The Water of Life

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The amusing thing about life is that with each and every day, there is something being celebrated. For example, there is a designated national awareness food day for almost every food item imaginable (particularly in the USA). Recent illustrations of this is that on May 17th, we will be celebrating National Walnut Day (not one for those with peanut allergies!) and a few days ago unbeknown to me, on May 11th, the world was celebrating the ultimate foodie’s dream day: National Eat What you Want Day. Why am I lamenting on thoughts of days and food? Well, apart from it being the Year of Food & Drink as part of VisitScotland’s latest annual campaign, it is also Whisky Month and tomorrow (May 16th) is actually World Whisky Day. Not just National Whisky Day, but World Whisky Day meaning that a plethora of crystal tumblers around the world will be raised in salute to Scotland’s national drink. Therefore, being located in Scotland it would be almost criminal for us not to mark this special occasion, particularly with our headquarters being in Aberdeen, which is only an hour away from many a small and unique distillery. Therefore, in a land known for its tartan and haggis, we are taking a moment to focus on and appreciate the national drink of Scotland.

First things first, it is undeniable that we have to take a look back to when Scotland’s favourite export rose to prominence. With a history that dates back to the 15th century, the first known event involving whisky was all the way back in 1494 when Friar John Cor of Lindores Abbey in Fife gained the king’s permission to create acqua vitae. Unfamiliar with acque vitae? Well, once translated from Latin, it means “water of life” and this is where whisky’s name stems from; the Gaelic translation. It may sound ironic; however water from Scotland’s burns and streams is indeed a critical component of the whisky making process.

Back in the day, whisky was often associated with rebellion with much being done by Scottish distilleries to avoid the menacing English taxman. The epitome of this was that in the 18th century, there were only eight legal distilleries versus four hundred ILLEGAL ones. However, nowadays, whisky is held in much higher esteem because when we say whisky is one of Scotland’s biggest exports, it is not in jest because whisky actually accounts for more than 85 per cent of Scottish food and drinks exports and is worth a massive £4.3 billion.

It goes without saying that a visit to Aberdeenshire (and Scotland for that matter), is not complete without a visit to a distillery. Both highly educational and enlightening, the experience will differ per distillery from whether you get to witness the blending process or whether you can engage in a cheeky tasting, but it is always a certainty that you will be able to pick up your own bottle of the “water of life” to ensure that you have an authentic piece of Scotland with you. Scotland is home to the only whisky trail in the world, in Speyside, where you will be able to find more than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries each possessing their own unique recipes and history. From Glenfiddich to Glenlivet to Cardhu, these are the famous whiskies we all know, and can be found on this illustrious trail.

However, you do not have to look as far as Speyside to find a fully-functioning distillery. If you are staying with us in Aberdeen and are in search of something to do, even with the family, there are eight distilleries only an hour from Aberdeen which may be smaller in scale, but still have their own exciting story to tell and unique whisky recipe to taste. Fettercairn, Knockdhu and Glen Garioch are some of the names featured and of the eight overall distilleries; at least half of them do have visitor centres making for a perfect day-trip from Aberdeen.

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Similarly, a whisky day-trip is also a possibility with a stay at The Spires in Glasgow due to its close proximity to two distilleries: Auchentoshan Distillery and Glengoyne Distillery. A visit to either or both is a good idea because Auchentoshan is only 20 minutes from Glasgow’s city centre and offers whisky masterclasses and at Glengoyne, you can even craft your own personal blended whisky! Even if you are just looking for a place to relax after a long day of business meetings or exploring the city, Glasgow is renowned for its plentiful supply of whisky bars such as the Bon Accord Ale House which offers a fairly large selection due to it being home to over 300 whiskies. Consequently, it is of no surprise that it is held in very high esteem in the nation.

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If you are thinking of staying with us in Birmingham, you will not miss out on any of the fun there either because Birmingham is certainly not immune from the whisky scene either with it having now hosted an annual Whisky Festival for the past three years. This is no small festival we are talking about either, as while the first festival was attended by an acceptable 200 fanatics, this figure doubled in 2014 to 400 and in 2015, 600 tickets were released as the figure was expected to jump yet again. As a result, it is no surprise that after London, Birmingham’s Whisky Festival is the largest in England. It is clear there is a passion for whisky amongst Birmingham’s residents due to the launching of whisky collections by venues like The Plough, as well as the opening of Hard to Find Whisky; a whisky store that specialises in the selling of rare bottles of whisky. Emphasis is on the word “rare” as some bottles can even be sold for significant sums of money; does anyone have £35,000 to spare?

