April 3rd, 2007

Feast

Hôtel du Vin and Bistro

Location: Church and Edmund, central Birmingham. B3 2NR. UK.

The Hôtel du Vin and Bistro is a quirky and lovely concept for what is currently a very small chain of hotels dotted around England, each in a converted historic building. The Birmingham outlet is in a converted Victorian eye hospital. The rooms aren't numbered: instead, each is sponsored by an alcohol purveyor. The Birmingham branch is the largest of the chain, with 66 rooms named disproportionately after champagne makers. This is not unrelated to the presence of the Bubble Lounge, a bar dedicated to champagne, with over fifty variants available for quaffing. As a hotel to stay in, it has much to recommend it; as a place to eat breakfast, it has even more.

Breakfast is served in the bistro, a luncherie and dinner venue dressed up to match its Francophone theme. Vines twine up the mottled yellowed ochre walls and empty wine bottles swarm the windowsills. The ceilings are high, the tables wooden, and the chairs tastefully modern. A large round table is laden with the bulk of the continental breakfast offerings, from yogurts to appealing granola to pastries to fruits, fresh and compoted. Another table offers juices, with selection of jams on a sideboard.

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Service was friendly, the atmosphere relaxed, and the food ranged from decent to superb. I don't know if they serve the public, other than hotel guests, for breakfast. But the hotel's not so bad to stay in either.