£25m hotel to open in former Liverpool store

A building that once housed one of Liverpool city centre’s best known department stores is to become a £25m hotel with a famous Parisian brand. Tony McDonough reports

Mama Shelter
Parisian hotel brand Mama Shelter is coming to Liverpool


Liverpool’s former George Henry Lee department store building is to be transformed into a £25m hotel.

Hospitality business Ennismore Dubai-based developer Landlab are in negotiations to bring the Paris-based Mama Shelter hotel brand to the city. It will be the first UK Mama Shelter outside London.

Expected to open in 2025, the hotel will be in the Houghton Street building that, until 2008, was occupied by national retailer John Lewis. It moved out to become one of the anchor tenants in Liverpool ONE.

The outlet was originally known as George Henry Lee, named after the original owner who opened a shop in Liverpool in 1853. It became one of the north of England’s top department stores.

John Lewis bought the business in 1940 and in the 1960s merged it with the Bon March store next door. However, the George Henry Lee name continued to adorn the building until it was dropped in 2002.

Following the departure of John Lewis the Bon Marche store become TX Maxx. Another well known Liverpool retailer, Rapid Hardware moved into the building but the business collapsed in 2013. It reopened as Rapid Discount Outlet but closed for good in 2017.

Various schemes have been put forward for the building including abandoned plans for a hotel. It is hoped this current plan will become a reality.

Started in 2008 in Paris as a concept developed by Serge Trigano and his two sons, Jérémie and Benjamin. Mama Shelter is known for its playful approach to hospitality, featuring looney tunes masks in the bedrooms to karaoke rooms, in-house cinemas, DJ sets, and signature rooftop bar.


Mama Shelter
Mama Shelter Liverpool will feature a rooftop bar when it opens in 2025
Houghton Street
The former George Henry Lee building in Houghton Street, right. Picture by Tony McDonough


Vic Alfa, UK director of Landlab, said: “As a Liverpudlian, I’m incredibly proud and excited to be bringing Mama Shelter to my hometown. Having worked with Accor for the best part of 10 years, Mamas is a brand our team knows well.

“With its colour, vibrancy, and off-the-wall approach, it will inject life and energy back into one of the city’s most iconic buildings and offer something completely new to the people of Liverpool and visitors to this amazing city.”

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As part of the £25m scheme the 153,000 sq. ft space will be transformed into 175 rooms as well as a sports bar concept, Spa Mama Skin, karaoke rooms, 10-pin bowling, a Cinemama, co-working space and rooftop bar and restaurant.

Cedric Gobilliard, brand chief operating officer of Mama Shelter at Ennismore, said: “We knew Liverpool was the perfect destination for Mama Shelter’s next hotel in the UK. The city embodies the Mama spirit with its energy, party spirit and its rich heritage of music and pop culture.”.

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