24 Hours In: Birmingham
Curry for lunch, haute cuisine for dinner. And then there's the custard factory for afters...
Sunday 24 December 2006
Open your eyes to the high life
O8.00: Wake in the Radisson SAS Birmingham (0121-633 4447; radissonsas.com). The city has been attracting some classy hotels over the past few years. This one is just a year old, set across 18 floors of the Beetham Tower, the tallest residential building outside London. Rooms from £80. If you're counting your pennies, check into nitenite (0121-631 5550; nitenite .com), a budget hotel with ambitions to become a UK-wide chain. It offers centrally located rooms for £49.95.
Now for some designer style
09.00: First stop The Mailbox (mailboxlife .com) for top designer shopping, including Harvey Nichols. Then head to the revamped Bullring (bullring.co.uk), where you should be spoilt for choice with 26-football-pitches-worth of shops and restaurants dominated by cutting-edge architecture in the shape of the Selfridges building. To see Birmingham's latest shopping venue, take a cab to Fort Dunlop (fortdunlop.com), just outside town. The old tyre factory reopened its doors this month, now as shops and offices. Grab a coffee here at The Daily Grind Coffee Company (07710 385037). Tired of shopping? Take a guided tour from Gas Street Basin to hear about the city's canal heritage that made it a major player in the industrial revolution. Contact Birmingham Tours (0121-427 2555; birmingham-tours.com).
Bollywood on a plate
12.30: It's lunchtime. Book a table at Peppers (0871 811 4619; peppers-uk.com), Birmingham's first Bollywood theme bar, and try its curious pan-Asian mix drawing on Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisine. For another new act, taste the offerings at the new Bilash Champagne Lounge and Asian Grill (0121-643 2220), which has spread its wings from Wolverhampton with a sister branch in Birmingham.
Sparkle at the jewellery works
14.00: Head for the historic Jewellery Quarter (the-quarter.com), where shopping takes a cultural twist. One hundred-plus specialists offer designs from classic to contemporary. Pop into the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter (0121-554 3598, bmag.org.uk), which occupies the old Smith & Pepper factory, to learn about the heritage of jewellery-making and metal-working and watch craftspeople demonstrate their art.
Feel the heat in the hammam
17.00: Time to squeeze in some pampering at the Hyatt Regency Hotel's new Amala Spa and Club (0121-643 1234; birmingham. regency.hyatt.com/hyatt/ pure/spas). This state-of-the-art £1m palace of indulgence features seven treatment rooms and a hammam.
Shell out on some shellfish
20.00: Tuck into Michelin-starred French cuisine at Simpsons Restaurant (0121-454 3434; simpsons restaurants.co.uk) in Edgbaston, or British cuisine with a French twist at near neighbour Jessica's Restaurant (0121-455 0999; jessicas restaurant.co.uk). Shellfish-lovers should pull up a chair at the Crustacea bar at award-winning Opus (0121-200 2323; opusrestaurant.co.uk). Its patisserie has received rave reviews too.
Top it all at the Custard Factory
22.00: Head to the Custard Factory (0121-224 7777; custardfactory.com). Once of Bird's pudding topper fame, it's now the city's arts and media hub. Enjoy drinks at the stylish Medicine Bar and dance into the night at Code. Vying for the title of Birmingham's hippest bar is 52 Degrees North (0121-622 5250) at the Arcadian Centre (thearcadian.co.uk). The likes of Robbie Williams have been seen here propping up the 54ft glass bar. And Fifties Cuba comes to the Midlands at Ipanema (0871 207 0264) in fashionable Brindleyplace.
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