Birmingham: once a grim, industrial conurbation, now a shiny, happy shopping opportunity. You'll find the Hotel du Vin in the city's old quarter, housed in the 19th-century splendour of the former Birmingham & West Midlands Eye Hospital.
The only place to stay if you're an oenophile.
The comfort factor
Comfort is paramount. All 66 rooms and suites are supplied with the necessary accoutrements of a stylish stopover: Egyptian linen, fluffy towels, swanky hi-fis and modish furnishings. The decor uses a lot of rich dark tones, though in our room - heavy on the brown - the result was drab. The lobby, with its beautiful ironwork staircase and marble columns, has been spoiled by a ghastly faux-stone paint effect on the wall. More care has been taken of the central courtyard, planted with orange and olive trees and set with sculptures, where guests can dine al fresco.
A vast tile, chrome and glass-brick palace fitted with oversize bathtubs, enormous showers and generous offerings of potions by Arran Aromatics (which you are invited to nick). In the Penfold Suite it's double bubble, with two baths for the truly intimate.
The food and drink
Shouldn't that be the drink and food? These hotels are rightly famed for their extensive wine lists. There's also the Bubble Bar offering champagnes, and the Cellar Bar specialising in rum and tequila, with its Cigar Divan, dedicated to stogy lovers. In the Bistro, a daily changing menu of tasty European dishes will cost around £40 per head for three courses without wine.
Apart from the new Bull Ring, the latest attraction is the Birmingham Back to Backs, a courtyard of houses restored by the National Trust (www.nationaltrust.org.uk). Or make use of the hotel spa, Health du Vin.
Full disabled access, courtesy of a huge lift which was once used for stretchers. Children welcome.
From £120 per night for a double room.
Hotel du Vin & Bistro, Church Street, Birmingham B3 2NR (0121-236 0559; www.hotelduvin.com).Reuse content