2016: Top 16 Things To Do

It might be a few weeks late but welcome to the brand new world that is 2016! In honour of celebrating this time of new beginnings and new opportunities, we thought we would look at some of the must-do activities and festivities in our respective locations so that we can get your 2016 travel bucket-list rolling.

Aberdeen

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SPECTRA 2015 

http://www.visitaberdeen.com/whats-on/calendar/spectra-aberdeens-festival-of-light/?date=2015-02-19

  1. Footdee – while irrefutably the beach is a prominent attraction in Aberdeen, make sure to explore the idyllic village located by the sea known as Footdee, or more affectionately by the locals, as ‘Fittie’. A well-preserved fishing village, Footdee is truly charming and unique and takes you to times gone by.
  2. Park & Gardens – looking for an oasis of calm among the hustle and bustle of city life? Make sure to discover the parks that have helped Aberdeen win the accolade of “Britain in Bloom” a record breaking number of times. From the tropical winter gardens in Duthie Park that houses the UK’s largest collection of cacti to the fairy tale wonder of Johnstone Gardens complete with bridges and waterfalls, there is plenty of natural beauty to be admired among Aberdeen’s silver exterior.
  3. Dolphin Watch – a little known fact but apparently Aberdeen is one of the prime locations in Europe in which to view dolphins at play in the sea. Therefore, flock to the harbour during the summer months to witness our beautiful friends with fins. There is even a Dolphin Adventure Cruise!
  4. SPECTRA – in collaboration with Scotland’s focus Year of Architecture, Innovation and Design; SPECTRA is Aberdeen’s very own stunning Festival of Light which takes places in Union Terrace Gardens. With international artists and Scottish collaborators engaging in displays and exhibitions that focus on light, sound and interaction; it is perfect for anyone of any age and will truly bring the city to life!

Birmingham

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SPECTRA 2015

http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/lifestyle/food-drink/birmingham-street-food-guide-whos-7607752

  1. Jewellery Quarter – a fan of all things that sparkle and glitter? Well, make sure not to miss the world-renowned Jewellery Quarter which is home to one of the largest concentrations of firms involved in the jewellery trade and has over 200 listed buildings; testament to its rich heritage. Full of culture and history, the Jewellery Quarter is a vivacious trendy urban destination that cannot be missed.
  2. Grand Central – it is undeniable how Birmingham is a prime retail destination and the opening of Grand Central last year only substantiated that reputation. With over 60 premium retailers including the UK’s flagship John Lewis, you could spend one weekend in this shopping centre alone!
  3. Street Food – Birmingham is becoming one of the emerging cities in the UK for serving high quality street food; who needs a formal Michelin experience (although Birmingham offers a tasty abundance of these too!) when you can have convenience and food on the go. There is a weekly street food event on Fridays where you can sample all kinds of tempting treats from burgers to waffles. Make sure your stomach does not miss out!
  4. Music Festivals – As well as an emerging food destination, Birmingham is starting to become a city known on the map for its music festivals. With highlights including the Moseley Folk Festival; the Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival and MADE Birmingham, there is plenty of musical festivities to keep audiences of all kinds singing and dancing away.

Glasgow

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SPECTRA 2015

https://film.list.co.uk/article/15259-gaelic-film-festival-announced-as-part-of-celtic-connections/

  1. Celtic Connections – One of the prime highlights of Glasgow’s winter calendar, Celtic Connections sees over 2,100 musicians descending on the city to engage in one of the most renowned folk, roots and world music festivals. It is a thrilling 18 days full of ceilidhs, art exhibitions and concerts that celebrate Celtic music and its cross-cultural connections – definitely one not to be missed.
  2. Glasgow International – A biennial festival celebrating contemporary art, Glasgow International is globally renowned and cements Glasgow’s reputation as a leading participator in the visual arts. Occurring in various locations across the city, Glasgow International celebrates the best of both local and international contemporary art and is perfect for audiences of all ages and kinds.
  3. Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design – This year sees Scotland celebrate the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design; and where better to celebrate this focus year than in Glasgow – a city renowned for its gorgeous and iconic architecture; primarily courtesy of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. As a result of this focus year, there will be a year-long Festival of Architecture occurring in Glasgow meaning that all throughout the year there will be engaging events to participate in and to really get to know Glasgow.
  4. Glasgow Film Festival – One of the UK’s largest and most established film festivals, Glasgow Film Festival is definitely one not to be missed! With renowned Glasgow venues such as Kelvingrove Art Gallery holding specially themed screenings, it is a film experience like no other.

