Great news on the Birmingham tourism front: analysis of 2011's figures show an increase in visitors by 740,000, bringing the total to 33.5 billion*.
The results coincide with news that Birmingham is set to benefit from a renewed drive to create a lasting tourism legacy for the UK from the success of London 2012. The city was placed firmly in the Olympic spotlight when athletic superstars Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir, as well as Team GB's own Mo Farah 'bigged up' Birmingham.
* Figures based on research carried out by Global Tourism Solutions
If you're coming to stay with us in Birmingham, we'd recommend checking out the offers page on the Visit Birmingham website.
There's an autumnal chill in the air and our thoughts are turning to how we might amuse ouirselves during the winter months. VisitBirmingham have put together a guide to the Frankfurt Christmas market which takes place from 15 November-22 December - Staying Cool at the Rotunda is the perfect place to base yourself to make the most of the market.
Here are VisitBirmingham's top tips for having a good time:
1. Eat a German Bratwurst & Brezel
German Bratwurst (white or red sausage) and Brezel are traditional German foods and are famous throughout the world. How the Bratwurst is served varies by region, but it is commonly served with a Brötchen (roll). The Brezel is type of bread and is particularly famous in South Germany and Austria. German speakers also call it "Laugenbrezel" (lyle pretzel).
2. Have a hot Glühwein (mulled
Glühwein is a traditional and loved hot acoholic Christmas drink which is usually made of white and red wine and various spices such as cinnamon, cloves, lemon slices and aniseed. It is the perfect drink for a cold winter night.
3. Indulge yourself with chocolaty Crêpes
Although Crêpes are a traditional French dessert, they are one of the various food highlights of the German Christmas market. Topped with hot chocolate sauce or filled with banana, they are a must-do.
4. Sing along with the singing moose
For the last ten years Birmingham's singing Christmas moose has become a Christmas attraction in its own right. Located directly in front of the Council House entrance, the singing moose guarantees a Christmassy atmosphere and a lot of fun for young and old.
5. Get traditional Christmas decorations
The traditional Christmas Craft Fair offers Christmas decorations and handcrafts. A wide range of candles, jewellery, Christmas tree decorations, tea, Christmas cards and much more - make it easy to find the right Christmas present for the one you love.
6. Listen to traditional Carols & Christmas
Carols in the City as well as daily bands on the Christmas market stage will create a romantic Christmas atmosphere. Enjoy a hot mug of Glühwein while listening to traditional Christmas song or great Jazz music.
7. Drink a crisp German beer
Enjoy a crisp German Beer with your Bratwurst, but please drink responsibly!
8. Take a ride on the Carousel
Take a one horse ride through the German Market on the fantastic ornate carousel. Hopefully you'll be having so much fun you'll be laughing as you go - Ho Ho Ho.
9. Get a lovely wooly hat with bobbles
"If the weather outside is frightful" get your mits on a delightful wooly hat from the market stalls.
10. Buy a nice souvenir at the Visitor Centre
The friendly, informative and multilingual staff have the know-how to offer the kind of insight and inspired advice that no guidebook can touch. From souvenirs, brochures to maps - you will find it at the Visitor Centre Christmas stall.
We're proud sponsors of Orchestra of the Swan and we have a special offer for one of their concerts next month.
If you buy two tickets or more for Tamsin Waley-Cohen plays Mozart at the Town Hall, Birmingham next month (October 17 at 2.30pm) you will receive a free Schubert CD.
The Olympics and the Paralympics dominated our spare time this summer, but we've also been reflecting on how brilliant the Cultural Olympiad was in the West MIdlands.
964 projects, including 78 world premieres, lit up the region all summer. Our favourite was The Voyage, which took place from June 21-24. The show transformed Birmingham's central square into an ocean-going liner. It was truly spectacular.
There are just over two weeks to go until Style Birmingham Live which takes place at the Mailbox on September 29. This year the show will be hosted by Martine McCutcheon.
You can book tickets for what promises to be a brilliant event using this link http://t.co/s0MPMegZ
We enjoyed a recent piece in the Spectator about Birmingham by William Cook. He said, "When I returned here last year, for the first time in ten years , I was amazed to find this unloved metropolis had had a dramatic facelift."
You can read the whole article here.
The Alternative Weekend is here!
Stay with us on a Sunday and Monday night and you will enjoy brilliant Alternative Weekend discount rates and some lovely complimentary extras.
Alternative Weekend packages start at £99 per night for a Mini apartment and include a free bottle of champagne chilling in your fridge on arrival plus your choice of breakfast on Monday morning from our Extras menu.
Our Alternative Weekend rates for larger apartments are:
Clubman one-bedroom apartment
£119 per night
Maxi two-bedroom apartment
£169 per night
Penthouse two-bedroom apartment
£219 per night
This offer is only available by booking direct (online, phone or email) - please quote the relevant rate code below when you book. You must stay for the two nights (Sunday and Monday). The only exclusions are if New Year's Eve falls on a Sunday or Monday and during the party conference season.
ArtsFest, the UK@s biggest free arts festival, takes place once again in Birmingham this weekend from the 7-9 September.
This year's highlights include the screening of the Last Night of the Proms on Saturday evening in Centenary Square, the Bandstand Marathon as part of the Cultural Olympiad and the screening of the Closing Ceremony of the Paralympic Games on Sunday evening in Victoria Square.
Another event, supported by ArtsFest, will see Mandala take place on the evening of Friday 7th September. This event is another part of the Cultural Olympiad and will see Town Hall illuminated with 3D projections whilst a range of music and dance performances take place.
We were delighted to be reviewed by gentleman-bloggers Deux Messieurs.
Here's an excerpt: "Time to unwind. The living area is a stylish mix of retro and modern; contemporary furniture and artwork have been chosen to reflect the Rotunda's 1960s heritage (I particularly covet the Tom Dixon lampshades). "
"We also play around with the very 21st century gadgetry including Apple TV and iPod dock, but the only entertainment we really need is that view! We uncork a bottle of wine and watch the city buzz away far below."
You can read the full review here.
"Why go? For an ultra-stylish taste of Birmingham..." Red online
"There are no bellhops nor a gym...instead you get a Mac Mini, free Wi-Fi, an espresso machine and a juicer (oranges included)." The New York Times
"Someone has put a lot of thought into making the stay a wonderful experience for guests, and it shows." Made for Mums