UK friends - Visiting Birmingham, UK with wife and toddler. AC Hotel Birmingham or Birmingham Marriott Hotel?What would you recommend and why?
I lived in Birmingham for 20 years and watched Marriotts presence there grow from The Forest of Arden Country Club, in the 1970s, through the Marriott in the 1990s and the AC in 2015 and to be topped off by a Moxy next year.
The most central is the AC City Centre which is situated at the prestigious Mailbox mall on BIrminghams canal network. There’s plenty of restaurants and some high-end shopping. Parking is in the Mailbox multi-storey carpark and is pricey. This is a former Ramada which is quite an upscale brand here in the UK. Rooms are a good size but not huge and half overlook the scenic canalside. The hotel bar isn’t too busy but is nicely set up. As an AC Plats should receive a canal view upgrade and daily $10pp F&B credit. This is a great hotel to base a Birmingham visit planning to walk the city with Birmingham's New Street Station about a 5min walk from the Mailbox entrance, and from the station it’s easy to hop on a cross city train to Bourneville to visit the original Garden city and of course CadburyWorld!
The Marriott is on the inner ring road and about a 20 minute walk from New Street Station. It was built as a Swallow Hotel, at that time a 5-star brand but in 1990 Swallow went into receivership and Marriott took it over.
This means in terms of facilities, room standard and ambience the Marriott is a very strong 4-star. Plats are routinely upgraded to the high ceilinged corner rooms and as there’s no concierge lounge daily full breakfast in the restaurant. This is not a city centre hotel but it’s a very safe area however there’s no pretending this its a pretty location; overlooking the busy 5-ways traffic island; it’s not, but its perfectly safe and there’s a Cinema and restaurant complex nearby, plus a large Tesco, but it’s not scenic.
The Marriott Forest of Arden Country Club is a Marriott Golf Resort situated in the Warwickshire countryside midway between Birmingham and Coventry. You’ll definitely need a car here but car parking is at least plentiful and free. Built in the 1970s it’s spacious with a Sportsbar restaurant and a more formal AA rosetted establishment. Food is good at both and each have their own ambience. The Gym and swimming pool are both spacious and pleasant. If you like Golf then this is for you with 2 courses, a championship course which has hosted several European tours over the years and a more leisurely course too. Plats are routinely upgraded to larger rooms, but I’ve not really been able to tell much difference, honestly. Theres no lounge and as it’s a resort Breakfast for 2 is a welcome amenity choice but it’s a very wide ranging buffet. I also frequently receive free drinks vouchers on checkin.
Finally, there’s the new Moxy that’s under construction next to Resorts World and Bear Grylles at the Birmingham NEC. I’ve walked past the walled-off construction area and let me tell you, when completed it will be the best located property on the NEC, literally a minute walk to the entrance for the exhibition halls, or Bear Grylles, or Resort World with its casino and numerous food choices and the Arena for it’s concerts. It’s a seriously great location and once competed I fully expect it’s bar to be a “jumping” place to spend time! It’ll not be a relaxing place on weekends, nor on concert nights, that’s for sure! I’m really looking forward to staying there with my son when we go to the Spring Comic-Con there next year!
Overall for a Birmingham visit I’d recommend the AC, it’s position is good for the city centre, right in the scenic canal with a “olden days” towpath walk to Gas Street Basin and the NIA and Birmingham’s weekend “party central” on Broad Street, but far enough from all the action to give you a good nights sleep!
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