Wednesday, March 21, 2012


(includes Daventry & Fawsley)


Museum of Jewelry Quarter Tearoom – 75-79 Vyse Street; 011-44-012-1554-3598;; try Victoria sponge cake (cream, raspberry jam, and sponge cake); charming courtyard, weather permitting.
Urban Coffee – Big Peg, Warstone Lane; 011-44-012-1233-1599;; London-style, independent coffee house.

Bull's Head Pub – 23 St. Mary's Row; 011-44-012-1256-7777;; live music on weekends.
Fighting Cocks – 1 St. Mary's Row; 011-44-012-1449-0811;; stained-glass windows and dark woods; very busy; quintessential British pub; try locally brewed Pure UBU ale; top notch bar food, too.
Hotel du Vin – 25 Church Street; 011-44-012-1200-0600;; flamboyant Venetian champagne bar or cellar bar, which offers mother of all wine lists, as well as well-stocked humidor.
Malt House – 75 King Edwards Road; 011-44-012-1633-4171;; Clinton had pint here during G8 summit.

Bloc Hotel – St. Paul’s (at Caroline Street); 011-44-012-1212-1223;; 73 tiny but pretty much perfect rooms in Jewelry Quarter’s heart; affordable.
Hotel du Vin – 25 Church Street; 011-44-012-1200-0600;; old-world French chic; sleek city center hotel; sweeping carved staircase leads to modern, spacious room with giant walk-in shower; health spa; to splurge, book Grange suite with 9' bed, twin bath tubs.
Fawsley Hall – Fawsley (Northamptonshire); 011-44-013-2789-2000;; there’s history, and then there’s history; among its famous guests, its Queen’s Suite is dedicated to Elizabeth I, who last checked out in 1575; old house has Georgian, Tudor, and Victorian (all contemporary when built); also contains nearly 36 contemporary-styled rooms (in main house, converted stable block, and spa building); in older rooms, nothing that could not have been installed in 19th Century or earlier; meanwhile contemporary rooms mix sedate, slightly minimalist style with modern facilities and occasional period details; large for English country house hotel, but that’s not disadvantage; 2 restaurants to choose from (fine-dining and more casual brasserie), as well as extensive grounds, 1st-class spa, and even small screening room.
Malmaison – 1 Wharfside Street; 011-44-012-1246-5000;; oh-so-chic hotel chain that stretches from London to Edinburgh: “fab” hotel occupies part of “Mailbox,” converted 1960s Royal Mail Sorting Office with panoramic canal-side setting; bedrooms have latest designs and are sleekly modern and invitingly comfortable (great beds, slinky lights, bathrooms with tub and power showers, and luxe toiletries along with CD players and libraries); Le Petit Spa called Birmingham’s “sexiest”; alternatively, work out in Gymtonic.
Simpson’s – 20 Highfield Road; 011-44-012-1454-3434;; Michelin starred restaurant; far from city center, in gorgeous Victorian house; worth journey; 4 luxurious rooms.
Staying Cool at Rotunda – 150 New Street; 011-44-012-1285-1290;; 4 star apartments on city’s newly refurbished, iconic Rotunda’s top 3 floors; amazing views, bespoke and designer style, maximum comfort in city’s heart (just 2 minutes from Selfridges and New Street Station); each apartment radiates from spherical, 60s Tower’s center, creating circle of different sized wedges; each is individual with original artwork and specially commissioned furniture; floor-to-ceiling glass wall gives great views; apartments come in 4 sizes (studios, 1 bed, 2 beds, and penthouse; all have free wifi, apple computers, I-pod docks, and baby Gaggia espresso makers; beds are king, mattresses are pocket sprung with memory foam; accredited green tourism business.

Edmunds – 6 Brindley Place; 011-44-012-1633-4944;; latest venture for Michelin-starred chef Andy Waters; sleek place where traders surrounding banking houses' traders spend bonuses; locally sourced farm-fresh produce, fish, and meats; just back from river.
Fighting Cocks – 1 St. Mary’s Row; 011-44-012-1449-0811;; stained-glass windows and dark woods; try Wensleydale pastry tart with fig, goat cheese, pecan, and roasted squash.
Hotel du Vin – 25 Church Street; 011-44-012-1200-0600;; excellent wines, glorious food; old-world French chic.
Jamie’s Italian – Middle Mall (Bullring); 011-44-012-1270-3610;; try osso buco.
Lasan – 3-4 Dakota Building; 011-44-012-1212-3664;; elegant and upscale Indian; among Britain’s best local restaurants; masterful North and South Indian dishes.
Love’s – Glass House, 3 Canal Square; 011-44-012-1454-5151;
Opus – 54 Cornwall Street; 011-44-121-200-2323;; fronted by window shaped like name’s letters; sleek modernist place with starched linen, silver cutlery, and upmarket ingredients from famous-name farms.
Purnell’s – 55 Cornwall Street; 011-44-012-1212-9799;; Michelin starred; exquisite, inventive dishes (such as ox cheek with lentils cooked in toffee); in airy, Victorian red-brick building with striking modern interior; run by celebrated chef Glynn Purnell.
Simpson’s – 20 Highfield Road; 011-44-012-1454-3434;; Michelin starred; far from city center, in gorgeous Victorian house; worth journey for imaginative creations by chef Andreas Antona; reservations recommended.
Turner’s – 69 High Street (Harborne); 011-44-012-1426-4440;; Michelin starred; seriously good food; hazelnuts, langoustine, monkfish, pheasant, quail, and white asparagus all bathed in tempting range of broth, jus, and velouté.

Rag Market – Edgbaston Street; 011-44-012-1464-8349;; open on Fridays and Saturdays; retail stalls that sell jewelry and vintage clothing.
Selfridges – Upper Mall East (Bullring); 011-44-011-3369-8040;; department store and recent, modern architectural wonder.

Aston Villa Soccer Team – Villa Park, Trinity Road; 011-44-012-1327-2299;
Birmingham City Soccer Team – St. Andrew’s Stadium; 011-44-084-4557-1875;
Cube – 196 Wharfside Street (located within Commercial Street, “Mailbox,” Washington Wharf apartment complex, and Worcester & Birmingham Canal); 011-44-012-1654-9400;; LEGO-like, 23 story, mixed-use development in city center; designed by Ken Shuttleworth (MAKE Architects); flats, hotel, offices, shops, and “skyline” restaurant; can walk from here throughout canal district (e.g., follow canal northwest through new Birmingham’s heart, turning right at big canal intersection, past innumerable old locks and tollhouses.
Jewelry Quarter – edged, in part, by Warstone Lane;; Heritage Trail runs through it, taking you past where Scottish engineer and inventor James Watt lived and where Washington Irving wrote Rip Van Winkle.
Museum of Jewelry Quarter – 75-79 Vyse Street; 011-44-012-1554-3598;; when factory closed in 1981, staff literally walked out leaving everything in place, from gold dust to floorboards.
St. Paul’s Square – on Sunday mornings, this gorgeous parklike quadrangle, with 18th Century stone church, is urban England at its best.

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