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.
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
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!
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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!