The recent Easter holidays saw me pack up a little suitcase and head off for a long weekend break. As March never gives us warm weather and clear skies (well, very rarely), I planned to go to a UK city where I could indulge in indoor shopping, stay in a lovely hotels, and experience a thriving nightlife. As I’m from Manchester, it can be quite hard to find somewhere as busy and bustling, but it’s pretty common knowledge that Birmingham is indeed the next in line. In the car I got… and Birmingham, here we come!
I’ve experienced Birmingham at Christmas before, and also for the annual Clothes Show Live, so could usually only talk about it in those terms. This time, I wanted to explore Birmingham’s growing shopping scene, so it was important I stayed very close to the center, with all the amenities close by. I opted for the Macdonald Burlington Hotel, and my word – you literally cannot get a better location. Whether you drive to the city of get the train, the Macdonald Burlington is side by side to Birmingham New Street Train Station, and also surrounded by all the recommend car parks. It actually sits above the main High Street and all its shops, which means you can hop off the train and pretty much stumble into this hotel. You have a Cafe Nero to one side, and a Starbucks to the other. There’s an Oasis clothing shop underneath, as well as various eateries and bars. Splat bang central!
I thought I may need to plan in jumping into at least one taxi for this particular Easter break, but nope… every little thing was reachable with a 10 minute maximum walking radius.
First up – lets just appreciate the bathroom situation at this beautiful Edwardian inspired 4 star hotel. I gasped a little when I opened the door to our room, and walked straight across into the stunning bathroom. You climb up a couple of steps, which leads to this open plan area complete with a standalone bath. I have always wanted to experience a standalone bath. They are something I just simply associate with luxury! There was also a walk in shower and a huge sink and mirror area, meaning lots of space to get ready. I have to say, I have stayed in a lot of hotels over the years on my travels, but this bathroom has to top the list as one of the smartest and sophisticated I have experienced.
And it didn’t stop there. We were situated on the 5th floor, which I gathered hosts the more plush suites, in which our room was designed like an all-in-one room and study. There was an old, beautifully designed fireplace, a desk area, mirrored wardrobes and a massive queen sized bed! Like seriously – it was so huge. And so comfy, I may add too.
I loved the little vintage inspired touches around the room, just as the twinkling chandeliers and the two traditional armchairs. Oh and how could I forget! A huge thank you to the team at the hotel for leaving me an Easter Egg treat. A super sweet and much appreciated touch…
I spent the day exploring the main shopping High Streets, before losing a good few hours in The Bullring shopping center. This place is modern, bright and spacious, packed full with 160 stylish stores, including a large sized Selfridges. There’s a good balance between designer stores, and the more average High Street stores, along with some standalone beauty shops and eateries. The Bullring definitely lets Birmingham get one over on Manchester – what we are missing is really new looking, ginormous shopping mall that rivals the Trafford Center to be situated in the heart of the city center. Birmingham have really hit the nail on the head with this.
For the evening, we had a couple of cheeky glasses of Prosecco in the hotel room, before dining at the Hotel’s restaurant, called the Scottish Smokehouse. It was fairly quiet for a Friday evening, but it mean we could bag the lovely window seated table, so I I wasn’t complaining. Service was 5 star; quick, attentive and friendly, and the menu was impressive too, especially if you are a meat or fish lover. I opted for the Haddock dish, whilst my guest went for the chicken, oh and of course we shared a starter too – can’t forget that bit, seeing as it was one of my simple favourites, Prawn Cocktail! We skipped dessert, which isn’t like me at all, but perhaps all the fizz and the sugar from the Prosecco had filled me up a little.
Both meals were lovely and couldn’t be faulted. The haddock came with a creamy mash potato and was full of flavour. A definite recommendation! Excuse the poor lighting and quality of the photos below – managed to somehow leave my professional camera in the room and it was down to my trusty iPhone!
After a night out at Birmingham’s bars and clubs, we got ourseleves up at around 9am the next morning and headed for Breakfast. The set-up was exactly how I wanted it; a continental breakfast with so many options to chose from, followed by a cooked breakfast. I swear around 3000 calories was consumed in the one sitting along.
We helped ourselves to cereal, croissants, breads, pastries, meats, cheeses, fruits, yoghurts and oatcakes, before tucking into a large Vegetarian Breakfast (I’m not veggie, but just prefer veggie sausages!). The breakfast area was super busy in the morning, so it’s best to get in early, or just before it closes to ensure you get a good seat. I could totally see why it was so popular – I was overly satisfied with everything this particular breakfast time had to offer!
The following day was us venture out to The Mailbox – a much more designer shopping experience – but it made me feel a little icky at all the amazing clothes and shoes I couldn’t justify spending £500 on, so I swiftly left before I turned a shade of green. It’s such a beautiful shopping place to visit, along with a range of impressive bars and eateries. I’ll just make a mental note to return when it’s payday!
After this, we took a trip to the Library of Birmingham, an absolutely incredible building for all its colourful and unusual architecture. It’s a pretty high rise building, packed with floors and floors of boos of all types, along with working areas, meeting rooms and office spaces. It’s open to the public, and it took us around 40 minutes to fully explore the place, and that was rushing by too.
We spent a few minutes viewing the city of Birmingham from the viewing point at the top of the building too, which was a fantastic way to finish up a lovely weekend exploring Birmingham.
I would hand on heart recommend a stay at the Macdonald Burlington for any future trips to Birmingham, as it ticked every box I had for my little adventure. It was the nicest experience, and I’ll be sure to return again on my next visit. And this time, I’ll be getting lost in The Mailbox hopefully! *wink face*