Edinburgh

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Maison de Moggy 

http://uk.askmen.com/top_10/travel/animal-cafes_3.html

  1. Edinburgh Heritage Food Trail – In collaboration with Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, the Food Trail devised in 2015 is a new (and tasty!) way of getting to know Edinburgh and its rich history. Covering cooking schools, farmer markets and even the Palace of Holyroodhouse, it is a journey across Edinburgh and back in time like no other.
  2. Edinburgh Festivals – One of the world’s leading festival cities, it is irrefutable that a prime reason to visit in 2016 is to participate in one of the plethora of festivals on offer. From an International Film Festival to festivals celebrating everything from Jazz and Blues to Books to Science, not even counting the summer highlight of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, there is definitely a festival for everyone!
  3. The Real Mary King’s Close – Sometimes all the excitement is not to be found above ground, but below. Take a tour of the hidden streets lurking below the bustling city that have been in existence since the 17th century by tour guides costumed as people from the past; there is no shortage of horror stories to regale.
  4. Cat Café – Scotland’s inaugural cat café, this is the perfect café to visit if you are a fan of furry moggies! Aptly titled, Maison de Moggy, you can eat cakes and have a warm cuppa while in the warm presence of some furry, cuddly friends.

Serviced Apartments: Share an Apartment, Share the Benefits

The future of business travel.

2016 looks to be the year of the serviced apartment provider with it even beginning to be described as a ‘mainstream’ form of accommodation by Booking.Com; thus inferring its rising star status. One of the reasons that can be attributed to the meteoric rise of the serviced apartment is its increasing prominence in the business travel sector as many employers come to appreciate the value for money and space that serviced apartments offer; particularly in this time of budget cutting. Moreover, the lack of a minimum stay policy means that companies can be ensured that their employees have a safe place to stay for as little as one night, to even as long as a year. However, the jewel in the serviced apartment crown is undoubtedly the apartment sharing benefit that it offers employers which means that colleagues can share an apartment and can share the price. As a result, apartments are particularly popular with contractors and the following benefits that apartment sharing provides; only advocates this:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Even as the number of people who share the apartment increases, the price does not. This is because we charge per apartment, not per person. Therefore, when colleagues share, it is much more cost-effective as it really is a case of more, for less. Whether you want two bedrooms to hold two colleagues or a set of twin rooms so that four colleagues can be accommodated, we have it covered.
  2. Combat the Loneliness: There can be nothing worse than returning to an empty hotel room, however when colleagues share an apartment you always have someone to return to. Between the kitchen and the lounge, there is plenty of space for you and your colleagues to hang out in; which is particularly useful for any impromptu business meetings around the dining table.
  3. Have Your Own Space: Serviced apartments may be useful for social purposes, but they are also beneficial for space and privacy because we all know that everyone needs time to themselves. Our exceptionally spacious apartments complete with kitchen and lounges mean that you are not all cramped in one room. Similarly, we also offer two-bedroomed apartments, meaning you have your own space to retire to at night and have an abundant supply of closet space for all your work clothes.
  4. Be Your Own Chef: With our fully-equipped kitchens that come complete with a fridge, freezer, oven, microwave and toaster, you can make dinners worthy of a Michelin starred restaurant for two; saving on restaurant bills. Likewise, if you and your colleagues have conflicting dietary habits, then there is plenty of cabinet space for keeping your rations separate.
  5. City Centre Locations: Located in the bustling city centres of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Birmingham; you are not at a loss as to places to visit when you sign off from work. Therefore, if you are in need of some ‘me’ time there are plenty of places to visit whether it is a refreshing pint or an indulgent glass of wine in a pub or a walk through a park to clear the mind.

Make sure to visit http://www.thespires.co.uk or phone 0845 2700 0900 today to join the masses in reaping the benefits of apartment sharing!

Serviced Apartments: The Solution to Business Travel Blues

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People often think that there could be nothing better or more glamorous than travelling the world as part of your career. However, the reality is that many business people are actually frustrated with having to travel for business, particularly as more often than not, it is not necessarily to international trendy cities but simply to the other side of the same country. A survey carried out by British Airways uncovered the top five motives that encourage business travellers to not be particularly fond of travelling for work and they are as follows:

  1. Being Away From Family – 64%
  2. The Long Hours – 58%
  3. The Stress of Connecting Flights – 44%
  4. A Lack of Internet – 24%
  5. Being Unable to Work – 16%

However, these are not the only issues; there are a few other common gripes which have been highlighted by http://realbusiness.co.uk/article/32343-the-five-worst-things-about-business-travel–and-what-do-to-about-them With a lot of the customer base of serviced apartments like The Spires being corporate, this is already indicative of their ability to be a business travel lifesaver. Although, there is not much we can do to solve the issues of connecting flights, we do have your back covered when it comes to easing the pain of the other prolific gripes. Therefore, this reflects how serviced apartments should be your prime choice of accommodation when travelling for business.

Say Goodbye to Loneliness!

For instance, we know how hard it is to be away from the family, however with our spacious apartments that can accommodate up to 6 persons, we offer a simple solution: bring your family with you! With fully-equipped kitchens and lounges as well as bedrooms which can be either twins or doubles (select locations only), our accommodations could not be any more family friendly; particularly as we can provide cots and high chairs for the little ones. Therefore, if you are staying for an extended period of time, The Spires can almost act as your second home from home; complete with dining tables for everyone’s favourite family dinners. You will all be fighting over the remote in no time.

