The Midlands is the name usually given to the broad central region of England, between the Welsh border and the East Coast, stretching from the Cotswolds in the south to Derbyshire and the Peak District in the north. Once visitors leave London to explore the rest of England, almost all the attractions on their lists are in the Midlands. Luckily, England is a small country and it is possible to use Birmingham, a hub on the British railway network, as a base for venturing further into this region of cities and countryside, castles, historic towns and national parks.
Britannia Hotel Birmingham
The Britannia Hotel is a large, traditional English railway hotel. It's five minutes from Birmingham New Street mainline rail station, one of the busiest stations in the U.K. It's a convenient base for exploring the center of Britain's second largest city as well as for touring throughout the region. The hotel's meeting facilities, for up to 200 attendees, also make it a good venue for medium-sized regional gatherings. The Britannia has 214 rooms in a variety of configurations, including several that are suitable for families or groups of friends.
The Arden Hotel Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon, a short train journey from Birmingham, is Shakespeare's birthplace and the home of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Unfortunately, train services often end too early for playgoers to return to their base. A short break in Stratford-upon-Avon opens up the possibility of further explorations to nearby Warwick Castle. In July 2010, the Arden Hotel, a Georgian building across the street from the Shakespeare theater, reopened as a luxury boutique hotel and restaurant. Part-owned by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the hotel has 45 individually decorated rooms and suites, a brasserie, a champagne bar and a private bar for guests and members.
Hambleton Hall -- Country House
Some of England's best country house hotels are scattered in the Midlands. Built originally as grand country estates for the wealthy industrialists of Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby and Stoke-on-Trent, many have become elegant country retreats. Hambleton Hall, about an hour and a half from Birmingham by car, was built in 1881 as a hunting "box" for fox-hunting enthusiast and brewer Walter Marshall. In the 20th century, Noel Coward was a frequent guest. Today, Hambleton is a member of Relais & Chateaux and holder of the Automobile Association (AA) Hospitality Award for 2010-2011. The house overlooks Rutland Water, the largest man-made body of water in western Europe, and a variety of water sports are available to guests.
Peacock at Rowsley
An hour and a half north of Birmingham, The Peacock at Rowsley is set in the Peak District National Park and a completely different, wild and natural Midlands landscape. This 16-room designer boutique is a characterful sandstone country house with gables and mullioned windows. Rooms have been individually decorated with luxury textiles and antique furnishings. One of the feature rooms has an antique bed from nearby Belvoir Castle. The hotel is of particular interest to fishermen because of the seven miles of stocked rainbow and brown trout fishing on the River Wye and the Derwent. Guests have free golf privileges at Bakewell Golf Club and discount admission to Haddon Hall and Chatsworth, two of the Midlands' most famous stately homes.
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