Hello - Emily here!
I'm just back in the office after a busy couple of days visiting some key venues in and around Birmingham. I saw a great range of venues, from country house estates, to quirky and innovative studio space. I even had a tour of a museum!
My first stop on the drive from Brighton to Birmingham was The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield. I was initially struck by the impressive façade and the stunning surrounding countryside. The wow factor certainly didn’t end there. Having recently undergone an extensive refurbishment, the public areas, meeting rooms and bedrooms have all been modernised to a very high standard, while maintaining some traditional charm.
Soft colours and masses of light create a very calming reception area, with a spacious bar area close by. The meeting rooms continue this concept, and the extensive facilities can accommodate anything from an intimate dinner in the fabulous Wine Room, to a conference for 400 in the Woodland Suite. This venue has three golf courses, a nightclub on site, excellent leisure facilities, various dining options and free parking, something for everyone!
Next was the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel and Country Club. Again, the beautifully landscaped gardens were a wonderful first impression.
The hotel’s 18 meeting spaces provide flexible event opportunities, and the onsite marquee, available throughout the summer months, is an ideal option for parties and corporate events for up to 350 people. The land can be used for team-building activities, as can the tennis courts and croquet lawn, so this is an ideal venue for company away days, or indeed any manner of corporate event.
I then travelled a short distance to the National Motorcycle Museum, located a stone’s throw from the M42. As well as housing the world’s largest and finest collection of motorbikes, this venue has 13 rooms, ranging in size from the Wardroom Suite (14 boardroom) to the Britannia and Imperial Suites (950 theatre style each).
Here there is a vast amount of scope for formal corporate events, dinners and exhibitions, and as many rooms interconnect this allows for ease of movement between spaces. Furthermore, any events taking place after 5.30pm will have private use of the museum itself. With ample free car parking, this venue has space, style and location on its side!
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After a quick bite to eat.... I headed over to the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, a huge hotel close to the National Exhibition Centre. With 790 bedrooms and 33 event spaces holding up to 2000 people, this hotel is vast and yet, once inside, it doesn’t feel imposing in any way. The total event space covers 6000 square metres, and can accommodate all manner of events.
Constantly bustling, this hotel feels like a town, with substantial dining, bar and leisure facilities, very attentive staff and a welcoming vibe throughout.
My final stop on day one was the Crowne Plaza NEC, also located within the grounds of the NEC. This hotel is bright and modern, with a spacious lounge bar close to reception, along with its smaller meeting rooms, all of which benefit from natural daylight. The largest room, the Oasis Suite, is located on -1 level, and enjoys a spacious refreshment area, which has views of the grounds. The bedrooms are large and comfortable with all mod cons, and I slept well that night! The location of this hotel could not be better, walking distance to both Birmingham International rail station, Birmingham airport and, of course, the NEC itself.
Day two was spent in Birmingham City Centre. I first visited the Studio, in the very heart of the City, a mere two minutes’ walk from New Street train station. Although this wonderfully quirky venue occupies four floors, you could walk past and not know it was there. Once inside, however, this all changes.
Bursting with colour and fun, this venue lends itself to creativity, with a vast array of spaces of all shapes and sizes. It also has a fabulous terrace and garden, a little hidden gem of peace in the middle of town.
De Vere Colmore Gate was next on the list. Very much designed for corporate events, this venue offers functional space with comfort and style. Also in a great location, the venue offers free flowing refreshments and ample communal space, along with bags of light in all of the meeting rooms.
A short walk away, again, was my third stop, Maple House by Etc Venues. Another purpose built conference centre, Etc Venues occupies the first and second floors of the building. This venue has a variety of good sized spaces and a bright and welcoming atmosphere. Their award winning chefs also provide mouth-watering food during the day!
To round off the morning, I visited Conference Aston. I was unaware just how close the university is to the city centre, only a 10 minute walk. Situated on a green and pleasant campus, the conference centre and hotel have been built around a lovely courtyard garden, making the space easily navigated. The bedrooms are of good quality and the meeting space is bright and functional, with a spacious restaurant and two large lounges on the ground floor. Additional rooms are located in a nearby building, along with the Great Hall, with tiered seating for up to 650 delegates.
All in all, a really informative trip with lots of great venues to promote in the Midlands!
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