The last 18 months has been a pretty terrible time for travel enthusiasts, with so many lockdowns world-wide, the knock-on effect to hospitality has been unprecedented, and Birmingham is no exception.
With this in mind, and lock-downs now fully lifted, I decided to enjoy a late September night out with a friend in Birmingham central, to take advantage of what the city has to offer, from food to drink, music and a safe place to rest my head after.
My choice of bed, on this occasion was within Bloc Hotel in the Jewellery Quarter.
I was interested to see what, if any, changes had been put in place since the global pandemic. In the last few months I have stayed in a couple of other large chain hotels both locally and in Bristol, I had found there to be little or no effort made, to take into consideration the fact that, essentially, we are officially still dealing with a pandemic with humdreds of people dying each week of Coronovirus in the UK.
My arrival in Birmingham began with a long canal walk and a delicous lunch at Rosa’s Thai cafe in the new Paradise development. A short walk from Centenary Square to Summer Row, and on to Bloc Hotel, reminded me just how convenient this hotel is. With easy on-street parking, within close proximity to St Pauls tram stop, it’s a perfect spot to kick off your shoes after a busy day.
One of the things I love most about Bloc JQ, is the peaceful location. It is hard to imagine you are a 15 minute walk from a city centre which is the hub for over 1 million people, and over 3 million in the wider West Midlands.
Service was friendly and my room was ready from 2pm. A quick hike up to level 3 and i was in. I opted for a Bloc Apartment which offers that little bit of extra comfort and space.
Everything is pristine with Bloc rooms, from the linen to the bathrooms, something that inspires confidence with the present risks assocaited with the Coronavirus. You can actually check in remotely, to save having to get too close to anyone, though I did not test out this feature. Bloc have partnered with the scientists at HeiQ to coat all the surfaces with Viroblock - a ground-breaking technology that is scientifically proven to be 99.99% effective at destroying harmful viruses, including COVID-19.
The bed was immensely comfortable, with a TV, both in the bedroom, and also the lounge/dining area.
One of the main features which I need to point out here, and a huge advantage Bloc has over its rivals, is the room remote control facilty which can now be operated from your phone.
I fluffed up my pillows, reclined on the bed, clicked the link in my Bloc confirmation email, and hey-presto.. I could control the lights, air-con and TV without having to touch a switch – which is literally, amazing!
It was a very muggy humid day in Birmingham, so the air-con was much needed. Bloc’s high-specification ventilation system introduces fresh air to the room. This ensures that the air you are breathing is clean and fresh and not recycled, and you can really tell. Another winning feature and further evidence the people at Bloc are always trying to develop new ways to satisfy their guests needs. Bloc is not just a place to sleep, it’s a whole experience and one which enhances the reason you are in the city in the first place.
I met a friend at The Oyster Club near Colmore Row, and then on to the latest venture by Digbeth Dining Club named ‘Hockley Social Club’ for music and drinks. This is only a ten minute walk away from Bloc and made for a perfect end to the night. If you book in advance you can also eat breakfast at nearby St Pauls House with discount, however on this occasion I enjoyed a honey bacon bagel and a Tumeric Chai at St Pauls Kitchen which i can highly recommend.
If you are looking for somewhere safe, clean, modern and slightly boutique style accomodation in Birmingham, then Bloc really does have it all, I nearly forgot to mention the drench showers too, which offer a winning experience. This will always be my go-to hotel when wanting to stay in the Jewellery Quarter, top marks for actually not resting on your laurels Bloc.. you’ve actually come out of lock-downs even better than before. Oh and thanks for storing my luggage until Sunday afternoon.
I look forward to my next stay.
Words by Nick Byng for Grapevine Birmingham.