Castle Crazy

Scotland’s Silver City is known for many things: its beautiful parks that have culminated in it winning numerous “Britain in Bloom” accolades; the tranquility and the fun that its sandy shores provide and a cosmopolitan collection of the biggest shopping and dining brands. However, whether you come to see the nature, the beach, the entertainment of a bustling city or even the glittering granite skyline, there is something else that you can see in particular abundance – castles. We are not just talking about a handful of castles, but over 300 and that is because Aberdeen is fortunate enough to be located on the outskirts of Scotland’s Castle Country. As the title alludes to, if you want to find castles, then you are certainly in the right place as Castle Country has more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK. Consequently, whatever shape, size or colour you like your castles in – you are certainly going to find one that fits the bill!

Therefore, if you are staying with us in our Aberdeen apartments and are looking for a fun day trip full of majesty and rich heritage, make sure to check out Scotland’s dedicated “Castle Trail”. Consisting of 17 castles ranging from dramatic ruins to fairy-tale enchantment, there are so many wonders to explore and many are only an hour or so drive away from Aberdeen. For details of all the 17, make sure to check out http://www.visitaberdeen.com/assets/castletrail.pdf to get your Castle itinerary sorted. However, to give you a taster of all the fun that lies ahead, read on below to find out some of our personal favourites.

  1. Balmoral Castle

When talking about castles in Aberdeenshire, there is certainly one that can never be missed out – Balmoral Castle. Castles tend to have associations with royalty and that is certainly the case with Balmoral Castle because if it being located in Royal Deeside was not a big enough indicator, it is the much beloved holiday home of the royal family and this goes all the way back to Queen Victoria’s time who was actually the monarch to purchase the castle as she loved it so much after visiting it on a romantic break. However, the castle you are seeing today is not actually the original because Queen Victoria had it knocked down and then rebuilt – when you are a Queen, you are able to wield that level of power!

Apart from the royal connection, it is a stunning castle to view in its own right with the majestic grounds and the illustrious ballroom being particular highlights to look out for alongside the special exhibits. Due to the grounds and architecture being particularly well maintained and preserved – it is clear that it will stand the test of time and will be enjoyed for generations to come.

  1. Crathes Castle

Complete with the magic of turrets, towers, wielding staircases and gorgeous grounds, this 16th century tower house has all the enchanting features you associate with majestic castles. Complete with the finest and the most elegant decoration on the inside, particularly keep an eye out (or up!) for the lavishly painted ceilings,  there is also so much more on the outside to explore with over 200 acres of quintessential British woodland and countryside to roam. Between the aesthetic beauty and the sweet-smelling aroma of the luscious rose gardens, this is a castle to hit all the senses. Likewise, it is perfect for all the family with a children adventure’s playpark and most importantly of all, the ultimate UK tree-top adventure: Go Ape!.

  1. Dunnottar Castle

Some of us like our castles in a form that is akin to the splendour of those found in Disney movies, however some of us like them a little bit more dramatic – if so, Dunnottar Castle is the one for you. Exhibiting magnificence in a slightly different form, there is nothing quite like the indomitable, breath-taking cliff-side location of Dunnottar Castle which is rumoured to be one of Scotland’s most impressive ruined castles. Surrounded by the ominous North Sea, this ancient and wonderfully gloomy castle conveys the rich stores of its past. With famous historical figures such as William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots having visited the castle, this is certainly a castle for all the history buffs out there particularly as it was the infamous sight where a small garrison held out against Cromwell’s army for eight months and subsequently saved the Crown Jewels. Likewise, even movie fanatics will be particularly taken by this castle because as it tells the stories that are akin to those only found in the movies, it is no surprise that it has actually been featured as the landscape to many a feature film due to its cinematographic wonder. Therefore if you are wondering why the castle may seem so familiar, that is potentially because you have seen it showcased in movies including Hamlet featuring Mel Gibson as well as Victor Frankenstein (it was even partly inspiration for Disney’s Brave!).

