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Then you’ll love our Guide to Sixties Birmingham for all things mod, retro and vintage

Enjoy a swinging sixties city break at one of our apartments or penthouses in our landmark 1960s home, the Rotunda, right in the heart of Birmingham. Soak up our minimalist décor, cool canvas photography and designer furniture with more than a nod to the 1960s. All this is before you get to the views. Oh, the views! As well as spending the night in an icon of the city’s post-war architecture there are plenty of things to do in our guide to sixties Birmingham that celebrate the decade that changed everything.

Beatlemania was sweeping the world, the Rolling Stones couldn’t get no satisfaction and our beloved Rotunda building changed Birmingham’s skyline forever.

Meanwhile, the city’s very own Moody Blues were topping the charts with Go Now while another local lad, Steve Winwood, kept on running to his first Number One with the brilliant Spencer Davis Group. In south Brum another cultural phenomenon was making headlines as Sir Alec Issigonis’ masterpiece of design and engineering – The Mini – reached the 1,000,000 mark at the Longbridge plant. Can you guess the year?

Yep, got it in one… 1965.

A full colour image of Birmingham's Rotunda building taken in 1968. Photo credit: Birmingham University Archives.
Credit: Birmingham University Archives

From the moment it opened its doors Rotunda became an icon for the city and Staying Cool is proud to be part of that story, having been welcoming guests to enjoy its unique spaces and panoramic views since 2008.

Tulip dining chairs in a Mini studio serviced apartment at Staying Cool's Rotunda apart hotel.
Pierre Paulin’s iconic ‘Tulip’ chair, first released in 1965 are in every Mini apartment

Design-wise we’ve combined contemporary cool with swinging sixties style. Interiors include Pierre Paulin’s distinctive Oyster, Little Tulip and Orange Slice chairs. Our own 60s-inspired photography hangs large on the walls and we’ve commissioned Staying Cool versions of the Robin Day classic. There’s nothing retro about the clean lines of the sleek Poggenpohl kitchens, gleaming white bathrooms or the comfortable Naughtone sofas. Espresso makers and pocket- sprung mattresses with memory foam complete the look.

From here you’ll be perfectly placed to enjoy your own summer of love staycation with a whole host of things to do, many of which are just minutes away. Our guide to sixties Birmingham walks you through a few of our favourites…

THINGS FOR 1960S LOVERS TO DO IN BIRMINGHAM

Centrala Space

Not only is Centrala Space a Fazeley Street art gallery/music venue that champions Central and Eastern European contemporary culture as well as support local artists and musicians, it is THE home for Brutalist architecture books, artworks and Spaceplay’s concrete miniatures of New Street Signal Box, Birmingham Central Library and, of course, Rotunda.

Centrala also sells a range of notebooks and journals for you to keep a note of your wonderful time in Birmingham, so be sure to check out the Centrala Shop too.

Downstairs artspace at Centrala Space Birmingham.

Look the part at Ace Face Barbers

With a mod inspired interior, Britpop soundtrack and choice of classic cuts, gentlemen’s vintage hairdresser Ace Face Barbers on Bristol Street, is a haven for the sharply-dressed man in your life.

Established in 2003, the stylists have won numerous awards for their styles, looks and service with a smart smile.

Exterior facade of the traditional Ace Face Barber shop in Birmingham city centre.

A night at The Night Owl

1960s lovers will find lots to do in Birmingham, starting with a great time at The Night Owl in Digbeth, a 15-minute walk away from Staying Cool.

The Night Owl is the Midlands’ only northern soul and Motown bar offering something truly unique. It’s a friendly club which welcomes people of all ages and walks of life. The team enlisted Stax Creations to create the interior and The Night Owl events programme is a lively celebration of soul, beat, ska, northern soul and much, much more.

If you’re wondering what to wear you can kit yourself out at nearby vintage clothing store We Are Cow at 82-85 Digbeth High Street.

Interior of The Night Owl music venue in Digbeth Birmingham, 10 minutes walk from Staying Cool's Rotunda apart hotel

Red Brick Market

A treasure-trove of thrift, retro and vintage, Red Brick Market on Floodgate Street in Digbeth brings together a collection of local independent sellers, craft makers and designers.

You’ll find a selection of ’60s gems among the many Red Brick stalls, some of which feature our very own Rotunda in greetings cards and textiles. Blushes emoji!

Inside Digbeth's Red Brick Market in Birmingham, a short walk from Staying Cool's apart hotel at Rotunda

Top up the vinyl collection

If you’re a rare vinyl hunter head for Birmingham music institution The Diskery, the city’s oldest record shop, on Bromsgrove Street. The store opened in 1952 and has been supplying sounds ever since.

Swordfish Records in the Gazette Buildings, Corporation Street, is another long-standing record store that will satisfy your rare groove needs.

Exterior of Swordfish Records shop in Birmingham city centre, located a short walk from Staying Cool's Rotunda apart hotel.

