Declassified: Advice on food and drink for TFNation 2017
Last year we offered advice to new attendees across a range of situations and in several key areas. This year, we cannot help but feel one of those areas has dominated social media discussion more than most: the subject of food and drink. So we thought we’d update our original advice and provide more juicy info for you to sink your teeth into.
WHY YOUR CHOICE OF FOOD MATTERS
Think about it. If you had to jet away from your home for a day, covering large distances in often less-than-ideal-and-far-too-warm public transport, eating whatever is available on the go, there’s a fair chance that you’d be feeling a little peaky by the end of it and looking forward to something home-cooked.
This is how many of our attendees START their weekend with us. Then imagine grabbing more on-the-go food, limited amounts of water and just possibly the odd pint or two while ignoring sleep…. Is it any wonder that convention-goers often suffer after, sometimes during, the event?
Of course, some of these choices are practical, based on available time and money, but a little planning in the days before the con starts, can ensure you have better sources of sustenance throughout the con, whilst keeping your energy levels high and the wallet happy. So let’s run through some options.
3. The Train Station, NEC and airport
At various times throughout the weekend, the Hilton will deploy its street food booths around the convention halls. These booths sell a great selection of portable meals at more affordable prices than the regular hotel menu. Perfect for taking into panel rooms to munch whilst you take in a presentation. (Just don’t take it near artwork, displays or toys!)
Note the street food stalls also sell soft drinks, lighter snacks and various sweet goodies... we will post the full range on offer when we know.
The Hilton’s open-air “Corona Bar” overlooks Pendigo lake and provides a great place for escaping the frenetic energy of the main halls. When the weather holds up, the hilton has been known to host bbqs there! We shall keep our optics peeled for news.
Many attendees have told us they would appreciate vegan food options. We have spoken with the Hilton and they have agreed to accommodate us by adding two to three vegan dishes to their street food menu each day of the convention. They will also add vegan options to the Saturday BBQ.
If you were have reserved one of the TFN-rate bedrooms, please remember that they come with free breakfast as standard. The Hilton has increased the diversity of food on offer to give you the best possible start to your weekend mission.
Being a four star hotel, the Hilton possesses numerous other options to cater for various budgets. The Lounge bar is a relaxed and informal atmosphere for eating bar food, including the famous fish finger sandwich! The hotel’s license prohibits people bringing in other food and drink to be consumed in the bar, a rule the TFNation staff will look to enforce.
The Boulevard restaurant provides great buffet options, whilst Miller’s Bar provides a more upmarket feel, perfect for special celebrations. (Reservations are needed for Miller’s Bar – please speak to reservations for opening hours.)
Yes, the Hilton will be offering its residents the chance to skip the bar queues and pour their own pint at several self-pour stations. More details to follow!
COSTA COFFEE, BAR OPTIONS, AND THE POP-UP BAR
There is a Costa outlet to the left of the Hilton’s reception. This is a franchised outlet so normal Costa pricing and offers will not be available. Other nearby coffee chains will be detailed below.
The lounge bar staff are understanding and often leave out free jugs of iced water for attendees, however it is best not to rely on this and attendees are encouraged to bring their own store of bottled water.
Finally, returning attendees will note the small gift shop opposite the bar has been repurposed into a pop-up bar offering an alternate choice of drinks. More information when we receive it.
A nearby option for attendees is the nearby Resortsworld complex, five minutes walk from the convention hotel. The complex hosts a range of restaurants including TGIFridays, Las Iguanas, Nando’s, Robata, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Pizza Express. For more information, check out their homepage at https://www.resortsworldbirmingham.co.uk
3) THE TRAIN STATION, NEC AND AIRPORT
Between the NEC and the linked travel hubs, there are a few other food and drink options.
The International Train Station has a Cafe Ritazza, a Subways, and a WHSmith.
The International airport hosts a Burger King, Frankie and Benny's, All Bar One, Costa, and a Cafe Ritazza. A Boots pharmacy is also available.
The NEC itself has a Starbucks next to the main NEC entrance. There is also a Wetherspoons pub/bar (with limited daytime opening hours) a Subways and a WHSmiths.
20 minutes train ride from Birmingham International Station is Birmingham New Street, a place many of you might have travelled through on your journey to TFNation. Now redeveloped, the space directly above the main train concourse has been transformed into a sizable food hall and features the following.
Carluccio's, Costa, Crepeaffaire, Ed's Diner, Giraffe, Handmade Burger Co, Nando's, Pho, Square Pie, Tapas Revolution, Tesco, Tortilla, Yakinori Noodle & Bento, Yo Sushi. Within a further 10 minutes walk you have the Bullring complex and dozens more options.
Before we start, a brief recap of the Hilton rule.
Food & drink purchased outside of the Hilton is prohibited in public hotel areas and must be confined to bedrooms only.
So are we telling you not to bring your own supplies? No. For a start, items like bottled water and anything to keep your energy levels up are wise choices, as the convention can take a lot of energy from people. We just ask that you do not leave the empty bottles/containers around your rooms for staff to pick up after you.
What about attendees who bring bags of snacks, fruit, and drinks for use in their rooms? As long as the evidence is not brought down to the bar, and your rooms aren't littered with a picnic’s worth of wrappers, it should cause no issue. Often people will utilise such items during the day, as a quick boost, then enjoy the more social aspect of having a meal with friends at Resortsworld or any of the options listed above. Attendees tend to approach this plan in two ways, with some arriving with a suitcase of supplies, while others will use an hour or two on Friday to jet into Birmingham Central and hit the shops there. Considering the convenience (and often also dietary requirements) that people need to address by bringing certain items, a trip is well worth it.
Finally, the big topic: attendees bringing in takeaway food and alcohol. It goes without saying that the Hilton strictly bans these externally-brought items in the bar area, and the presence of such items impacts our relationship with the Hilton affecting plans for subsequent years. We are aware that it can happen unintentionally, with attendees bringing food or drink items for friends as gifts from overseas. Like regular food and drink, the key is to think smart, keep it out of the bar and not force the Hilton or TFNation staff to enforce the rules.... because we will.
Repeating this again may seem like too much but we have to stress to attendees that such items are not going to cause issues if consumed in your room but 6-pack cans, pizza boxes, and spirit bottles help nobody and will affect future conventions.
Further transmissions to follow.
Where All Are One