Monday 1 July 2019

A big, beautiful day out in Birmingham

* Campaign collaboration   

I have lived in Birmingham for almost 17 years now, which is almost as long as when I lived at home, so I think I can probably call myself an honorary Brummie now. I do love this city and everything it has to offer - because it really does have everything you could possibly want. Shopping is amazing, there's a lot of cultural sights to enjoy, it's famed for its food, from high street restaurants to fantastic independents, and for families there's a great deal to enjoy too, both in the city centre and a little further afield too.

There's a great selection too of hotels in Birmingham, so if you aren't a native, you can bag a bargain room and be right at the heart of the action (I recommend Malmaison for a great central location and an affordable but stylish retreat - we stayed in the penthouse on the day after our wedding and it was incredible).

As there's always something new to discover, so I headed into the city to spend my idea of a perfect day, exploring and seeing what fun I could have, Birmingham style, and all within walking distance of New Street Station...

First up, food! Now, there's a lot of choice on offer - from Pret and Leon which serve great breakfast / brunch foods, to Boston Tea Party which I could just spend hours in (it's very Instagram-worthy too), and all your usual coffee chains in between. I wanted to try something different, and as a trip to Birmingham city centre would not be complete without a trip to the world's biggest Primark, I thought I would check out one of the eateries in there while it was nice and quiet.

Not just the biggest in the country, but biggest in the world, Birmingham's new Primark store is spread across five floors and is packed with the latest clothes as well as places to eat and places to pamper.

I took my six month old right to the top floor to go to the Disney Cafe - the first collaboration of its kind between the two brands - as it is THE new place to go to for a coffee and cake, or Mickey Mouse pancakes and waffles, in my opinion. Decorated with Mickey shaped doors and bright decor, there's interactive tables and American style booths, with waiter service too, which is always really helpful when you have a baby in tow. Prices are really good too, as you would expect from Primark, and coffee and a cake or some pancakes costs less than a fiver.

A great start to the day, if you ask me!

Next up, a bit of pre-birthday pampering.

Primark has a barbers on the ground floor for gents and nestled on the ground floor, you'll find Duck and Dry Xpress, ready to take on all your hair and beauty needs, in a flash. You can book in advance on the website, or you can just stroll in on the day and get the treatment you are looking for. Hair, nails and brows are taken care of and the salon is bright and beautiful.

I went for a manicure and gel polish - an express treatment that takes around 30 minutes, for £22 - whilst Sullivan played happily in his pram next to me, then went into the hairdresser section to have a wash, trim and style - £20 for the style, £17 for the haircut. It felt like a real escape, from all the hustle and bustle, and I was well taken care of. The head massage during the hair treatment was particularly lovely!

It would have been rude not to look around the store before leaving, and I picked up a few accessories from the hundreds of styles on offer.

Time to get out into the sunshine...

I went for a wander down New Street, enjoying the atmosphere and feeling pretty wonderful after my pampering session. Keen for the feeling to continue, I popped into Lush, which has recently relocated to a bigger space, just to the left as you come out of Bullring and head to New Street. It's actually massive and has little bar areas and stunning displays of bath bombs and make up and face masks... it's like a Willy Wonka style one-stop-beauty-shop! But the biggest secret to discover is the Lush Spa, situated upstairs and offering treatments from £35 for a 30 minute facial, all the way up to a total body experience. What a wonderful place to discover - a Lush oasis in the heart of the city.

As well as fantastic shops outside, between the walk from Bullring and Grand Central (you can walk between the two, indoors, but on a sunny day it's a shame not to get the fresh air), including a huge H&M, there's some lovely architecture to take in too. If you do walk between the two shopping centres via the indoor link, one stop you simply must make is to the brand new cat cafe - yes, cat cafe! Enjoy cake and the company of feline friends, and do some good at the same time, at Kitty Cafe - a really unique experience to enjoy.

When outside on New Street, if you walk all the way to the end, you'll arrive at Birmingham Town Hall, which hosts some great shows, including stand up comedians, family theatre and gigs, and there's also the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (free to enter), so if you're just having a meander, there's a lot you can discover.

A short distance further, and you can visit the striking library, which is quite the sight to behold, and you're then on the start of Broad Street, with plenty of bars, and the popular Brindley Place area. This sits atop the central canal area in Birmingham and has some great restaurants and bars - Bank is fantastic for a stylish evening out - but it's also where you'll find the National Sea Life Centre and over a bridge you're at Arena Birmingham. Two weeks ago, I went there to see Backstreet Boys, and have enjoyed many a concert there over the years, with ample choice of places to eat and drink.

Another attraction for families is Legoland Discovery Centre, which you could happily get lost in with your kids for several hours like we did earlier this year.

But if you continue down the canal, you will find one of my favourite places to eat - Bistro Pierre. It's in such a lovely location, where you can be lucky enough to enjoy a view across the water, and the food is just to die for (and a good price too). I'm already looking forward to our next visit! A little further and you'll arrive at The Mailbox and there's some fab bars here, including Aluna - expect mystical cocktails and a trendy environment. Maybe when we next have a babysitter, we'll get to visit again...!

All in one morning alone, I had enjoyed some relaxation, some shopping and a nice walk around the city, and spotted plenty of places to visit and things to do on my next visit too.

You can really rock up in the city, get your nails done, sort out your brows, treat your tresses and pick up a new frock before you go on to enjoy some delicious food, a cocktail or two before hitting the pillow at a stunning hotel. Birmingham - you just can't beat it!

The spending money was gifted by, but all views are my own


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