Birmingham's Box of Tricks
It's that time of the year again, when we love nothing more than a trip to the Birmingham Mailbox. This unique little place sits on the canal-side and offers a whole host of high-end retail stores, plus fantastic cafes, restaurants and bars. Fashionwise, there's Harvey Nicols, Emporio Armani, All Saints, Hugo Boss and Jaeger, and for those of you who are a little less minted, there's also a fat-face. These stores mean the Mail Box is the ultimate shopping destination in Birmingham, although it's almost a "best kept secret", being tucked just out of town and away from the mighty Bullring. The Mailbox also boasts an array of fabulous home and lifestyle stores including H20, the Aga Shop and Descamps - a French store selling gorgeous linen towells, and the kind of bedsheets that you'd want to keep clean. For art lovers, there's a castle galleries, and you'll find some stunning pieces in Fired Earth. Personally, my budget only allows me to buy in the BBC Shop and Tesco Express - but it's still nice to look. Whilst the Mailbox may appear small, it's a shopper's Tardis, managing to cram in some of the best here, from a Nicky Clarke Salon, a Malmaison (including a spa!), a Tony & Guy Essentials and then there's the Ramada hotel. OK, so my wallet doesn't always stretch to these luxurious stores, however the Mailbox is a great destination for when you want to treat yourself. The staff are friendly and helpful and it's a pleasure to just browse. I personally love it here because of the bars and restaurants. In the summer, it's the perfect place to sit and watch the world (and canal boats) go by. There's a huge range of eateries to suit everybody's budget, including a Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Nando's and Pizza Express through to Bar Epernay which offers a great range of Champagnes and the Showgun Japanese restaurant. If you fancy Strada or Cafe Rouge be sure to book through lastminute.com to get the best prices. Oh, and if you're really on a tight budget, you can always just meander along the canal with a coffee - there's a few really good coffee bars too. So, next time the sun shines and you want somewhere to chill, consider Birmingham's little luxurious haven, the Mailbox. Image courtesy of Lens Blur's photostream.