Thinking about a UK city break, maybe a pre-Christmas shopping expedition? Birmingham has a huge array of shops, fantastic restaurants and plenty for the family to see and do. To make the stay a little bit special, I can recommend the Staying Cool apartments, which I recently reviewed for BritMums.
Reviewing the Staying Cool Apartments in Birmingham
Located at the very top of the iconic Rotunda, slap bang in the heart of the city, Staying Cool can provide a home-from-home experience in one of their funky apartments to suit a variety of budgets: neat Mini studios, one-bedroomed Clubmans, two-bedroomed Maxis and the rather gorgeous Roadster Penthouses with their own balconies. We stayed in the Penthouse apartment and absolutely loved its fresh, stylish decor, masses of space, living room with two chic sofas, fully fitted kitchen, juicer (oranges provided), coffee machine (coffee and fresh milk provided too), free WiFi and, to top it all, the most amazing view, which at night — with all the lights of the city twinkling — was spectacular.
Staying Cool go that extra mile to make their apartments special for families. Cots and highchairs are available, plus a dressing-up box for under-10s and pens/crayons for under-12s are part of their Cool for Kids package. Add to that complimentary sweets and toys tailored to the age of each child. Even my 17-year-old was chuffed to see a bag of sweets left for him, although the Apple Mac in his room would have been enough to win him over.
Penthouse: Staying Cool Apartments
Things to do in Birmingham with children
So, what in Birmingham will tempt you out of your apartment during your stay?
You’ll be spoiled for choice here. Step out of the elevator and you have Zara on the ground floor plus all the shops of the Bull Ring at your disposal including Debenhams and Selfridges. My son was delighted to see Superdry and Jack Wills nearby. There’s a TK Maxx and Primark too. Walk to The Mailbox if you fancy Harvey Nichols and, while you’re there, give your wallet a rest by popping into the BBC Public Space and having a go at being a weather reporter or newsreader.
The Bull Ring at night
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
The Staffordshire Hoard, a unique Anglo-Saxon collection, is available to see plus until 3 November A Squash and a Squeeze is an exhibition bringing the stories of Julia Donaldson to life, perfect for all you Gruffalo fans out there. www.bmag.org.uk
ThinkTank Birmingham Science Museum
Four floors of interactive displays, a Planetarium and The Giant Screen for a superb movie-watching experience. www.thinktank.ac
National Sealife, Birmingham
An amazing underwater world of over 1000 creatures in the heart of the city. www.visitsealife.com/birmingham
Library of Birmingham
Newly opened, this outstanding facility in the middle of the city is certainly worth a visit, if only to appreciate the beauty inside this magnificent building whilst acknowledging its external resemblance to a Great British Bake Off show-stopper wedding cake. www.libraryofbirmingham.com
Library or wedding cake?
Close to the centre of Birmingham is chocolate heaven in the form of Cadbury World: discounted tickets are available from Staying Cool apartments. (www.cadburyworld.co.uk). If you’re staying longer and want to see more of the West Midlands, then Warwick Castle is a favourite for families (www.warwick-castle.com). For all things Shakespeare, you’re not far away from his birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, where a performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company is well worth considering for older children (www.rsc.org.uk)
We had a fantastic two days in Birmingham. Having visited the region before, we had already ‘done’ Stratford, Warwick Castle and Cadbury World but never really spent much time in the city itself. This time, however, we did lots of shopping and sightseeing. We wandered to Brindley Place and had lunch near the canal before ambling along the towpath to the Jewellery Quarter where, having got lost as is our usual state of affairs, we were ushered into the Pen Museum for our own personal tour.
We had some great meals out: Jamie’s Italian was one minute’s walk from the apartment while Shanghai Shanghai in Chinatown was only 5 or 6 minutes away: both were big hits with the family. Not far to walk home, and it did feel like home, to make a cuppa, turn the TV on, curl up on the sofa and chill out.
Thank you, Staying Cool! I see you have apartments in Manchester and Barcelona too? I might just have to check them out too!
Fooling around on the bull
We stayed in the Penthouse apartment as guests of Staying Cool. All opinions and photographs are my own.
Staying Cool is offering BritMums members a 15% discount on their first booking at the Birmingham Rotunda location. All you need to do is contact the Guest Reservations team on 0121 285 1290 / Hello@stayingcool.com and quote the rate code BritMums100, or alternatively use the code when booking online at StayingCool.com to activate their discount.