The Rolling Stones Story and Greatest Hits of Motown

Birmingham’s much-loved Alexandra Theatre is reopening from the pandemic closures with a brilliant summer season featuring a packed programme of shows. Among these is The Rolling Stones Story, The Greatest Hits of Motown, and The Sensational 60s Experience. A whole jukebox of genres to satisfy your ’60s thirst!

Promotional advert for The Rolling Stones Story production at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham

Moseley Vintage Hub

From mid-century furnishings to industrial lighting, rare vinyl to unique curios, Moseley Vintage Hub in Digbeth has it all.

Operated by the people behind Moseley Vintage Fair, the Digbeth Hub, on Bowyer Street, gives a chance for customers to come and see the complete vintage collection.

Keep an eye on the Vintage Hub facebook page for new arrivals, which can get snapped up quite quickly.

Otherwise, pop in to this gorgeous Digbeth shop to browse the retro goodies (Please check opening hours).

Inside Moseley Vintage Hub in Digbeth Birmingham. A Short walk from Staying Cool's Rotunda apart hotel.

Cob Webs

Cob Webs, on the corner of Pershore Road and St Stephens Road in Stirchley specialises in Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco and Art Nouveau furniture as well as unique interiors and antique collectables, but we wouldn’t rule out picking up the odd post-war or mid-century classic.

The entrance to Cob Webs in Stirchley Birmingham. A 15 minute drive from Staying Cool's Rotunda apart hotel.

Bob Dylan art

While he has sold more than 125 million records and is considered one of the most influential artists of all time with songs covered more than 6,000 times, Bob Dylan is now just as revered for his fine art. Dylan dates the origins of his artworks to the early 1960s, offering a unique insight into the Nobel Prize laureate’s world then and now. Castle Galleries at the Mailbox and ICC features his expressionist paintings to buy as limited edition reproductions.

Bob Dylan exhibition at Castle Fine Art Gallery, located in the Mailbox, a short walk from Staying Cool's Rotunda apart hotel

MirrorPix Open Air Photography Exhibition

The 1960s features large as Birmingham celebrates seven decades of British life throughout the summer of 2021 with a brilliant new street photography exhibition.

The open-air exhibition featuring more than 180 images is being hosted by Retail BID Birmingham. It is free to the public, accessible 24 hours a day and displayed on large-format panels and vacant store windows along New Street (right underneath Staying Cool!), High Street, Union Street, Cherry Street and Victoria Square.

Among the diverse collection of images from the MirrorPix archives you’ll see The Beatles in Birmingham, Sir Sean Connery, Twiggy, the 1966 World Cup Final and Minis whizzing through tunnels in Coventry for the filming of The Italian Job.

A photo of Twiggy exhibiting outside Staying Cool's Rotunda apart hotel on New Street Birmingham, part of the MirrorPix open-air photography exhibitition.

Birmingham’s 1960s architecture trail

Birmingham’s post-war architecture gets a bit of a bad rep, in our humble opinion. And while much of it is being swept away as the city evolves (knock it down and start again… it’s a Birmingham thing!) there are still numerous 1960s gems to hunt down if you take a walk around the city centre.

Described by Historic England as ‘a dramatic building of exceptional architectural quality with a strongly sculptural form’, the grade II-listed New Street Signal Box is a classic example of Birmingham architecture that continues to divide opinion. It is one of the few remaining Birmingham buildings of the Brutalist style that once housed railway technology that for its time was as revolutionary as the building itself.

At 152 metres high, BT Tower is still the tallest structure in Birmingham and one of the buildings that defines the city. Completed in 1967 it was the second of its kind to be built after London’s GPO tower, helping to cement the status of Birmingham as England’s second city. You can take a walk across to the Jewellery Quarter to marvel at BT Tower at street level or see it across the skyline from your Staying Cool apartment.

The Horsefair 1908 mosaic, in Holloway Circus, was designed by the artist Kenneth Budd in 1967. It’s the only one of Birmingham’s 1960s mosaics still in its original position. A memorial to the iconic 1960s American President J.F. Kennedy, also by Budd but recreated by his son Oliver after the original was demolished, can be spotted in Floodgate Street, Digbeth.

Learn more about Birmingham’s relationship with Brutalist architecture in our blog: 5 Must-See Brutalist Birmingham Buildings.

View over Birmingham city centre at dusk, with landmark buildings and the BT Tower. Photographer: Julian Elliott

Stay in at Staying Cool’s Rotunda

With jaw-dropping views across Birmingham and beyond, 1960s-inspired art, minimalist décor and big-screen TVs, why not simply enjoy a night-in at your 60s-inspired Staying Cool apartment enjoying popcorn, classic board games and all the home comforts you need. Yeah, baby!

Night time city views from Staying Cool's rotunda apart hotel penthouse apartment with interior views of the bedroom too.