Cool Places - The best places to stay in the UK

The Best Places to Stay in the UK

Birmingham

There are some further north that would disagree, but Birmingham has long been regarded as England’s second city, a large and sprawling metropolis that has been through a dramatic renaissance over recent years, transforming from scabrous concrete jungle, devastated by 1960s planning mistakes, into the vibrant metropolitan area it is today. It's a cosmopolitan place, one which has done a fairly good job of integrating its immigrant communities while at the same time retaining a patchwork of neighbourhoods with strong identities. The city centre was always a bit of a hotchpotch, but its contrasts work better together now than they ever did before: highbrow culture sits comfortably alongside the edgy and urban, churches and Victorian warehouses sidle up to modernist developments such as the Bullring and Mailbox, which nestle alongside the canals that weave through the city centre. There are spanking new arts and media centres including Millennium Point and the Custard Factory, alongside city landmarks such as the Town Hall and the Jewellery Quarter, which are more cherished today than they have ever been before. It's a city that's been through a lot, but is now comfortable with itself and its proud new identity, which both reveres the past and celebrates the future. It may not be the first place you think of when considering a weekend away, but you know what? The city's wide diversity of sights, and a great choice of of mid- to high-end hotels and restaurants, make it the equal of many more established destinations around the country.

History

Nicknamed the 'City of a Thousand Trades', Birmingham was once a place of serried factories, metal foundries and blackened chimneys spewing smog – overcrowded and polluted, but an industrial and economic powerhouse nonetheless: Birmingham (Brum to the locals) was the 'workshop of the world'. During the early 20th century the city's manufacturing prowess saw the city play a pivotal role during both world wars, its factories churning out guns, cartridges, shells and all manner of weaponry to aid the war effort, and as a result it was targeted by the Germans who left much of Birmingham a bombed-out mess. The city was rebuilt in the 1950 and 1960s in the Brutalist style fashionable at the time, with monolithic slabs of concrete separated by dual carriageways and windswept open spaces that characterised Birmingham well into the 1980s, since when an acknowledgement of past mistakes, together with a decent shot of public money, has seen the city reborn.

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Birmingham

From scabrous concrete jungle to vibrant cosmopolitan metropolis – in a decade
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