A Review of the Bill Shankly Bespoke Tour in Liverpool
Let me start out by admitting how much I absolutely love this tour! If you are a Liverpool supporter and you are traveling to the city for a match at Anfield then this is a must-do! I’ve been a LFC supporter since 2000 and although I thought I knew a lot about our club’s history and the history and culture of the city of Liverpool, I realized that there was so much more to learn. This tour gave me so much insight into the life of Bill Shankly, our beloved club’s history, and the music and football culture of the city.
The Shankly Hotel in Liverpool
If you are traveling soon to Liverpool then you should check out the Shankly Hotel in the city center and these new tours that they offer. The hotel was founded, and is managed, by the grandchildren and family of the legendary Bill Shankly. Bill Shankly, of course, being the manager responsible for transforming Liverpool into the team that dominated English and European football for decades. The images above and below are photos I actually captured from the hotel and you can check out a review from my stay at the Shankly Hotel here.
A few months back I connected with Ashley from Shankly Tours and she was kind enough to offer me a sneak-peak of one of their brand new experiences. Shankly Tours offers several different experiences including: Match Day Tours; Liverpool Football Themed Tours; Beatles Tours; Liverpool City Center Walking Tour; and a Shankly Memorabilia Tour. The Shankly Team also provides combinations of these tours and customized tours where you can tell them what you would like to see. I went on a combination of the tours, which I will tell you about in this blog post.
My bespoke tour with Shankly Family Tours included the Anfield Stadium Tour, Beatles Tour and a Shankly Memorabilia Tour at the Hotel. At this point I was I was really excited as I had been lucky enough to travel to Liverpool over 10 times, but I had never had the chance to take a Beatles Tour and the Shankly Memorabilia portion of the tour was brand new! There were also plenty of new developments with the Anfield Stadium Tour at that time so I was excited to see some of that as well.
Anfield Stadium Tour
I started the day by meeting up with Ashley at the Shankly statue outside of Anfield. She was just as lovely as I had imagined from our correspondence! Ashley handed me my tickets for the Anfield Stadium Tour and I spent the next hour on a guided tour throughout the stadium. The stadium tour includes a walkthrough of the Main Stand, the new club seat section, the press room, the players’ changing room, Klopp’s seat in the stadium, the pitch and the Kop stand. Even if you are a local from Liverpool I highly recommend booking a stadium tour and checking out everything behind the scenes in the Main Stand. Liverpool really did a fantastic job having this new stand built and it’s magnificent to see in person. Check out some of my photos below.
If you book the Anfield Stadium Tour you will also have the chance to visit the Anfield Museum and Steven Gerrard Collection (my photos below are from this collection in the museum), which is included in your ticket. I recommend setting aside two hours at Anfield as you might spend quite a bit of time in the museum which provides an audio guide walkthrough of much of the history of the club including previous players and of course an entire section dedicated to our beloved former captain, Steven Gerrard. I have to admit I got emotional looking at all of the memorabilia from Gerrard’s career! Once you’re done with the museum you can either set off on the Beatles Tour or you can eat lunch at the Boot Room, which is one of my favorite restaurants in Liverpool and is right there at Anfield. Make sure to reserve a table as they often book up fast.
Liverpool Beatles Tour
After I was done with the stadium tour Ashley met me outside of the ground and took me to the Shankly Family Tours car. She introduced me to Margie who was my tour guide for the Beatles portion of the tour. What’s so great about Margie is that not only is she a Beatles expert but she is also is a huge Liverpool supporter. During the tour we spent about half of our time talking about the Beatles and the other half talking about Liverpool! We joked about how we wished the Beatles were all Liverpool supporters. She even showed me the areas where some of the current LFC players live as we passed by while driving around the city. If you’re going to book this Bespoke Tour I highly recommend requesting Margie as she was so much fun and very knowledgeable both about the Beatles and football.
I should also mention that before we embarked on our journey around the city to famous Beatles landmarks, Margie offered to take me to Melwood and Shankly’s former home as this is something that is included in the tour. I decided to pass up on this as I have been to Melwood a few times and I’m already familiar with what it looks like. You can’t actually go inside Melwood as it’s blocked off with a gate and security. However, it’s worth going there to see what it looks like from the outside. I’ve spent quite a few days outside of the training ground waiting for the team to come out and I’ve been lucky enough to meet a few of them including Klopp. Although the club now has a policy that tries to stop such meetings from happening at the Melwood gates, so you may be disappointed if you go to try and meet the players. For this tour I do recommend a trip to Melwood as it’s worth seeing the training ground.
During the Beatles portion of the tour, Margie took us to John Lennon’s, Ringo Starr’s and Paul McCartney’s childhood homes. We also visited Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, the grave of Eleanor Rigby, the new Beatles Statues at the seafront, the Cavern Club in the city center, and more. We were able to get out at all of these spots in the city center and suburbs in order to take photos.
Bill Shankly Memorabilia Tour
Once we finished the amazing Beatles Tour, Margie dropped us off at the Shankly Hotel for the Shankly Memorabilia Tour. This is where I was able to meet Bill Shankly’s granddaughter (photo of her below) who provided a deeply personal insight into the life of the great man.
She took me around the beautiful displays in the hotel providing a detailed overview of the huge collection of memorabilia that the Shankly family had lovingly saved from his days as a professional football player and as the mighty manager of Liverpool. It really was unbelievable to see the items his family have preserved over the years. A few of the items on display were Shankly’s international football shirts from his days of playing for Scotland, his Preston North End shirts from playing professional football, his medals as a manager, the sword Kevin Keegan gave to Bill Shankly as a present, the original key to the Shankly gates at Anfield and letters penned by Shankly to fans during his managerial career. I even got to see the scarf that was famously thrown at Shankly’s feet as he took in the adulation from a swaying and soaring Kop.
Shankly Hotel Bastion Bar & Restaurant
The tour concluded with dinner at the Bastion Bar & Restaurant at the Shankly Hotel and a Virtual Reality Shankly Experience. I actually wasn’t sure what to expect of the virtual reality experience but I ended up really enjoying it! I even have a few photos from the VR experience, which show me sitting with a virtual version of Bill Shankly! The hotel staff were kind enough to email them to me after the tour.
Overall the experience was absolutely fantastic and if you are looking for a way to spend a day exploring the history, music and football culture in the city of Liverpool then this is the tour you should book!
Lastly, you never know who you will bump into when you visit the Shankly Hotel. As you can see below I got to meet Jamie Carragher just as I was finishing the Shankly Memorabilia Tour at the hotel.
Let me know what you think in the comments and if you plan to book a Shankly Tour during your next trip to Liverpool!