If you’re staying in Birmingham and Granny’s not putting you up, then you’re probably there on business, as we were, and thanks to the glorious Internet and its many deals there really is no need to compromise on your hotel if you’re willing to spend some time searching and are prepared to book in advance.
The great thing about four star hotels is that you feel good walking in and “belonging”, being greeted by someone in a tie even if it’s a lady, and knowing that the bed will be big and soft and warm. And so it was at the Marriott. We like our home comforts, but we’re not rich or (therefore) extravagant and don’t travel around in taxis, and it would be great if hotels, especially those establishments on stark, concrete ring roads, gave realistic “How to Get Here” information. For example, the website tells you how to get there if you’re driving – well, sort of – but fails to mention that Five Ways railway station, one stop from Birmingham New Street, is just down the road, and a host of bus routes (including 1, 22, 23, 24, 29 and 29A) all stop right outside. Don’t Marriott guests use buses?
Our room was gorgeous, the bed was huge, the shower was hot and powerful and the TV filled a wall, all important to us (except, perhaps, the TV). The tea and coffee was plentiful and, quite honestly, we could ask for no more in a basic four star hotel room – and that’s not a contradiction. We neither ordered nor expected a Jacuzzi suite. There is a pool in the hotel, by the way, which we used. It was nice to have a swim in February, but it’s nothing special.
Another nice touch is the noon checkout time. We had work to do and it was great to be able to stay put and get on with it. There was, however, a hidden trap, which brings me to the reason for the title of this review. On Morning 1 we were up early, went down to breakfast and luxuriated in the fresh coffee and croissants, buffet food and omelette chef awaiting and satisfying our every whim. Replete, we headed out to the NEC in good spirits.
On Morning 2, however, we were up later and had work to do before breakfasting, urged on by what we knew awaited us. But no! Despite the advertised breakfast hours of 7am to 11am everything was cleared away at 9.30am. There was no mistake in the timings and we were informed that they were perfectly happy to prepare breakfast for us and that it would be fresh and hot. The result was unbelievably, don’t care poor and unattractive, swimming around in oil - and we wished that Granny had put us up after all. We expect more from a Marriott.
Despite the breakfast disaster, we really liked the Marriott and will return if they’ll have us.
However, I have one more pet hate for just about all hotels, grand four star places in particular: the in-room information.
There was, of course, a comprehensive guide available, offering advice and information on all kinds of things: the nearest place of worship, what to do if you require ice – an ice bucket was to be found in the cupboard next to the switched off fridge. (Ice is provided by the front desk tie person, who would send someone up to the room with your ice, presumably cupped in their hands because you already have the bucket. Perhaps they have an ice bucket exchange programme.) There is also information about the local attractions, Warwick Castle, for example. I think, if we intended to visit Warwick Castle we would stay in Warwick and research it I advance rather than being surprised to find that it exists whilst searching for the instructions to turn on the fridge/kettle/TV/lights.
I digress. What peeves me about this information is that they completely and utterly miss just about everything you really need to know. Here are some examples: there’s a Morrison’s supermarket right next door and there’s a Tesco Metro across the road, so you can buy a large bottle of water and an emergency Mars Bar late into the night. The hotel may be situated on a desolate, concrete roundabout, but literally within 5 minutes walk or 2 minute bus ride on any of the previously mention routes, is Birmingham’s main entertainment area. The City’s 2nd best Indian restaurant (Pushkar - also reviewed) and a brilliant Brazilian restaurant, plus lots more goodies including a Wetherspoons pub. After a hard day at the NEC (which doesn’t exist in the hotel’s information tome even though 90% of their guests are in Birmingham to go there) you need this information – and the phone number of the nearest pizza takeaway would help too. Too low brow for a four star hotel? Possibly, but a list of local establishments need not include the Subway store across the road!
Will we stay there again? Hopefully. It’s a great hotel, but we’ll make sure we get up early for breakfast.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Birmingham Marriott Hotel demonstrates the four-star reputation through responsive service and comfortable accommodations. All guest rooms have been luxuriously appointed with essential amenities while stationed in the heart of Birmingham. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Marriott Birmingham
- Birmingham Marriott