Vegas-ification of the UK leisure industry has hit Birmingham in the last few months in the form of Resorts World. Spend spend spend say the neon lights – shop, eat, drink, gamble, catch a flick, all in the comfort of a single building. Resorts World has been thrown up to look over the lake at the NEC, I’m not sure whether it’s supposed to be a destination for conference goers who could arrive by foot but getting there by public transport is a bit of a pain (train to airport then a walk from there). I’ve made three trips now, eaten in two venues, drunk in three, watched a film, and bought items from a couple of the outlet shops. I’ve done that because it’s been convenient when I’ve needed to be at the airport (drop off, pick up) and when I needed to buy gifts from Clagau (pronounced “clog-i”, it’s a Welsh gold brand).
Walking over one January evening from the airport was a little intimidating as groups of youths have obviously decided this is a place to be now instead of Stab City. They were congregating and climbing over the lit up NEC letters on the roundabout. Arriving by car isn’t much better, the parking is ridiculous. It reminded me of an Escher painting, all pillars and lanes narrowing to infinity. I have to wonder whether the design software had a fault – cars shouldn’t have to swerve chicanes to get out. It is quite cheap to park and if you do need to go and restock the wardrobe then you will find some bargains in the outlet shops of e.g. Next, Pringle, Gap and North Face. If you want to arrive by Taxi do check their taxi policy and choose a partner company or you may end up being turfed out at the “secondary drop off point” and made to walk through the wind and rain in your Gucci loafers and Louboutin heels to the bars and restaurants (as has happened to some friends).
One Sunday evening we went to try out the Skybar as the other half had a flight early on the Monday. It was shut. We had a drink in the Highline, a New York “inspired” bar, and then ate a slow and average meal at TGI Friday’s. We had considered eating in World Bar but after spending quite a while waiting for drinks while the teenage staff were busy chatting to each other, generally messing about, and going out for a smoke, we decided against it. We’ve been back for drinks there since and it was no better.
The following Friday, on the evening I was picking up the other half from Birmingham airport, I thought I’d catch a film, so I went along to see The Danish Girl in one of the small screens. It was a reasonably nice cinema to attend. After the cinema I went back to the Highline for a quick bite to eat. It was quite busy. I was a bit put out that the bouncer (Bouncer! At about 7.30pm in a restaurant!) did the full toe-to-head review of my dress before looking me in the eye and saying someone would be with me shortly – I’d come straight from work and though it was dress down Friday I wasn’t scruffy. It took about forty-five minutes to be seated, have my order taken, be provided with food, and then the bill. I’m not sure if they didn’t want a solo diner, or whether they were very efficient and unaware that they were completely rushing me. I ordered the Reuben sandwich and truffle fries. The sad looking square of ciabatta (not Rye bread) with flavourless pastrami and rocket (Rocket! On a Reuben!) was a disappointment. I was given normal fries, not the truffle fries because “it came with it and I didn’t want to charge you extra”. Erm, but I asked for the more expensive ones. Not sure how the bar is New York inspired either, other than they’ve stuck up some wallpaper with the Statue of Liberty on it. It does look nice, I just don’t understand how it’s very NYC.
The fact I think it’s more Last Resort World than Resorts World doesn’t mean I won’t be back. It’s convenient for where I work, and for the airport runs, and sometimes I want the lowest possible common denominator place to pick up a cheap jumper and get a burger.
I haven’t mentioned what must be the anchor restaurant there – Waters – by well known midland Chef Andy Waters. We will travel there for dinner and review it separately, I’ve every expectation that his restaurant will be worth the trip in itself.