HOTEL: On the site of Birmingham’s famous N.E.C and just five minutes from Birmingham’s international airport and train station, The Hilton Birmingham Metropole opened back in 1976 and has, since then, welcomed untold numbers of conference delegates. But anyone who hasn’t visited in recent years might not recognise the place after a major makeover, giving it a new lease of life with a stylish nod to the city’s rich industrial history.
THE CHECK-IN: The lobby, also home to the bar, was bustling when I arrived, with most guests looking like they were attending a conference. Check-in was super efficient and I was soon in the lift on the way to my seventh-floor Executive Room.
THE ROOMS: More than 600 of the 789 rooms have been upgraded as part of the refurb. Spanning across five floors and at either end of the hotel, the rooms have been designed to reflect Birmingham’s rich heritage (namely car manufacturing and canals) with soft metallic headboard fabric and brushed bronze artwork and, in the suites, bronze drinks trolleys and coffee tables. Good-sized desks have above-desk power points and phone jacks and all rooms have a large LCD TV, speedy WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, black-out curtains, hairdryer, iron/ironing board – everything you need to get you through a conference.
THE BUSINESS: The largest residential conference hotel outside London, the 31 spaces span more than 65,000sq ft, the largest accommodating up to 2,000 people. This hotel is completely geared up for conferences and you know you’re in experienced, safe hands. There’s a modern, newly-renovated Executive Lounge too.
THE FACILITIES: The Gild Bar in the lobby stays open 24 hours, while breakfast and buffet dining is in the Arbor, inspired by the creator of Birmingham’s Botanical Garden. A new addition is Brightsmith on the Water, with fabulous views of the adjoining lake and outside space. Iy can be hired for private events. A LivingWell Health Club has an enormous pool and 24-hour gym.
THE VERDICT: Major investment has ensured that this superbly-located hotel will continue to be a firm favourite for conferences and events.
THE DETAILS: Pendigo Way, Birmingham, B40 1PP. hilton.com. Lead-in room rate is £90 a night.