“ Address: 152 Hurst Street / Birmingham B5 6RY „
The Village Inn, Hurst Street, Birmingham
The Village Inn, located in the centre of Birmingham on Hurst Street is one of the many pubs in Birmingham's gay village. Before my move away from Birmingham I became a bit of a regular visitor to The Village Inn as my older brother works there so I thought this was a good excuse for going out a lot. I will just point out now that my brothers employment here will not affect my opinions in this review as I am more than aware that the pub has its fair share of bad points as well as good!
The Village Inn is located on Hurst Street in Birmingham city centre. Hurst Street is quite a long street and the Village Inn is found at the end of the street near Kent Street.
From the main shopping areas and the central train station (New Street) in Birmingham it takes around 10 minutes to walk here.
If you come by car there are plenty of places to park as there is a large pay and display car park next to the pub and an undercover one directly opposite.
Entrance to the Village Inn is usually free, however on the rare occasion they will have a charity night where you will need to pay usually around a pound for entrance. Your hand will then be stamped and this will get you entry into the other pubs in the area that are usually taking part in the charity nights. Like I said though, this is a rare thing and 99% of the time entrance is free.
Inside The Village Inn
As you enter the Village Inn you may be asked for ID by the bouncers, they are very harsh on ID here and if you don't have it they simply wont let you in. I am 29 and I still get asked for ID in there. After getting ID'd and walking through the doors you will see a large bar area slightly to the left of you. This area has always been really crowded and hard to squeeze through when I have been here at the weekends as everyone walks in and goes straight to the bar. Although the bar is a nice large size I think it is in a really bad location and not used to its full potential as everyone seems to gather at the one end nearest the pub entrance.
If you look to the right of you as you enter the pub you will see a cosy corner with a couple of sofas, this is really nice if you are feeling lazy and want to just relax and chat on the sofa with friends. Also in this cosy corner is a door which leads outside to the smoking area.
Continuing round from the bar area is a medium sized dance floor with a stage area which is used for nights where they have entertainment on. If there is no entertainment then the stage area is often used as an extension of the dance floor. The dance floor often gets more crowded than the bar area and being the short person I am, I often find that I get knocked and shoved around by people trying to move around and dance.
To the right of the dance floor is a large staircase which leads to the Bed and Breakfast part of the pub and also up to the ladies toilets. I will talk about the toilets later in a moment though.
Also to the right of the dance floor is a passageway leading round to the men's toilets and a reasonably large seating area with tables and more comfy sofas. I like this area for the relax factor, however I often find that I can only sit here at the start of the evening as later on in the evening the smell coming from the toilets is so disgusting that it could make you vomit even if you are totally stone cold sober! This seating area also has a door leading to the outside and smoking area.
Outside and Smoking Area
The outside area of the Village Inn is also the smoking area. This area is quite big and is made to look like a garden with various plants and small trees around it. The floor of the outdoor area is made from wooden decking, which in my opinion, looks good, but during the winter months or even simply after a few hours into the night after a few drinks have been split on the floor, it becomes a lethal ice rink style area which I have found myself sliding across many times! The outside area has numerous heaters fitted to the walls as well as a few of the gas burner lamps to provide heat during the winter months. There are plenty of places to sit down here and quite a few tables with many ashtrays.
In the far corner of the outside area there is a large grey door, after 10pm at the weekends this door is opened and leads down to the Underground bar area.
Underground is the bar area and dance floor downstairs in the Village Inn. This part of the pub is quite small and contains a small bar, some unisex toilets and another small dance floor. Underground plays more dance and R&B music than the main dance floor and from what I have seen every time I have been down here it is not really that popular and usually quite quiet. I personally don't like this area, I find the stairs are really steep and the atmosphere in here isn't as good as the main pub and dance floor area.
The entertainment in the Village Inn varies, some nights you can go to a night of karaoke, which I personally really enjoy going to and watching as most of the singers are quite entertaining where as other nights you will find yourself being entertained by one of numerous drag queens who, in my opinion can sometimes take it a little too far and beyond funny to downright insulting and rude. I'm not really a fan of drag acts and would rather not bother going to watch them. The opinion I have from watching them in the Village Inn is that they can be very bitchy and simply not funny at all. Don't get me wrong, there are some that I enjoy, such as Mrs Mills and her night of Play Your Cards Right, however, Miss Thunderpussy with her insults and bitchyness is too much for me and I would rather go else where for my evenings entertainment!
The prices in the Village Inn are quite expensive in my opinion if you compare them to other bars in the same area. A pint will set you back just over £3 and if you have a drink with mixers you are talking even more! My example of this is a drink I discovered in another bar, this drink is a shot of apple sours and a shot of amaretto topped up with lemonade and is possibly one of the nicest mixes I have tried. In the Village Inn this mix will cost you £5, where as in the bar I discovered it in, it is only £2.50!
Ok, as I have already mentioned my brother works here, so I will base my opinion on the service I receive from all of the other members of staff excluding him. The staff in the Village Inn are generally friendly and happy to serve you, they are quick and efficient with pouring your drinks and they try to get through the queue at the bar as quickly as they can. I have had a couple of occasions where I have felt rushed with my order and like the staff were being rude, but this has been rare and if they have been rude to me I try to avoid being served by them again.
The toilets in the Village Inn are stocked up with toilet paper and soap, but this is the only good thing about them! So, where do I begin? Well firstly, to get to the ladies toilets you will need to be reasonably sober to deal with the rather steep set of stairs that lead up to them, you will then need a degree in puzzle solving to lock the toilet door as they have saloon style doors which have a slider lock in the centre of them, in all fairness they are ok when you are sober, but after a few drinks you really need to concentrate on your co-ordination to be able to close them. Due to the positioning of the lock it is actually really easy for the door to be pushed open from the outside and all it takes is a little push with a bit of force and the door will be opened, especially if you haven't managed to lock it properly in the first place!
As I mentioned earlier the men's toilets downstairs have a disgusting smell of stale urine coming from them after the first few hours of being in the pub, I haven't been into the men's toilets to tell you what they are like but from the smell I think if I was a man I would have to leave the pub and go elsewhere to wee!
The other toilets in the Village Inn are the unisex ones located in the Underground part of the pub, these toilets have the same saloon style doors as the ladies ones upstairs and the layout of the toilets is rather cramped and makes it hard to tell where the queue for them is.
All of the toilets have an unpleasant smell to them and if you are a lady then you need to be prepared to either go up steep stairs for a toilet or down steep stairs for a unisex toilet! Honestly I don't know how there hasn't been a drunken accident in here yet!
Overall I would recommend the Village Inn in Birmingham. I do enjoy occasional nights out here, however I would say to be prepared for the toilets and be as quick as possible in them before the smell makes you feel ill and also be aware of the cost of drinks as some of them can be a lot more expensive than other bars in the area and also if you are not too keen on drag acts then check what the entertainment for the evening is before you order your drinks as quite often the entertainment is broadcast throughout the pub on large speakers and TV screens!
Thanks for reading :)