Likewise, on this note of all the space our apartments can provide, this means it is also possible for colleagues to share an apartment; without the trauma of having to share a room. This will help to keep costs down as well as will fight the feeling of loneliness – it is a win-win for the both the employer and employee.

Needing some space and a breather?

You have been in an office and in meetings all day long and the last thing you want to do is go out and socialise but at the same time you do not like the thought of returning to a bare hotel room. Well, serviced apartments can help with this.  With a lounge, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom; you are not confined to a single room but have plenty of space in which to spread yourself out and relax. Our apartments are minimalist and stylish yet still retain that familial feel meaning that you feel perfectly comfortable and welcome. Therefore, why we cannot unfortunately prevent your long hours, we can help to make your downtime as leisurely and relaxing as possible. Likewise, we have a noise policy in place and so you never have to worry about not getting a good night’s rest; particularly when combined with our sumptuously comfy beds.

A Lack of Internet?

In this technological age where we are all digital natives, we know that one of the biggest worries is being disconnected. However, when you stay at The Spires, you do not need to be in fear of this because we have a very secure and reliable WiFi connection. While there is a charge, this is because our WiFi is very high quality and robust. There is nothing worse than the promise of free WiFi at a hotel which you can never access or face exceptionally slow speeds, and that is never the case here. Therefore, you do not have to live in fear of the WiFi cutting out but relax and know you will always get a secure and rapid connection which means you can keep in contact with both the business world and your family/friends.

Unable to Work?

There is nothing worse than being confined to a hotel room where you hardly have room to unpack your suitcase let alone spread out your work documents – you can almost go stir-crazy from being in such a confined space. However, with serviced apartments you have more than just a bedroom but a lounge and dining table. This means not only do you have enough room to spread out your papers and files, but can you sleep in a room separate from your work and laptop and you can also work in comfort on one of our cosy couches. Likewise, both in the lounges and bedrooms we provide ample cupboard and drawer space so you never have to be at a loss as to where to put your belongings.  Therefore, whether you want to relax or work, our peaceful apartments provide the perfect ambiance which enables you to be at max productivity.

Scared of Eating Alone?

Nothing makes people quite as self-conscious as eating alone in a restaurant, however when you stay in a hotel room, you do not have much choice because you do not have any cooking facilities. Therefore, unless you are happy with cold supermarket dinners constituting of sandwiches and crisps or take-aways; restaurants seem to be your only saviour. That is, unless you stay in a serviced apartment. With fully-equipped kitchens that include a microwave, toaster, oven, fridge, freezer and more, you can make dinners worthy of a Michelin starred restaurant or you can simply just do a high quality beans and toast. Either way, our kitchens are the perfect solution to the self-consciousness of eating in a restaurant; the expense of eating out and providing the freedom that enables you to cook to satisfy your own dietary requirements.

Location, Location, Location

Surveys have also revealed that business travellers are fearful of that generic stay in an airport hotel where your nearest attractions are the hotel bar or the airport itself. However, all our apartments have exceptionally city central convenient locations meaning that you are right in the midst of all the attractions, be them culinary, cultural, natural or retail, and are potentially not too far from your work location too. Therefore, when you are tired from all your meetings but want to see the local sights, or just to have a refreshing pint, our apartments provide the perfect location in which to enable this.

Christmas All Over the World

Here at The Spires, we are fortunate enough to have a rather global customer base and so we have the joy of welcoming guests from all walks of life and countries – we even have a rather international selection of staff to match! Obviously at this time we speak a lot about Christmas and the festive period, however not everyone spends it in the same way (and we do not just mean who opens their presents in the morning vs the afternoon!) and so we thought we would take a look at the unique ways in which Christmas is celebrated all around the world.

  1. Sweden – Goats play a major role in the Swedish Christmas festivities with a massive ‘Straw Goat’ being configured in Gavle; a major Swedish City. The ‘Straw Goat’ is so infamous because every year it has to fend itself from arsonists and vandals with it only having survived till Christmas Day 13 times since the tradition began in 1966.

Merry Christmas – God Jul

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Image: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/christmas/9708830/Christmas-2012-The-Swedish-goat-that-takes-Christmas-by-the-horns.html

  1. India – ever thought about decorating a mango or banana tree with tinsel and baubles? Well, instead of the usual fir tree, mango and banana trees (or any tree in reach) are used and mango leaves are even used as a festive form of decoration to spruce up the house.