  1. Cragievar Castle

However, for those fonder of the traditional castle type which emanates an ethereal and enchanting atmosphere, look no further than Cragievar Castle. A charming seven-storey castle, what particularly makes this castle stand out is its luminous and iconic pink coloured exterior – certainly one for those little girls who dream of being a princess. If you feel a little bit of magic in the air then it would not be surprising because Walt Disney was so taken by the castle, it is supposedly what inspired his pioneering imaginative spirit to conjure the renowned castle motif associated with the Disney brand. Still home to family portraits and ornate ceilings, the castle retains many of the treasures collected by the Forbes family across their 350 year residence there and it is that family atmosphere that really gives the castle that unique and welcoming spirit.

  1. Castle Fraser

Located only a convenient 16 miles from Aberdeen, if you are looking for splendour and grandness there is no castle that quite fills the brief like Castle Fraser which is one of Scotland’s most impressive baronial tower houses. Dating back to the 15th century, Castle Fraser is really orientated around the stories of its lairds and thus is rooted in Scottish history dating from the medieval and Victorian times. Particular highlights include the atmospheric simplicity of the Great Hall as well as the stunning panoramic views that are afforded from the round tower.

Fancying paying a visit to one, two or more of these castles? Of course! Well about challenging yourself and seeing how many you can visit in one day, or alternatively, how about a holiday dedicated to exploring the riches, treasures and captivating stories of these properties? With each of these castles offering something different, you can never explore too many – just make sure to check the opening times of the castles because they are subject to seasonal operating hours.

Images: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balmoral_Castle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crathes_Castle

http://www.castlexplorer.co.uk/scotland/fraser/fraser.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunnottar_Castle

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/alford/craigievar/

Food for All!

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How many people do you think suffer from coeliac disease, an autoimmune disease which results in gluten intolerance? Well, according to statistics by Coeliac UK, it is a figure that stands at one in 100; inferring that the condition is not as rare as one may think. However, it is not just coeliacs that have special dietary requirements; it can also be those suffering from allergies such as peanut or egg allergies, dairy intolerance, lactose intolerance or those who are vegetarians or vegans or those who abide by Halal food laws. Whether you elect to follow a special diet or your health mandates it, it is irrefutable that it makes travelling that bit more strenuous and stressful because you have to go through the arduous process of sourcing what hotels, restaurants or cafes can meet your special dietary requirements. However, this is where staying in serviced apartments can start to make a difference because as our apartments come with a fully-equipped kitchen containing modern appliances and utensils from an oven to a microwave, you can forget all the stress as you can dictate what you eat and it is just like being at home.

However, ultimately you are still away from home, and therefore you deserve to engage in a little bit of indulgence. Consequently, we thought we would provide you with a list of only a HANDFUL of the cafes, restaurants and chains that might be able to safely satisfy your palette when you stay in any of our city centre locations. If you have any recommendations, please let us know!

Aberdeen

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   Foodstory 

Image: http://aberdeen.stv.tv/articles/316760-thistle-street-cafe-foodstory-expand-with-coffee-bar-and-live-music/ 

The Bay, Stonehaven – fish and chips are an iconic part of the British diet but just because you are a Coeliac does not mean you have to miss out as the award-winning The Bay in Stonehaven can griddle or bake their sustainably sourced fish.

http://thebayfishandchips.co.uk/

Soul Kitchen – some restaurants will offer a token ‘gluten-free’ dish to appease their diners, however Soul takes it to a whole new level and even offers a full ‘gluten-free’ menu including burgers and steaks.

http://www.pbdevco.com/soul.html

Las Iguanas – with restaurants in all of our major UK city destinations from Aberdeen to Edinburgh to Birmingham, Las Iguanas is perfect for any diner regardless of their dietary requirements. Embodying both a gluten-free menu as well as a dedicated one for vegetarians and vegans, it is clear that Las Iguanas aims to please all with its tantalising Latin food.

