Planning your next city break in the UK and wondering where to stay in Birmingham? In this blog we’ve highlighted 8 of the best areas to stay in Birmingham, to help you make the most of your next city break.
Britain’s second largest city lays in the West Midlands, and is fast climbing the ranks of favourite places to visit in the UK.
As early as the Middle Ages, Birmingham was a busy, prosperous town, making its money from weaving and dyeing wool. By the 14th century it added leather goods and metalwork to its industries, and in the 18th century, glass production.
By the mid-19th century, it was an industrial hive of coal mines, tanneries, and ironworks of all types, including railway construction.
Authors of the time often described it as ‘The Black Country’, because of the amount of smoke that billowed from the many tall chimneys that dotted the area. A description that stuck through to the 20th century.
In the mid/late 20th century, Birmingham’s industrial fortunes took a massive dive, and the city went into steep decline, but you can’t keep a good Brummie down. Attention turned away from heavy engineering, to digital start-ups and the service industry. Birmingham was reinventing itself.
Now you can trace the history of Birmingham in its many museums. New shopping centres have been built and older ones revamped, attracting some of the biggest names on the high street.
The city now is a mix of traditional and modern architecture, new fountains and statues, parks, gardens, working canals; and shopping centres and malls.
Local and international restaurants have blossomed, to cater for the diverse ethnicities who live, work, and visit the city, and there is accommodation to suite all needs and budgets.
Where to stay in Birmingham: 8 Best Areas
We hope our choice of 8 of the best areas to stay in Birmingham, will help with your short-break planning.
1. City Centre, the best area to stay in Birmingham
If your interests are fine-dining, visiting impressive places of worship, or enjoying a little retail therapy in the famous Bullring; in the city centre you are close to it all.
Much of the area is now pedestrianised, making it ideal for those pleasant morning strolls. If time is of the essence, you’ll want to fit in as much as possible.
One of the city’s most popular walks starts at the International Convention Centre, and meanders through to the Bull Ring, taking in many of the most popular visitor attractions.
You will pass through Centenary Square and Victoria Square, and be able to linger in the city centre gardens.
The Bullring isn’t the only major retail area in town either. You can enjoy a little window shopping in New Street, and the massive Grand Central, with its growing number of designer outlets.
If museums are your thing, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Birmingham Museum contains an impressive number of exhibits based on the city’s history, as well as an excellent selection of modern art. While the IKON gallery has regular exhibitions of contemporary art by local up-and-coming artists.
If the younger ones are getting a little bored, head for the Thinktank Science Museum. Situated close to Soho House, it has an impressive old vehicle section, and myriad fun activities for visitors of all ages.
In a large multi-cultural city, you would expect a selection of impressive places of worship, and Birmingham doesn’t disappoint. As well as its magnificent 18th century cathedral, you will find splendid mosques, pagodas, and Sikh temples, as well as smaller churches of different denominations.
If sports are your thing, you can visit Villa Park, home to England’s Premier League football team Aston Villa.
For the cricket fans, the international cricket ground of Edgbaston is close by, while for a variety of other sports, including track cycling, Birmingham has the NEC Arena. All are just a short bus, tram, or train ride away.
Evenings in the city centre are a foodie’s heaven. Not only are there more Indian Tandoori restaurants than you can count, but an extensive selection of international eateries from nearly 30 different countries.
Along with pubs, clubs, entertainment venues, and an excellent range of accommodations, a good Saturday night is assured in Birmingham city centre.
2. Birmingham Shopping District, where to stay in Brimingham for shopping
Whether you’re thinking of a shop till you drop girlie weekend, or a couple’s romantic short-break seeking those special anniversary presents, the Birmingham shopping district is the place to do it.
The Bullring and Grand Central, two centres under one roof, have over 200 shops, including Debenhams, John Lewis, and Selfridges. High street brands include River Island, GAP, Topshop, Zara, Victoria Secret, Hollister, and probably every other brand you can think of.