Śubh krisamas – शुभ क्रिसमस

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Image: https://onmogul.com/articles/strange-and-unique-christmas-traditions-around-the-world

  1. Norway – in Norway, gift exchanges happen on the 24th of December and underneath your tree you may receive gifts from Santa Claus or even more unusually from small gift-bearing gnomes known as Nisse who are an integral part of festive Scandinavian folklore. One of the most renowned elements of a Norwegian Christmas is how every Christmas they donate a tree to the UK as an expression of gratitude to the support that the UK people showed the Norwegians during WW2. You can find the tree in Trafalgar Square, London. Another interesting fact is that a national Christmas tune that has all the Norwegians dancing is called Musevisa – a song about a family of mice welcoming in Christmas! Likewise, on Christmas Eve, all the brooms are locked away so the witch cannot come and steal them.

 

Merry Christmas = God Jul

 

  1. Australia – We traditionally associate Christmas with the winter season however in the land Down Under, this is totally flipped around because Australians actually celebrate Christmas in the midst of the summer holidays. Anyone fancy a barbecue as Christmas dinner or Santa in a pair of shorts? It does happen! Something unique about the Australian means of festive decoration is that their houses are adorned with “Christmas Bush” – a native Australian tree with small green leaves and cream flowers. There is even a famous Australian tune (“Six white boomers”) which details how Santa swaps his trusty team of reindeers for a rather unique assemble of kangaroos.
  1. Mexico – In Mexico, you can view the traditional nativity scene from a slightly different perspective on Noche de Los Rábanos in Oaxaca– the Night of the Radishes. On this special day on the 23rd, farmers carve special decorations out of radishes including nativity scenes and human figures with the aim of winning prizes.

 

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Image: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/156007574563811575/

  1. Poland – An interesting fact about the Polish way of spending Christmas is that on Christmas Eve when the main dinner is eaten (Wigilia), tradition goes that you should not start digging in till the first star in the sky has been seen – you better be hoping for a rather starry night! Likewise, we hope you are hungry because there are traditionally 12 dishes served to represent the bringing of luck for the following 12 months of the New Year and to represent the 12 Apostles.

Merry Christmas – Wesołych Świąt

  1. Japan – only in recent decades has Christmas really taken off in Japan but as opposed to being a predominant religious holiday, it is more about joy and happiness. As a result, it is not such a family holiday but actually one more for the lovers out there. Christmas Eve is the highlight of the season and it is a day which is almost akin to Valentine’s Day due to the feeling of romance in the air with couples getting together to exchange presents. Therefore, have fun trying to book a restaurant on the 24th! Of course, what is a meal without dessert and while Christmas cake is an equally traditional dish in Japan, it has a slightly different flavour as it is a sponge cake predominantly decorated with whipped cream and strawberries. Likewise, KFC tends to be the family favourite with sales for the famous fried chicken brand going through the roof on Christmas Eve due to Western advertising!

Merry Christmas – Meri Kurisumasu

  1. Russia – It is not the 24th, 25th or even the 26th on which Christmas is celebrated, but actually the 7th of January. This is in keeping with the Orthodox Church which uses the old ‘Julian’ calendar.

Merry Christmas – С Рождество́м

  1. Czech Republic – The Czech Christmas is full of rather unusual superstitions. For instance, with their backs to a door, single ladies will throw a shoe over their shoulder and if the toe lands pointing towards the door, then this means they will be married within the year. Likewise, if you want to be doubly sure of your fate, on the 4th of December an unmarried lady will place a cherry tree twig in water and if it blooms before the 24th, this is another sign of a wedding on the horizon. There is also a superstition in regards to Christmas Dinner in that if someone manages to successfully fast the whole of the 24th, they will witness the “golden pig”.

Merry Christmas – Veselé Vánoce!

 

  1. Venezuela – There is a rather odd custom in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, whereby between December 16th and 24th, the roads are closed – in order to enable people to roller-skate to the daily mass.

Merry Christmas – Feliz Navidad

 

  1. Ukraine – fancy a Christmas tree with a Halloweeny twist? Well, in Ukraine, spider webs are used as a unique way of decorating the tree. Fear not, the webs are fake but the story behind the tradition is that it will help to garner good luck because there is the legend that a poor family went to bed full of sadness that they could not decorate the tree. However, the spiders in the household took pity on them by decorating the trees with their webs and so the next morning when the family woke up, the webs had turned into gold and silver – changing their fate forever.

Merry Christmas – z Rizdvom Khrystovym

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Image: https://onmogul.com/articles/strange-and-unique-christmas-traditions-around-the-world

  1. The Netherlands – The most important day of the holiday season is on December 6th, when Sinterklaas comes to town with his servant “Black Peter”. They arrive in style on a steamboat (as Sinterklaas does not live in the North Pole, but oddly in Spain) and when they land ashore, bells ring out in celebration.

Merry Christmas – Prettig Kerstfeest

  1. Estonia – A very historic and important Estonian Christmas tradition is how on the 24th, the main celebration day at Christmas, people go to a sauna as a family before the festive activities.

