Birmingham is the second biggest city in the UK, yet its treasures remain some of the best-kept secrets in the country. From a state-of-the-art library with a secret garden and the most influential Shakespeare collection in Britain to fashionable Georgian Soho house and the renovated Mailbox, where Harvey Nichols can be found in a former Royal Mail sorting room. Choose from one of some 700-holiday rentals in this previously reserved, and discover all that this rejuvenated metropolis has to offer for yourself.
A location which boasts a Cadbury Chocolate World surely needs no other explanation. What more could you want from your city break than free chocolate? When your day at the chocolate factory comes to an end, however, it is good to know that you can return to the second-largest city in the country, and, with its size, comes a host of attractions, meaning this great municipality has something for every visitor. Whether you want a hip apartment rental in along Birmingham's bustling Broad Street, or you would prefer a luxury bed and breakfast with a garden in the quaint Bournville district, you can find the perfect accommodation in Birmingham to suit your price bracket here today.
When to visit
Here in the UK, we are used to temperate weather, and lots of rain in most destinations, and Birmingham is no exception. If you want to explore the city in the sun, your best bet is to visit between June to August, when the temperature is hotter; however, attractions can get busier during this time, especially Cadbury World, which is popular with families on their summer holiday. To get in the festive spirit, choose to visit Birmingham for the Frankfurt Christmas Market, which takes over the city centre throughout December.
How to get there
See for yourself how 'grand' rail travel can be, and make the most of Birmingham's recently renovated Grand Central Station by catching the train into the heart of the city. You can hop on the train from London Euston to Birmingham New Street (Grand Central) in only one hour and twenty minutes, while services from Manchester take around an hour and a half. Trains from Glasgow take around a minimum of 4 hours with a change in Preston or Wolverhampton, while the city's close proximity to Nottingham and Leicester mean you can hop to New Street in only an hour and a quarter.
If you have chosen a property with parking facilities, why not drive to Birmingham directly from your home. From the north, take the M1 southbound, whereas you can take the M1 northbound from the south. From the east, it is likely you will need to take the A14, while drivers from the west, and Wales should stick to the A483. If you are staying nearby in a holiday rental in Warwick or a bed and breakfast in Stratford Upon Avon then you can easily visit Birmingham for the day, as the city is only around an hours drive from these quaint locations.
Travellers from Northern Ireland, the north of Scotland or the depth of southern England, it might be quicker to take a flight from Belfast, Jersey or Aberdeen airport, before landing 8 miles from the city centre. Take the SkyRail to the train station, where you can board a train right into the heart of the city.
Where to stay
The city centre
When it comes to exploring the second largest city in the UK, why stay anywhere but right in the centre? Birmingham's heart is a melting pot of art, fashion and fine cuisine. Choose a holiday apartment in this booming finance district, and wake up in a bedroom with a view of the iconic structures which make up with make up its skyline. Spend your days in the Birmingham museum and art gallery, then spend your savings in the Bullring, the recently renovated homage to fashion, with over 200 stores, the city centre is a label lovers utopia.
It is no secret that Eastside is the most upcoming area in the city, with an estimated eight billion pounds being poured into this vibrant area. The result? A vast urban green space, which is home to hip bars, cool hangouts, and even more importantly, cost-friendly accommodation. Choose a bed and breakfast in the Eastside, and dance the night away in Eastside Jazz Club when the dusk falls over Birmingham. This new and improved area attracts numerous festivals and exhibitions to its doors, including a neon light show in Curzon Street Station and 'Eastside projects' which is a free showcase of local artists work.
The Jewellery Quarter
With over 100 jewellery boutiques compressed into this tiny neighbourhood, the streets really are paved with gold! Rejuvenated terraces and Georgian houses fill in the gaps between the jewellers, and some of these can be reserved as a self-catered holiday rental or guest house, which is perfect for your stay in Birmingham. You won't need a kitchen in jewellery quarter, as this area is not only known for its gems and jewels but for its delicious Indian and Italian food, especially from Viceroy Tandoori and Pasta Di Piazza, which are among the big restaurant names in the Jewellery Quarter.
Known more famously around town as the Irish Quarter, you are guaranteed a good time in Digbeth. Brimming with industrial buildings that have been converted into luxury apartment rentals, you can live like a local in a room with wifi that is nestled in the heart of this bohemian district. As the hippest place in Birmingham, you can catch arty exhibitions, live music gigs, indie bars and a fresh food market over the weekend, so you are entertained from sunrise to sundown, and beyond in England's answer to Dublin.
Home to the iconic Mailbox, among numerous other entertainment venues, Brindley Place is the most fashionable place to choose a bed and breakfast in Birmingham. As a stylish quarter on the banks of Birmingham Canal Old Line, Brindley Place is the ideal place to choose accommodation for a weekend of shopping with the girls, where you can spend your savings in Harvey Nichols, before hitting up the countless cocktail bars around the water's edge.
The chocolate lovers among us with recognise Bourneville as the name of a particular dark chocolate, and this is not a coincidence, as this Cadbury icon is named after the village which George Cadbury built for the workers in his upcoming chocolate factory. Today, this world-famous confectionery brand is still producing delicious chocolate from this tiny town on the outskirts of Birmingham, which has made a permanent name for itself as "the home of Dairy Milk". Choose a quaint holiday cottage in this beautifully sweet town, and get ready for the more chocolate than you could have ever dreamed of.
What to do
Shop and dine in The Bullring/ Grand Central
When it comes to shopping in Birmingham, there is no name quite like the Bullring. As the largest city centre-based shopping centre in the UK, you can wander around the biggest commercial names in Britain, from Selfridges to John Lewis, if you can't find it in the Bullring, you never will. Save time to refuel in one of the eateries in this landmark destination; whether that is in the Kitty Cafe or an Italian food chain, you certainly won't go hungry here.
Live out your Chocolate Factory dreams in Cadbury World
If you have ever seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it is likely that you have wanted to visit a chocolate factory, and in Birmingham, all of your chocolate dreams can come true. Learn about the history of the most famous confectioners in the UK, before standing under chocolate rain (this is not a drill) and getting your fill of free samples, again; this is not a drill.
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
If you haven't already overstuffed on chocolate, you can get your fill of Brummie culture in Birmingham's Museum & Art Gallery, a grade II listed building which first opened its doors in 1885. With more than 40 galleries to explore, each of which showcases art, archaeology and history in an individual and beautiful way.
Spend the afternoon in the Library of Birmingham
The Library of Birmingham may look impressive from the outside, but it is the interior, along with its secret historic rooms and rooftop gardens, that make this library stand out as an unmissable landmark. Step inside the opulent Shakespeare Memorial room, which has captivated all who visit since the Victorian era. Be sure not to leave the library without heading up to the 7th floor, where you can step out on the garden terrace, and take in the best panoramic views of the city.
Get lost in Birmingham's Botanical Gardens
Escape the hustle of Birmingham's buzzing streets, and detox in some 15-acres of impeccably arranged floral collections, and even a vibrant Japanese Garden, for the ultimate retreat.
Have a night out in the Custard Factory
Yes, it is true that a former custard factory has been transformed into a hive of creative spaces, which a host of independent stores and start-ups call their home. Birmingham's industrial past is undeniable in this urban haven, and it is best explored when the evening falls over the city, and the factory's bars come alive. Have a drink at Beer Digbeth or a colourful cocktail in Birdies Bar, among countless other pubs and bars which make up this ultra-hip area.