As the largest city in the UK after London, Birmingham has a long history as a centre of manufacturing, technology and economic development, dating back to the Industrial Revolution. Today it’s a vibrant, cutting edge city that’s home to a host of multi-national corporations, with its finger firmly on the global financial pulse.
I’ve lost count of the number times I’ve travelled to Birmingham for business, so you can take it as read that these tips come from a source that, while not quite a genuine Brummie, is nonetheless pretty experienced.
Getting to Birmingham
Depending on your port of departure (Europe or UK) you may decide to fly into the city or come by train. Birmingham Airport (BHX) is one of the busiest airports in the UK and a number of carriers, including easyJet, Flybe and Eastern Airways, service routes within the UK. If you’re coming by rail, trains depart from London Euston around every 10 minutes and the journey to Birmingham takes about one and a half to two hours.
Whether you fly or train it, the most convenient way of getting directly to your meeting, convention or accommodation once you arrive is by prebooking a Shuttle Direct transfer. Our drivers can meet you at the airport or train station and you’ll be transported to wherever you need to go without delay.
If you need to spend any amount of time at Birmingham Airport, either flying home or for onward business meetings in Europe, you won’t be short of facilities to pass the time, catch up on some emails, or grab a meal.
There are three business lounges within the terminal: Emirates, Aspire and No.1. I’ve experienced all of them and they’ve got great features like quiet zones, unlimited Wi-Fi, complimentary papers and magazines, and buffet and bar services. You need to be a member for Emirates, but the other two are open to any passengers for a charge.
For those on a quick turnaround, the Regus Express meeting rooms and business facilities are an excellent option. The building is adjacent to the terminal and offers free high-speed Wi-Fi, refreshments and a document station for copying, scanning etc.
My Favourite Birmingham Business Hotel
My top pick for a relaxing business stay in Birmingham is the lovely Edgbaston Boutique Hotel, which is not just super central, it’s also very friendly and very glamorous. I always feel like I’ve taken a step back in time here, with its stunning Victorian architecture and hushed ambience, and it’s the perfect retreat after a hectic day of meetings or conferences. The luxury rooms feature tranquil views over the garden, Wi-Fi and a work desk to catch up on the day’s events.
The Edgbaston is also an impressive place to host a low-key meeting over their famous afternoon tea, or a post-meeting drink and meal in one of the three elegant cocktail bars.
A Couple of Others….
Another place I can highly recommend is the stylish, contemporary Radisson Blu, Birmingham. Just a stone’s throw from the ICC and business district, it also has its own extensive meeting facilities, with 10 dedicated rooms that can accommodate events up to 130 delegates.
The Park Regis, on Broad Street is also a no-brainer choice for doing business, with its central location and spectacular 15th floor event and meeting space catering for up to 150. The dedicated Business Centre offers secretarial support, document services and video conferencing facilities.
Wining & Dining Your Clients
My favourite restaurant in Birmingham for a business lunch (and quite often a bit of networking with some familiar faces) is Zen Metro, in Cornwall St. It is slap bang in the middle of the financial district and I’ve been going there for years, back since it was the Metro Bar & Grill. While it’s taken on a more contemporary Zen ambience (hence the name change I suppose!) and an Asian inspired menu, it’s still got the same laidback yet discrete atmosphere that’s so good for a working lunch or dinner.
If you’re hosting a larger group, there’s a glassed in private dining room that seats up to 20 (you can also organise canapés pre-meal), while for a more intimate lunch or dinner meeting you’ll be seated in the main restaurant around the blossom tree.
Time to spare….
I’m usually in and out fairly quickly when I come to Birmingham, but I have been lucky enough a few times to grab a few hours to sightsee. And, contrary to what some people might think, there’s actually a lot to see!
Shopping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but most people head to the famous Bullring shopping centre at some stage. Don’t fight it. If you’re looking for a special gift for a birthday you might have forgotten, I can tell you that when I discovered the historic Jewellery Quarter I became the most popular man on the planet. It’s also quite an interesting place – who knew shopping could be cultural?
One of the most surprising things about the city is its network of lovely canals (aka Birmingham Canal Navigations) – more than Venice as it turns out. You can take a relaxing boat journey from Sherbourne Wharf or simply wander alongside the canals and take in the industrial heritage architecture of the buildings.
If it’s art you’re after, a visit to the Birmingham Art Museum, in Chamberlain Square, will introduce you to a vast array of world-class European collections, including the world’s largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings.
About Shuttle Direct:
Shuttle Direct is one of the most respected and trusted names in Europe and the UK for fast, professional executive transport. Wherever you’re travelling to do business, you can choose from our Standard, Executive or Premium private car hire. Make an easy online booking before you leave, and once you arrive at the airport or train station you’ll be met by a friendly, efficient driver and taken directly to your meeting, conference or accommodation.