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One night stand on Lord Street

Phil Griffin gets Southport's slick and sharp Vincent hotel in the frame

Published on January 7th 2009.


One night stand on Lord Street

THE Vincent Hotel on Lord Street in Southport is pretty as a picture - once you get it all in the frame. As I was photographing it the other day a man in a black coat came out of the revolving front door and told me to stop. Of course I carried on and he got quite determined, “Stop photographing the car”.

He was referring to a rather vulgar customised black Range Rover that I was hoping someone would move because it was messing up my shot. Minutes later, as I sat down to lunch at the Vincent Sushi Bar, I realised that the coated man with the over-inflated sense of his own authority was, in fact, valet parking the hulking vehicle for a pale, rather plain man and his two dining companions. The woman was an augmented blonde, size six, the second man dark and difficult to age, like a variety of bottled male preserve. The pale one, on second glance, turned out to be Steven Gerrard, footballing Phil Collins fan recently released on police bail after being red carded in a nearby bar. Along with the 3,650ft pier and the Lord Street shopping parade, Gerrard and co are among Southport’s top sights.

The sea and Southport have a tenuous relationship. It is hardly worth pursuing. The newish tram that takes you down the seemingly endless pier is unheated. The newish end of the pier pavilion allows you some cover for the 15-minute turnaround before the tram heads back inland. The pavilion is a sad, unheated retail shed that makes scant acknowledgement of the illusive sea but affords a good hide from which to watch wading birds.

When not iced up, Southport pier is a great promenade, rightly and wonderfully preserved against the better wishes of Sefton Council who applied to demolish it in 1990.

Southport is a redeemed resort. It is cheerful and spirited, even when shrouded in the mists of a new recession. Local man Paul Adams opened The Warehouse Brasserie here in 1996. It’s won awards and stayed busy ever since, which is a formidable record for an aspirational kitchen that knows how to chargrill scallops just so, and can make crème brulee genuinely interesting again. So Paul V Adams decided to stake his middle name on a new hotel.

The Vincent Hotel behind the bandstand slap in the middle of Lord Street is a grande projet on a reckless scale. Sixty rooms on five floors, banqueting and conference suites on floor one, deli restaurant, bars and spa, fashionably dark and inviting, opened for business in June 2008.

You would think you are in a bustling metropolis. For all its nouveau flounce and footballer appeal, it actually pulls up well short of the bad taste barrier. There’s a bit of a celebrity photographer thing going on in the bar and thereabouts. Tony McGee, a London-based professional photographer of merit, is a friend of the hotel’s owner. His portraits crowd out the back wall of the comfortable bar. There is a youthful Dan Day Lewis, the second Mrs McCartney minus her prosthetic leg, and an Indian elephant with an amusingly large member. All in the best possible taste. The bar only serves lager in halves. But it is good Japanese lager.

The rooms are terrific. Dark timber. Nespresso machine. Very agreeable shelved bath and rose shower. Deep sprung bed the size of a Channel island. A comfortable match for anything overseen by Olga Polizzi (hotel designing sister of Rocco Forte).

The bedroom windows onto Lord Street are netted and framed on the inside with a movable split canvas screen mounted on runners floor and ceiling. These have been photo-printed, in our room a monochrome photo-enlargement of a ballet rehearsal. I’ve never seen this arrangement in a hotel room before and expect to see it everywhere soon. You could argue the rooms are relatively expensive; our corner studio is about £180 a night. We got an amazing deal on laterooms.com. In all I’d say Vincent gives good value for money. There’s a spa too.

Adams is as glamorous as his most glamorous guests. Stylish, in an expensive denim sort of way, he clearly gets as much from his training regime as any international footballer. He’s all over the place, holding open doors, deftly lifting discarded dinner plates, openly assuring all is well. Either he has been secretly cloned or his energy is such that he can be everywhere at once. Those of his staff I spoke to have been at Vincent since Day One and love it. They radiate the glow of its obvious success. And so will Southport, despite the economic downturn. Vincent is 35 minutes up the road. With this quality, a one-night stay is as good as a long-weekend.

The Vincent Hotel is at 98 Lord Street, Southport, PR8 1JR. +44(0) 1704 883800, www.thevincenthotel.com

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33 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Not a SausageJanuary 7th 2009.

was the stern reply...

Sam LooverJanuary 7th 2009.

Isn't that inconvenient in the toilet?

loolooJanuary 7th 2009.

thats soooooooo noy funny dig!

loolooJanuary 7th 2009.

ahem! a tena lady is a special pair of panties that ladies of a cetain age wear incase they have a wee accident! dont think theres an opera singer of that name tho! lol!!!!!!!!!!!