http://www.iguanas.co.uk/

Howies – If you are seeking authentic, local and seasonal Scottish cuisine delivered with a smile, look no further than Howies which also has a location in Edinburgh. With a detailed allergen sheet as well as a myriad of gluten-free; dairy-free and Vegetarian dishes, you will be equally spoilt for choice here!

http://www.howies.uk.com/chapel-street-aberdeen/

Fifi’s Café Bistro – those following a gluten-free diet could not have a better selection to choose from then at Fifi’s Café Bistro – Aberdeen’s very first gluten free eatery. Serving everything from cakes to sandwiches, you definitely will not have to worry about what is safe to eat here.

https://www.facebook.com/fifiscafebistro/

Foodstory Aberdeen– healthy, locally sourced and environmentally friendly; the food could not be more pure or natural than at Foodstory Aberdeen where there is a community focused environment. Having been listed as one Scotland’s top veggie cafes, the food provided is predominantly vegetarian, vegan and raw and unique artisan coffees are also offered.

http://foodstorycafe.co.uk/

Glasgow

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  Topolabamba

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gertie_du/14933965291

Burger Meats Bun – pretty self-explanatory but if you are looking for somewhere that is able to offer gluten free and veggie burgers, you have found the perfect place and it has locations in both Glasgow and Edinburgh! Vibrant and busy, it is definitely one of the top spots in the city to grab yourself a decent satisfying burger.

http://www.burger-meats-bun.co.uk/

Café Andaluz – also with locations in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, tapas tend to be a good choice for those with dietary requirements but Café Andaluz takes it to new levels with a strong range of veggie and wheat free products that mean the menu is equally proportioned and balanced. Choice will not be an issue here!

http://www.cafeandaluz.com/

The 13th Note – are you looking for some musical harmony to accompany delicious food? Look no further than the independent music venue The 13th note which is a vegetarian and vegan café but which also offers a tempting array of gluten free options.

http://13thnote.co.uk/

Topolobamba – Fancying something spicy and hot? Look no further than the delicious Mexican restaurant Topolobamba which has such a rich array of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, it actually highlights on its menu those options which are NOT gluten free.

http://www.topolabamba.com/

Red Onion – when people think of eateries that accommodate special dietary requirements, they tend to think of quirky independent cafes or restaurants that are tucked away. However, Red Onion is an award-winning contemporary, modern restaurant that was started by the internationally renowned chef, John Quigley. Have no worries about only having a few token dishes as Red Onion has all its bases covered from a gluten-free a la carte menu to a vegan set menu to a dairy free menu.

http://www.red-onion.co.uk/

Ushas – we have had Mexican, Latin and Spanish, but how about Indian? Ushas is Glasgow’s only Indian dedicated vegetarian and vegan restaurant and it offers a tempting collection of authentic street food.

http://www.ushas.co.uk/

For more information, make sure to People Make Glasgow’s dedicated website which has pages dedicated to Glasgow’s plentiful supply of vegan and gluten free dining options:

https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/best-vegetarian-and-vegan-restaurants-in-glasgow

https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/things-to-do/food-drink/gluten-free-dining-in-glasgow

Edinburgh

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 Hula Juice Bar

Image: http://www.theskinny.co.uk/students/things-to-do/edinburgh-food-drink

Henderson’s of Edinburgh – if you are looking for a vegetarian option in Edinburgh, it is probably best to start at one of the city’s oldest established vegetarian locations – Henderson’s of Edinburgh. A family run business, the warm service that Henderson’s offers is incomparable and with a bakery, bistro and deli – you know you will find a vegetarian option across all the food groups.

http://www.hendersonsofedinburgh.co.uk/holding.php

The Baked Potato Shop – rather specialist, but if you are a fan of a vegan or vegetarian fresh hot tattie – look no further than The Baked Potato Shop which offers everyone’s favourite comfort food as well as some vegan cakes.

