BY ORDER from the Peaky Blinders: You must visit Birmingham.
This is a request you ignore at your own risk as the West Midlands city is buzzing like never before.
This is the hunting grounds of the Shelby Brothers in the hit BBC1 show returning to our TV screens tomorrow in the highly anticipated series finale.
And while Britain’s second city may seem a bit rough in a historical crime drama, it’s come into its own in recent years.
Birmingham is now full of quality restaurants, including world-renowned curry houses, and will even host the 2022 Commonwealth Games this summer.
From July 28, the city will host 11 days of swimming and diving, eight days of cricket and gymnastics, and seven days of athletics, including a marathon.
In addition to sports, it is a lively city with a rich history and charming architecture.
I would stay at the easyHotel, a great budget location, conveniently located for sightseeing, close to shops, restaurants and museums.
It is within walking distance of New Street train station with easy access to London, the rest of the Midlands and the North, as well as one of the UK’s largest shopping centres, the bullring.
It’s not the only place to get retail therapy.
There’s a high-end Mailbox with Harvey Nichols and an Everyman cinema where modern theater chairs have been replaced by comfortable sofas and tables for wine, cocktails and snacks.
There is also the Jewelery Quarter, home to over 100 diamond retailers and dealers, and a jewelery museum with a preserved 1980s workshop.
This is the place to come if you want to ask a question as you can spend the day making your own wedding rings.
There are also many independent shops, trendy bars and art galleries.
But if food comes first in a new city, then there will be no disappointment here.
For brunch, be sure to check out Medicine, a bakery, cafe, and art gallery that serves grilled sourdough cheese sandwiches and sticky cinnamon buns.
A must on the wish list is the award-winning Indian restaurant Asha’s.
Birmingham is known for its top-notch curry houses, but this one is by far the best.
And don’t just take my word for it.
Famous Hollywood actor Tom Cruise was there last summer during a break from filming his latest movie, Mission: Impossible.
STAYING THERE: The easyHotel in central Birmingham has double rooms for two only, starting at £29.99 per night. Call 0121 634 3043 or see easyHotel.co.uk.
He liked his chicken tikka masala so much that he ordered a second one.
A number of other celebrities have also passed through its doors, including Rolling Stones rocker Ronnie Wood and Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight.
For families, there is the excellent National Sea Life Center or, just south of the city centre, Cadbury World is a star attraction for the little ones, where free chocolates are always on the menu.
Adults and groups can enjoy Birmingham’s party scene to the fullest with a huge selection of nightclubs and clubs ranging from Popworld, Reflex and Rosies to Pryzm, Bambu and Nakira Lounge.
Of course, for any fan of Cillian Murphy and the Peaky Blinders, a trip to Birmingham wouldn’t be complete without a tour of some of the original gang’s favorite hangouts.
Most of the filming of the show took place in Liverpool.
But everything takes place in Birmingham and is based on real places, including the canals around the Gas Street Basin.
You can visit Watery Lane, the street that was home to many of the original Peaky Blinders from the 1920s.
And when you’re thirsty, head to Sadler’s Brewhouse & Bar, 11 miles west of the city center in Stourbridge, serving Blinders-style ales and spirits.
While you’re in the area, take the 15-minute drive to Dudley, home to the Black Country Museum, which was used as the backdrop for Charlie Strong’s court.
So, by order of the Peaky Blinders, there is no excuse to miss out on what this great city has to offer. Just make sure you pack your flat cap.