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25 Mar 2019
THE GRAND HOTEL REVEALS REOPENING DATE
After 18 years of toil to resurrect one of Birmingham's most treasured buildings, The Grand Hotel is finally preparing to open its doors to the public.
The builders have almost gone and the grand rooms inside this magnificent piece of architecture will wow any visitor.
The hotel is officially opening on Wednesday November 4.
Closed since 2002 after falling into disrepair, BirminghamLive was the first to get a sneak peek of the newly restored 141-year-old Colmore Row landmark.
Builders were still putting the finishing touches to the spectacular interior during our visit this week.
As work was still being carried out, official photos will not be released until opening day.
Home to 185 spacious rooms and suites, the £45 million hotel has retained the building's mix of French Renaissance, Victorian and Art Deco features, while incorporating all the modern design touches you would expect from a high end hotel.
Hortons Estate owned it before partnering with Starwood and passing it on to the company to run. In 2016 it revealed the vision was to create a premier five star hotel - something that has been woefully lacking in Birmingham.
Simon Willis, brand director at The Grand for operators Starwood Capital Group, told BirminghamLive the hotel will "straddle four and five stars", adding: "We are trying to convey 'modern luxury'.
"Nowhere else in Birmingham has got the scale, the grandeur, the heritage and the money spent on it. No expense has been spared."
There are strikingly beautiful modern artwork adorning the hallways around the building. The hotel rooms and suites we were shown appeared entirely modern.
Mr Willis added:"The idea was not to make The Grand a museum. It combines the best of the old with all the convenience and comfort of the new."
One of the big changes is the new 'secret' garden terrace in the central courtyard.
But the building still pays tribute to its rich history. Original character features throughout the communal areas have been restored, including mosaic tiled floors, high ceilings with the same original designs retouched.
Many of the original features from when The Grand first opened in 1879, had been covered up by subsequent owners as they were considered unfashionable, so it has made the refurbishment a long and arduous project.
A spokeswoman told us 45,000 hours have been spent working on the hotel restoration.
The centrepiece of the renovation is the resplendent grand staircase and ornate Art Deco Grosvenor Ballroom, featuring the fabulous chandeliers dating from the early 1900s.
Another highlight is the Madeleine Bar, accessible from the main Church Street entrance. It will open to non hotel guests as part of the soft launch. Housed where the old Grand restaurant stood, we had a sneak peek inside and were bowled over by the ambitious Mayfair-esqe design.
Mr Willis said: "Madeleine is inspired by Paris. Its primary function is to be a gorgeous cocktail bar as you would find in grand hotels around the world."
A spokeswoman for The Grand added: "As part of the soft opening, Madeleine cocktail bar will be open to members of the public and hotel guests alike; tables will need to be booked in advance, and we will have a fabulous menu of signature and classic cocktails; Champagnes, wines and spirits.
"During the early part of 2021 - assuming government guidelines do not change, and that business starts to return to the city centre - we will open other elements of the hotel, including a stand-alone, independent restaurant situated on Barwick Street."
At the top of the hotel, we stepped inside one of the hotel's Grand suites - which includes a balcony overlooking the cathedral.
Despite the luxury £45 million hotel opening amid the global Covid pandemic, and now contending with the latest lockdown restrictions, its owners believe the future is bright - with hopes of more sociable times to come.
"The city and the world will come through the other side of Covid and there will be massive demand when the pandemic is over," said Mr Willis.
"The 1920s brought a decade of economic growth and prosperity, which came after recovering from the devastation of the First World War and the Spanish flu.
"After Covid we will have the 2020s!"
Mr Willis added: "There will be a huge appetite for this hotel. Our job is to open the hotel now and celebrate everything that is wonderful about it while keeping everyone safe and being mindful that travel will take time to get where it used to be.
"The commercial reality is that at the moment Birmingham is not getting anything like the business travel that it was. This means in the week we won't be as full as we would like to be.
"And social distancing means our event space and ballroom cannot be used to its full potential."
But the hotel will eventually cash in on major developments, including HS2 and the 2022 Commonwealth Games, when Birmingham will be hosting an influx of international visitors.
The history behind The Grand Hotel
The building, designed in French renaissance style closed in 2002 but in 2012 planning permission was granted for plans to restore the building into a luxury hotel.
The hotel was built in 1879 and has a rich history – not least being the place that Malcolm X gave his last speech in England.
In its heyday it hosted the creme de la creme of society from the UK and all over the world.
Other famous figures who have stayed here include Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin
and the Rolling Stones.
How much will it cost to stay at The Grand Hotel?
Mr Willis said: "All the 185 are generously sized and characterful. There are no single rooms.
"The hotel offers suites with a view - overlooking pigeon park, Church Street, the city skyline or overlooking our secret garden terrace."
For the soft opening in November, it will have a special rate from £129 for Grand Double rooms.
The suites on the sixth floor will be from £449.
In both instances, the rate is room only, inclusive of VAT.
Hotel guests will be served breakfast and dinner in the salon - at the back of Madeleine.