The regeneration of England’s second city is gathering speed with stylish restaurants, spas and shopping districts joining dazzling new architecture and lovely canalside cafes to produce a weekend break to keep in mind… be sure you also check out Skip Hire Birmingham and Skips Birmingham for those who have any waste requirements or needs!
Live like a Local in Birmingham
In the past few years Birmingham has changed almost beyond recognition. New buildings just like the Cube together with lace-clad wedding cake-lookalike Library of Birmingham (due to open September 2013) are adding glamour towards the skyline, and with canalside bars and floating cafes around Brindleyplace adding a bit of pretty towards the city, it is from stuck in the industrial past. The silver smartie-clad Bullring is still an iconic building offering great shopping and Selfridges (Upper Mall East; tel: 0800 123400), therefore the city’s fantastic dining scene has seen it mentioned when you look at the New York Times as one of the top 20 places to consult with in the field. Add to that the upmarket Mailbox shopping centre (Wharfside Street; tel: 0121 632 1000) when you look at the Royal Mail’s old sorting centre, as well as the Jewellery Quarter, which produces significantly more than 40% regarding the UK’s jewellery, plus numerous quirky arts delights, and you’ve got plenty to keep you busy during an extended weekend in the city.
Shopping in Birmingham
The centre of Birmingham can be quite hectic, particularly in the weekend. Dodge the weekend shoppers and commence your trip by going to St Paul’s Square while the Jewellery Quarter. This charming Victorian square is just ten full minutes’ walk from New Street but is calm personified, with a church at its centre and roads resulting in the many small shops making up the Jewellery Quarter. Stop for a glass or two at the quirky Rose Villa Tavern (172 Warstone Lane; tel: 0121 236 7910), with deer print wallpaper, stained glass windows and a classic red phone box setting it besides the classic neighbourhood pub as well as fantastic burgers. Then head into the shopping district for some serious cash-splashing action.
The centre of Birmingham is dominated by the voluptuously-shaped Bullring, with Selfridges at its centre (Upper Mall East; tel: 0800 123400) and New Street is packed with the very best high street shops. For super upmarket shopping plus the odd pop-up shop The Mailbox (61 Wharfside Street; tel: 0121 632 1000) has Hugo Boss and Harvey Nichols, even though the best independent shopping is usually to be bought at the Great Western Arcade (Off Colmore Row; tel: 0121 236 5417). Within the old Victorian arcade you will find patisseries, cafes, Parchment for fabulous stationery and Chouchoute Chocolaterie, the city’s best-known chocolatiers. At the conclusion of the arcade, The Bread Collection is the greatest bakery in Birmingham, with speciality breads including a date, pecan and Mediterranean loaf.
Art & Culture in Birmingham
Culture-wise, the city’s Museum and Art Gallery (Chamberlain Square; tel: 0121 236 9885) is a proper draw, because of the largest number of Pre-Raphaelite paintings in Europe. Watch out particularly for the sketches by Dante Gabriel Rossetti as well as the gallery’s genteel Edwardian tea room. If you want something more edgy, don’t miss the Ikon Gallery in Brindleyplace (1 Oozells Square; tel: 0121 248 0708). It hosts touring exhibitions, has an excellent tapas café and specialist arts bookshop, as well as its lift contains an installation. And be sure to see the town’s most unexpected treasures its canals. Head for Brindleyplace and walk along them to the Mailbox, past brightly painted barges, floating cafes and a Victorian tea room. Being near the water is sufficient to cause you to forget that you are in just one of the UK’s major cities.
Pampering in Birmingham
The Spa at The Cube (196 Wharfside Street; tel: 0121 654 9400) won best newcomer of the season this year, and it’s a well-deserved accolade. Step through its cheerful plum and lemon-toned café and down its relaxing stairs to find hanging cocoons when it comes to ultimate in relaxation, a pool, saunas and a salt room plus a Champagne nail bar. Spa days start from £35, just including utilization of the facilities, and run as much as £140 for an exfoliation and dry floatation treatment, massage and mani-pedi. If you truly love your wine, drop into Loki (Great Western Arcade; tel: 0121 212 9440) for a bespoke wine-tasting session with unique wines from all over the world. It really is a terrific way to while away a day.
Best Places to Eat in Birmingham
Foodies are spoilt for choice and curry fans particularly. It’s worth making the trip to Aktar Islam’s curryhouse Lasan (3-4 Dakota Buildings; tel: 0121 212 3664) which won Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word this season. Birmingham has won world-wide acclaim for its foodie scene, and celebrity chefs are in evidence everywhere in the city, with Glyn Purnell’s Michelin-starred Purnells (55 Cornwall Street; tel: 0121 212 9799), and Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse (tel: 0121 634 3433) in the 25th floor for the Cube in the lead. Book early though, if you wish to dine on a Friday or Saturday night his joint is booked as much as half a year in advance. As for drinking, the choice of cocktail bars overlooking the canals is a little overwhelming. Try the Champagne bar at Malmaison Birmingham if you should be feeling flush, or you want something just a little different, Jekyll and Hyde (28 Steelhouse Lane; tel: 0121 236 0345) is a pub modelled on Alice in Wonderland with a professional gin parlour upstairs where cocktails are served in watering cans, glass slippers and all sorts of manner of mad (hatter) receptacles.
Later in the day, take in a few culture, Birmingham-style. Jools Holland owns The Jam House on St Paul’s Square, a well-known venue for live music, as the Electric Cinema (47 Station Street; tel: 0121 643 7879), a retro-style cinema with sofas from which you can text waiters to provide your drinks throughout the film, was the utmost effective range of Katy Perry last time she visited the town.
Cool Places to Stay in Birmingham
Dodge the big business hotels and look for something a little more unusual. Staying Cool Birmingham, along with the 1960s Rotunda building in the centre associated with city, has studios and one and two-bedroom apartments, all with a 1960s/space age vibe. Hotel du Vin (Church Street; tel: 0121 200 0600) could be the chicest boutique hotel option, found in the city’s former Victorian eye hospital with the original semi-open air courtyard at the heart (and a spa when you look at the old morgue downstairs). Bloc is a boutique budget option in the Jewelry Quarter built to ape Japanese pod hotels.
Virgin trains operate from destinations throughout the UK to Birmingham New Street, the town’s central station. If you should be arriving by plane, Birmingham Airport is 10 miles from the city centre.