With it being National Whisky Month, there is a whole host of events going on across Scotland and in particular, there is a wide range of whisky madness occurring all around the globe tomorrow due to it being World Whisky Day. Over 11, 000 people are expected to attend nearly 150 events registered around the globe and if you happen to be staying with us in any of our locations, it is clear that you will be not far from any of the festivities.

Always remember to drink responsibly and with caution 

Sources: http://visitbirmingham.com/what-to-do/birmingyum/events/whisky-birmingham-2015/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinkadvice/11099642/What-does-whisky-mean-to-Scotland.html

http://www.visitaberdeen.com/attractions-and-activities/whisky-distilleries-in-aberdeenshire

https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/whisky-distilleries-breweries

http://www.visitscotland.com/about/food-drink/whisky/

Images: VisitScotland, http://www.trossachs.co.uk, Telegraph

Coming down with a case of Wanderlust

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Every day is a beautiful one, but even more so when it is a well deserved day off. Yes, there is nothing quite like waking up despondently all warm in your bed with your mind consumed by the dreary thoughts of work and stress, only to remember that you can throw that infuriatingly cheerful ringing alarm clock against the wall in victory because you are free of your workplace shackles. It has to be said that nothing brings the nation’s mood and spirit up quite like a few days away from the workplace (for example, the best invention ever: Bank Holidays). Some of us like to laze about on our sofa in our pyjamas, zombified by the almighty power of Netflix whereas others prefer to engage in some rather enticing retail therapy. Do not get me wrong, both of these options are perfection; however in those free glorious days, I like nothing better than to put on my explorer’s hat and travel because I tend to suffer from a case of insatiable wanderlust.

Unfamiliar with this intriguing new word? Until this year, I too was not familiar with it but being a key travel bean, it was a term that my vocabulary welcomed with open arms. If we are to go by the ever reliable Wikipedia, Wanderlust translates as a “strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world” (Oxford Dictionary will attest to this) and it stems from the German words of wandern (to hike) and lust (desire). I have also just discovered that the modern German phrase that has been coined to reflect the itching of the feet and mind to venture to far off places is “Fernweh” which translates as an “an ache for distant places; the craving for travel”. Even with its German origins, it is clear that this is a universal word we all understand because it is more than just a word; it is also a feeling, an emotional reaction and a compulsion.

In my mind, there is no better past-time or gift than to explore. There is so much to be seen; to be eaten and to experience, why would you not want to go out and bask in it? Obviously, there are the slight restrictions of time and money as well as work and family obligations. I am particularly guilty of neglecting these slight obstacles when I go into one of my impassioned speeches about how I aspire to go to Singapore, Malaysia, Beijing, New Zealand, Alaska, Hawaii, Dubai,x,y,z….

The thing is sometimes I think I can be a bit close-minded. Whenever I think of holidays and vacations, I always visualize tranquil untouched beaches; exuberant and vivid market stalls selling all kinds of authentic goods and trendy, hipster hidden cafes offering salivating local delicacies. Essentially, wherever I think of has to be out with the familiar borders of the UK and involve some extensive form of transport. However, as part of the launch of the “Apartment Collection-By The Spires” and its associated website, I have been researching all the serviced apartment locations across the UK and this has sparked within me a desire to see more of the UK. From Harrogate to Newbury, these are all locations I had never thought of before and which now have a solid position on my travel bucket list. I never knew about the true picturesque nature of Cambridge; St Alban’s Viking heritage or York being home to one of the best preserved streets in the UK, and between all these fascinating facts I uncovered, as well as stunning photos of the exquisite architecture, I definitely have a strong case of UK wanderlust.

