Head south from Birmingham city centre and you’ll soon meet Moseley, where some of the city’s finest eating and drinking establishments can be found. Here’s a handy guide to making the most of your visit.
Moseley has long been a place of creative expression and pleasant living. Located less than a ten-minute drive from Birmingham’s New Street Station (when traffic allows), the atmosphere of this area is a complete remove from the bustling heart of England’s second biggest city. With Moseley Village’s Victorian charm – ranged around St Mary’s Church (parts of which date back to 1405) – at its core, and the large parks and museums scattered around the wider area, this part of Birmingham is fully deserving of a proper, thorough, exploration.
People flock to Moseley for its world class dining and lively nightlife and there are at least 11 pubs and bars in Moseley Village alone. Along with neighbouring Edgbaston and Kings Heath, plus the trendy up-and-coming neighbourhood of Stirchley (which has three excellent brewery taprooms), Moseley is one of the prettiest, and most creative urban areas in central England.
First though, you must break through the dreary swathe of factories, warehouses and commercial trade parks that ring the south side of Birmingham’s city centre. Do that and you’ll soon reach the pleasant, green neighbourhoods that make up Moseley. The Village hosts the exceptional Moseley Farmers’ Market on the last Saturday of every month (with the exception of December, when it’s held on the Sat before Christmas). Here you’ll find all manner of artisanal and high-quality food products, fresh produce, and locally-produced art, handicrafts and photography.
Things to Do
Moseley Village is largely a dining and nightlife hub, but the main sights, such as a handful of excellent parks, lie in the neighbourhoods around it. Leading the pack is Canon Hill Park, with its fairground, mini golf course, war memorial and tea rooms. The park is a combination of open grass and deciduous woodland, interlaced with lakes and ponds that are home to a staggering number of plump wildfowl, whose populations are buoyed due mainly to over-feeding by locals.
For animal encounters of a different order, Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park (Pershore Rd), on the edge of Cannon Hill, does a fine job at the uphill task of preserving the world’s endangered species, such as red pandas. While mostly fenced off from the rest of Canon Hill Park, you might get the occasional glimpse of an emu or wallaby from outside this council-run site.
The pinnacle of Canon Hill Park’s entertainment activities is the Midlands Art Centre (aka the MAC), where exhibitions, theatre and dance performances, a cinema, and a multitude of creative and wellbeing courses are run throughout the year. The film screenings lean more towards independent and arthouse cinema. There’s also a great program of events here for families and children of all ages.
Middle England of Middle Earth?
Moseley has known a number of notable residents through the years, but perhaps none was more resounding in their contribution to world literature than JRR Tolkien. Much of The Lord of the Rings, and indeed the greater Middle Earth pantheon, was written elsewhere, but the Moseley area had a profound impact on a young Tolkien’s imagination; He spent much of his youth exploring the woodlands and areas around one of his childhood homes near Sarehole Mill Museum (Cole Bank Rd), just to the east of Moseley. The 18th-century mill, which still works, is now a museum with Tolkien exhibits.
Another site close to Sarehole where Tolkien would have spent a lot of time was Moseley Bog. Even today, with its elevated wooden walkways, this wild space inflames the imagination. The forest sits in a mire-speckled land, one of the few in the area not to be completely drained and built upon. Visiting an hour after sunrise or before sunset is especially magical, as the sylvan creatures are especially lively and the light gives the trees a spectral quality.
Among the many other notable mentions for this category are Edgbaston Stadium (Edgbaston Rd), the home of Warwickshire Country Cricket Club and host to some of the world’s top Test Cricket matches. Highbury Park, near King’s Heath, is another lovely green space that is particularly enjoyable to explore.
Where to Stay
There are no hotels in Moseley, largely because Birmingham city centre is a ten-minute drive away. Within the city centre, Staying Cool at the Rotunda (Rotunda, 150 New Street) is a real highlight of a hotel, situated on the upper floors of the distinctive round Rotunda building at the heart of the city, with southerly views from many of the rooms towards Moseley. These rooms are like mini apartments with their own fully kitted out kitchen, which even comes with a juicer.
