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When In: Birmingham

Ideal destination for: students, yuppies, and high-end shopping

•Shop at: Bullring, Harvey Nichols

•Eat at: The Mailbox (shopping center)

•See: BBC Birmingham

•Party at: Gatecrasher (UK's premier nightlife)

•Relax at: Exhale Sheeshateria (hookah lounge) or The Electric Cinema (movie theater)

Birmingham is one of my favorite cities. I would move there in an instant. It eliminates the love-hate relationship that you inevitably develop with most big cities. It's the second-largest city in the UK, but it’s still compact and mostly tourist-free. The people seem a bit more cheerful and have an endearingly quirky quality (and accent) to them. Life is laid-back, yet you have almost anything you’d needwithin walking distance. In the city's center is the Bullring, a modern shopping and leisure complex that includes Selfridges, one of the more stylish British department stores. From there, you can walk to Harvey Nichols, if not to shop, then simply to stare in awe at the window displays and luxurious clothes and details. The Birmingham Harvey Nichols is at the Mailbox, an old Royal Mail building turned upscale shopping mall and home to BBC Birmingham (which you can tour). At the back of the Mailbox is ascenic stretch of great waterside restaurants. It would be an ideal date spot and is particularly gorgeous at night. It’s less crowded than the Bullring, but still has a goodbuzz of people around.

Birmingham is known for its nightlife. There are several great nightclubs and bars, but one in particular is Gatecrasher, which is honestly one of the best nightclubs I've been to anywhere. Because there are several universities in the city, the club is mostlypacked with students. The resident DJs play a variety of genres, and the actual venue itself is perfect for a fun night out, whether you're looking to dance or get privatetable service. For a more low-key night out, try Exhale Sheeshateria. It’s a hookah lounge, but even if you don't smoke hookah, you’ll enjoy the authentic Mediterranean decor, food, coffee, and teas. For a more grown-up night out, go to The Electric Cinema, the UK's oldest working movie theater, designed in original Art Deco style. It screens both indie and mainstream movies and has sofas, waiter service, and a fullbar.

Written by Ambika Singh

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