If designer labels are your must have, look up The Mailbox, on Commercial Street. With luxury labels like Armani, Paul Smith, Harvey Nichols, Hugo Boss, and The Wedding Club, plus a mouth watering selection of luxury independents, there is something to suit all tastes.
Everyone loves a little casual window shopping, so why not do it in the fresh air. Birmingham’s principal shopping streets will cater for your every need.
Take a stroll down New Street, Corporation Street, and High Street. You can linger in H&M, Primark, Burton, JD Sports, and Apple.
If reading is your thing, the High Street has a large 6-floor Waterstones, as well as a Boots and M&S, while on Corporation Street you will find other brands such as Superdrug, Urban Outfitters, New Look, and House of Fraser.
As if that’s not enough for your stay in Birmingham, the Birmingham Shopping District is also blessed with five historical shopping arcades.
The Piccadilly Arcade, Burlington Arcade, Great Western Arcade, North Western Arcade, and City Arcade are full of independent traders. You can find ladies and men’s fashions, retro fashions, local produce, home accessories, quirky mementos, and gifts for friends and family.
With all the coffee shops, tea-rooms, cafes, restaurants, and pubs open through the day and into the evening, you won’t need to go anywhere else for a pleasant, if tiring, couple of days stay in Birmingham.
3. Convention Quarter, plenty to see and do in a major commercial area
With the International Convention Centre (ICC), having been formally opened in 1991, the Convention Quarter was designed to complement the Convention Centre, while increasing the overall size of the city centre.
Built between Ladywood, Middleway, and Broad Street, and encompassing Brindley Place, it is a vibrant area full of offices, shops, hotels, bars, nightclubs, pubs, and restaurants.
As well as the ICC, it has the NIA (National Indoor Arena) which holds a number of entertainment and sports events throughout the year.
The Halcyon Gallery in the convention centre is well worth a visit if you enjoy gazing at artwork with eye-watering price tags, while the IKON Gallery on Broad Street, is the place to enjoy the avant-garde.
If you like classical or modern music concerts, check out the Symphony Hall on Broad Street. Home to the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, they average around 300 concerts a year, including classical, indie, jazz, folk, pop, and rock. They also throw in a few comedy shows for good measure.
Take in the many canal boats tied up as you walk through the centre. The Birmingham area has over 100 miles of canals, and you can enjoy a stroll along the canal embankments from the Convention Quarter.
At Water’s Edge, Brindley Place, you will find the National Sea Life Aquarium. You can walk through a 360° underwater tunnel, surrounded by rays and sharks. With sea otters, penguins, and myriad other strange sea creatures on show, it is a must-include for the entire family.
With a choice of so many restaurants, fast-food outlets, bars, pubs, clubs, and entertainment venues to choose from, your evenings will never be dull.
For the visitors, there are over 7,000 hotel rooms available within a five-minute walk of the International Convention Centre, giving you plenty of accommodation choice.
4. Westside, where to stay in Birmingham for the nightlife
Birmingham certainly hasn’t rested on its laurels. Westside is the latest area to have a major facelift.
Encompassing Brindleyplace, Broad Street, the Sealife Centre, and ICC, plus new builds like The Cube, Regal Tower, and the Birmingham Library, Westside has been developed to make living, working, and socialising in a big city environment, a less stressful, more laid-back experience, and it’s working.
Birmingham boasts a fully electrified tram system, which takes in Westside, making commuting and touring the area’s attractions a simple, painless process.
The canal network meanders quietly through the district. Westside canal features like the Gas Street Basin, and Deep Cutting Junction are big draws for visitors, where you can relax at a table on the towpath, and enjoy a pleasant drink by the water.
While Westside is a great area to base yourself to explore the city by day, it is also a fabulous place for night time entertainment.
Some of the city’s biggest clubs can be found around Westside, as well as canal side pubs like the Pitcher & Piano. You will find fine-dining Michelin starred restaurants, and eat-on-your-feet fast food outlets.