Merry Christmas – Häid Jõule

  1. Italy –January 6th, on Epiphany Eve, is also a special festive day in Italy where there is a slightly different kind of gift-giver. It is not Santa arriving on his sleigh, but an old lady on a broomstick who is considered as a good witch and who goes by the name of ‘Befana’. Like Santa however, if you have been a good child then you will get your candy but if you have been naughty, expect that rather depressing lump of clay!

Merry Christmas – Buon Natale

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 Image: http://www.quirkyguide.com/event/new-year-witch-italy

  1. Iceland – How many of us have asked for more than one Santa? Well, in Iceland, your hopes and wishes would be answered because they do not just have one Santa, but 13 and they go by the name of “Yule Lads”. However, there are still not 13 Santas roaming about the North Pole and flying in by sleigh, as the “Yule Lads” reside in the mountains and they traverse down the mountains one after the other to hand the children their gifts.

Merry Christmas – Gleðileg Jól

 

  1. Canada – What could be more magical than receiving a letter back from Santa once you send him that all-important list? Well, in Canada the magic comes true because if you write to SANTA CLAUS, NORTH POLE, H0H 0H0, CANADA, then you could receive a letter back! Santa can handwrite or type the letters in over 30 languages including braille.
  1. Greenland – Looking for an alternative Christmas dinner? Well Greenland has some rather unique culinary specialities including Kiviak, which is a small auk (a bird) which has been wrapped in a seal skin. It goes through a rather extensive preparation process with it being buried for approximately 7 months and it is then eaten once it has decomposed.

Merry Christmas – Juullimi Pilluarit

  1. Philippines – We have all said at some point that we wished Christmas was every day and while this is not a custom in any country, if you really want to make the most of the festive season, go to the Philippines. The Philippines are known as having the longest running Christmas celebration in the world with it not being uncommon for festive tunes and Christmas carols to have been heard since September and lasting till early January.

Merry Christmas – Maligayang Pasko

 

  1. Austria – Renowned as being a stunningly beautiful country, particularly in the winter season, Austria actually takes a rather scary turn in the Christmas season with men dressing up as “Krampus” – a devil/demon kind of creature who threatens to beat misbehaving children with branches. Their purpose? To scare poor unsuspecting kids and adults – it is Christmas with a dark side!

Merry Christmas – Frohe Weihnachten

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Image: http://checkhookboxing.com/showthread.php?28320-Happy-Krampus-Day-from-Austria!

  1. Portugal – The traditional Christmas feast in Portugal is known as “consoda” and what makes it so unique is that an extra place is set at the dinner table; normally to represent a deceased relative. This is seen as a way of generating good luck and fortune for the family in the following year.

Merry Christmas – Feliz Natal

Wherever you celebrate Christmas and however you celebrate it, we hope you have a magical one with friends and family.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

The velvety warming taste of hot chocolate; the wondrous glow of streets bathed in an array of vibrant lights that sparkle in the dark and the snowflakes falling gracefully from the sky; it can only be winter. Factor in the cheerful buzz of everyone’s favourite Christmas tunes on repeat and the streets brimming  with people in varying levels of stress as they run manically from store to store and you know Christmas has arrived in full force. While we all know there is nothing quite as exciting as seeing our houses all decorated head-to-toe to match our fetching winter ensembles consisting predominantly of the uber-trendy Christmas jumpers, nothing beats the sight of a whole CITY ablaze with the festive spirit. It is irrefutable that you will never witness a city quite as stunning and as lit up as it is during Christmas and with locations in some of the UK’s most popular cities from Birmingham to Edinburgh, you know that when you stay with us you can witness some of the greatest shows and festivities put on at this time of year. Therefore, sit back with a mug of hot cocoa and discover all of the fun and cheer you can have when you visit some of our locations this December:

Aberdeen

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Image Source: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/aberdeen-world-record-bid-people-2846533

It is known as the Silver City, but at this time of the year Aberdeen diversifies and allows all hues of effervescent greens, reds, golds, purples and more to colour the skyline. There could not be a better time to visit Aberdeen than this year as it is the inaugural year of its own largest Winter Festival. With an open-air ice rink; thrilling fairground rides; an entertainment marquee and the scintillating smells of fresh delicious food emanating from the German inspired stalls; it combines to create an idyllic scene which is not to be missed. While you are not busy stuffing your face with all the finest festive delicacies at the Christmas market, you can get further into the Christmas spirit by belting out all your favourite Christmas carols with full gusto at the traditional Christmas Carol Concert at Duthie Park or you can take a moment to reflect on what Christmas is all about by witnessing the Christmas nativity scene at the St. Nicholas Kirkyard right in the centre of the city. If you are still needing to engage in some Christmas present shopping while visiting, you are in the right place with the Trinity Centre, Bon Accord Centre and Union Square offering beloved brands to satisfy all kinds of wallets from designer to department stores. However, if you are looking for something a bit more authentic and unique, make sure not to miss “The Arts of Gifts” Christmas Market which is brimming with gorgeous handmade jewellery; ceramics; Christmas cards and artworks. Of course, while you are in town make sure not to miss Aberdeen’s pantomime extravaganza production of Peter Pan!

