I’ve recently heard a lot of good things about Birmingham in the UK. People have been talking about how it’s now a tech start-up hub with a growing community of entrepreneurs, making it a very trendy ‘up and coming’ place. In the past, I haven’t spent much time in Birmingham, although, I was familiar with the reputation it had for being a bit of a run down city. It’s quite a pleasant surprise to hear how much that reputation is changing and I was very interested to see the city for myself.
A couple of weeks ago I spent two days in Birmingham for work. I was travelling there by train from London, so I chose to stay in the Holiday Inn hotel close to Birmingham New Street Station. The last time I took a train to Birmingham was two years ago and back then, New Street Station was very old and unimpressive … but, how things have changed! I was gobsmacked at the new and improved New Street … the station is huge, and it’s now fully attached to Birmingham’s enormous shopping centre, the Bullring. The station is bursting with coffee shops, restaurants and shops and has a beautiful 24 metre high atrium. Having the train station with my favourite fast-food eateries such as Pret A Manger and Wasabi, and a shopping centre on my doorstep, made this a perfect location!
The next place that caught my attention was The Mailbox, a high-end shopping centre with fashionable, waterside restaurants and bars. It was a short walk from New Street station, less than 10 minutes via the well-lit underpass. The centre is very stylish and the restaurants and bars were all lively, even on a Sunday evening! I didn’t get the chance to do any shopping, but I did window shop on my way through and noticed Armani, Boss and Harvey Nichols were amongst the luxury shops inside. Bar Estilo was my restaurant of choice, with nice views and a great menu, including steaks, tapas and Spanish wine. You really can’t go wrong with that choice, everything was delicious!
I passed by Temple Street which also looked really cool with plenty of packed bars and restaurants. Next time I’m in Birmingham I will explore there a little more … I’ve also heard there’s a great Christmas market every year. This year, 2016, the Frankfurt Christmas Market will run from 17 November until 22 December. I think Christmas shopping is definitely a good enough reason to arrange another weekend in Birmingham, don’t you?!