Therefore, even if you are constricted by time and finance like so many of us are, I am sure there is an exciting place offering its own adventures and beauties potentially only a bus or car ride away from where you are. The definitions of words like “travel” and “wanderlust” have nothing to do with venturing to somewhere a set distance away, there is always something new to discover and there may be something just down the road to satisfy your thirst to explore and travel.  We are all guilty of ignoring our own country as a potential travel spot but every location, no matter how near or far from your home, has its own story to tell and its own sights to be seen. For instance, whenever I hear people say they want to come to Scotland, I am always bemused by what they find so enticing about it. However, then I find articles and photos like this, http://www.buzzfeed.com/hilarywardle/scotland-is-the-worst-aplm#.ka5DWRMRD and I too have to bow down to the greatness of Scotland. Perhaps looking at our home towns and countries through the eyes of a tourist could be the greatest thing we could do.

Ultimately, one of the greatest trends in the tourism industry is that nowadays we all have a desire for authentic experiences. Yes, a lot of us do still enjoy a nice, relaxing all-inclusive beach getaway, but equally so much of us want to venture out to all the hidden gems of the world and have a trip that encapsulates the local community and their local attractions. This is why I firmly believe that travel is one of the greatest gifts we have been bestowed with because it is infinite in its possibilities-there is always somewhere new to explore and something new to learn. Life is all about new experiences and challenging ourselves and what better facilitates that then travel? Travelling takes you to new destinations where undoubtedly you will learn something new about yourself, be it a new skill or an undiscovered inherent characteristic. We can travel to challenge ourselves, or simply to relax and escape the stressful monotony of day-to-day life. Whatever it is, this mammoth world exists to be explored and this is why I am confident that my serious case of wanderlust will never be cured and why I am happy it never will.

Do you suffer from wanderlust too or have any places that you are itching to go to? Let us know which locations have made it on your bucket list!

Image: http://healthfitnessrevolution.com/travel-keeps-heart-brain-healthy/

Sources: http://wikipedia.org

Back to Serviced Apartment Basics

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The Spires Glasgow

The most exciting news at The Spires in the past few weeks is that we have just launched our brand new serviced apartment finding service: “The Apartment Collection- By The Spires”.  As you may know, The Spires initially operated over one hundred serviced apartments across four major UK destinations. However, with this latest development, we are no longer constricted to these geographical boundaries and are now able to source serviced apartments all across the UK & globally; meaning we are now in a position where we are better able to satisfy our customer’s diverse requirements.

Now for a little bit of honesty. When I first interviewed at The Spires, it would be fair to say I was a little ignorant in regards to the serviced apartment world. I could probably give you a satisfactory definition of what a serviced apartment was, but it was not an accommodation form that had really made it into my consideration set when it came to decision-making. Conversely, having now worked at The Spires for approximately 3.5 months I think I can safely say that I am somewhat more enlightened, and while by no means I am a fountain of knowledge or a serviced apartment guru, I am certainly a converted key advocate for them. Therefore, you too may be sitting reading this thinking “why would I want someone to source me a serviced apartment anywhere I want?” or even, “why would I choose to stay in a serviced apartment”. Consequently, I think it is time for you to sit down with a nice hot beverage and prepare for a lesson in serviced apartments as we go back to basics and discover all there is to know about this dynamic industry.

The Definition

There has been much furore and confusion when it comes to deciding on a set definition for a “serviced apartment”, due to the variety in supplier offerings, and this could be at detriment to the industry because it means that customers are in a state of confusion when it comes to their expectations of the experience they will be provided with.  Similarly, many terms are thrown about when it comes to serviced apartments including “suites”, “apart-hotels” and “extended stays” so it is no wonder that it is difficult to create a standardised global image. However, when in doubt, it is best to turn to the official industry body for serviced apartments: The Association of Serviced Apartments (The ASAP). As their Managing Director states,  The ASAP is now marketing “the Serviced Apartment as an umbrella term for a type of furnished apartment available for short–term or long–term stays, which provides amenities, housekeeping and a range of services for guests where taxes and utilities are included in the rental price.” In effect, what makes The Spires unique is that we offer the flexibility and service of a hotel (such as housekeeping and breakfasts on request) with the space, freedom and comfort of an apartment-it is the best of both worlds.