To unearth all the Aberdonian Christmas magic, go to:

http://www.visitaberdeen.com/whats-on/calendar/

Birmingham

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Image: http://www.edgemagazine.org/guide-christmas-markets.html

There is no image quite as synonymous with Birmingham and Christmas like its nationally renowned Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Fair. If you cannot make it to Germany this year than this festival is no poor man’s second as it is the second LARGEST German market outside of Germany and Austria and is just as authentic. With over 180 stalls selling everything from jewellery to gifts to the finest German cuisine specialities; it is almost like being in Germany but at a much lower cost! However, it is not just its German market that is the prime attraction, but its attached craft fair where you can buy all kinds of charming and beguiling crafted goods as designed by local artisans. However, there is a whole other host of ultra-festive activities to engage in from festive plays to Christmas carol concerts to Christmas markets to even candlelit tours happening all over the city. If you fancy a day trip, then make sure to consider Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Warwick Castle which are both getting into the spirit. At Shakespeare’s Birthplace, you can partake in more traditional festivities which are typical to the Tudor time period or alternatively you can meet with the Big Man himself (Santa, not Shakespeare!) at Warwick Castle.  If you have time for some giggles and cheesiness, make sure to swing by Birmingham’s 2015 pantomime of choice, Aladdin, or there is the equally enchanting production of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to be seen at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre! Similarly, for something more historical but equally breath-taking, make sure to take in the majesty of the Royal Shakespeare’s Company production of Wendy and Peter Pan. Of course if you are in Birmingham then you are in prime position to complete that Christmas list because between the designer temptations of the Mailbox to the brand new shiny floors of Grand Central to the unique handcrafted works in the Jewellery Quarter, there are no shortages of places to find the perfect gift.

For full details of all the festive excitement and entertainment, go to:

http://visitbirmingham.com/christmas-in-birmingham/

Glasgow

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Image: http://getaroundglasgow.co.uk/photos/georgesquare/

There is no city that embodies the Christmas spirit quite like Glasgow with their self-proclaimed “Glasgow Loves Christmas” campaign. However, once you witness all that it has to offer, you will not be surprised why! Within the rustic wooden cabins that align St. Enoch Square, you will find all kinds of tempting festive goods from exquisite cuisines of all nationalities to intricate crafts and stunning decorations – perfect for a browse when armed with a succulent German Bratwurst and a warming mug of hot cocoa. Surrounded by the Buchanan Galleries, Ingram Street and Princes Square, it is the perfect place to visit when you are in the midst of a Christmas shopping break. However, if you want to get to the heart of the festive cheer that emanates from the city; then make sure to stop by George Square. With its iconic ice rink as well as the big wheel and the entertainment offered at the Winter Cabin, there will be no better place to celebrate this winter season. When in Glasgow, make sure to take the time to find gifts for yourself or for your significant others in some of Glasgow’s 1500 plus stores such as at the Argyll Arcade, Merchant City or the West End. Alternatively, make sure to sit back and enjoy a few laughs at Scotland’s biggest pantomime extravaganza of Peter Pan.

Discover all the festive cheer happening in the city at:

http://www.glasgowloveschristmas.com/Pages/Home.aspx

Edinburgh

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Image: http://www.neweuropetours.eu/blog/edinburgh/51-edinburghs-christmas-markets-and-events

There is nowhere better to spend the most magical time of the year than in Edinburgh whose sparkling skyline is iconic when it comes to the festive period due to its adornment of lights. Not just in one area, Christmas spreads itself all around from The Royal Mile to St. Andrews Square to Princes Street Gardens. While there are the traditional star attractions of the Big Wheel, Star Flyer, Santa Land and the iconic ice rinks which never fail to thrill, extra magic is also brought in the form of the Virgin Money ‘Street of Lights’ which has transformed the Royal Mile into the most glittering, sparkling and animated sight ever as well as an abundance of all kinds of new exhilarating attractions. Therefore, even if you have experienced an Edinburgh Christmas once, there are still plenty of brand new reasons to do it again! There are a whole host of Christmas markets ranging from large European marketplace affairs to slightly more intimate and local gatherings. The two headlining festivals are undoubtedly the European Christmas Market and Scottish Market which can be found in Princes Street Gardens and St. Andrew’s Square respectively and offer tantalising foods; charming handcrafted goods; exquisite jewellery and stunning gifts that are steeped in both national and international culture – perfect for a wander on a cold winter’s day with a warming cup of mulled wine in your gloved hand. Alternatively, the Virgin Money Street of Light is definitely one not to be missed which illuminates the Royal Mile in full festive glow due to the magnificent line-up of 16 spell-binding lit up arches each reaching 19m high. It is a spectacular kaleidoscope production of colour and light like nothing else! Of course amongst all the markets and fairground rides, you cannot miss the entertainment central of Paradiso Spiegeltent which will play host to a vibrant array of fantastic shows to entertain all ages. Edinburgh’s chosen panto for the year is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the King’s Theatre but if you are looking for something a bit more delicate and elegant, make sure to not miss out on the beauty of Cinderella as performed by the Scottish Ballet. If you are coming to Edinburgh, then there could not be a more opportune time to complete that Christmas list with a flourish. From the traditional treasures of the Royal Mile to the beloved brands of George Street and Princes Street and then the unique independents of the Grassmarket, you are guaranteed to find something for everyone.

