The Wirral builders who renovated 2 Blackburne Terrace were amazed. Some had worked in Toxteth but, even so, they had little idea that, next door, in an area known as Canning, central Liverpool, there’s a handsome enclave of Georgian buildings more reminiscent of Bath than Bootle.
If stumbling across this so-called Georgian Quarter – one of several layers that make Liverpool such an architecturally interesting city – is a surprise, it is nothing on Blackburne Terrace itself. A discreet, luxury four-bedroom B&B, newly opened by Sarah and Glenn Whitter (an ex-musician and interior designer), it is furnished in an unusually bold, idiosyncratic fashion. From the “shattered” entrance-hall mirror to the enormous purple-lacquered dining table in the breakfast room (Prince, I imagine, has something similar in his Paisley Park studio), every bit of furniture makes a statement. Challenging paintings and sculptures dress rooms that pivot around vividly colourful, bespoke settees juxtaposed with more sober antique pieces. Deliberately, nothing matches. The effect is as striking and painstakingly styled as the huge coffee table art books in the lounge.
It will be divisive. Mrs N loved it and it grew on me, or most of it did. I found the BBT logo woven into the soft furnishings tacky and some of the more prog rock-ish art terrible. Bedroom three, styled with the minimalist, period restraint you might expect to find in a Grade II-listed Georgian townhouse, was by far my favourite. But if the design choices at Blackburne Terrace are debatable, the level of comfort is not. The enormous rooms are so quiet and thickly carpeted they feel hermetically sealed from the world. In the afternoon, those at the back are flooded with sunlight. The bed (500-thread Egyptian cotton sheets, merino-wool topper) is the comfiest I have ever slept in. Key gadgets – such as the Sonos internet radio/music system with guest Spotify access, and the electronic door fob – worked seamlessly. Fresh milk and camomile tea from Fortnum & Mason completed a tea-tray of rare variety.
Niggles were trivial. M&S chocolate and Evian jarred, given breakfast includes such superior local produce as bacon from lauded Wirral butcher Edge and Son, and Agnew & Roberts’s jams. An impressive spread overall, the cooked breakfast needs tweaking (sausages should be pan-fried, never press-grilled; no baked beans in pots, please) to achieve five-star status.
Talking of food, there are several great restaurants (London Carriage Works, Free State Kitchen, HOST), around nearby Hope Street. But will you want to leave your room? At £250 a night, staying here is likely to be a special treat, an opportunity to secrete yourself away with a lover and make full use of that bedroom. In that regard, Blackburne Terrace is ideal. It is a place to sleep late and luxuriate. Design fetishists, particularly, will be in heaven.