When looking for serviced apartments, there is always a wealth of possibilities to choose from; particularly with individuals being able to lease out their apartments. Therefore, to help you with your decision-making, make sure to look out for those apartments which have passed The ASAP’s Quality Programme because it means it has been subject to a rigorous inspection process and therefore has been deemed as exceeding customer expectations.

The Industry

For all you ever want to know about the serviced apartment world, you need look no further than The Apartment Service’s “The Global Serviced Apartments Industry Report”. This year alone, the report was compiled using findings which had been unearthed from over thirty interviews and over 2, 500 surveys that had been conducted with stakeholders in all relation to the industry from operators to agents to buyers.  Therefore, it is safe to say this report knows what it is talking about.

The most critical finding that was documented, is that the serviced apartment industry is one that is rapidly growing. At present, there are nearly 750,000 serviced apartments operating in over 9, 000 locations and since 2008, there has been an 80% increase in the amount of serviced apartment inventory across the world. The rapidness of the serviced apartment boom can only be emphasized when it is considered how in the past twelve years, the numbers of serviced apartments have doubled and they are predicted to double again in the next four. Yes, as you may infer, as an industry we are aiming for world domination!

Of course, I am sure we have all endured an economics lesson in life and therefore are aware of the connection between supply and demand. Therefore, there would not be this surge in supply if it were not for the fact that there is a market for it. Over 80% of those surveyed stated they preferred serviced apartments over hotels, with factors such as the freedom to make your own meals, as well as the privacy, swaying their preference.

The Misconceptions

Going based off of my own misconceptions, I think one of my greatest ones in regards to serviced apartments was that they were designed for corporate long-term bookings. However, while I cannot speak for the whole industry, I would say that a majority cater for leisure and corporate bookings alike. Similarly, while minimal stays do tend to be in place, this can be from as little as two or three nights and a great percentage of apartments, such as our own, can actually be booked from as little as a one-night stay. This is because booking an apartment is on par with booking a hotel room in that all you have to do is pay for the apartment per night (not the number of people). With the majority of providers, there are no leases or utility bills to be paid separately as you are not taking any ownership of the apartment, like you take no ownership of the hotel room.

The Benefits

As was stated before, 80% of respondents favoured serviced apartments over hotels and in approximately 75% of businesses, employers are increasing their usage of serviced apartments when it comes to business projects and assignments. Hotels and serviced apartments will always be in a heated rivalry because of the similarities of their product offerings, however, would it be biased of me to say that serviced apartments edge it? You get all the benefits of a hotel stay from the attentive housekeeping and the hearty breakfast on request, but you also get that extra space and flexibility; and normally at a lower cost to boot.

 I will not lie; I love the thrill of staying in a luxurious hotel with the thriving lobby environment and shedding the adult responsibilities of making the bed and cooking dinner. However, having stayed in one for a prolonged period of time, I can also say how the novelty does wear off. Being restricted to a sole room can make you go stir-crazy as your legs long to be able to move between more than just the bathroom and the bed.  Similarly, your stomach and your wallet ache from having to eat out all the time. It is true; you do not long for something till you lose it and when you stay at a hotel, you long for those home comforts. Thankfully, that is where serviced apartments come in. You have the familial welcoming decor of your home as well as fully furnished modern kitchens and lounges that mean you can spread yourself out like you do at home and have control over the food you want to make.

Similarly, like hotels, a majority of apartments like ours will have a dedicated reception desk meaning you will always be greeted by a warm, friendly face and have someone there to ensure you have the best experience possible.

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Ultimately, I am confident in saying that the world is waking up to the benefits of the serviced apartments and due to there being over 700,000 located all across the world, with “The Apartment Collection-By The Spires” we can certainly find you an apartment for wherever you want to stay.