 https://www.facebook.com/thebakedpotatoshop

Loudons – everyone loves a homely bakery and there is nothing quite like this charming and welcoming spacious café which serves all manner of tempting goods from gluten free, dairy free, vegan and nut-free breakfasts and brunches.

http://www.loudons-cafe.co.uk/

Union of Genius – one of Scotland’s first soup cafes, this is the perfect place if you are looking for a homely cuppa of soup to warm the soul. Varying with the seasons and fresh off the hob, it offers an extensive selection of options to satisfy everyone from those who are gluten free to those who are dairy-free, even the accompanying breads, oatcakes and rice cakes are gluten free. Perfect for the winter season!

http://www.unionofgenius.com/

Sugar Daddy’s Bakery – keeping on with the bakery theme, Sugar Daddy’s bakery is a relatively new player on the gluten free block. Everyone fancies a good cupcake, brownie, cookies or traybake and you can eat these guilt-free as they are predominantly dairy free, egg free and vegan. Definitely the place if you fancy treating yourself!

http://www.sugardaddysedinburgh.com/

Hula Juice Bar – are you fancying a tempting cake, a revitalizing juice or a healthy fulfilling smoothie? Make sure to check out the award-winning Hula Juice Bar which caters to everyone from vegans, vegetarians and those on gluten-free diets. It is the perfect place for a pick-me-up and to find a natural cleanse for the soul.

http://www.hulajuicebar.co.uk/

For more information on the best gluten free eateries in Edinburgh, make sure to check out this dedicated blog: http://glutenfreeedinburgh.com/

Birmingham

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  Cosy Club Birmingham

Image: http://www.cosyclub.co.uk/birmingham 

The Warehouse Café

If you want to visit any Vegetarian restaurant in Birmingham, then of course you must want to visit the inaugural one which is widely renowned on the vegetarian scene! Birmingham’s original vegetarian restaurant which serves salivating British and contemporary international dishes as well as gluten-free options, is an award-winning restaurant that is tucked away next to the Bullring and occupies an illustrious spot in both new and old Birmingham.

http://www.thewarehousecafe.com/

Bella Italia

Everyone loves a good authentic Italian pizza or pasta, and whether you are vegetarian or have gluten intolerance, this popular chain can satisfy all requirements! With a clearly signposted menu, you do not have to eat in uncertainty of what you should and should not be eating.

http://www.bellaitalia.co.uk/menu/main-menu/?location=Birmingham

Bistro 1847

A restaurant group to be on the lookout for, 1847 is rapidly expanding across the country and caters predominantly to vegetarians but also to vegans and to those with gluten-free requirements. Modern and creative; it is definitely one to watch and to dine at!

http://by1847.com/

Cosy Club

Cosy is the perfect word to describe this group of restaurants as are the words: vibrant, effervescent, unique and quirky. Comfortable and casual, you can really make yourself feel a part of the furniture in this homely environment that also has dedicated gluten-free and vegan menus which can also be viewed online.

http://www.cosyclub.co.uk/

Henry Wong Harborne

It can be rather a challenge finding a Chinese restaurant that accommodates those with gluten intolerance, however Henry Wong Harborne perfectly fills this gap. With a gluten-free menu that is available on request as well as a dedicated vegetarian one, this elegant and refined Cantonese restaurant will definitely hit the spot.

http://henrywongharborne.co.uk/

Welcome To Royal Deeside

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When people come to visit the UK, it is often due to the desire of exploring the rich historic tapestry that is often associated with the country. Indeed people want to explore the scenic landscape and its historical landmarks that tell the enlightening stories of times long gone. Moreover, it is not just the stories of the past they crave, but also those that interweave tales that involve the monarchy and royalty because after all, who does not wonder what it would be like to to be a majestic ruler? Therefore, it is no surprise that iconic Great British landmarks are comprised of renowned attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile and Buckingham Palace which are steeped in history with a royal glow. However, when people think of cities like Aberdeen, more often than not they have associations of a corporate destination, as opposed to a place where they could visit for leisure purposes. While Aberdeen is prime business territory, it is clear that it offers much more than that and while The Spires is located only minutes away from the bustling city centre complete with shops and restaurants, it is also important to consider what lies in the other direction – Royal Deeside.

