Hey there! Today’s post is another one in my Featured Bloggers series.
Written by the lovely Ruth, this one’s full of brilliant recommendations by a blogger whose opinion I always trust!
If you’re based in the Midlands or you’re planning a holiday in Birmingham or its surrounding areas, this post is perfect for Instagram-ready places to check out.
Over to Ruth!
My name is Ruth and you can find my blog at www.ruthmillington.co.uk. Like Nati, I promote the arts and culture, particularly in Birmingham (where I live) and the Midlands (which I explore on weekend trips). I recently met with Nati for a coffee at the lovely York’s Cafe and we decided to exchange arts-related posts on our blogs!
Nati has put together a brilliant guide on how to enjoy the West Midlands’ arts scene without breaking the bank, which you can find here. For my guest post I’ve listed the top 8 bars and cafés for culture lovers in the Midlands.
The Midlands has a rich history and cultural heritage. Famous artists and writers from the area include many of the Pre-Raphaelite artists, including Edward Burne-Jones who was born in Birmingham. And did you know J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth was inspired by his surroundings in the Midlands? Today, the region is still thriving with artists and creatives. So where are the best bars and cafes for culture lovers in the Midlands? From busy city centres to the calming countryside, here are my top 8 picks.
This is the perfect place for Pre-Raphaelite art lovers. The tea-room is set within the National Trust property, Wightwick Manor, known for its collection of Victorian art and crafts. Artworks include paintings by Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais. The tea-room serves up traditional scones, cream and a range of jams. There’s a good selection of teas, too. Take a wander around the house, gardens (and tempting shop) afterwards.
If 20-inch pizzas, an all-day brunch and cocktails sound like your thing, head to Yorks. It also sits proudly at the front of Ikon Gallery, which has a diverse programme of contemporary art exhibitions. When the weather is good (summer isn’t quite over yet) you can sit outside, in pretty Oozells Square. Inside, you’ll find the walls covered in changing local artworks, and exposed brickwork celebrates the character of the original 1800s building.
Seven Sins is situated in Birmingham’s creative quarter, Digbeth. Just outside the Custard Factory, I was first enticed inside by a sign announcing ‘Coffee that doesn’t suck’. Luckily, this wasn’t false marketing. The coffee was strong, and I loved the surrounding art-covered walls (all by local Birmingham artists). By day Seven Sins serves coffee, teas, and speciality hot chocolates including red velvet and an indulgent peanut butter hot chocolate. It also serves up cold coffee cocktails by night, and they’re just as strong as the daytime cappuccinos.
With ping pong tables, old German movie posters and graffiti-covered walls, you might think you’re in East Berlin. Instead, Das Kino is a gem in Nottingham’s Lace Market. I recommend the thin-crust, stone-baked pizzas (which you can order by the metre), German beers and special selection of gin and tonics.
A restored Victorian Grade II listed building, this is a unique bar in Nottingham city centre. Across four floors, each of the bars has a distinct feel, from the intimate space of a gentleman’s club on floor one, to an outdoor-indoor experience in the loft. The team regularly change the décor: the last time I went the terrace was decorated as a Japanese garden, filled with cherry blossom. And the cocktails are just as creative and fun.
The University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre was inspired by the work of filmmaker, actor and arts patron Richard Attenborough. Today, it continues to host three contemporary art exhibitions each year. It also has a charming Café Bar. It’s a relaxed venue serving freshly-made sandwiches (starting at just £1.90) and cakes, alongside St. Martins Coffee, a popular local coffee roaster. The licensed bar also serves beers, wine and spirits if you’re after something stronger to accompany the art.
With or without Melbourne, I love a day trip to the historic city of Lichfield. But head to 32/34 Bird street and allow Melbourne to make your day even brighter. With graffiti-covered walls, this cute café offers Vegan brownies and hot chocolates, beetroot lattes and dairy-free flat whites. One for lovers of ‘proper’ coffee. And their creative Instagram feed is worth a follow.
The National Trust’s Shugborough Estate consists of an impressive Georgian mansion and walled garden. More importantly, it was reimagined by Tolkien (who lived nearby) as the House of a Hundred Chimney in his Middle Earth. After following a Tolkien Trail(link: https://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/leisure/librariesnew/whatson/local-history-walks/Tolkien-Trail-booklet-Revised-2nd-Edition-2017.pdf) make a visit to the Canalside café. Overlooking the picturesque Trent and Mersey Canal, it serves traditional tea, coffee, cake and sandwiches.
featured photo: Hockley Arts Club
photos in chronological order: David @ Marchwood on Visualhunt.com / Birmingham Mail / Seven Sins / Bar Magazine / Hockley Arts Club / University of Leicester / Melbourne Cafe / Enjoy Staffordshire