Welcome to Birmingham Hotel Guide . . .

Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the English West Midlands.

Now the second largest city in Britain, with a population of over one million, Birmingham has long outgrown the squalor and misery of its boom years and today its industrial supremacy is recalled in a crop of excellent heritage museums and an extensive network of canals. It also boasts a thoroughly multiracial population that makes this one of Britain's most cosmopolitan cities. The shift to a post-manufacturing economy is symbolized by the new Convention Centre and by the enormous National Exhibition Centre (NEC) on the outskirts, while Birmingham's cultural initiatives - enticing a division of the Royal Ballet to take up residence here, and building a fabulous new concert hall for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra - are first rate. Nonetheless, there's no pretending that Birmingham is packed with interesting sights - it isn't, though - along with its first-rate restaurant scene and nightlife - it's well worth a day or two - at least

Many visitors get their first taste of central Birmingham at New Street station , whose unreconstructed ugliness - piles of modern concrete - makes a dispiriting start. Fortunately, things soon get better if you stroll west along pedestrianized New Street , one of the city's principal shopping streets, to the elegantly revamped Victoria Square , with its tumbling water fountain. The adjacent Chamberlain Square has been refurbished too, but here pride of place goes to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery , the city's finest museum, complete with a fabulous collection of Pre-Raphaelite art. Beyond, further west still, is the glossy International Convention Centre , from where it's another short hop to the Gas Street Basin , the prettiest part of the city's serpentine canal system. Close by is canalside Brindley Place , a smart, brick and glass complex with smart cafés and bars and the enterprising Ikon Gallery of contemporary art.

From Brindley Place, follow the old tow path along the Birmingham and Fazeley canal as far as Newhall Street, which is within easy walking distance of both St Philip's Cathedral , back in the centre on Colmore Row, and - in the opposite direction- the Jewellery Quarter , which holds an excellent museum and hundreds of workshops and retail outlets.

Birmingham is a major transport hub on the motorway, rail, and canal networks.

Birmingham is served by a number of major roads, including the M5, M6, M6 Toll, M40, and M42 motorways. Junction 6 of the M6 is also one of Birmingham's most famous landmarks, and probably the most famous motorway junction in the UK: Spaghetti Junction, officially called the Gravelly Hill Interchange.

Local public transport is by bus, local train and tram (the Midland Metro light railway system between Birmingham city centre and Wolverhampton). The number 11A and 11C outer circle bus routes are the longest urban bus routes in Europe. The city's main station, Birmingham New Street, is at the centre of the national rail network, whilst Birmingham International railway station serves Birmingham International Airport which has flights to cities across Europe and several Asian and North American destinations.

By train Virgin Trains operate a fast and frequent half-hourly shuttle service between London Euston and Birmingham International. Birmingham International is 10-15 minutes by train to Birmingham New Street.

By road The NEC is situated in close proximity to the M40, M42, M5, M6 and M1. On arrival, visitors have access to extensive parking facilities.

By air The NEC is served by Birmingham International Airport, which is situated on-site.

Birmingham has three universities: the University of Birmingham, Aston University and the University of Central England (UCE). It also has two other higher education colleges (Newman College and the Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies). The Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham School of Acting, both now part of UCE, offer higher education in the arts.

Nightlife in Birmingham is thriving, and the club scene is recognized as one of Britain's best, spanning everything from word-of-mouth underground parties to meat-market mainstream clubs. There's a particular emphasis on special/specialist nights with leading DJs turning up at different venues on different nights. Live music is strong in the city, too, with big-name concerts at several major venues and other, often local bands appearing at some clubs and pubs. Birmingham's showpiece Symphony Orchestra and Royal Ballet are the spearheads of the city's resurgent high-cultural scene. The social calendar also gets an added boost from a wide range of up-market festivals , including the Jazz Festival in the first two weeks in July, and the Film and TV Festival in November.

A city with so many choices, Birmingham confidently embraces its status as Europe’s meeting place.

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