Hotels in Birmingham, United Kingdom
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Birmingham – A Big City with Big Ideas
It’s fair to say that Birmingham, Britain’s second city, doesn’t have the best of reputations. Its grimy role in Britain’s heavy industrial past isn’t easily forgotten and the construction of concrete monstrosities in the post-war years didn’t help improve perceptions. However, much has been done to change its negative image recently, with historic gems like the National Trust’s Birmingham Back to Backs showcasing the city’s heritage and new buildings like the Library of Birmingham changing the cityscape for the better. Also, hotel accommodation continues to improve, making Birmingham a great place to visit.
Shopping in the City Centre
Birmingham offers a great choice of shops and restaurants with the famous Bullring the main shopping destination. A market of some sort has been held on its site for centuries and in the 1960s a concrete, Brutalist-style shopping centre, then called The Bull Ring, was built. Largely unpopular with traders and shoppers alike, it was subsequently knocked down in the early 2000s and replaced with a more aesthetically pleasing building. Now, it houses over 150 stores and includes artistic flourishes such as a glass mural and a bronze bull sculpture. Near the Bullring are several budget hotels and quirky, independent shops can be found a short walk away in The Custard Factory on Gibb Street, while Great Western Arcade on Colmore Row offers a collection of high-end shops. For those heading off on the train from Birmingham New Street station to Birmingham Airport and beyond, Grand Central is another shopping option thanks to its convenient location above the station.
Birmingham has plenty to offer those seeking a spot of culture. Foremost in this regard is Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on Chamberlain Square. It is located in Birmingham City Council House, an attractive Classical-style building which features a clock tower affectionately known as Big Brum. The museum showcases an impressive collection of ceramics, metalwork and archaeological specimens while its large array of paintings includes many important pre-Raphaelite works. Elsewhere in the city on Millennium Point, Thinktank Science Museum is a must-see, offering the chance to view steam machines from Birmingham’s industrial heritage and explore the direction science may take us in the future. To the north, fans of sparkly adornments will be in their element in the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, an area of the city which produces a significant portion of the jewellery made in Britain today. This area also offers a few hotels and there are plenty of pubs, eateries and jewellery shops on Warstone Lane.
Broad Street and Centenary Square
Broad Street is one of the best places in Birmingham for evening entertainment. Located in the Westside district of the city, it’s packed with pubs, clubs and restaurants offering a wide range of cuisines. As well as a multi-screen cinema and a casino for those who fancy a flutter, it’s also a great area for accommodation, with many well-known budget hotels dotted along the road. At the end of Broad Street is Centenary Square which was so-named in 1989 when Birmingham celebrated its centenary as a city. Here, the Symphony Hall is the place to experience world class music performances and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre is renowned for the excellent stage shows it hosts. Next door, the Library of Birmingham is an incredible Postmodern building that represents the changing face of the city. During the festive period, a temporary ice rink and a Christmas market are very popular attractions on the square.
Back to Backs in the Chinese Quarter
A must-see, Birmingham Back to Backs on Inge Street is a fascinating historic attraction. Owned by the National Trust and fully restored, they are the last surviving examples of the typical early 19th-century housing that used to be commonplace here. Each is styled in the fashion of a different decade to reflect a snapshot in time up to 1970s when this type of house was demolished. Visitors can learn all about the history of the buildings with the help of knowledgeable guides and the tour lasts around an hour and a half. It’s even possible to book accommodation in one of the properties! The area surrounding the houses is known as the Chinese Quarter and it’s a great place to spend a night out. As well as excellent restaurants serving a wide range of Oriental cuisines, there are bars, hotels and a comedy club here too. The Hippodrome on Hurst Street hosts West End shows, musicals and ballet performances.
Sport and Green Spaces
Birmingham is a hub of sport. An eight-minute drive to the south of the city centre, cricket fans will want to visit Edgbaston Cricket Ground which is home to Warwickshire County Cricket Club and some England international matches. Also in this area is Canon Hill Park with its attractive lakes, play grounds and mini golf; the University of Birmingham Campus is near here too. Three miles to the north of the city is Villa Park Stadium where Aston Villa Football Club plays matches. One of England’s most famous teams, its defining moment came in 1982 when it won the European Cup by defeating Bayern Munich. A short walk from here, Aston Park is another popular attraction with Aston Hall a stunning Jacobean residence. To the east of the city centre, near Bordesley railway station, is St. Andrew’s Stadium, home of Villa’s fierce local rivals Birmingham City FC. Conveniently, there are a few hotels within walking distance of the stadium.
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