Sources: http://www.relocatemagazine.com/articles/reeditor-02-2015-tas-report-reveals-exponential-growth-and-investor-interest-in-serviced-apartments

http://www.relocatemagazine.com/news/re12-d1-2014-5591-asap-unveils-new-quality-accredited-logo-and-serviced-apartment-definition

Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

Aberdeen67A lot of us dream of it: a high-flying career bringing us to all the exotic, glamorous destinations of the world where we precede to work hard in the boardroom, and play hard in our new mysterious surroundings. However, the reality of business relocation is a lot more different. Sometimes, relocation may simply consist of moving to a different city to complete a short-term business assignment or maybe it is moving for a significant period of time to a different country. There are all different kinds of scenarios and with everyone having their own personal circumstances (for example: married vs. single vs. with young family vs. with teenagers), no relocation and its consequences will ever hit two people the same. However, it is clear that it is rare for any relocation to be plain sailing, what with all the expense and mental strain associated with settling in a potentially vastly different territory. Moving firms can be challenging enough as you adapt to new ways of doing business, let alone moving to an entirely new city or country at the same time where you are unfamiliar with everything but still expected to produce results.

When all else is failing or changing in our lives, home tends to be our anchor due to its enduring stability and its association as a safe haven. It is a place where we can be ourselves, where we feel perfectly at peace. However, when people are relocated, they have to find a new place to live and that alongside changes in the professional life can be very stressful and disorientating. When you have had to endure an entirely new corporate culture, the last thing you want is to return to a sterile hotel room and feel no belonging or comfort there either. This is why serviced apartments are so beneficial for relocation, particularly if you have to uproot the family and bring them with you also.

Due to their warm welcome generated from the comfiest furnishings, the unique yet stylish decorations and their inclusion of the congregation points of any home, a lounge and kitchen; serviced apartments definitely embody a home from home feel. You have plenty of space to relax after a long day and you have the flexibility to cook your own meals so as to benefit your health-and your wallet.

Further benefits of a serviced apartment solution to business relocation were provided in the Buying Business Travel March/April edition. For instance, in further relation to employee welfare, it was highlighted how it is the first few weeks that are of critical importance because if the employee does not feel content or is not assimilating during that time-frame, it is highly likely that their secondment or their assignment will not produce the results it could have.

Similarly, it was reflected how it is not just the emotions that serviced apartments benefit in the relocation scenario, it is also the practicalities. For instance, due to their size, it is a lot easier to use serviced apartments for business projects because should the project be expanded or contracted, apartments can tend to meet those changing needs a lot more easily and reduce the potential for disruption. Likewise, as serviced apartments are not tenancies, they save the employees the strain of having to set up internet and nor do they have to worry about paying utilities; they just pay the up-front fee and can extend or cancel their stay with a lot more ease. Moreover, due to the differences between deluxe serviced apartments and penthouses, every level of employee and budget can be catered for.

Last year it was even noted how the relocation market was one that the serviced apartment industry was keeping a particular watchful eye on, and even today the serviced apartment industry continues to rapidly grow as the bigger brands and smaller organisations alike come to desire to capitalise on the benefits of long-term stays. This is the same for shorter-time business stays because as organisations grow and they need to send their employees to handle their international business, this clearly requires accommodation. However, simultaneously, whilst the industry is growing, long-term relocation has been an area that has been slightly hit due to financial cuts resulting in shorter stays; smaller apartments and families not being able to accompany the business traveller.

As someone who has had to travel for work and has stayed in a hotel for an extended period of time, I can certainly vouch for the preference for staying in a serviced apartment. As lovely as it was to have my breakfast cooked for me and to have my room cleaned, it was frustrating to be constricted to such a small space for such a long period of time and to have to rely solely on supermarket snack foods or take-outs. While I still enjoyed the experience, I can say that the novelty wore off and I did always find myself eager to get home to my own house where I had greater freedom to do as I pleased. Therefore, having learnt that serviced apartments not only handle the breakfast and cleaning aspect for you, but also give you that extra space and that ability to cook for yourself, often for a lower price than a hotel room, I would do things differently if I had the chance to do it over again.

Just remember, even though we are here to cater for longer-time stays, one of the biggest misconceptions about our business is that long-term is all we accommodate for. Whether you are here for a night or a year, we welcome all!

To learn more click here: http://www.thespires.co.uk/serviced-apartments-in-glasgow-aberdeen-and-birmingham/long-term-stay-and-relocation

The Sands of Time

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Where does the time go? I swear it was January 26th only a few days ago  when I hesitantly  approached The Spires, a quaking bag of nerves that was daunted yet exhilarated by the thought of encroaching ever so closer into the real adult world of work. However, somehow my calendar is informing me that it is the 27th of April which means I must have been working for 3 months and am therefore at the half-way point through my placement. Consequently, I feel it is a very fitting time to start blogging again and to reflect on what has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience thus far.

