#SleepWellShopWell - Exploring Birmingham with Premier Inn

Isn't it odd how so most of travel all over the world but only ever visit one or two cities in our own home country? When I was younger we tended to holiday in the UK quite a lot and so I've been lucky enough to visit quite a few lovely places but now I'm older I think I appreciate exploring places that are closer to home more than ever.

I had just this opportuity a few weeks ago when I was lucky enough to be invited to spend some time in Birmingham by the gorgeous Megs from Wonderful You and Propellernet. Megs had recently put together a wonderful little guide on how to spend 24 hours in Birmingham and myself and some other lovely bloggers were treated to a wonderful dinner, an overnight stay courtesy of Premier Inn followed by a day of shopping and exploring all that Brum has to offer!

Now Birmingham isn't actually a new city to me, it's my Dad's home city and so I've spent quite a few weekends there with my family and I've made the trip to get tattooed there twice at Modern Body Art (there are a few excellent tattoo studios in Brum) but it was lovely to be able to stay over and enjoy a full evening and day there. I jumped on a train straight after work and arrived at the hotel which was in a brilliant central location on Waterloo Street which is in the business district so as you can imagine it's dotted with lots of wonderful restaurants and bars. There are actually four Premier Inns in central Birmingham and more on the outskirts which you can check out here, so you're pretty spoilt for choice! I checked in to my room after being greeted by the lovely Lauren and Louise from Propellernet and changed into something a little more snazzy for our evening out before meeting everyone in the bar. I have to admit I was nervous as I'd never met any of the other bloggers before, but I'm pleased to report that everyone was just lovely - I ended up spending most of my evening chatting away to Heidi and Hayley who were both real dolls!

We spent the evening in a stunning restaurant thanks to The Front Row Society called The Lost and Found which I kid you not was less than a minute's walk from the hotel - talk about convenient! It is in really beautiful building with soaring high ceilings and gorgeous mouldings all over the place. It looks to me like it may have been a bank when it was first built, but they've very cleverly turned it into a wonderful venue with a large bar area, an elevated secret garden like dining are where we sat, a more secluded library style section with lovely little tables for two and apparently there is even a secret second bar area behind a hidden door somewhere which I believe can also be used for private dining. I was really excited about trying The Lost and Found not only because the food looked fab but because they have a seriously impressive cocktail list which even included a bubbly based drink called the Midlands Princess, how apt! I didn't try this one as I'm not a big bubbly fan (I much prefer spirits) but Holly who was sat next to me did and she said it was fab. I unsurprisingly went for gin based cocktails including one that had liquorice bitters, something I'd not tried before but really enjoyed!

The food too definitely lived up to my expectations. To start I tried the Asian duck skewers which had been roasted to perfection in charcoal over and were served with a lovely citrus and sesame dressed salad of carrot and cucumbers ribbons that worked wonderfully with the right, roasty chunks of duck.

For my main course I decided on a steak with bearnaise sauce after reading about the meat used at the restaurant. I love a good rare steak and this was cooked perfectly for me. Although it wasn't the best steak I've had it was tender and flavourful and the addition of bone marrow butter was a great move adding even more silky richness. Alongside were served crisp and lovely chips and some beautifully booked flat mushrooms and creamy garlic spinach - delish!

To finish the meal I decided to go for it and try the fried ice cream solely because it sounded the most adventurous thing on the menu! I didn't know what to expect but it turned out to be a ball of vanilla bean ice cream that had been surrounded in a batter made with lots of cruched nuts and then deep fried before being set on a bed of caramelised banana slices. It was very lovely but I wish the batter had stayed warmer, although that would be a real battle with science and I think, asking a little too much!

I was full to bursting by the time we left and so decided to be a bore and snuggle up in bed rather than paint the town red, and snuggle up I did! I absolutely adore Premier Inn beds, I wish I had one at home. They're just so plush and lovely with fat duvets and a choice of pillows whether you like them firmer or squishier. As I was being a luxury bitch I had all four on the bed and kind of nested myself in and I have to say it was one of the best night's sleep I've had in a long time, although I did was up a few times feeling around for a husband to cuddle before remembering he was back home in Leicestershire.

I got up the next morning feeling lovely and refreshed and wandered down to the restaurant to join the other girls for breakfast. Despite staying in many a Premier Inn I'd actually never tried their breakfast buffet but can report that it was very nice. There was a wide selection of cereals and fruits as well as pastries, toast with jams and marmalades and a hot counter so you could grab yourself a full english if you so desired! There were juices on tap and a Costa coffee machine so you really had all you could want to set yourself up for a day's shopping. Here we were treated again to a gift card for the Bullring shopping centre along with a super handy map showing us where to find all the fab shops that Meg had mentioned in her blog post which believe me came in very useful!

After breakfast we all grabbed our bags and checked them in to the luggage storage at reception which is a real godsend - shopping with your luggage would be a nightmare! I headed to the Bullring with Heidi and Hayley before meeting my little sister and having a wander around. I picked up some fab gold and black leggings from Yours Clothing which you may spot in an outfit post very soon. We also hit Selfridges to drool over the beauty and food levels and I treated myself to the new Illamasqua Celestial Palette which I used in my last make up tutorial. We also headed out of the Bullring and had a wander through China Town which has been a favourite haunt since we were kids. We were craving a sugar fix by this time and so had a cake stop at Cafe Chinoise where we had these cartoon cute cakes! I'll definitely be heading back on my next trip to try some more of their treats.

We ended our shopping trip in the new Grand Central shopping complex attached to the train station, having dinner at Five Guys before jumping on a train back to Loughborough. I was pretty tired out when we got home after having so much fun and we didn't even do all of the things we had hoped to, which to me means we just have to make another trip to Birmingham soon to try out even more hotspots!

Huge thanks to Propellernet, Premier Inn and The Front Row Society for inviting me along to such a lovely event, I had an absolute blast and it was fantastic to meet some more local bloggers!

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*This post covers events that were kindly offered to me as complimentary, however all comments are honest and my own.
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