When it became apparent a bit of pre-Christmas R and R was required we hot-footed it to the tranquil surroundings of the Hyatt for 24 hours of child-free relaxation – that was the idea anyway.
A day of deadlines meant we said hello to the weekend later than we’d planned. Better late than never couldn’t have been more apt. We were greeted warmly by David at concierge who was a joy and let us park our car right outside. (He also revealed himself to be a man of impeccable taste as a fan of this very magazine.) It goes without saying that we have a lot of love for Birmingham, but from our 19th floor suite the city looked more incredible than ever. The view inside wasn’t bad either. The suite was enormous with a large working area, decent dressing table and mirror, a hugely comfortable bed, fantastic bath and a nicely chilled bottle of champagne. A great start to the weekend, we relaxed immediately.
Access to the Regency Club lounge on the 22nd floor was a bonus with complimentary nibbles and drinks and even more awesome views. There was a real mix of people. Couples like us having a pre-dinner natter and other guests having a chilled evening eating from the buffet-style table. Downstairs in the Aria restaurant the vibe was more formal, but not stuffy. The atrium and the constant trickle of the water feature gave it a bit of a holiday atmosphere. We put it down to the fizz, but we felt a million miles from home! The menu at Aria was to the point – in a good way – much more confident than a rambling, confused tome. I enjoyed a very pretty and refreshing starter of beetroot and horseradish cannelloni with pickled beetroot and dill puree. This proved a hit on social media – it really was gorgeous and tasted just as good as it looked. The Other Half (OH) ordered a chicken Caesar salad. It was less dainty than the beetroot dish, but tasted great with loads of garlic and punchy Parmesan. It was a Friday evening so as you’d expect the restaurant was pretty busy and had a pleasing hum about it. There was a toddler running around which was mildly annoying at 9pm, but we were able to ignore it largely. Norfolk chicken supreme a la bonne femme was seriously good with a big hit of garlic, caramelised pearl onions, crisp roasted new potatoes and parsnips. I loved it. OH went for an onglet steak with parmentier potatoes, celeriac cream and rosemary jus. The accompaniments were delicious, but while the steak was flavoursome it was a bit tougher than he’d have liked. Accepting that it was the sort of cut that sacrificed a bit of tenderness for flavour, there was nothing to moan about. The desserts all sounded scrumptious and once we’d found out what the heck it was we plumped for a Schwarzwaelder with chocolate mousse, cherry sorbet and cream. It was a delicate Black Forest gateaux-style pud packed with rich kirsch flavours that looked beautiful and tasted seriously good.
Beyond dinner we got slightly carried away and thought we’d have a nightcap in the hotel bar, the Gentleman and Scholar. The atmosphere was infectious and it was a bit of a who’s who of Brum. Media types, high-flying dentists, fashionistas, jewellers – a stylish and eclectic bunch that made for a fun hour or two. Hardly a swift nightcap, we headed up to our room after midnight feeling a bit squiffy, but very happy. We opted for a relaxed continental breakfast in the Regency Club lounge. The full English was available in the restaurant had we wanted it. The lounge was perfect – good coffee, a buffet-style help yourself arrangement, all the papers, lots of space between tables and comfy seats. In summary, we didn’t feel super-rejuvenated after our visit, however we did leave the hotel relaxed and content. We’d had a cracking time, eaten some brilliant food, consumed some great wine and met some interesting people. What more could you want…