Great Western Arcade: A Hidden Gem in Birmingham

Take a look inside the Great Western Arcade in Birmingham – a hidden gem away from the main shopping centres of the city.

Find out about the Great Western Arcade - one of Birmingham's Hidden Gems

Big cities are great for shopping, but there are all sorts of hidden gems tucked away as well. Think of the Lanes in Brighton, or the Victorian arcades in Cardiff. These are the places where you can find a great place to eat, or an unusual Christmas present.

Although I grew up in Shropshire, my family come from Birmingham so the city has always played a big part in my life. We visited grandparents and other relatives regularly and later I studied at Birmingham University. Mark and I enjoy spending child-free shopping weekends there, often staying in one of the many hotels in Birmingham. It’s been incredible watching the transformation of the city over the last ten or so years.

The big shopping destinations in Birmingham tend to get all the attention. You may well have visited the Bull Ring,  the iconic Selfridges building and of course Grand Central. They are amazing to look at, and have helped to make the city unrecognisable from the one I remember from my childhood.

The beautiful Victorian stone masonry of the Great Western Arcade in Birmingham

But across the road from Snow Hill Station is a hidden gem that you might have overlooked. A beautiful Victorian shopping arcade which I think deserves more of the limelight. I still can’t believe that Mark and I only stumbled across it a few years ago!

The Great Western Arcade was built in 1877 to span a tunnel between Moor Street and Snow Hill Stations. It was originally designed in the style of the 1851 Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace, but was damaged in World War 2. As a result, the Colmore Row entrance was redesigned and the roof was replaced. However many of the Victorian design features survive, including the chiming clock and the original stone masonry around the Temple Row entrance.

As you might expect, this is not an arcade full of High Street chains. Yes, there are a couple of the big names that you might recognise, but there are also some fab little niche stores for you to discover.

There is a designer handbag shop, a few independent clothing shops, and an independent wine merchant . Whisky lovers can visit The Whisky Shop, which has a huge range of single malts including some rare bottlings. Hollingsworth Cigars not only sells cigars, but also some lovely shaving sets and other gifts.

Some of the shops inside the Great Western Arcade - one of Birmingham's Hidden Gems

If all of your shopping makes you hungry or thirsty, then there are some fab options in the Great Western Arcade. If you want to rest your feet then you could try the Victorian Restaurant or Bistro 1847. Sushi fans can eat at Sushi Passion, or try some Greek delicacies at Treat. You could pick up some delicious artisan bread at the aptly named ‘Bread’, and York’s Bakery Cafe is another option for really good coffee.

And tucked away is my favourite shop, the hidden gem within a hidden gem – Chouchoute chocolaterie.

Chouchoute Chocolaterie is one of Birmingham's Hidden GemsStep inside this little paradise, and you immediately breathe in the divine smell of really good chocolate. Chouchoute is run by Pierre Soualah, who trained at Fauchon in Paris and Selfridges in London. If you want a quick gift, there are boxes of chocolates and bottles of champagne displayed on the shelves. If you want to make up your own box, you can make your selection from glass cases full of beautiful truffles and pralines.

I adore the candied orange slices, crystallised ginger and kirsch-preserved cherries. All of these are coated in beautiful crisp, dark chocolate. It is dark enough to contrast with the sweet fruit, but not so dark that it tastes bitter. These are a special treat, one which I love to enjoy with an espresso in the afternoon. Mark buys me a box every Christmas, and they are a real luxury to be savoured slowly.

You can also enjoy Pierre’s delicious chocolates from the Chouchoute website.

So next time you are out shopping in Birmingham, take a trip off the beaten track. You might just find a little hidden gem as well.

 

39 thoughts on “Great Western Arcade: A Hidden Gem in Birmingham

  1. Helen says:

    I love Great Western Arcade! I haven’t been to the chocolate shop, I really must.
    My favourite spots there are Loki wine, Sushi Passion and 1847.

  2. Charlie says:

    Awww i was born in Birmingham and lived there until I was 10. I’ve never been back except for changes at Birmingham new Street, I’d love to visit sometime, this place looks like a gem!

  3. Codie says:

    Chocolate, wine and whisky?! Heaven! Love the idea of the More Than Vintage shop too – vintage clothes and helping charity! I would never have even thought to visit there for shopping but I’ll have to now! x

  4. Mimi says:

    Aww this little place looks lovely. Definitely an all day sort of thing. I love that they have a little whiskey shop there and the vintage shop that supports the homeless. What a beautiful little arcade :) I love hidden gems!

  5. The London Mum says:

    Its been ages since I visited Birmingham. But that chocolate shop looks amazing so I may have to revisit soon! ;)

  6. whatlauraloves says:

    I often visit birmingham as my friend lives there so I’ll definitely check this out when I’m next tehre. We often stay at travelodge when we go! xxx

    • Sally Akins says:

      It’s an amazing city for shopping now – lots of great shopping malls, big department stores and then little independent store likes these x

  7. Zena's Suitcase says:

    I think Birmingham is a great city to visit. I’m hoping that my son goes to Uni there so I can visit more. I’ll make a point of popping into this arcade.

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