To discover all the fantastic festive fun, make sure to check out: http://thisisedinburgh.com/things-to-do/christmas-in-edinburgh/

Therefore, you know where all the fun and festivities are to be had this season and so make sure to discover them all. Whether you come by yourself, with your friends or with your family, we have apartments to cater to all sizes and there could not be a better place to relax after all the magic and joy. Visit www.thespires.co.uk to book your visit to a Winter Wonderland.

 

Memoirs of a Placement Sales Administrator

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It is exceptionally weird to think that about approximately this time last year, I had absolutely no awareness of the serviced apartment industry. Flashforward to today and I could probably whittle off a general definition of the industry as well as a list of all the major operators, agents and associations in the field like snap. This is the power of working for a serviced apartments firm like “The Spires” and wherever I go now, whether it is a national or international destination, my eyes are attuned to looking for such accommodation firms – my travel habits have quite clearly been altered.

Throughout the year you may have read some of my sporadic blogs on what life was like as a Sales Admin and this is to be my swan song; the ultimate recap of my placement life. Of course I started the year with good intentions of blogging weekly but as happens with all New Year resolutions, this started to fade out pretty quickly as the months passed. As stated, this time last year I was completely oblivious to the service apartment concept but due to my internship I have been in far many than I count; I have tweeted about them; blogged about them, researched them and I kid not when I say that I have indeed dreamt about them. I have also not just worked behind-the-scenes in terms of promoting them, but have also ventured into the front line and been one of the faces for the Aberdeen Front of House. Therefore, bar finance and actual management, there is not a lot of the serviced apartments world I have not witnessed and learned from!

Over the course of the first six months, I was predominantly responsible for the online promotion of the firm in terms of social media management, website content and email marketing as well as for the administrative element such as updating booker contact details and classifying customers. These were tasks that I thoroughly enjoyed because they allowed me to use my initiative, be autonomous, use my creativity and as the world moves increasingly online, I know this can only benefit me. Moreover, I am not sure many can take the pleasure of saying they are being paid to be on Facebook! It is particularly surreal that it was a part of my job description and it did take a while for me not to feel the need to justify my internet habits if anyone happened to pass by my monitor – I was working I swear it. However, with that privilege came a lot of responsibility because you want to ensure you present the firm in the best light and to make sure what you post is synonymous with the values of the company. Similarly, as I have learnt, the aim of attracting new followers is not an easy one to achieve and it took a lot of work. Something that was quite surprising was how much researching is involved in terms of material to post and things to blog about, I never realised how difficult it is to come up with a fresh angle and to balance promoting the firm while not out-right selling it because that does not really work on social media. It is all about building that relationship and getting to interact with customers on a personal level, something which I realised in that my most popular postings tended to be in relation to things like team birthdays or accomplishments. I imagine that is because everyone likes to see the faces behind the firm.

Therefore, while being very active with the back-of-house team and phoning many a travel booker, my Sales Administrator position was quite independent and relatively laid-back in that I did not have a lot of contact with external stakeholders nor had strict deadlines to meet. This was epitomised by the fact that throughout the whole six months, I never had someone phone or email me. Conversely, Front of House was the complete flip-side of this. Between customers, agencies and companies, I made and received countless phone calls/emails a day and felt immensely popular – post-it notes became my best friends. I can honestly say that time has never passed as quickly before, while as a Sales Admin I was free to work at my own pace, in Front Of House it felt like I was juggling many balls all at once and so the sand-timer was always ticking down! However, while undeniably challenging, it was ultimately very rewarding in terms of testing my ability to think on my feet, multi-task and be responsible. Of course having the chance to interact with our guests, especially from international destinations like Japan and Singapore, was thoroughly enjoyable especially as you were playing a part in making their holiday to Scotland special. It was particularly gratifying getting to know the regulars to the extent where you already knew their name as soon as they walked through the door and they already had their ID at the ready.

Overall, I do not think there could have been a better time to work in the firm because with the opening of the Edinburgh location and the development of “The Apartment Collection – By The Spires”, it was such a dynamic atmosphere with a lot of excitement, as well as drama aplenty of course! Therefore, through the highs and through the lows, there was not a single moment I regretted working at The Spires because the people were some of the loveliest I have ever worked with and I loved the camaraderie of the office; it was always a joy to go in (particularly on the days where there was cake – which was a lot of them). I certainly feel I have developed personally and professionally and so I am immensely grateful I was chosen to work for the firm and that they have even allowed me to stay on. If there is one thing that is particularly surreal it is that when I make that 15 minute journey to The Spires from my home once a week, it never feels like I ever worked here full-time, not least for eight months. Thankfully, I have all those tweets, posts, blogs and databases to prove otherwise and as I continue on, even if for only a few hours a week, it is nice to know I am leaving my own kind of legacy.

