal customer service, saying all the right things, but were completely ineffective at actually solving any of my issues efficiently. They could have easily averted this somewhat negative review, by taking some remedial action while I was there, but they failed. For example: I was offered another room, which I was told had a warmer bathroom. In fact the member of staff had re-coded my key while I was out, assuming that I would simply accept the room. It was a lesser (cheaper) grade, being a much smaller room. I was effectively being offered a down-grade for complaining. (What chapter of the customer service manual is that in?) Not surprisingly, I declined the offer.
Breakfast and dinner is served in the Carpathia restaurant on the top floor (named after the ship which picked up many Titanic survivors). This was an attractive dining room/combined bar with an outdoor terrace, although being winter; I did not see the terrace in action. The restaurant staff were all very friendly and worked very hard. The buffet breakfast was very good and included hot and cold items. The range of food was pretty good, but unusually, there were no cheeses on offer during my stay.
I had an evening meal in the Carpathia Restaurant. I had booked via e-mail stating it was my birthday. I also told reception that it was my birthday on arrival at the hotel. I also told the Maître d’ on arrival in the restaurant. In addition one of the management said that they would ensure that I would be “spoiled” during the meal, because of the inconvenience caused. In reality there was no acknowledgment of my birthday during the service, no extras, not even a free glass of wine. Yet another complete failure to try and make amends to me.
The restaurant menu is not very wide, but probably offers something to please most people. The price is probably quite high by Liverpool standards (on a par with central London prices) but Monday to Thursday there is a half price deal. The Hotel also offers a meal and room deal.
The food was excellent, staff charming, but the service was painfully slow. Three courses with coffee took 3.75 hours. It took the waitress 30 minutes to deliver a bottle of water and coffee. There was no ice in my glass, so I requested it and this took a further 10 minutes. The restaurant/combined bar is the only public room in the hotel, apart from reception.
The hotel would benefit from a separate bar/coffee lounge which would be nice for relaxing. (Maybe the large reception area could be re-modelled to be part-lounge with coffee?)
Finally, it is worth noting that the hotel has been open for almost a year, at the time of writing (Feb. 2015) so there is little excuse for not rectifying all the issues above.
In conclusion, a very attractive and historic building, in a great location, with very unusual décor. A good range of accommodation, with some excellent room rates. However there is a serious lack of attention to detail within the construction /facilities of some rooms and in customer service. Communication between staff needs improving. There is no clear direction of what type of guests the hotel wants to appeal to. The restaurant serves excellent food, but struggles to serve customers promptly. I did liaise with the management while I was there and gave them a number of chances to put things right, but they failed every time.
I have since been offered a 30% discount by e-mail for a future stay. However that is “closing the gate after the horse has bolted”. I will not be giving the hotel any-more of my money.
Although not quite as grand, I have experience better standards of service at the Premier Inn, Albert Dock.
Q: Have you stayed at this hotel? How was it?
Important Note: My Hotel review above is only applicable to ‘my experience’ in room 11, in February 2015. Tripadvisor carries many more positive reviews than mine (and some other negative ones too).