Did you know that signing up to the fantastic Independent Birmingham app means you can enjoy Birmingham’s thriving independent scene with discounts and deals at more than 100 of Brum’s cinemas, cafes, pubs, restaurants, theatres, bars, and shops.
We’ve put together a dream tour of the best independents. We’ve focused on some of the top indies in Birmingham city centre – within easy reach of our serviced apartments at the city’s iconic Rotunda building.
The Pineapple Club in Great Western Arcade has quickly become a must for new takes on classic cocktails rustled up by the expert team. But there’s more to this upstairs bar in GWA than just drinks. The small-plates menu and Paella Party offers food as good as the drink.
For dinner, we recommend a trip to Glynn Purnell’s eponymous restaurant, offering contemporary fine dining and can be found in the Michelin Guide. Glynn provides a fabulous British menu with influences from France and the Far East.
Don’t miss the recently reopened The Electric, Britain’s oldest working cinema. We love (in no particular order) its Edwardian architecture, cool interior and brilliant programming. It’s unique to Birmingham and runs some very cool annual festivals.
Birmingham is huge on culture. BMAG (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery) is just up the road from us in Victoria Square. Entrance to this stately, beautiful building is free, so no discounts required. We could spend hours just looking at the stained glass on show, but we’re weird like that… Must-sees are the Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire Hoard and the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world. BMAG also happens to have one of the coolest cafes in Birmingham. Joyously, the Edwardian Tea Rooms are covered by the IB App. Whether you fancy a sandwich, cake, afternoon tea or champagne the ETR is a great spot.
Connolly’s, on Livery Street, is an independent fine wine and spirit merchant dedicated to sourcing and stocking unusual and intriguing small-batch fine wines, spirits, ciders and craft beers for your drinking pleasure. IB members get 10% off the Connolly’s wine of the week.
The Hive, in the Jewellery Quarter, is a social enterprise café serving vegetarian and vegan delights. Hive is also recognised for its social and environment responsibilities which have won awards.
If you’re looking to take back a smart bit of home furnishing to remind you of your time in Brum, The Workshop Below, on Bristol Street, is a lighting store specialising in creating and stocking some of the most beautiful and inventive bespoke lamps and lighting to be found in the city.
On Gibb Street near the Custard Factory (15 minutes walk away from Rotunda) you will find Stag Digbeth, a coffee shop by day and a bar by night, with its own barbershop.
Why not start with drinks at Loki Wine? This wine merchants, hidden away in the city’s historic Great Western Arcade, is only five minutes away from our apartments by foot. It’s much more than just a wine store and you can enjoy wine by the glass or the bottle in-house. They also run events and they’re not just about wine – recent successes include a Mackmyra Swedish Whisky Tasting and World of Gin tasting.
Where next? The Independent Birmingham card has offers for three of Birmingham’s mightiest venues and they are all within easy walking distance of our Rotunda serviced apartments.
Birmingham Hippodrome is a big, beautiful theatre that sells more tickets than any other in the UK. This is the place to come for all the excitement of seeing a West End show without London prices. The Hippodrome is big on musicals (and its annual panto, of course), but it also offers world-class ballet, opera, comedy, contemporary dance… Going to the Hippodrome really feels like a big occasion.
THSH stands for Town Hall Symphony Hall, so you get two venues in one. Together they provide some of the best entertainment on offer in Birmingham.
Symphony Hall has outstanding acoustics and is one of the world’s best concert halls and home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. It’s not all about classical music, however – you can see some outstanding comedy and pop and rock music here too.
Town Hall is a little more intimate. It looks like a classical Corinthian temple from outside and hosts jazz, world, folk, rock, pop and classical concerts among other things.
Last but not least comes the Birmingham Rep. It’s much smaller than the Hippodrome (825 seats versus 1900) and is an outstanding repertory theatre with packed houses.
Hungry? Medicine – found on Birmingham’s New Street, just like us – is an artisan bakery, café and gallery. This first-floor gem occupies a wonderful space which was formerly home to the Royal Society of Birmingham Artists. The menu currently ranges from tempting cakes such as kronuts and brownies (vegan options on the menu) to savoury delights like a croissant with goats cheese and caramelized onion or salt beef, pickle and mustard on rye.
Birmingham offers outstanding mainstream shopping, of course, but we’d like to suggest some independent heroes to seek out while you are here:
- Vinyl is back big time and Swordfish Records (est. 1979) managed to survive the dark times.
- Vincent Van Doodle designs are inspired by icons of art, science, music and culture. Everything they sell is made locally and it’s a great place to find an unusual gift. Proudly quirky!
How about grabbing a meal to bring your time in Birmingham to a close? Want elegant fine dining (and an emphasis on sustainability)? Purnell’s Restaurant is the place for you. If you want something more informal, Gas Street Social at The Mailbox or Bodega Bar Y Cantina could be good options.
If you manage to get out to the suburbs, the IB has you covered here, too.
LA-POP, in Edgbaston (Islington Row) is all about customisation, you create your own gelato lolly, based on your tastes and the flavours you like. First you choose your gelato flavour, then you choose a chocolate to dip it in, and finally you finish it off with a flourish of your chosen toppings.
Harvest, in Kings Heath, is a skincare, lifestyle and homeware store selling a carefully-curated selection of products, sourced from trusted, mindful suppliers and producers. The skincare products are made in Birmingham in small batches, making them a brilliant advocate for the independent culture.
Meanwhile, back in town, and Liquor Store, on Colmore Row, is an independent fashion boutique known for its cool denims, jackets and boots.
FIND OUT MORE
We’ve only scratched the surface of what the Independent Birmingham App has to offer. Check the Independent Birmingham website for more deals.
We’re proud to be part of the independent scene in Birmingham. Take a look at our 5* & 4* serviced apartments at the heart of Birmingham city centre. They’re a great base for making the most of the Second City.