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Epstein House Liverpool – Owner Patrick Duggan Interview
The owner of Epstein House Liverpool, a Liverpool hotel housed in the former home of the legendary Beatles manager Brian Epstein, has hailed the recent regeneration of its Anfield neighbourhood. Bill Lumley talks to Patrick Duggan about the property and its Fab Four history
Patrick Duggan, whose Epstein House Hotel has featured on the television shows The Hotel Inspector and Four in a Bed, is looking for a buyer to take over the business and believes its local area has been turned around by recent investment.
Epstein House Liverpool officially opened as a hotel in 2003. Since then the surrounding area encompassing Liverpool’s famous Anfield stadium has recently undergone a £260 million programme of regeneration, with the building of 600 new homes and the refurbishment of a further 600 properties.
What is significant about this transformation?
Patrick Duggan says this transformation of the area has resulted in something of a transformation of his own critical views of the local city council. “In the past I have been critical of both Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Football Club, and I haven’t been shy about saying so. However, over the last few years they have stepped up and transformed Anfield so I’m not going to be shy now about saying what a difference they have made,” he says.
Recently he has been looking for a buyer to take over Epstein House Liverpool enabling him to retire. “It’s a really special property, and we have some incredible Beatles memorabilia here,” he says. “You could argue that before the area was regenerated it wasn’t an attractive investment for a prospective hotel owner, but that’s certainly not the case anymore,” he says.
Why is he selling Epstein House Liverpool?
He is selling up because he has decided he wants to retire and head off to Spain or Portugal, having run the hotel for the past 13 years. The property itself is now on the market with a guide price of £895,000. It has nine en-suite bedrooms, accommodating up to 25 guests in total, with double, twin, triple and family rooms with bunk beds. It also has a fully licensed bar, lounge, dining facilities and a car park with 20 spaces.
Beyond the gardens belonging to the property is a totally undeveloped piece of land about 40 by 100 feet in area with room for significant development to extend the existing guest facilities. Like the hotel itself, it too has steps leading down into the garden.
Reflecting its history as the home of the Beatles manager’s family, the property is thus decorated throughout with memorabilia. This collection includes several distinguished features, among them a piano once played by Paul McCartney.
What makes this property an icon?
The three-storey detached property is a stone’s throw from Liverpool FC’s Anfield stadium. Besides its Beatles history, it has a sizeable garden, which has its own access to Stanley Park.
The boutique hotel experienced some well-documented teething troubles in its early years, but it underwent something of a transformation after featuring in 2014 on Alex Polizzi’s Channel 5 show, The Hotel Inspector. The hotel, and its owner Patrick, have since also appeared on the Channel 4 programme Four in a Bed.
Reflecting on his TV appearances, Epstein House owner Patrick Duggan tells Luxury Bed & Breakfast: “Four in a bed is a very genuine production team. The only mischief they get up to is getting the contestants to argue with each other a little more than they would in normal circumstances, but that is to be expected as it’s an entertainment show. It was a positive experience, I made some good friends and I have stayed with some of them since.
In slight contrast, the dynamics of his appearance in The Hotel Inspector were more challenging, he says. “I regard the Hotel Inspector herself as the Hotel Deceptor. She will look you in the eye with her warm attractive eyes and encourage you to believe she is on your side when in fact you are really just fodder for ratings!”
What positions has Patrick worked before owning Epstein House?
Patrick had hospitality experience prior to taking over Epstein House. Before moving to Liverpool, Patrick had been working for some years as a bartender in the US. By the time he left America and moved back to Ireland in 2002, he says, he knew that Liverpool was set to be the city of culture six years later. “It therefore seemed a good time to invest in the city,” he says. “So, I decided to go to the city and look for a few properties to buy.”
A fan of the Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein, he says he saw Epstein House was up for sale and walked straight in off the street, fascinated by the opportunity to buy the house.
He says he was initially surprised that the owners had only recently decided to sell. “They told me the price they were asking, and in order to secure the property I offered them £25,000 more than they were asking in order to get them to take it off the market and seal the deal,” he says.
By the time Patrick took over the business, Epstein House Liverpool had been open as a hotel for three years. Originally the home of Brian Epstein’s grandparents, features one of the largest private collections of Brian Epstein memorabilia outside of the Epstein family. Acquired over many years by Epstein House owner Patrick Duggan, the memorabilia exhibition also includes a model of a proposed Brian Epstein memorial statue.
Brian’s grandparents, Isaac and Dinah Epstein, lived at the house for over 20 years. Brian’s father, Harry, grew up in the house, and Brian was a frequent guest as a young child when his parents Harry and Queenie visited Brian’s grandparents many times.
Patrick says: “Isaac was a Russian Jew who came to this country in 1900. The family opened a (what kind of?) shop in nearby Walton Road before ultimately ending up with six shops side by side, the last of which they made am music shop called NEMS – North End Music Stores. It was the first record shop the family owned,” he adds.
While he says some of his faith in the local council has been restored after the results of its successful endeavours to regenerate the area he still has qualms about politicians. Notably he has for some time been trying to get the official Brian Epstein statue located in the north end of Liverpool, but has met a lot of resistance. “The authorities want everything focused on the city centre,” he says.