So much has been going on at the firm in recent weeks and I expect the action is only set to heighten as important developments like the launching of the new location and “The Apartment Collection-By The Spires” get increasingly underway. One of the things I have enjoyed the most at The Spires is how I get to carry out tasks that are in relation to these projects, such as helping to design the web content for the new website or looking for potential business prospects, as it makes me feel like I am playing even the smallest of parts in helping these important tasks come to fruition. I am really pleased that I joined an organisation that is so focused on expansion, and in such diverse ways, because it is really beneficial to be in a fast-paced dynamic environment that is pro-active and embraces change. I definitely feel there is a lot I can take away from being a witness to this, even if it is just realising the smallest details that have to be considered when opening a new business location.

In the past few weeks, my main tasks have consisted of helping to design the new website, from a content perspective, as well as creating new dedicated social media channels for “The Apartment Collection-By The Spires”. As a result, my social media workload has increased as I have to post as two different accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I am genuinely worried there is a chance I may get a split-personality disorder! I am really excited getting to start the social media from scratch, as opposed to building on to the established channels that existed when I started, because it gives me a chance to see how strong I really am at social media. This makes this endeavour equally daunting because obviously if the follower numbers are not what I hoped, I may have to take a subtle hint from that! I do have to remember that it will be a struggle for the first few months as it will take a while for awareness and interest to grow, but that is what makes the challenge exciting and it will be really engrossing to see how things progress.

Overall, I do feel I have grown a lot from Day 1 in terms of skill and confidence. It really does feel like I have worked here longer than 3 months so when the day comes in 3 months that I no longer walk here bleary eyed and yawning at 8.30am, it will be a weird day. Let’s not get ahead however, 3 months complete still means 3 months to go and I am exceptionally excited to see what they bring.

Till next time,

 Alex

P.S. Help a desperate intern out by liking and following us on Facebook  and Twitter. Thank you :)

Image: www.siddarthwrites.com

The Bard & Birmingham

Shakespeare

As the mighty man himself wrote, “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late”-now is the time to walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps.

It has been quite an unusual chain of linking events this week. Firstly, yesterday in the mail we received a rather mysterious envelope complete with some rather exotic stamps and a letter informing us of how we had been voted “Top Choice 2015” by Lianorg; a professional tourism information site for Asian tourists. As a result, we now have a medal that we are proudly wearing at our Aberdeen HQ and we are now featured on their website. I have to say it is rather intriguing to see The Spires written about in Chinese, even if I am not entirely sure about the translation (thank you Google Translate). It is definitely an achievement to see how we have made even the smallest of foot-steps into the international arena, especially considering the language barrier which makes it really hard to market yourself; particularly as a smaller organisation.

Linking on from our exciting news was how Birmingham, one of our respective locations, has announced that Hainan Airlines is to operate two weekly flights between July 3 and 28 August flying from Birmingham to Beijing; hopefully blazing the way for a regular service. Between the flights expected to carry almost 4,000 Chinese tourists to the UK, and coupled with our online presence on Lianorg, this hopefully will help us to open up to a wider international market. Both of these developments are very exciting if this could potentially pave the way for us spreading our cultural wings and having the chance to welcome an increased number of international guests-particularly from growing economies such as China.

Finally, this then linked on to how Birmingham is re-branding itself as “Shakespeare’s Airport” in China due to the tourism pull that Shakespeare has for Asian tourists and the proximity of Shakespeare’s home to Britain’s Second City. Already the cogs in my brain were turning in regards to writing a blog about the Birmingham-Shakespeare connection, but then it turned out that today is actually National Shakespeare’s Day, making this day of all 365 days in the year the most fitting time to write about the UK’s most renowned playwright and poet. Coincidences eh?!