There are romantic cocktail bars, and loud karaoke joints, hidden away bistros, and fabulous gastro-pubs, all within a short walk of your hotel, when you choose Westside for your stay in Birmingham.
Read also: Best places to stay in London, best places to stay in Cornwall, best places to stay in Cardiff, best places to stay in Manchester, best places to stay in Oxford
5. Digbeth, coolest neighbourhood to stay in Birmingham
From a bleak, grimy, depressing industrial area of the early 20th century, Digbeth has welcomed the 21st century with open arms.
A one time powerhouse of Birmingham’s industrial muscle, it has morphed into a distinctive, trendy and creative district of arts, crafts, and independent producers and retailers.
Close to the university’s City Centre Campus, and just a few minutes walk from the Bullring and New Street Station, Digbeth is now full of artisan traders, independent shops, vintage-outfitters, cinemas, and art venues.
If you’re still not sure where to stay in Birmingham, perhaps these different events will help make up your mind.
The Digbeth Dining Club. Held on the first Friday of each month, it is a get-together of like-minded residents and visitors. Held primarily outside, it takes you into the world of real street-food and trendy bars.
Take your pick from Malayan or Caribbean cuisine, vegetarian dishes, seafood or pizza, waffles or crepes, or just the humble sandwich. A great way to get to know people, and make new friends.
Consider an evening exploring The Rainbow. A whole set of warehouses converted into clubs, pubs, nightclubs, and music halls. Bars take up most of the upper floor, and for the hard rockers, live music can be found in the basement.
Pay a visit to the oldest pub in Birmingham. The Old Crown first opened its doors in 1368. Sitting on the corner of the High Street, it’s black and white timber exterior makes it hard to miss. A real English pub that has an excellent selection of draft and craft ales, as well as the usual wines and spirits.
If you’re looking for vegan or vegetarian, then head for the Warehouse Café on Allison Street. It has a very reasonably priced daily changing menu.
If electronic music does it for you, look up the 02 Institute at 78, Digbeth. An event venue which specialises in electronic music and legal raves, backed up by top DJs and dancers.
The area has plenty of all levels of accommodation. If you like conventional, mixed with a little unconventional, Digbeth might be just the place to find it.
6. Jewellery Quarter, a great venue for a truly sparkling weekend break
Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter isn’t just for those wanting to dazzle in diamonds, blossom in bling, or seek out that totally unique engagement, wedding, or eternity ring – although it’s certainly a large part of it.
For over 200 years, the Jewellery Quarter has been at the centre of jewellery creation in the UK, producing over 40% of the nation’s pieces. In recent years however, it has developed into a pleasing visitor attraction in its own right.
As well as being home to hundreds of specialist independent retail units, and some of the top jewellery craftsmen in the country, the quarter also includes excellent hotels, a number of museums, and over 80 bars and restaurants, attracting gourmet diners and cocktail connoisseurs from near and far.
Warstone Lane and Vyse Street are at the heart of the Jewellery Quarter. The streets are full of jewellery shops and independent outlets. Trophy shops and small independent art galleries, cafes, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants.
A pleasant couple of hours window shopping will have you so engrossed, you’ll wonder where the time went.
The Chamberlain Clock, sitting on the corner of Warstone Lane and Vyse Street, is the Jewellery Quarter landmark. Look out for the Warstone Cemetery Lodge, dating back to 1848.
Other places of interest include the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, charting the history of jewellery making in Birmingham. If you love sending hand written letters and cards, or revel in calligraphy, then a visit to the Pen Museum should be included in your itinerary.
If you’re thinking about where to stay in Birmingham for that special occasion, do it in style in one of the excellent hotels in the area.
You can order that bespoke piece of jewellery you’ve always wanted; while taking the opportunity to dine in stylish restaurants, and enjoy a cocktail or three in the trendy bars, while you wait for it to be completed. It’s what memories are made of.
7. Edgbaston, for quiet relaxed evenings and easy access to the city
If you’re looking for where to stay in Birmingham that is quiet in the evenings, but with plenty to do during the day, Edgbaston should fit the bill.
