Walking to Digbeth from Staying Cool at Rotunda will give you a flavour of Birmingham at its most eclectic.
Stepping out from our New Street front-door, turn right to pass the 15,000 aluminium discs of the Selfridges building – one of the most photographed structures in the country – with beautiful red-brick Moor Street rail station on your left.
You may wish to walk to Digbeth by following the busier route of High Street Deritend, passing the O2 Institute, Big Bull’s Head pub and South and City College, which will get you to the Custard Factory in around 10 minutes.
But a fascinating route takes you through the back-streets of Digbeth if you turn left at Selfridges, go underneath the tracks of Moor Street station at Park Street, turn right on to Shaw’s Passage – passing Original Patty Men burgers and the Warehouse Café on your left – and following Bordesley Street all the way to Floodgate Street.
Here you’ll spot acres of colourful street art and the soon-to-be new home for the BBC in Birmingham at the former Typhoo Tea factory, a filming location for Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi blockbuster Ready Player One.
When you reach Floodgate Street and the Custard Factory there is plenty to see and do, from gift shopping at Red Brick Market to craft beers and great food and drink at The Ruin or The Floodgate among many, many others.
Digbeth is a part of the city that is changing by the day with new bars, restaurants, gaming experiences and the BIMM Institute rubbing shoulders with old factories and warehouses.
Read our guide to find the best places to go:
Digbeth is where Birmingham’s story begins…
It’s where historians believe the Beorma tribe first settled, where market traders have pitched-up for hundreds of years and where many of Birmingham’s world-famous ‘1,000 trades’ grew rapidly during the Industrial Revolution.
More recently it’s become home to creative start-ups, digital thinkers, craft beer and bottomless brunches as new arrivals rub shoulders with long-standing industrial warehouses and factories.
The Custard Factory – once the home of Bird’s Custard – tops the Digbeth to-do list and is a 15-minute walk away from Staying Cool at Rotunda.
Its cluster of buildings hosts unique bars, coffee shops, retailers, workspaces and great outdoor spaces.
Fazeley Studios on Fazeley Street offers a unique events space, start-up offices and a great flat white in its cafe.
In and around these two destinations you’ll find the best street art, gallery spaces and even more hospitality venues, among them The Floodgate – an experiential bar with baseball cages, table golf and curling – and The Old Crown, a Grade II-Listed timber frame pub dating back to 1368.
HS2, the giant, multi-billion-pound rail project surrounding Curzon Street is producing regeneration ripples right across the area and as a knock-on effect Digbeth’s story is about to go through its biggest change yet with a whole raft of recent redevelopment announcements.
One of the plans includes turning the Duddeston Viaduct Victorian railway (a curious stretch of elevated rail that has never been used since it was built) into a high-level park to match New York’s High Line sky park and to open up a previously-hidden stretch of the River Rea.
The first phase of the scheme will see the creation of Wild Works, Custard Factory Living and the Custard Factory Extension, bringing new commercial space and new homes.
Further up Digbeth High Street, right next door to St Martin’s Church and Bullring shopping centre, the vast Smithfield development will be filled with new public spaces and family attractions along with new leisure venues and housing.
The former site of the wholesale markets hosted Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games events.
Oh, and the best bit? You’ll be able to see all these exciting changes from the floor-to-ceiling windows of Staying Cool’s Rotunda serviced apartments and penthouses.
OUR LIST OF DIGBETH MUSTS
BAKED IN BRICK
Our guide to Digbeth starts with a welcoming, family-friendly restaurant at the Custard Factory serving the finest pizza, award-winning street food and superb Sunday lunches that are becoming the stuff of legend.
RED BRICK MARKET
Described as Birmingham’s finest indoor market, a wonderful warehouse pop-up featuring independent artists, designers, retro fashion sellers and unique homewares. The perfect place for a memento of your time at Staying Cool.
Staying on Floodgate Street you’ll find The Ruin, an inviting traditional pub (formerly The White Swan) that has been at the heart of Digbeth nightlife for generations. It’s wonderfully old-school in its approach with modern food and drink options.
THE NIGHT OWL
Based on Lower Trinity Street, the Night Owl is an independent live music venue and club specialising in retro sounds. Look out for Britpop Brunches, Indie Bingo and soul and ska legends performing live.
Get your skates on for Roller Jam! Birmingham’s first skating arena and nightclub ‘on wheels’ experience.
Roller Jam, on Glover Street, Digbeth, is a multi-zone venue inside a renovated factory space, complete with skating rink, private booths, live DJs, stage shows, immersive sound, light and laser shows, cinematic screens and bars overlooking the Roller Disco arena. An arcade area features the Funky Bear Diner, coffee shop, pool tables and air hockey with views of the historic canals of Digbeth.
If you’re looking for something a little more action-packed, our guide to Digbeth recommends you head to Fazeley Street and Teamworks Karting, Birmingham’s only city-centre kart circuit, featuring laser tag, an F1 simulator and a challenging indoor race track.
AUTOBREW DELI BAR
AutoBrew, the UK’s first self-service bar and café, has opened at The Custard Factory. The AutoBrew tap wall offers beer, cider and ales, with more options available at the bar such as wines, spirits and soft drinks.
How does it work?
You collect a card from the bar, top it up and pour the drinks yourself. Or a staff-member can deliver them to your table via the order system. A coffee machine works the same way, so you can help yourself to a range of hot drinks which you can also either drink in or takeaway.
Unleash your hidden Paperboy or Street Fighter at Custard Factory retro arcade game bar NQ64, where you can enjoy the perfect combo of sipping on game-themed cocktails or craft beers, whilst bashing buttons to victory against your pals.
With classics, consoles and pinball, pretty much every game you grew up playing is available to relive your high-scoring youth.
NQ64’s cocktail list is inspired by the retro games being played – Donkey Kong, Mad Max, Bubble Bobble and Pac’s a Punch to name a few.
BALL PARK COCKTAIL BAR
Birmingham’s first ball-pool cocktail bar is now open seven days a week in Digbeth.
Ball Park features a ball pit, beer pong, instagrammable cocktails, street food, arcade games and live music in a neon and street art setting, the new venue, on Floodgate Street, is very much an adult’s playground.
Need more inspiration for your summer in the city? Check out our 10 things to do in Birmingham in 2021 blog.