So you may be asking, what makes Deeside so royal? Well, it is the royalty, Queen Victoria in particular, that has made the area so renowned due to it being a popular holiday destination with them both in the long ago Victorian times and even today with Queen Elizabeth. The phrase, “royal seal of approval” certainly applies in this context! A particular royal landmark that particularly cannot go without being missed is the Balmoral Castle seeing as Prince Albert built Balmoral Castle particularly as a retreat for himself and Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria was such a fan of the area, she bought land there and even famously proclaimed “Every year my heart becomes more fixed on this dear paradise“. As a regular holiday destination for the royal family, Royal Deeside is unmistakeably a prime visiting spot for any Royal fanatic. A particular sign of interest to look out for on a trail across the towns and villages that comprise Royal Deeside is the Royal Warrants which symbolises the businesses that are a supplier to the Queen’s household – Ballater in particular is a favourite with businesses from butchers and garages being fortunate enough to have the Warrant bestowed upon them.

A particular highlight of Royal Deeside includes the “Victorian Heritage Trail” which has been a tourist favourite for over 150 years and is where you can even walk in the footsteps of the royalty. Along this trail you will encounter all kinds of quaint, charming and scenic villages and towns such as Banchory, Ballater and Braemar which are in stark contrast to be the fast-paced city life of Aberdeen. Braemar in particular is renowned for its Highland Gathering which is known to be one of Scotland’s best and is a major tourist draw – potentially as it remains a royal favourite.

The other element that makes Royal Deeside so iconic is its absolutely stunning landscape which provides the perfect backdrop for all kinds of activity in nature from walking to cycling to skiing to just pure wildlife watching – it is a tranquil haven away from the bustling streets of the city. While Aberdeen is marked for its sparkling granite skyline, Royal Deeside is renowned for the diversity of its nature and the enchanting atmosphere – from mysterious forests to the gentle tinkle of crystal clear rivers to dramatic mountain faces. Every corner is undeniably a photo opportunity and a chance to escape reality!

From castles including Balmoral, Crathes and Braemar to distilleries to heritage centres, there is so much to found and enjoyed in Royal Deeside whether you are travelling by yourself or with the family. Therefore, when you come to stay with us in Aberdeen, do not feel restricted by the city boundaries – there is so much more to be found on a day trip out of the city; particularly with The Spires sitting at the entrance to Royal Deeside.

To learn more: http://www.visitaberdeen.com/royal-deeside/

                                http://visitroyaldeeside.com/

Image: http://www.lifeofpottering.co.uk/2015/05/the-cairngorms-balmoral-castle.html

#ScotSpirit

What do you think differentiates Scotland from any other destination in the world? Could it be its renowned warm hospitality; its rich historic tapestry; the absolutely jaw-dropping stunning landscapes and scenery (be it dramatic cliff faces or tranquil beach fronts) or the exhilaration and adrenaline-pumping energy of all the adventures that are available from bungee jumping to mountain biking? Whether it is these answers or another, what is resolutely irrefutable is how Scotland is like no other country on Earth – it is truly unique in its appearance, its energy, its character and in its spirit. No other destination can replicate the emotion and wonder to be found in Scotland and what is so pure about it is that once you experience it, it is everlasting and becomes a part of you. Therefore, this is what has culminated in VisitScotland launching its very first global marketing campaign for Scotland – The Spirit of Scotland campaign.

