Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Radisson SAS Birmingham

1 Apr 2006 by Tom Otley

What's It Like? Radisson is a new addition to the Birmingham city centre four-star deluxe scene, joining Malmaison, Hyatt, Marriott, Hotel du Vin and City Inn. The hotel occupies the first 18 floors of the 40-storey glass-fronted Beetham Tower – the top floors are all luxury apartments and penthouses. Designed by Ian Simpson Architects, the glass is turquoise fritted, meaning it is both coloured and reflective, providing 50 per cent solar protection. At one time the building was planned to be 50 metres taller and would have been the tallest residential building in Western Europe, but its proximity to Birmingham Airport and the CAA's requirement for clear airspace put paid to that idea.

Where is it? Holloway Circus, a five-minute walk from the Mailbox – home to Harvey Nichols and dozens of boutiques and restaurants, and the Malmaison. It's 10 minutes from the city centre.

Room facilities The 211 rooms are in three styles: fashion, fresh and chic. All are reached via bedroom corridors, which are curved in line with the building, with clever individual angled lighting on each door. The walls, lined with padded silk in dark red and brown stripes, create a striking effect. The rooms most suitable for business travellers are the "chic" ones, designed by Matteo Thun in muted brown, purple and cream. All rooms have flat-screen TVs and unlimited free broadband(both wired and wireless) access.

Restaurants and bars There is a lobby level bar and coffee shop; at present these are the only public places where smoking is allowed, and they create an atypical atmosphere in what is a new, and very clean hotel. On the first floor, reached by an open staircase, is the Filini restaurant and bar, which serves Mediterranean and Sardinian cuisine with an open kitchen at one end and a wood-fired pizza oven. Walnut floors, plenty of mirrors and floor-to-ceiling windows covered by voile curtains all make it a bright and airy space – even at night when the lights outside are muted by the thin curtains, and it's a nice touch having bay and olive trees to break up the dining area. There's also a small wine tower made from weaved warped timber held together with metal plates in a pineapple-shaped design which holds 200 bottles of wine. Pizzas cost around £8 and main courses £9.50-£13.50.

Business and meeting facilities The meeting rooms have appropriate names for Birmingham's industrial heritage, such as Lunar, Steam, X-Ray, Chocolate and so on. The meetings area is strikingly modern, with a back-lit alabaster reception and bar, and modern art by local artist Ros Willis. Wifi and broadband is free throughout the hotel, including all rooms and public areas.

Leisure facilities There is a small gym on the top floor with three treatment rooms. Oryou could go for a run round the rather complicated road system of central Birmingham. Staff can tailor-make a jogging map for you at short notice.

Verdict An excellent addition to the top end of hotels in Birmingham.

Price Internet rates for a midweek stay in April started at £129 for a standard room, rising to £154 for a business class room, and £219 for a one-bedroom suite. Rates include breakfast.

Contact Radisson SAS Hotel Birmingham, 2-18 Holloway Circus, Birmingham, tel 0121 633 4447,

Tom Otley

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