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. 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. I enjoy spending 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. 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 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. 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. Step 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. You can also enjoy Pierre’s delicious chocolates from the Chouchoute website.
39 thoughts on “Great Western Arcade: A Hidden Gem in Birmingham”
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.
It’s a lovely arcade, isn’t it? I love it when it’s all decorated for Christmas as well, it looks so pretty! Thanks for commenting Helen
Ooh I’ve never heard of this before! I haven’t explored much of England outside of London though I really need to as places like this look great!
There’s so much to see that it’s hard to know where to start, isn’t it?
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!
Oh you should go there for a visit – it’s changed so much over the last 10 years or so
I only live about 30 mins drive from Birmingham and I don’t think I’ve ever been here, I’ll have to look it up next time I visit as it looks lovely.
I still can’t believe that I’ve been visiting Birmingham for so long and we only found it a few years ago!
Thatchocolate shop sounds divine! Probably a good thing I’m not local. I doubt I’d ever leave!
It’s really gorgeous, it’s probably a good thing I don’t live any closer!
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
Seriously, between those three shops I can spend a fair amount of time and money ;-)
I always sneak off the beaten track to find the shops where the locals shop, they are always so much better!
I agree, little independent shops always seem to have things that you can’t find in the big chains
I really like Birmingham. I’ll have to check this area when I next visit Cadburys World.
Ooh yes, you should! I haven’t been to Cadbury World in absolutely ages!!
I totally love your blog Sally, you took beautiful photos! Birmingham looks like a beautiful place to discover :D
Thank you Diana :-) I really love Birmingham – it comes in for a bit of stick, but I think it’s a lovely city x
I love shopping arcades like this – there are some gorgeous ones in Cardiff too. Kaz x
I love the arcades in Cardiff, I have spent hours mooching around in them in the past!
The shopping mall looks great. May be visiting Birmingham soon so this is so timely.
Hope you have a good trip, Stella – it’s a fab city :-)
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!
It’s a fab little arcade, I can definitely spend hours looking around the shops in there
Its been ages since I visited Birmingham. But that chocolate shop looks amazing so I may have to revisit soon! ;)
You should definitely pop over for a visit – it’s a fab place!
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
Ooh, let me know what you think if you do go!
This looks like a lovely little place to shop; I love unique places like this. And that chocolate shops sounds amazing! x
Chouchoute is amazing – I absolutely love it!
Great article and now I read this, I have to plan a small vacation. I love that arch. beautiful pictures though. Great job Sally.
Thanks Marc! The archway is stunning, and it’s surrounded by modern buildings so really stands out
Ive never been shopping in Birmingham but the western arcade looks amazing x
It’s an amazing city for shopping now – lots of great shopping malls, big department stores and then little independent store likes these x
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.
It is a fab city, I hope your son gets to go to Uni there :-)
I can’t wait to visit Birmingham now!
I love it – I hope you do enjoy it if you visit :-)
Sounds amazing! What’s not to like!