Signature Living turned the former White Star Line headquarters into the 30 James Street hotel in 2014 – and now it is set to reopen with a new operator. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool’s 30 James Street Hotel will open its doors this weekend for the first time in its post-Signature era.
Formerly known as Albion House, the Grade II-listed building was built in the late 1890s as the headquarters for the White Star Line, owner of the ill-fated Titanic. It was reopened as a hotel by Signature Living in 2014 as 30 James Street.
However, a number of businesses in the Signature Group have collapsed into administration in the past few weeks and in late June it was announced national operator Legacy Hotels and Resorts would be taking over the venue.
Signature remains in control of other hospitality businesses in the city, including the Shankly and Dixie Dean hotels in Victoria Street and the Alma de Cuba bar and restaurant in Seel Street.
Now Legacy is preparing to reopen 30 James Street on Saturday, July 25, for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown in March, with new general manager Vicki Hanlon taking the helm .
Ms Hanlon is overseeing all the improvements that need to be made before welcoming guests back, including lift inspections, fire alarm tests and a deep clean from top to bottom of the four-star venue.
The married mother-of-two, who began her hospitality career at the Hilton in St Helens, said: “It’s a new chapter to this building’s long history. It’s amazing to be back and it’s a privilege to work in this building.
“There’s a certain feeling you experience when you walk up the steps here, a sense of history and what’s gone on down the years and I’ve missed that, as well as all our staff. The building needs a little bit of TLC which we are working hard to deliver in time, as well as getting the systems up and running again so we can take bookings and welcome people in.”
The building was designed by celebrated Victorian architect Norman Shaw and completed in 1896. It has 63 nautical-themed rooms, as well as a rooftop terrace bar with stunning waterfront views, a restaurant, events space and spa facilities.
“This building is part of the city’s history and even beyond. It’s the whole reason the Titanic had Liverpool written on it,” added Ms Hanlon. “And for those who aren’t aware of the history it still just works as a beautiful building.
“Liverpool is full of wonderful architecture and 30 James Street has some of our finest. Preserving our heritage and bringing it into new use is very important and aesthetically, with its striped brickwork, 30 James Street stands out – you can’t help but notice it. It has always intrigued me what stories it would tell if it could talk.”
Legacy is reopening 30 James Street in phases. The upstairs restaurant will remain closed initially, but it will be opening the bar on the ground floor where people can enjoy the waterfront views that has helped make the hotel so popular.
Ms Hanlon said she hopes to be hosting weddings and civil ceremonies again, soon. She added: “It’s funny how quickly we have just returned to normal, wanting to be open and being as busy as we can be. To be in this building with no guests is a very bizarre feeling, because it’s all about the people and I can’t wait.”