Welcome to The Spires Serviced Apartments Edinburgh!

Welcome to The Spires Edinburgh

One of the greatest highlights of 2015 thus far for The Spires has undoubtedly been the opening of our brand new Edinburgh apartments. Located on Hanover Street, the latest stunning additions to our apartment portfolio are conveniently located right in the middle of all the action. Therefore, whether you are travelling for business or for leisure, you are located right near to all the major shops, visitor attractions, restaurants and transport links – making for the ultimate travel experience.

Convenience, cost-effectiveness, flexibility and space; these are all the elements we love the most about serviced apartment living. To really get a feel for the serviced apartment experience, make sure to follow our insight into what a stay at The Spires Edinburgh is like:

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Welcome to The Spires! Whether you stay for one night or for even up to a year, we welcome all lengths of stay and want to create an ambiance and setting that makes you feel like you have found your home from home – no matter how temporarily.

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As much as we love our friendly, welcoming Front of House team to greet all guests, we appreciate that is not possible. However, if you do arrive out with reception hours, do not fear as we have an Express Check-In system that we will let you know all about in advance. Therefore, on arrival all you will need to do is pick up your keys and you will be quickly on your way!

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Welcome to your new home! As only you have the key to your apartment, you can feel instantly safe and secure – your privacy is everything.

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Regardless of what apartment you have chosen to stay in, you will always be greeted by ultra-modern, spacious and stylish surroundings that have been tastefully designed to shelter you from the hustle and bustle of the busy Edinburgh streets. With the potential to hold up to six guests maximum in our ‘plus’ apartments, discover all about the different kinds of apartments we offer:

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Our Studio Apartment

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Our One-Bedroom Apartment

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Our Two-Bedroom Apartment

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Our Two-Bedroom Plus Apartment

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Make yourself at home – there is plenty of space to do it! Whether you want to spread out your belongings or just yourself after a long day, you will not be short of room.

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New to The Spires or to the beautiful and historic city of Edinburgh? Then make sure to read our Guest Directories which await you in all of our apartments. Including information about our apartments, important numbers and providing a helpful insight into the city, this handy guide will introduce you to the city and to our apartments so you feel instantly at ease.

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Let’s get cooking! With our fully-equipped kitchens including a fridge, oven, freezer and other crucial cooking appliances, you can cut back on those restaurant bills by being your own personal chef. Whether you want a quick snack or a gourmet dinner, you have the space and appliances to do it all.

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Alone or with family and friends, there is nothing quite like a home-cooked meal after a long day’s travelling or work.

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Sit back and chill. With a sleek TV and DVD player, as well as complimentary DVDs available at reception, sometimes it is nice to have a quiet night in.

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Every good bedroom requires an en-suite bathroom to match; all of which our two-bedroom apartments offer in addition to the main apartment bathroom. With complimentary Taylor of London’s products to greet you, there is enough room that not everyone has to fight over the bathroom!

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Of course the showpiece of any apartment: the bedroom. Sumptuously comfy and with stunning views to match, there is no denying how easy it is to get a good night’s rest when you stay in our Edinburgh apartments.

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Looking for a room with a view? We may be biased but we do believe there is no city as aesthetically stunning as Edinburgh. Urban, natural and historic: the city has it all. Our top floor apartments in particular offer exceptionally gorgeous views across the Firth of Forth.

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One of the best advantages of serviced apartments are that while you have much more space than a hotel room, you still reap the benefits of services such as housekeeping so your apartment is always kept in tip-top form.

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Of course there is no neglecting the most important meal of the day – breakfast. When you choose to purchase our Breakfast inclusive rate, you will be greeted with a continental breakfast each morning that will get your day off on the right note.

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Whether you stay for a night or longer, it is never easy saying goodbye. However, we want to make your departure just as easy as your check-in so if you need to leave for an early morning flight, make sure to take advantage of our Express Check-Out system.

We hope this goodbye is only temporarily and so you return to see us whether it is in Edinburgh or in our other three bustling locations (Aberdeen, Glasgow and Birmingham). Make sure to let us know how your stay went on Trip Advisor and make sure to keep in touch with us via social media, @TheSpiresSuites is where it is at!

Can you picture yourself here living out the serviced apartment experience? Make sure to learn more about our Edinburgh apartments at http://www.thespires.co.uk/edinburgh-serviced-apartments-and-suites/apartments-and-suites.html, to ‘Like’ our dedicated Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheSpiresEdinburgh/?fref=ts and to get pinning with us on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/thespiressuites/.