Well that's what the Sunday Times has just said today in its piece on what's hot 2009 (new, stylish, cutting-edge, not necessarily expensive).
... Birmingham has just gained its first AA-five-star [actually Visit Britain accredited - ed] accommodation. The honour went to Staying Cool... from £110), serviced flats kitted out with bespoke designer pieces.
Staying Cool, which also has flats in Manchester and Devon, is probably the UK's hippest self-catering outfit..."
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We received Manchester's first five star rating for a serviced apartment back in 2005 but in Birmingham, with our Rotunda apartments, we've gone one step further and landed the city's first ever five star rating from either the AA or Visit Britain for either a hotel or a serviced apartment.
We had been working with Urban Splash in Manchester for several years, so when we saw Splash's plans for Rotunda it was pretty much a no brainer. Together we have created very unique and individual serviced apartments in Birmingham. All those hours of planning and preparation have paid off!
We've used all the experience we have gained in Manchester over the past three and a half years to create the very best place to stay in Birmingham. Our approach in Manchester has always been to distinguish ourselves from the mass-market and the run-of-the-mill. We are fussy about the choice of development, the interior design, the brand of coffee... everything is picked with care and attention to detail. Unlike other serviced apartment companies and most hotels, we really go to town creating a stylish and comfy home-from-home for our guests. We mix design classics, specially commissioned pieces and recycled or refurbished furniture; there is always an element of individuality in each of our apartments that we hope makes us stand out from the crowd.
DJ, presenter, journalist and author, Stuart Maconie, may now be London-based but he hails from England's Northwest and has just written a series of short stories and podcasts about his native region. Stuart stayed with us while researching the manchester segment a few months back. Now you can download written mini guides and podcasts telling you all about stuart's favourite haunts. Both are packed with interesting places off the beaten track as well as little gems about the main tourist attractions - all told in stuart's imitable style. Well worth a look. www.stuartsstories.com
We launched the first of our Staying Cool by the Seacollection this month with a stunning waterside penthouse in Devon. Formerly part of a nineteenth century naval yard, now Grade I listed, this huge 2,500 square ft apartment oozes character and grandeur and screams wow factor. Thick granite walls, tall ceilings, original timber beams and steel columns, chunky floorboards - the works... everything you would expect from an Urban Splash development. Obviously, we've added the Staying Cool touch with great interior styling and comfort to match. But don't take our word for it. go see for yourself... sleeps 4-6 (in style) and is available from the 24th August. Perfect for a last minute break.
Today we found out we are offiically a Green Tourism Business - we pretty much knew that already but it's nice to have the official nod every now and then. What on earth does that mean you're probably wondering... welllll, it means we procure our food locally (or from Fairtrade sources if that's not possible) and try to adhere to the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle. We were given a bronze rating - so still more to do, but going through the assessment has given us lots of ideas. Watch this space!
Today we became corporate members of the Twentieth Century Society (TCS) - the organisation that safeguards British heritage, architecture and design from 1914 onwards. It was the TCS that saved Birmingham's Rotunda from demolition so it is perfectly fitting that we should be members. Without their intervention, we would not have a most amazing floor of serviced apartments on the 19th floor of Rotunda today. It is also probably Birmingham's best address. Find out more about the TCS.
Nice piece about our Manchester personal shopping weekend on The Guardian's website today. We liked this line about us as it sums up what's great about a SC leisure break, "On Sunday morning, the apartment really comes into its own as an alternative to a hotel break, as we lounge and natter over a relaxing breakfast from the well-stocked kitchen," Liane Katz. Our Rotunda apartments didn't go unloved yesterday either - another good review in the Birmingham Post about their journalist's stay in the Penthouse. Super!
Today we launched our new mini Apart-Hotel on the top two floors of that 60s icon Rotunda in Birmingham... We also had our first real guests in for the night. The feedback so far has been great. Like us, everyone loves the location (two mins from New Street, Selfridges 200m away, Zara downstairs..), the views (especially at night), the windows that open and of course the unique, stylish interiors. And last, but not least, just the very fact that they're staying at Rotunda.
Last night we found out we had won the award for best serviced apartments in Manchester at the Tourism Awards. The city has the second highest number of serviced apartments in Britain and it was the first time a category for serviced accommodation had been included, so we were doubly delighted to have won. We're all nursing hangovers and looking a little bit the worse for wear this morning...
"Stylish marketing and the apartments' excellent mystery shop score (100% for style and content) ensured Staying Cool was the winner in this category," said Marketing Manchester, the awards' organisers.
We now automatically get put through to the England's Northwest tourism awards (and then to the national ones if we are successful). These are the UK's official tourism awards ie you don't have to sponsor one to win one!
"Self catering couldn't be more groovy." The Telegraph's Stella magazine
""..the Rotunda is superbly located bang in the city centre with New Street and the famous Christmas market less than 20ft from our door – perfect for dropping off those heavy shopping bags."" North Devon Journal
""..our apartment was equipped with a fully functioning kitchen, replete with oranges for juicing, a juicer, coffee grounds for grinding, a coffee machine, and the most swaggy open-plan living room, framed by a seemingly endless view..."" Wonderland Magazine