THE HOTEL: Originally opened in 1879, a lack of investment and TLC meant this historic hotel – that once welcomed Churchill, Cagney and Chaplin – was forced to close in 2002. Lovingly restored (to the tune of £45m), it re-opened last summer. It’s in Colmore Row, one of Birmingham’s most elegant and prestigious streets, a 10-minute walk to New Street Station and close to all the action.
COVID STRATEGY: Meeting and event spaces have sanitising stations and the hotel has engaged the services of Global Secure Accreditation.
THE CHECK-IN: Guests now enter through a discreet side entrance, up a staircase and into an intimate lobby. Three smartly-dressed staff greeted me and escorted me to my room. There was a nice buzz around the entrance and lobby area as locals came and went from the hotel’s adjacent bar, Madeleine.
THE ROOM: As with most historic hotels, the 185 bedrooms come in all shapes and sizes, making them all refreshingly quirky. My Junior Suite had an enormous four-poster bed, a scattering of sofas and chairs to lounge about in, and a fabulously spacious, bright white bathroom with two marble sinks, a gorgeous standalone bath and a walk-in shower. Molton Brown toiletries and fluffy bathrobes added to the sense of luxury. Nice touches included a yoga mat and an old-fashioned telephone.
THE BUSINESS: Wi-Fi was speedy and easy to access and meeting rooms have the latest video conferencing technology. The spectacular Louis XIV-style grand ballroom, with its intricately-carved ceiling, is worth a peek if you don’t have the pleasure of wining and dining there.
THE FACILITIES: Quirky cocktails are served at Madeleine, a stylish and opulent ground-floor bar with gothic fireplaces, contemporary chandeliers and low-backed bucket chairs in rusts, reds, and pink velvet and leather. In the basement is Isaac’s, an American diner-style restaurant named after the hotel’s founder, Isaac Horton, where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served. Breakfasts change regularly so long-term guests don’t get bored. There’s also a private gym, which needs to be booked.
THE VERDICT: Oozing Victorian grandeur with a touch of art deco sparkle, this historic hotel has been given a wonderful new lease of life that respects its glamorous past but embraces a new generation.
THE DETAILS: The Grand Hotel Birmingham, Colmore Row, B3 2BS; 0121 827 9600; thegrandhotelbirmingham.co.uk Double rooms from £129 B&B, Junior Suites from £254.