For months I have been impatiently anticipating the grand opening of Birmingham’s latest Primark. It promised us many things that made it stand out from all the rest, from a Disney themed café, to a design your t-shirt studio and even more! All this under the roof of what will be the world’s BIGGEST Primark.
Shaniah and I have quite an extensive obsession for all things Disney, and we would happily travel the ends of the earth to experience them if we could. I also love to spend unnecessary amounts of time (and money) in Primark, so combining the two was rather exciting for me. I mean sure, our local Primark have Disney themed products on stock but nothing to the magnitude that Birmingham’s new one has promised.
Birmingham isn’t exactly too far from where we live, but we are always up for mini getaways. One thing that Ryan and myself said we wanted to do at the beginning of the year was to say yes to more impromptu getaways, even if they are only a couple of nights here and there. Its a change of scenery and that is always good.
After looking at local hotels in Birmingham, I decided to book Novotel. We have stayed in Novotel previously, and it was rather close to the Bullring which is another place we wanted to visit.
We love staying in Novotel hotels ran by AccorHotels. Towards the end of last year, we stayed in one in Milton Keynes, and it was so lovely. The staff are very friendly towards the children, and it makes the whole family getaway stress-free. You don’t want to stay somewhere where you feel you’re a burden for bringing your children.
Novotel gives each child a little gift upon arrival, and this time Shaniah received a unicorn plush keyring, a stackable crayon (which brought back loads of memories!) and an activity roll.
Many Novotel hotels also have a ‘kids corner’ filled with activities for children of all ages. Shaniah loved the interactive kids’ table which has a wide range of games on the built-in screen. Ryan was rather impressed with the Xbox that was in the corner of the room.
This stay wasn’t as majestic as the one in Milton Keynes. The decor was a little outdated, and despite it being a Friday (and extremely busy) the restaurant didn’t appear to be open, it didn’t bother us too much as we grabbed a KFC from Just Eat. However, we were looking forward to having something a little more ‘special’.
We were also charged £18 on top of the room price just for parking our car in the car park overnight, which if we were staying longer than one night would have ended up costing us a fair bit on top of a not so cheap room.
The room in itself was lovely, it was pretty basic, but we did choose the standard room, so I wasn’t overly troubled by that.
The worlds biggest Primark.
I won’t lie, we did get a little lost driving to the Bullring, that was all down to Ryan choosing to ignore what the sat-nav was saying and as a result, driving through the train station car park.
Eventually, we made it to the Bullring only to then get stuck inside it. We did exchange some strong words between us as we tried to figure out the map. An hour later we made it to the brand new Primark.
We arrived inside at just gone ten, and honestly, I believe that that was the best time to visit, sure it was busy, but it wasn’t the busy where you can’t move without bumping into someone. Once you walk inside it is somewhat overwhelming. It’s elegant and spacious but my word there is a lot crammed into five floors.
There was everything from three food venues, a beauty studio where you can get your nails, makeup, hair, eyebrows and lashes done. There was also a designated area for Harry Potter fans as well as a large section full of everything Disney.
As this Primark spanned over five floors, the aisles were superbly spacious, while we were queueing for the Disney cafe (I will get on to this later) I did see a father push a triple pushchair around the clothing aisles with ease. Which of course will have made their shopping experience a hell of a lot easier.
We had a long look around, Shaniah filled the basket with loads of random bits that she so clearly required, and I found the Cogsworth clock that I have been looking for, for ever such a long time.
We did try to check out the custom lab, where you can design your very own t-shirt, but, by the time we got there the queue was about 30 people long, so we decided to skip that and head on up to the Disney themed cafe.
The Disney themed Cafe.
The Disney themed cafe was one of the reasons why we decided to travel down to Birmingham, and as much as it pains me to say it, we were a little disappointed. We queued for around an hour, which we wouldn’t have done but Shaniah wanted to eat lunch there, so we remained. The architects have thought of every little detail. To walk into the cafe, you have to walk through Mickey Mouse’s ears which is super cool; there are interactive tables where you can play Disney themed games while eating your way through a Mickey shaped waffle, and the majority of the staff are super happy walking around wearing their
One of the things that baffled me was the lack of food available for grown-ups, quite a few adults (Ryan included) ended up ordering the children’s menu. As for the cost, I found it remarkably affordable with one main and side costing £5 and the option to add a smoothie with it for a further £1.
Hot drinks cost around the £2.50 mark.
I went for the Mickey shaped pancakes with fresh fruit for £2.50, and both Ryan and Shaniah went for the Chicken bites with potato wedges, Shaniah followed it up with a fresh fruit skewer in the shape of Mickey mouse, obviously! While I loved mine and couldn’t fault it one bit, both Shaniah and Ryan were less than impressed with their choice. They had two chicken nuggets each, which looked rather pale and according to Ryan, tasted as though they had been placed in the microwave and reheated. I put this down to the fact that they were rushed off their feet and struggling to cope with the high demand. However, it was undoubtedly a bit of a blow when our expectations were so high.
Moving on to the Primark store itself. Unquestionably this Primark is the worlds biggest. Built in Birmingham which is, of course, a city. City’s are busy no matter what time of day, there is very rarely a quiet store. This Primark is also built right next to the train station which is a wise thing to do and of course the best place to build it. However, if there is anything I have learnt from my many trips to Primark is that even the smallest of stores get busy quick. I don’t think that I have ever been to a Primark where I haven’t had to queue to pay at the end. With this being the world biggest and located in a place where it is easy for people all over the country to come to by train, there was no doubt that this was going to get busy, very busy. When it came to paying, and the queues were half way around each floor, it begs the question, why didn’t they put in more tills? It’s not like this problem hasn’t appeared before.
Toilets. Oh, the lack of toilets. Considering the mass amount of customers that were expected to come through the door and the fact that there are three food courts, five restrooms for women on each floor is less than adequate, the queues coming out of the door proved that.
What are my overall opinions? Well, all in all, I believe that this Primark has excellent potential. I mean it is filled to the brim with exciting features and things to do. There is so much stuff there to keep you there for longer such as, seating areas where you can charge your phone and of course the cafes which are also roomy and perfect for catching up with your friends before or after a busy day shopping.
It just didn’t give me that wow feeling that I thought it would. I envisioned that I would be urging Ryan to take me there regularly, but after walking out, I didn’t feel the need to go back. Besides the pancakes, the cafe didn’t draw me in, and I am not overly bothered about being unable to design my t-shirt as there are multiple places online that do the same thing. I’m just not sure, but I feel that I will be more than happy sticking to my local Primark.
I’m feeling bummed out slightly by the whole thing, but maybe, if I go back when the fad of a new shop has worn off, I may fall in love with it? Who knows.