“The situation has been a fiasco. The local politicians and councillors do not look after the common working-class areas. I received a letter from the mayor who is still the mayor today promising to help me raise the finance for the statue.” (Pic/link to video of him and Gerry Marsden).
“Gerry & The Pacemakers was the second biggest act managed by Brian Epstein, and his first three records were all number ones; the third biggest was Cilla Black. If I sell the hotel this will come with it – a statue design, with the four Beatles on a plinth.”
After buying the design of the statue he discovered that in order to make the full-size version in bronze made by a top-quality expert it would cost about £60k. “But politicians and skulduggery got involved,” he says. “One of them came along purporting to support our statue in our place but he – unsuccessfully – subsequently tried to move the statue to a different location. He raised some money but since then both the sum he raised and the guy himself have gone missing. This mean that the statue will be in the property once I get around to paying for the full-sized bronze statue. Although it is not top of my agenda as far as I am concerned the home of the statue is safe and secure here.”
He adds: The less you have to do with politicians the better, simple as that.”
Describing the property today he says: “The premises are a pretty nice big mid-Victorian dwelling. It could do with some investment now, but it has heritage, nice size rooms, history, and we are right beside Liverpool Football ground, so we have the X-factor to compete.”
Type of guests
About 60% of guests stay because they are coming to the football, 40% Beatles fans. He says: “We get a lot of international Beatles fans. The Swedish Beatles fan club comes here about five times a year.”
He adds: “Room by room I am always improving things. It is a never-ending job, changing showers or carpets,” he says. “We are in the process of changing from the Digi quad showers to walk=-in showers with no doors.”
He has also submitted a planning application to double the size of the existing conservatory. “This would make it a very nice sized room for functions and for a match day bar. There is already an existing bar which is mainly opened when Liverpool is playing home games, and we also have a bar in the conservatory overlooking a nice garden. We host christening events and other functions. With a bigger conservatory we will be able to host wedding receptions,” he adds.
Existing facilities the hotel can help with include flowers, balloon decorations, entertainment, master of ceremonies, car hire and cakes for special occasions.
The hotel also caters for buffets from £5 per head serving sandwiches, barbecue ribs, sausage rolls, pork pies, soup and Lancashire hotpot.
Patrick has one tip he feels the urge to share with other guest house owners. “When someone has got a room ready, you really have to double check it yourself to make sure it really is done. If you find out it’s not been done – for example if there is no coffee in the room or something silly like that – then it’s too late. Then the guests start thinking these people don’t know what they are doing and then they get on their knees to try and find a second problem,” he says.
The Hotel is listed on booking.com’s website. He says: “They charge 15% but they are just a very strong dominant company and it is hard to do business without the,. We do generate some of our own business but booking.com is a formidable company. However, we could realistically manage without them because of our unique selling point.
“Where else could you get to stay in a place where the man who made the Beatles spent a lot of time growing up with his grandparents? Furthermore the place has a nice feel to it. Everyone who walks into the property appreciates the well-designed Victorian architecture with proportions and the way the light catches you and the cosiness of the place,” he says.
John Gaskell, director at Blacks Business Brokers, adds: “Epstein House Liverpool has always been a stunning property with an incredible backstory, but arguably in the past it has been held back by its surroundings. Now, however, the local area has been transformed and, with Liverpool having just won the Champions League, it represents a great opportunity in a district that has renewed self-confidence and is really on the up,” he concludes.
In addition to numerous original photographs of The Beatles, the provenance that a buyer of Epstein House Liverpool will receive includes:
Signed detailed letter of confirmation Sir Paul McCartney played the piano you are to purchase. This letter is signed and dated by Mr Gerry Marsden who performed on the same bill as the Beatles on the night the piano was played by him.
Signed letter from Mr Ray O’Brien, Wirral Beatles Author verifying Sir Paul McCartney played the piano you are to purchase, this letter states Mr O’Brien witnessed Sir Paul play the piano as part of his set on the 15th September 1961 – this was their final appearance.
Newspaper articles confirming Mr Gerry Marsden played on the same night as the Beatles.
A copy of the agreement between Paramount Enterprises, Gerry and The Pacemakers & The Silver Beatles, confirming they both played at this venue on 6th June 1960.
A signed detailed letter from Mr Cliff Roberts testifying that he played a long side the Beatles in the early stages of their appearances with his band Cliff Roberts and The Rockers and confirms he too witnessed Sir Paul play the piano you are to purchase.
Visitors to Epstein House Liverpool not solely there for the football can also check out World Museum and Williamson’s Tunnels – Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels, some of Liverpool’s top attractions. While in the city they may also experience local shrimp favourites at Panoramic 34, Hanover Street Social, or 60 Hope Street. Liverpool is also known for some great architectural buildings, including St. George’s Hall, Liverpool Town Hall, and Port of Liverpool Building. And of course for Beatles fans there is the Beatles museum, The Beatles Story, with replicas of the Casbah, Matthew Street and The Cavern.
This article was first published in the Luxury BnB Magazine: