Monday 7 December 2015

What to Do in Birmingham with ICHF and Travelodge Hotels

Most of you will know by now that I like getting out and about around the UK. I can't claim to be well travelled across the globe but I love visiting places big and small across the UK especially when there is something going on the get involved in.

With the ICHF Craft shows at the NEC each year and with lots going on as the UK second biggest city, a trip to the City of Birmingham is a must. In the past I have visited the Bullring shopping centre, The Museum and Art Gallery, browsed the Christmas market and I am no stranger to the NEC.
Gas Street Basin then and now
Evolving Cities: How Birmingham Has Changed Over the Years

A few weeks ago, I went to the ICHF Christmas Craft Shows at the NEC. This time around I stayed at the Travelodge Birmingham Airport Hotel. The price seemed reasonable and I was told over the phone that getting to the NEC wouldn't be difficult. 

On arriving at the hotel, I was extremely surprised at the location. The name of the hotel seemed more fitting when I realised that it was right next to the runway. I became concerned about the noise but I needn't have worried. I genuinely didn't hear one plane all night. I did wonder if this was my location in the hotel but even the road outside didn't cause much of a noise issue. It did strike me as a great stop over before or after a flight. I can't claim to be a seasoned globetrotter but for anyone arriving or leaving the airport at questionable hours in the day, this hotel would be a great rest stop before or after travelling this side; depending on where you are based. I have to say that I was disappointed that parking was not covered for hotel guests. I paid £14 in total to park my car from Friday night until Sunday. 
A Travelodge Family Room 
After being greeted by friendly staff on reception, one of the ladies happily printed out the bus timetables for me to get the NEC and back on the Saturday and Sunday and gave me information about breakfast in the morning. Unfortunately, the breakfast started a little late for me to be able to get to the show before it opened (so I could go and talk to exhibitors) so I wasn't able to enjoy filling up before heading over to the NEC. 

Once I got to my room, I realised that the price of the hotel was reflected in how basic it was. It wasn't uncomfortable but it certainly wasn't the most spacious or well planned out room I have been in.  Unfortunately it was the cleanest either. Still good for a stop gap though. After I had unpacked my bags (with a cup of tea which I made in the room with the kettle provided) and my work things, I realised that I had a light flickering in my room. It had been off when I came in (the other lights had been left on for me) so I figured someone must have known it was on its way out and I popped down to reception to see if they could help. It was the light over the desk so I needed it to get on with some work. 

When reporting the light to reception, they told me that it hadn't been reported and they very quickly offered me another room. I believe in great customer service and I didn't at all mind that the light wasn't working and the way that the staff dealt with it in this instance was indeed great. I actually decided to stay in that room as I had already unpacked my stuff and couldn't be bothered, but I was told it would be sorted out by the time I arrived back on Saturday. I was also provided with a hairdryer and some extra tea and coffee supplies on request so I went back to my room ready to sleep/watch TV instead of work. Any excuse huh?! It's a good job this was the conclusion as it become apparent that the room was not at all convenient for business focused travel. The desk chair was uncomfortable, there was no power point near to the desk (I would have to trail the lead across the floor!) and I would have to pay extra for WiFi access. I was certainly better off watching TV and just enjoying the quiet. I couldn't actually play on my phone either as oddly, there were no power points next to the bed. I wouldn't necessarily consider this a bad thing though. It was nice to switch off for a bit. 

Overall I feel that the hotel wasn't suitable for business professionals IF they wanted to work but it was a great 'base' for jet setters and people wanting to see what Birmingham has to offer. The bus to the NEC was less than 5 minutes (its not really safe to walk due to the style of roads) and they were regular and there were also buses to the city centre. I would recommend the hotel to any #CraftyBs heading to the NEC for any of the ICHF shows and in fact I came across at least 16 other people who were visiting the Crafts for Christmas show (yes I counted). The cafe and bar area was also quite nice for a drink and the best thing about the stay was definitely the customer service. The ladies on reception were happy to assist and accommodate where they could. 

Have you got a trip to Birmingham planned soon? What do you like about the city? Did you enjoy the guide in this post?

* This post was not sponsored. I received a complimentary room for the purpose of a review but any views and opinions are my own and the links provided were my choice.

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