When searching for a hotel, I always try and look for something a bit different. Unless you choose the most luxurious hotel groups, I often find mid-price hotels a bit, well, uninspiring. I want stay somewhere comfortable but interesting, and where I know I’ll get a delicious breakfast in the morning.
Hotel du Vin is a small chain of boutique hotels that aim to be a little different. The first site was founded in 1994, and the chain has since grown to 15 hotels, situated in major UK cities. Designed to be elegant and unpretentious, but offering convenient city centre locations, great service, excellent wines and delicious foods, I recently paid a visit to the Birmingham hotel to experience it for myself.
An attractive red-brick Victorian building in Castle Street provides the Birmingham home to Hotel du Vin. Walking in from the street, it was clear straight away that this wouldn’t be a run-of-the-mill hotel, with large marble columns and a double-sweep wrought iron staircase framing a glass-ceilinged atrium beyond.
Feeling stressed, I had booked a treatment in the hotel’s spa, and a sat-nav-related confusion meant that I was later to arrive than anticipated, so I just about had time to pop up to my room, before heading back down to the spa. First impressions of the room: very big, and very nicely equipped, with an enormous bathroom, complete with roll top bath and monsoon shower. I hardly wanted to leave.
Arriving at the spa, I was greeted by Cara, my therapist, who expertly ran me through everything I needed to know before getting started. I opted for a much-needed massage and facial using the spa’s signature ESPA products – a range I know and love. All I can say is that I could have stayed there all day. My treatments were deeply relaxing and enjoyable and I can honestly say that Cara was the most lovely therapist I’ve ever had. I’d go as far as saying it’s worth a trip to Birmingham to see her alone.
I could have stayed on to use the spa facilities, but I had a quick turnaround to get changed and go for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. There’s something really nice about being in a hotel and just popping downstairs for dinner. And the dinner at Hotel du Vin was really good. It was a cold and miserable night, so I opted for the Boeuf Bourgignon on the bone with a side of spinach, and I really enjoyed it. The food here is quite traditional French brasserie fare, offering a wide choice, food cooked with skill and served by well-trained staff. I think it’s fairly priced too, especially given that you’re in the heart of the city. The choice of wines is, as expected, very good, with a wide choice of wines by the glass, which is always a plus in my book.
Retiring to my room, I had a sound night’s sleep in a comfortable bed and a lovely monsoon shower in the morning. Breakfast, taken in the restaurant downstairs was also good, with plenty of choice, and made a great start to the day.
I left shortly after breakfast feeling relaxed, well-fed and pampered. It was a really enjoyable stay and I look forward to returning soon – this is a hotel that would be particularly special for a weekend break.
With thanks to Hotel du Vin for inviting me to stay for the night.