Famous as the home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club since 1885, and England Test Matches since 1902, Edgbaston is a quiet, relaxing, pleasant area in suburbia. Yet just a few minutes travelling time away from the buzzing city centre.
For the cricket fans, pre-booked tours of the ground are available at no charge, although they do ask for donations to their chosen charity.
Nature lovers to, would appreciate a little time out of town. Edgbaston Reservoir can be reached via Reservoir Road, or by steps on Rotton Park Road, Icknield Port Road, and Gillot Road.
With over 70 acres of water, woodland, and grassland, the reservoir is a popular destination for visiting nature lovers and bird watchers, anglers, and the local sailing and rowing clubs. Who knows, maybe you don’t even need the city centre.
Other local attractions include the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Edgbaston. A peaceful oasis of colourful flower beds, shrubberies, and lawns, plus exotic plants from tropical rainforests to dry desert succulents, all housed in four large glasshouses, will surely keep the gardeners happy.
With picnic areas, children’s play areas and discovery gardens, tropical birds, art gallery, shop, and café, it makes the perfect day out for the whole family.
Edgbaston village itself has a Michelin starred restaurant, and a number of award winning pubs and gastro-pubs, as well as an excellent selection of day to day retailers, cafes, and coffee shops.
The MAC Birmingham is just a 5-minute car ride away at Cannon Hill Park, and offers courses in cinema, theatre, dance, drama, and comedy. Exhibitions are held regularly, and there is a bar and café. Entrance to visitors is free.
In the university at Edgbaston, you can also visit The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and Winterbourne House and Garden, with its exhibition rooms and 7 acres of arts and craft gardens.
While hotel accommodation may be a little scarce in Edgbaston Village, widening your search to the surrounding area should find something to suit your preferences.
8. Gay Village, a popular, safe meeting place for LGBT residents and visitors
If you’re wondering where to stay in Birmingham to meet new LGBT friends, the Gay Village will be a good place to start.
Although known as the Gay Village since the 1990s, the venues now encompass all minority orientations. Most of the LGBT+ bars, clubs, pubs, and shops are still found along Hurst Street, with a few others in the nearby streets of Southside.
One thing’s for sure, Birmingham’s Gay Village certainly knows how to throw a good party. Especially during May Bank Holiday, when they hold Birmingham Pride. A weekend event enjoyed by both LGBT and straights.
Some of the most popular bars and clubs include The Village Inn. Open at midday, you can call in for coffee to ease last night’s hangover, or if you’re hardcore, enjoy the first pint of the day. You can also enjoy live cabaret downstairs in the Village Underground at weekends.
Bar Jester, in the village, is a DJ music venue open until 4am. Set on two levels with faux Chesterfield furniture and intimate booths, it just loves music from the eighties.
Eden bar overlooking Hurst Street is a favoured venue, and has been voted ‘Best Gay Venue for Midland Men’. A popular karaoke bar with DJs spinning classical tracks from the 70s and 80s.
If you want to see Birmingham’s LGBT community at its outrageous best, pencil in a visit to the trendy Sidewalk Bar. Happy hours and early bird offers are the norm, and with DJs working three nights a week, any night is party night.
If you want to go a little up-market, just at the back of Hurst Street you can find the Nightingale. Set on three floors, cabaret is on most nights, with everything from fire-eaters to go-go dancers to DJ sets.
You’d better wear your dancing shoes. With plenty of drinks offers, upgrades to VIP booths, and entrance offers, it’s a great venue for party groups.
Although there are around 20 gay and LGBT bars and clubs in Gay Village, there are also hotels, shops, cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants; where you can enjoy a quick coffee or substantial meal, before the evening’s beer and wine starts to flow.
Birmingham is easily reached from Europe flying into Birmingham International Airport, which is just 15 minutes from the city centre. From UK areas, trains arrive into Birmingham New Street, Snow Hill, or Moor Street.