With locations just about everywhere in England but London, the Hotel du Vin mini-chain can hardly be accused of neglecting the provinces. So it’s a bit of a surprise that what’s possibly the most successful of the lot (and, key fact, the only one with a spa) is located not in York or Harrogate but right smack in the heart of Birmingham, in a massive red brick Victorian building that was once home to the Birmingham Eye Hospital.
More than a few modern boutique hotels would be right at home in hospitals, with their all-white color schemes and smooth antiseptic surfaces. But the Hotels du Vin have always marched to the beat of a different drummer, as it were — a drummer (to strain the metaphor) who favors rich, masculine colors and a level of detail that’s practically baroque when measured against the minimalism that reigns elsewhere.
From a place that is, after all, called the Hotel du Vin and Bistro you might expect a fair bit of emphasis to be placed on the wine and the food. Of course you’d be right. The bedrooms are spacious and stylish but it’s at the dinner table that the whole experience really comes together. On the plate is the sort of upscale modern-British cuisine that gives the lie to all the old jokes about English cooking — and at the sommelier’s fingertips are hundreds and hundreds of bottles. The best of Birmingham’s shopping is practically just outside your door, but we can all but guarantee it’s dinner you’ll be thinking of.