Staircase and bronze-coloured Corinthian pillars at The Grand Hotel Birmingham, United Kingdom.

The Grand Hotel Birmingham
Birmingham, United Kingdom


If buildings could talk, The Grand Hotel Birmingham would certainly have some fascinating stories to tell. Established in 1879 to rival London’s high society haunts, the Grade II listed building, occupying one of the city’s most prestigious addresses, has played host to rockstars, Hollywood icons, and some of the most influential figures in modern history, including George VI and Charlie Chaplin. Now, after a nearly 20-year-long beauty sleep and a £50 million facelift, the hotel is looking fresher than ever, with the same vitality and sophistication that once made it the toast of the town.

Grand by name, grand by design: from its stunning French Renaissance facade on Colmore Row to each of its 185 rooms, the landmark hotel dances between multiple architectural styles, showcasing gilded Corinthian columns, Victorian detailing, and stately Art Deco accents, all catapulted into the 21st century by contemporary artwork that offers a glimpse into the city’s thriving creative scene. Upon arrival, we had no choice but to stop for a few photos on the steps of the sweeping staircase – the focal point of the hotel’s renovation, along with a glamorous double-height, Louis XIV-style ballroom for hosting weddings, gala dinners, and corporate events.

The hotel presents a variety of beautifully refurbished bedrooms and suites to suit every preference, from the cosy Grand Loft bedrooms on the upper floors to the single two-storey Penthouse Suite, boasting a four-poster bed, walk-in wardrobe, private bar, and an open-plan living space. Additionally, the Grand Accessible offers a specially designed layout for disabled guests, with wider doorways and roll-in showers for the utmost comfort.

We opted for the Grand Deluxe Twin, a spacious, high-ceiling suite with uninterrupted views of St Philip’s Cathedral and its surrounding gardens – commonly referred to as ‘Pigeon Park’ by Brummies. Now, anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of strolling through this park knows that it’s a magnet for the city’s most eccentric characters, so we rather enjoyed being able to experience the thoroughfare from our quiet perch above Colmore Business District. Our suite was sleek and modern, with an urban palette of cream, matte black, and Prussian blue – quite different from the hotel’s time-honoured public spaces, yet tastefully anchored in the historical setting thanks to a few retro touches like a rotary telephone, pleated lampshades, and white metro tiles in an elegant bathroom stocked with Penhaligon’s toiletries.

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While you’re Out There
The Grand enjoys a prime location just north of Birmingham City Centre, surrounded by the many cosmopolitan bars and restaurants of Colmore Business District. History lovers and fashionistas will appreciate the nearby Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and iconic Bullring shopping centre – both of which are less than a ten-minute walk away. For those seeking a little more excitement, venture onward and you’ll find yourself in Hurst Street, Birmingham’s spirited gaybourhood and the focal point of the city’s annual pride festivities, home to some of the busiest late-night boozers and nightclubs.

During our stay, we had a taste of The Grand’s exclusive Pride Package ahead of Birmingham Pride, which includes breakfast, a complimentary drink on the charming Garden Terrace, and a ‘survival kit’ filled with weekend necessities like sunscreen, hairspray, spring water face mist, and a trusty energy drink to keep you going (or to mix with your Jäger). Though they definitely could’ve gone miles further with it, we appreciated the kit’s thoughtfulness and practicality.

For dinner, we descended to Isaac’s, the hotel’s no-nonsense, Manhattan-meets-Brum basement brasserie decorated with green and white Victorian tiles, stained antique mirrors, leather booths, and monochromatic photos of New York scenes. Here we tucked into our favourite American dishes and calorific comfort foods, starting with buffalo wings and blue cheese sauce, followed by beef brisket-filled mac and cheese and an authentic NY-style hotdog with crispy shallots. For dessert, we had Isaac’s signature custard-apple-filled doughnuts with blackberry compote. The restaurant also has a fantastic raw bar offering everything from oysters to beef tartare and turns into an à la carte breakfast space in the mornings.

Unfortunately, on the day we arrived the Garden Terrace was fully booked, so instead we waddled to the ground floor for a nightcap at the hotel’s sumptuous Parisian-style bar, Madeleine (which also serves Afternoon Tea between Wednesday and Saturday). Our drink of choice: a delicious, citrusy cocktail called the ‘Corpse Reviver,’ which, contrary to its name, was so strong we almost dozed off on one of the crushed velvet banquettes by the fire. At that point, we knew it was time to hit the hay.

In the end, the real standout of our stay at The Grand Hotel Birmingham was its team of friendly staff, whose attentiveness, charm, and willingness to go the extra mile fed into an ambience that is far more relaxed and inclusive than one might expect from a hotel with a history of welcoming royalty.

Photography courtesy of The Grand Hotel Birmingham, Madeleine Bar, and Isaacs Restaurant

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