Review: Hilton Birmingham Metropole
“Relax and let the dedicated Events and Operations Team Members exceed your expectations with unparalleled service and excellence…”
Nothing in over a decade of running large scale events could have prepared me for being involved with a dinner for 750 people at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, one of the largest banqueting spaces in the UK’s ‘second city’, which has capacity for up to 2,000 guests in its events facility. The statement above from the website isn’t one I would recommend following: relaxing wasn’t top of the list while working a major event here.
That wasn’t the only online promise it failed to meet. The website includes the following bullet points on its list of highlights:
- Adjacent to the National Exhibition Centre (a 24 minute walk or £8 taxi ride)
- Proximity to city centre, shopping and local attractions (30 minute drive)
Undeniably one of the largest hotels in the Midlands, with 790 guest rooms, the venue claims to host over 1,700 events per year, in 33 banqueting and meeting rooms for up to 2,000 delegates.
The event I was working on began with a drinks reception in one half of the enormous Palace Suite (the other half was used as a makeshift cloakroom for 700+ coats), before guests walked what seemed like a quarter of a mile through various corridors to the vast Monarch Suite for dinner. The venue was noticeably tired, with scraps of torn fabric hanging from dado rails and furniture ramps scattering the long walk to dinner. Staff were noisy, slapdash and inattentive, closing down the drinks reception before all guests had arrived and behaving impatiently towards delegates who asked for a drink towards the end of the drinks reception.
So what about the food? As I have written before, a lot of hard work, passion and innovation has been applied across the Hilton Group in resurrecting a lacklustre reputation for banqueting. The Birmingham Metropole did the opposite: tasteless goats’ cheese mousse to begin, bland, unseasoned beef for main (with broccoli and TURNED carrots) and an inedible orange tart to finish. While there was nothing awful about the food, there was nothing to recommend it either. The last time I had banqueting this boring was at a Hilton in 2005. The house wine was so revolting that after four hours, dozens of bottles were left unopened across the room.
The event received zero care or attention from the venue staff and delegates were left with the overall impression they were pleased not to be staying there. Whether this was standard performance for the hotel or an ‘off-day’, the Metropole should really learn that providing this level of service to 750 guests has a negative ripple effect. I would be amazed if anyone who attended the dinner would ever recommend this venue to friends or family for a wedding, conference or dinner.
Food & drink: 4/10
Combined score: 30/60 = 50%
Last visited: February 2018