Considering Birmingham is less than 90 minutes away on the train, it is a city that I rarely get to explore. It’s a shame as there is so much to do and see in and around the city centre. I thought I’d jump on the train last weekend and explore an area of Birmingham that I keep hearing lots about, Digbeth.
I’m fortunate enough to be a short train ride away from Birmingham city centre but if you’re not there are loads of hotels to suit all budgets. Whether you are looking for a Birmingham airport hotel, city centre hotel, budget B&B or five star luxury you can find it all here. I can highly recommend Hotel Du Vin if you are looking for a luxury hotel, it is possibly the loveliest hotel I have ever stayed in within the UK. I stayed here is Jan 2018.
New Street Station & The Bullring
Birmingham New Street station is smack bang in the city centre and is a transportation and shopping hub. There are loads of decent places to eat and shop right in the station. Then, located just a couple of minutes walk from the station is the Bullring, a huge shopping centre with over 200 stores. Department stores, jewellery shops, restaurants and everything else is available right in here. There have been times where I’ve caught the train purely to spend the day at the bullring. And this is definitely possible, however I’m going to take you further out for a little bit more exploring.
Street Art in Birmingham
A 10 minute walk from the station is the area of Birmingham known as Digbeth. It was recently named the ‘Coolest Neighbourhood in Britain’ by the Sunday Times and it is easy to see why. Colourful fun street arts decorates this part of the city, making it very distinctive and arty. There are a plethora of cafes, independent shops, art spaces and businesses located here. On the walk to the heart of Digbeth you should come across the Kenneth Budd’s J. F. Kennedy (1968) mosaic mural. This was commissioned by Birmingham’s Irish community and is an amazing piece of artwork.
I would recommend wandering around and taking in some of the street art within the area. There are hundreds of peices of artwork to see, and these are some of my favourites:
Digbeth Dining Club
After a wander around the streets, we headed to Digbeth Dining Club for a bite to eat. Located on Lower Trinity Street and established in 2012, this street food club showcases multiple vendors with an array of cuisines to choose from. From Thai to Greek, Wings to Curry, there is a vendor for everyone, and a couple of bars to grab a cool pint. The venue is industrial, I opted to try the sriracha Thai fried strips. Crispy chicken strips marinated in herbs and spices and garnished with honey, soy, sriracha, chilli, chives and spring onion. Jeez these were delicious. They definitely had a kick to them so that pint was needed to cool my mouth! I would eat these every day if I could. The vendors rotate, so there is always something new to try so make sure you wander around before deciding! Digbeth Dining Club runs every Thursday 4PM-11pm. Friday 4PM-11pm, Saturday 1PM-11pm & Sunday 12-8PM
After a bite to eat, we then crossed the road to Ghetto Golf for a round of crazy golf at the custard factory. Now I would highly recommend that you book as the wait can be ridiculously long, especially on weekends. Ghetto Golf is a strictly 18+ venue (it may be something to do with the sex toys on display) and is loud, full of neon and so much fun. With a large bar, it was pretty easy to grab a drink and have a wander around the course. I love the fact that they have personalised the venue to showcase some of Birmingham’s best bits (like the replica of The Old Crown, Birmingham’s oldest pub) rather than just carbon copy other venues. Each hole has a different theme and its something pretty unique to the city. There is mini golf… and then there is Ghetto Golf. For £10 for a round of golf that will keep you occupied for at least an hour, it is really good value too.
The Old Crown
After Ghetto Golf we headed to the oldest pub in Birmingham, The Old Crown. Built in 1368, it is a community hub for Digbeth and Queen Elizabeth I stayed here in 1575 on her way home from Kenilworth Castle. It has 10 bedrooms and an apartment available for book, and was crowned winner of ‘best traditional pub’ at the 2019 Midland Food and Drink Hospitality Awards. This summer it is hosting 12 weeks of outdoor summer garden parties with a host of live music and the food menu looks incredible too. Check it out here.
That was really all we had time for before I got my train home, but I will definitely head back to Digbeth soon to try out some of the other things this area of the city has to offer. I need to try more of the food for sure and would love to have a play on the VR equipment at Matrix Virtual Reality located in the Zellig Building at the Custard Factory. There was also a vintage hair salon called Le Keux where you can have a hair and make up makeover into a 50’s style pin up! There was a bridal party in the salon when we peaked in and it looked so much fun!
This was a collaboration with Hotels.com. The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own. I was not told where to go or what to do, I picked places based on recommendations from friends.