Travel: Weekend in Birmingham with Marriott Hotels

Last weekend Terri and I got the train into Birmingham to have a little mini break in the UK’s second city courtesy of Marriott. We were invited along to spend the night in their hotel which is located at the top of Broad Street, and we also had the chance to look around a couple of the cities most popular attractions.

Birmingham Canal from Broad Street

 Birmingham Attractions

As great as it is to take a holiday or city break abroad, sometimes it’s nice to spend some time and learn new things about the places on your doorstep.  I went to university in Birmingham for three years and yet I never took the time to visit the local attractions or look at the history and culture in the area. The city is less than an hour away from me now on the train, and so I do like to make the occasional visit for a little shopping trip or night out.

But this time on our little mini break, we did something a bit different and visited both the National Sealife Centre as well as the Back to Backs Museum in the city centre.  The Sealife Centre is located alongside the canal just off of Broad Street and Brindley Place; it’s in an ideal central location and was really easy to walk to from the train station.

National Sealife Centre

Inside we explored the aquarium and spent an hour or so discovering and learning about the fish and sea creatures. My favourite thing to see was probably the penguins, who all seemed to be enjoying themselves playing together and messing about in the pool.

I also touched a starfish, and saw the stingrays, jellyfish, and sharks.  Unfortunately we were disappointed to see that the otters were all asleep on our visit, but they looked so cute all cuddled up together!

For lunch we visited Bar + Bloc Steakhouse but I’ll put up a separate post on that shortly! After visiting the Sealife Centre we walked up to the Marriott Hotel and had the chance to relax after spending all afternoon walking around the city. We shared a twin room on the second floor which was the perfect base for our weekend of adventures!

Although we didn’t have the time to take advantage of all the facilities, the hotel has a fitness centre, indoor pool, and a spa. The hotel is a little bit further outside the city centre than other hotels that I’ve stayed in before, but this isn’t an issue. We used the Uber app to get a taxi to and from the city centre a couple of times which was only about £5 each way.

Marriott Hotel, Birmingham

Once we got back to the hotel (and I had a little nap!) we got ready for our evening out. We had a table booked at The Botanist restaurant on Temple Street and I was very excited after hearing so much about it!  It’s a botanical themed bar and restaurant offering a huge selection of cocktails, craft beers and ales, champagne and wine.

Their food menu is inspired by the deli, rotisserie and BBQ and they have live music on every night. The decor and styling in the restaurant is just amazing; I love all of the quirky touches and funky decorations. The place was heaving with people as it was a Saturday night so unfortunately I didn’t manage to get any photographs of the place, but check out the gorgeous photos over on Tereza’s blog. Also apologies for the awful food pics, the lighting was so dark and my camera really struggled to focus!

The Botanist, Birmingham

Here we had a little feast as we each selected a deli board where you can pick your own pieces to make up the board. I selected houmous, greek salad, Camembert, chorizo balls, prosciutto ham along with a fougasse bread and a side of sweet potato fries to share.  The food was all great and just to my taste, although I would have preferred it if the Camembert cheese was not cold. My favourite was the warm chorizo balls which were delicious and not too greasy like chorizo often is!

To go with our meals we ordered a few of their famous cocktails to get us through the evening. I loved that the food and drink menus were presented on lovely old fashioned paper and books, the little touches really were charming. For the cocktails we decided to start off with a whole watering can of gin mixed with apricot and basil. The massive drink was served in an actual watering can which supposedly gives 4-5 servings although I believe we managed to get much more out of it!

                   The Botanist, Birmingham  The Botanist, Birmingham

We also decided to try one of their ‘Flights of Fancy’ paired flight boards. This is basically a mini cocktail topped up with beer served with the can. We were really curious as to what this would be like although I must admit, I’m not a beer drinker so this was not the choice for me! I went for the Betty flight board which was a mix of lemon, mint and blackcurrant paired with a dark India pale ale, although it was a bit too dark for me.
To finish off our meal, we decided to share a cookie dough dessert which was divine.  The big soft gooey cookie was served on a hot dish along with salted caramel sauce and toffee ice cream.. yummy! I also enjoyed a blackberry and rosemary fizz cocktail, which is a very refreshing mix of blackberries, rosemary, sugar syrup, lemon and apple juice shaken with gin and topped with soda.  Overall we had an amazing evening out at The Botanist and can thoroughly recommend it!


The Botanist, Birmingham
The Botanist, Birmingham
The Botanist, Birmingham

After a drunken Uber ride back to the hotel, we enjoyed a well earned sleep in the worlds comfiest beds. On Sunday morning we had a little lay in and then went downstairs for breakfast before the next part of our adventure. The breakfast at the hotel was a nice simple classic buffet serving a full fry up, continental, or you could even ask for an omelette to be made just for you. There was also an array of fresh fruit juices and teas available, so it was the perfect start to our day.

According to new data from Birmingham Marriott Hotel’s Great British Break Report, city residents say The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, British Motor Museum and The Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum are the top three places they’d like to see but have yet to explore.

Birmingham Back to Backs

The next attraction we were due to visit is the Birmingham Back to Backs which is located near to the Arcadian and opposite the Hippodrome Theatre. I had never heard of this ‘museum’ before we booked our trip, however it is rated as the number 1 place to visit on TripAdvisor. Although I have described it as a museum, it’s actually a guided walk around a very carefully restored, atmospheric 19th-century courtyard of working people’s houses.

This may not sound that interesting, but it was actually surprisingly good fun whilst also being very educational. We learnt so much about the history of the people living and working in Birmingham and the National Trust has worked really hard to create a great attraction for visitors. This is certainly not the type of place I would usually consider visiting but I am so glad I did.

I was fascinated to learn about the lives of some of the former residents who crammed into the small houses and it was all extremely realistic and very well recreated. The tour did last about an hour and a half which did begin to drag after about an hour, but our volunteer guide Anne did a great job of keeping everyone engaged and making the walk interactive.

Overall we had a great little weekend in Birmingham and it was wonderful spending time doing something a little bit different to usual.  There’s so much culture and history to see in Birmingham, it’s got so much more than just the bars and shops I usually frequent!

 Have you ever taken a micro-break somewhere local to you?

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