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.