For a more budget-conscious hotel stay in the city centre, which is a few minutes from the #50 bus link to Moseley, try the ibis Birmingham New Street (Arcadian Centre, 21 Ladywell Walk). Rooms are simple and cosy with a work desk and private bathroom. The large lobby area is a creative space with a charcoal, white and red colour scheme, along with a bar and restaurant area, ideal for meeting fellow travellers or stopping for a nightcap on your way to bed.
Eat & Drink
It’s rare to find a neighbourhood anywhere in the world where every single pub and eatery is of the highest quality. But somehow, Moseley does it, all while keeping things independent; chains have never done well in Moseley, a real point of pride among locals. Renowned for its nightlife, the high street in Moseley Village is transformed most weekends by revellers flocking to the best collection of pubs and bars anywhere in the Midlands.
Two of Moseley’s restaurants make it into the Michelin Guide, with Carters of Moseley (2c St Mary’s Row, Wake Green Rd) even earning a much-vaunted Michelin Star. Menus, both seasonal and local, never rest. Chef Brad Carter is constantly adapting and evolving the dishes, so that from one day to the next the tasting menu will likely be different. There’s also an exceptional vegetarian menu, which is a real treat at a top restaurant such as this.
Every pub in Moseley deserves to be on this list. Each one occupies a historic building with lofty ceilings and an endearingly quirky interior, complete with period touches such as wooden wainscoting, tiled walls and a bar serving a good range of beers. And, although increasingly rare in Britain these days, most are independent. Among them, The Prince of Wales (118 Alcester Rd) has all of those features, plus leather-couch-lined side rooms for a cosier ambience. Out back there is a heated marquee and tiki bar.
Sorrento Lounge (91a Alcester Rd) stands out with its innovative design, which is underpinned by an Art Deco sensibility, but which also has shades of modern boho chic, overlooked by oil portrait paintings and clusters of frill-lined lampshades. The cocktails are highly recommended, and there’s an extensive menu offering options as eclectic as the decor, including tapas, burgers, a sweet potato and lentil curry and plenty of vegan dishes.
If you’re just looking for a quick bite, then grab a slice at Peacer (4 Woodbridge Rd), where the pizza is on a whole other level. These large slices are all vegetarian or vegan, creative and boast an intriguing interplay of flavours. The pizzas are named primarily by the sensation you get while eating them. The Tangy is a mozzarella and blue cheese pizza at its core, until the crispy onions and buffalo sauce are added. Excellent craft beers and wine are available here, too, if you’d prefer to dine in.
Moseley’s other Michelin guide entry is Chakana (140 Alcester Rd), a Peruvian restaurant that has even won over many of the top national food critics. Peruvian cuisine does not feel like it’s incongruous in Moseley. After all, the rather diminutive high street somehow packs in restaurants specialising in the cuisine of no fewer than 15 nations. But it’s the presentation, coupled with South American classics, that really makes Chakana a winner. Take, for example, the sea bream ceviche with tiger’s milk (a magical house special sauce), and topped with twists of crispy sweet potato.
Designed to look somewhat like an, admittedly very clean, roadside eatery, Zindiya Streatery & Bar (21 Woodbridge Rd) pairs excellent Maharashtra-influenced cuisine with quirky and often humorous decoration. Dishes, such as the trio of dosa, are served on streetfood-style stainless steel plates to tables set beneath a blanket of fairy lights. When visiting the bathroom, be sure to check out the brilliant and absurd old advertisements plastered over the walls.
Nearby and noteworthy – Although just outside the wider Moseley area, there are two exceptional live music venues, which double up as pubs. Both the Hare and Hounds (106 High St, King’s Heath) and the Castle and Falcon (402 Moseley Rd) have elegant pub areas that are always open to guests, plus an additional stage area (two in the case of the Hare and Hounds), where big name touring artists play live on a nightly basis. The Hare and Hounds is a particularly legendary venue and a work of Art Nouveau beauty.