Stratford-upon-Avon is the fond childhood home of Shakespeare and is located about an hour’s drive or so away from Birmingham. No visit in Stratford-upon-Avon could be complete without a visit to the house where some of the ideas and inspiration behind some of the greatest plays and poems in history potentially began to form; Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Between the house itself where Shakespeare grew as both a boy and a man; the beautiful gardens and the Shakespeare Exhibition, there is much to be explored. The house is even more iconic in that it did not just welcome the great literary mind of Shakespeare; it also opened its doors to the likes of Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens. Stratford-upon-Avon is home not just to Shakespeare’s childhood residence, but also to his wife’s (Anne Hathaway’s Cottage), his mother’s (Mary Arden’s Farm) and his eldest daughter Susanna’s (Hall Croft). Whichever property you visit, if not all, each is glowing in beauty and heritage, with Anne Hathaway’s Cottage even being known as the most romantic cottage in the country. However, from Shakespeare’s birth to his death, Stratford-upon-Avon has witnessed it all as Nash’s House and New Hall formed the background to the final chapter in his life and now Shakespeare and his wife rest in the stunning parish of Holy Trinity Church.

Shakespeare's Birthplace
Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Of course, what is paying tribute to Shakespeare without having an opportunity to see his great works in action? Today, the world’s most widely known theater company, the Royal Shakespeare Company, performs at its resident home in Stratford-upon-Avon where thousands in their droves assemble and while Shakespeare is not the only playwright on the list, with contemporary pieces being performed too, it is still a definite stop on a Shakespeare tour.

Therefore, it is abundantly clear that Stratford-upon-Avon is the place for any literary, Shakespeare or Tudor fanatic. Most people associate Shakespeare and his hometown with London; however Birmingham is a lot closer and more conveniently located if you wanted to balance out a city-break with a bit of historical and cultural enlightenment. Similarly, if you cannot afford the day-trip, there is always The Shakespeare pub in Birmingham!  There are so many reasons why you should visit Birmingham, from Cadbury World to the Bullring to the Jewellery Quarter, and now visiting the birthplace of one of the UK’s most iconic historical figures should be headlining that list also.

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Is Shakespeare not your literary fix? Well, a famous author also descended from Birmingham itself, the man behind the hobbit, J.R.R Tolkien. You can pay a visit to Sarehole Mill where Tolkien spent many a happy moment in his youth playing and see some of the Birmingham sights which are reputably responsible for inspiring him when writing his globally beloved novels. However, whatever your motive for visiting, we are always more than eager to accommodate you and all the family and friends you bring with you.

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Sarehole Mill

Had he been immortal, today on National Shakespeare Day (April 23rd) Shakespeare would be the rather youthful age of 451 years old. However, while he has not lived to see that mighty age, his globally beloved works have, making a day-trip from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon a timeless venture which I am sure will live on and on throughout future generations.

With regards to the two literary legends covered in this piece, I feel it would be rather fitting to let them have the last words:

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”-William Shakespeare

 “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.”-J.R.R Tolkien

Images: Wikipedia & Birmingham Mail

Meet the Team: A Day in the Life of Fiona

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Name: Fiona MacLennan

Job Title: Front of House

Location: Aberdeen

How long worked for the company: Just over 5 months.

What your job entails: General administration. We’re the face that the customers see when they first come in. It’s our job to make sure that the customer is happy and help solve any issues they have. This includes being on call out of hours for any emergencies. I’ve also started helping in the running of our new housekeeping team which seems to be going pretty well.

Any funny or interesting stories that have happened to you while at work: The first time I was on the early shift on my own, Jackie had forgotten to give me the code to get in the back door. I stood there for a good few minutes before I called her to ask. When I finally got in, Craig was just sat there at his desk so all I needed to do in the first place was knock on the window.

 What do you like most about serviced apartments? : It feels more like home and as if you have your own space because you have a whole apartment instead of just one room.

 Favourite flavour of ice cream? Anything with caramel in it. The Ben and Jerry’s core ones are my favourite.

 Favourite actor/actress? Eddie Redmayne never fails to amaze me. In his current film ‘The Theory of Everything’, you actually believe that he has MND.

 Tea or coffee? When I’m in the office I’ll drink fruit tea but otherwise coffee.

 What can’t you leave home without? Shoes.

 Serviced apartment or hotel? Serviced apartments are far too handy when you have a big group of friends.