ORT Sunlight in the Wirral is a beautiful model village built by William Hesketh Lever to provide a decent standard of living for his famous soap factory workforce.
There are obvious comparisons to be drawn with Birmingham’s Bournville. The Lever and Cadbury families built homes with decent sanitation, provided welfare and green open spaces for their loyal workers. Both companies have long since been taken over by global giants but to this day, are lovingly protected and managed through various trusts.
For your visit to this historic village, just outside Liverpool, the Leverhulme Hotel and Spa is the place to stay.
It was originally built as a cottage hospital in 1907 but has been transformed in a grade II-listed art deco four-star hotel.
Be warned there is a limited amount of parking in front of the hotel and just outside the entrance, but after a speedy and welcoming check-in, I was shown to the Opus Suite.
You can leave your shoes, and anything else you do not want to bring into the room, in the handy space between the two entrance doors.
The suite was very spacious, with high ceilings and tall windows which flood it with natural light. My suite was at the front of the hotel, with a view of the garden courtyard and rows of pretty homes.
By no means was it noisy and the thick curtains did a good job of blocking out any external lights.
The lighting in the bedroom and bathroom is mostly remotecontrolled – worth remembering when you find yourself looking for the light switches in the middle of the night. Guests can ring down for freshly brewed tea and coffee brought up in stylish crockery and accompanied with a couple of bite-sized brownies.
This is an especially nice touch because I’d rather have a prepared cafetiere of coffee sent up than fumble around for a kettle, sachets and mini-milk containers.
There are plenty of storage areas around the room, which makes for a clutter-free, hence happy, stay.
The bathroom is simply luxurious and wonderful to come back to after a day of exploring. There are ‘his and hers’ sinks, a big double Jacuzzi and a large rain shower. After a soak, slather on some Bvgari products and wrap yourself in one of the thick bathrobes.
The hotel’s spa was under refurbishment during my visit, so I was treated to a hot stone massage at their magnificent sister hotel, the Hillbark Hotel & Spa, a 20-minute drive away.
After dinner in the Riviera restaurant, you can kick back in the front bar or the games room which features a pool table, or read up on the history of the hotel.
It’s the ideal base for exploring Port Sunlight. I would put aside an hour to stroll through the village, because you will be forever stopping to admire the architecture of buildings and landmarks such as Hulme Hall, Lady Lever Art Gallery, and the War Memorial.
More than 30 architects worked on the village and no two blocks of houses look the same.
Sir Edwin Lutyens, who designed the Cenotaph in Whitehall, and Charles Tuke and James Maxwell – who designed Blackpool Tower – have their stamp on this estate.
Port Sunlight has been a Conservation Area since 1978 and the Trust responsible for its upkeep spends more than £2m annually on building work, conservation and landscape maintenance to guarantee generations will enjoy this area for years to come.
If you are curious about learning how a typical worker lived back in the day, you can go inside a quaint two-up two-down house, complete with scullery, two bedrooms, and living room.
You can learn a lot more about how the area was founded right up to the modern day by visiting the Port Sunlight Museum.
There are lots of interactive displays and activities for those with kids, not to mention a fun display on the Beatles in the Wirral for adults.
Port Sunlight, with a stopover at the Leverhulme Hotel, is a must for those interested in the garden cities of England.