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2009.

Retirement flats, next to the home of the renowned artist Taylor Earnshaw. The development completely blocked out the light to his studio. Did the developers give a flying fcuk or compensate him. No!

Thomas Crapper, Sanitary EngineerJanuary 7th 2009.

Of course they could be Crapper, Andy...

B Flatt-MajorJanuary 7th 2009.

A Tenalady is a Mezzo-Soprano, is she not?

Antony GormlessJanuary 7th 2009.

Er, I beg to differ. The toilets at Waterloo (pardon the near pun) are long closed. However there are a number of temporary Portaloos (the sort you would find at a pop festival) lined up at Crosby Coastguard for which you have to pay 20p to spend a penny. You could, of course, just stand very still on the beach and do it (ladies don't try this) and people will inevitably think you are just another iron statue. And anyway, it's the sea. As my auntie used to say at the swimming baths, "No one will notice."

Dauntless DuoflushJanuary 7th 2009.

So when is Larry Nield to lift the lid and peer into the closet?

Joe 90January 7th 2009.

What use would he have been? His zipper ran up his sleeve for flip's sake!

DigJanuary 7th 2009.

You didn't know! It's difficult to tell when people are kidding or not here. Clearing a few things up and being polite? I'm not sure I know what you mean.

DigJanuary 7th 2009.

That's me. aT lEasT i kNOw hOW tO Use cApS loCk..... Oh crap.

AndyJanuary 7th 2009.

Nice to see the posts are of their usual highly sophisticated standard...

DigJanuary 7th 2009.

My girlfriend got caught short whilst she was playing golf. While she was crouching down a ball hit her between the 1st and 2nd hole.

DigJanuary 7th 2009.

If you get caught short in public you could jump a cab or bus up to Crosby. The public toilets are still open there. Problem solved.

DigJanuary 7th 2009.

It wasn't meant to be funny. I was taking the mick out of. You're funny Looloo and you don't even know it! Well done you. Keep up the good work.

Liverpool WagJanuary 7th 2009.

I remember watching Martin Landau in Space 1999 and thinking, "I'll be the same age as him in 1999. I wonder if he'll wait for me?"

loolooJanuary 7th 2009.

oooooh Dig!nooo i knew what it was DOH!i just wanted to clear a few things up like! and i was being polite!!!!!!!!!!!!

loolooJanuary 7th 2009.

well then dIG youre just being thick then!

Lord StreetJanuary 7th 2009.

What's all this about a night stand being put upon me?

Gran d'HotelJanuary 7th 2009.

The interior reminds me of the depressing sets in 1970s sci-fi 'U.F.O.'.

Liverpool WagJanuary 7th 2009.

What's a tenalady?

Liverpool WagJanuary 7th 2009.

And don't forget that they were a great cottage industry.

S. BendJanuary 7th 2009.

Our modern healthy Mediterranean diets and this five portions of fruit and veg a day malarkey is playing havoc with the population's bowels. Public lavatory provision must reflect this to meet the modern challenge. I used to be a one-cigar-a-day man, but now I'm in cowpat country, sometimes as many as three per day!

loolooJanuary 7th 2009.

Dig oh i know im funny, justs takes someone like you a few days to realise it!

loolooJanuary 7th 2009.

and stop tsking the piss out of someone who is dyslexic

DigJanuary 7th 2009.

Whoosh. That's the sound of that joke flying over looloos head.

DigJanuary 7th 2009.

I was referring to the toilets in Crosby. I'm sure thats what I wrote Mr. Gormless. Right by the town centre. They are still open. I passed them on Monday.

Commander StrakerJanuary 7th 2009.

You think that's bad? Try this one-piece white sleeveless romper suit I'm expected to wear!It's purgatory trying to go to the toilet.

Liverpool WagJanuary 7th 2009.

I suppose when they made Space 1999, not only did ITV think we would all be living on the Moon by then, but that we would have no need for the toilet any more. And here we all are 10 years later with all the council toilets closed down. There, Write about that, Larry Neild.

loo looJanuary 7th 2009.

YEAH!!! warrabout all them wimmin who arent wearin their tenalady! at a certain age women need to spend a penny alot more!

Lord StreetJanuary 7th 2009.

You can no longer pop into the Blundellsands Hotel for an ecstatic waz after a stroll on the beach because it's been knocked down to build ugly flats for footballers or some other undesirables.

Liverpool wagJanuary 7th 2009.

So does mine

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