The Spirit of Scotland campaign aims to reflect the amazing potential that Scotland can bring as a holiday destination – in terms of the memorable and exciting experiences it offers. What adds to the campaign is how it reflects the true hospitality and generosity that characterises Scotland by VisitScotland working in association with tourism providers to allow vulnerable and disadvantaged families to have their own memorable Scottish holiday so that they too can benefit from the magic. The campaign is built on the foundation of several prominent spirits which uniquely characterise Scotland and its people, now known as the “Seven Spirits of Scotland” (the seven deadly sins are so old-school):

Warmth – We mean the atmosphere, food and people as opposed to the climate!

Humour – In Scotland, we love to have a laugh (particularly at ourselves) and there is always something amusing going on.

Guts – Participation in some of Scotland’s most daring activities and adventures or even just the indomitable spirit of people overcoming any obstacle and barrier in their way.

Spark – With the 2016 focus year of “Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design”, it is clear for all to see the inspiration that Scotland provides from its unique inventions; its modern architecture and its irreplaceable artwork. Cutting-edge, innovative and creative – there is more to Scotland than just heritage.

Soul – Scotland is renowned the world over for its stunning, idyllic and dramatic landscapes and scenery whether that is beautiful natural wonders; dramatic mountain views or tranquil coastal walks.

Determination – Linking back to the ‘guts’ involved in engaging in some adrenaline-pumping activities or taking on a challenge, it is undeniable that a sense of perseverance and tenacity can sometimes be required on a trip to Scotland.

Fun – What can better characterise Scotland other than fun?! Whether you are visiting one of the myriad of visitor attractions on offer or exploring the streets of one of our bustling cities, a sense of enjoyment and excitement is always lurking around the corner.

What Is Our Chosen Spirit? Warmth

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With everyone getting involved from visitors to tourism providers, we want to take the chance to become an ambassador of this campaign by identifying with one of the “Seven Spirits” and what could be a more appropriate one than Warmth. Having studied abroad and having worked in a diverse workforce, I am very proud to state how if there is one thing that international guests always comment on about Scotland, it is the amazing kindness and generosity that Scottish citizens provide to guests. This was no different than when I worked Front of House at The Spires because we welcomed guests from all corners of the globe and everyone positively commented on just how open and embracing the Scottish people were. Likewise, if there is anything The Spires likes to characterise itself on, it is its warm sense of hospitality and providing a home away from home sensation which emanates through the design of our apartments to the greeting provided by the enthusiastic, passionate faces that await you at reception. Hospitality is so important to us it even forms an integral part of our brand values with “Service”, “Respect” and “Smiles” being key underlying principles. Consequently, wherever our guests come from and for however long they stay, we strive to make sure everyone feel instantly welcomed and at home – no request is too big.

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It is the warmth provided by our staff to our customers throughout their whole stay which encapsulates the true essence of Scotland and while the scenery, landscape and activities make for a wonderful time; it is the hospitality that really completes the experience. When our guests arrive, when they come home after a long day exploring and even when they leave, we strive to have them leave with fond memories of their stay with us and to know that they experienced the best and warmest service available. Regardless of which of our Scottish cities guests stay in, be it the dynamic powerhouse of Glasgow, the breath-taking beauty of Edinburgh or the sparkling silver landscape of Aberdeen, we want them to know the magnificent warmth that typifies our nation as a whole – even if it is not so warm outside! We are so eager to replicate the spirit of Scotland it has acted as a significant form of influence on the design of our newest Edinburgh apartments with Scottish touches playing a role throughout including beautiful artwork designed by a Scottish artist.

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Wanting To Show Your #ScotSpirit?

A crucial element of The Spirit of Scotland campaign is the incorporation of social media. Subsequently, an integral part of the campaign is the use of #ScotSpirit on everyone’s favourite social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to encapsulate everyone’s unique experience in Scotland. Therefore, whether you are visiting us in Scotland or you are lucky enough to live here, make sure to spread the spirit and magic of Scotland by using #ScotSpirit alongside your unique photos and stories – it is time to let the world know just how awesome and amazing our corner of the world is for both holidays and living.

For more information, visit https://www.visitscotland.com/about/uniquely-scottish/scotspirit/

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.