Staying Cool in Birmingham
One iconic building, hi-tech facilities and luxurious 60s inspired decor: is this the coolest place to stay in Birmingham?
The part of me that felt a really cutting-edge, tech-savvy place to stay in Birmingham didn’t exist, still feels like a sourpuss. Don’t get me wrong – I love Birmingham. It is my city. My home, a member of my family. But while we have a thriving and stylish hotel scene with brilliant service to boot, I couldn’t really apply the term ‘futuristic’ to the existing boltholes.
That is until I visited Staying Cool – the hip and all techno-embracing serviced apartments in the city centre. The residences have been a smash hit in the city since opening in 2008, sending locals, tourists and weekend fashionistas into a spin with Mad-Men-meets-state-of-the-art interiors and facilities.
Minutes from New Street Station and slap bang in the middle of The Bullring shopping centre, Zara is literally on the doorstep and Harvey Nics and The Mailbox can be reached within 10 minutes on foot.
Spaghetti Junction might easily be the scariest motorway system in Great Britain so I avoid it by always entering Birmingham via Solihull and taking the scenic route down the A41 passing the boutiques of Dovehouse Lane Parade, the Indian and Somali food stores on Stratford Road, the Irish pubs and super trendy vintage clothes stores in Digbeth and finally China Town in the Arcadian centre.
A king-size bed, iPod docking station, remote controlled air-conditioning, vintage upcycled decoupage chairs from Lou Rota, colourful retro light fittings, a Gaggio expresso machine, stunning ‘tripod’ floor lamps, an acrylic desk, iMacs, a cupboard full of delish Dorset Cereals, a fridge full of oranges ready to be juiced, sixties inspired fashion photography on the walls by Nick Smith and floor to ceiling windows that open fully at 250 feet above the bustling street below.
Welcome to apartment number 19. This one-bed bolthole is my home for the weekend. It’s perfect for a city stay, made even more perfect with so many gizmos and gadgets and the fact the husband can unleash his inner geek by fiddling around on the Apple Mac entertainment system (preloaded with iTunes and Spotify) while watching Sky Sports on a razor sharp LCD TV and checking out new apps on his iPhone compliments of Staying Cool’s free and fast wi-fi. Yes, all at the same time. Who said men couldn’t multi-task?
I’m just thrilled to be watching thesamba band playing live on the street below me while soaking up the arty design ideas which makes the room colourful functional, and playful. I like the other touches too – namely that the aromatherapy bathroom toiletries are hand blended by an apothecary and the coffee comes especially grounded by a company Staying Cool commissions each month called Hasbean.
I learn all this after I’ve finished flicking through complimentary copies of Wallpaper magazine and make my way through the genius welcome pack. This comes with recommendations of fabulous local restaurants (such as Henry’s Cantonese for Dim Sum and Bar Estilo for Tapas) and a pre-ordered ‘Fit and Fruity’ breakfast service.
Staying Cool has 26 one and two-bedroom apartments (three of which are penthouses) on the 19thand 20th floors of the iconic Rotunda building – a glassy cylindrical office tower which used to dominate the Birmingham skyline and adds to the city’s heritage.
While you don’t have room service or a concierge, you do have a guest relations manager who helps personalise your visit with special requests before hand. Virtually everything was handled via iMacs and iPhones - making check-in virtually paperless.
Better priced than your average five star, while Staying Cool isn’t cheap, it’s quirky, well designed and a masterclass in space functionality. It feels like a boutique hotel but with the homeliness of an apartment with your own kitchen and dining area and plenty of gadgetry.
The whole point of the apartment is that you’re ableto come and go as you please, cook whatever your heart desires and entertain guests, only in five star surroundings. The Bullring Indoor Market, famous for a wide selection of fresh meats and fish and the New Street Farmers Market where you can stock up on artisan cheeses, organic vegetables and jams and chutneys are both only a five minute walk away.
To book: Staying Cool www.stayingcool.com 0121 285 1250, 150 New Street Birmingham, West Midlands B2 4PA