New Year, New Resolutions

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The Christmas decorations are slowly being returned to their dusty homes; the fridge is no longer the keeper of an army’s supply of festive foods and the radios have ceased playing the iconic Christmas classics because as much as we would love for it to be Christmas every day, sadly that is not the case. Christmas Day and New Year’s Day have come and gone with their abundance of good food, good company and good times and this of course means it is that sorrowful point of the year where all the goodwill and celebrations have ceased and we have to return desolately to our desks. However, while January can be a tough slog, what with the cold weather and the Christmas bills still cowering in our wallets, nevertheless it is still a brand new start meaning all kinds of potential lie ahead. Whatever adversity or struggles you faced in 2016, now you have a blank page upon which to write a whole new chapter and to start all over again.

Therefore, this is where New Year’s resolutions come into play because a new page means a new opportunity to change our ways. We have all heard of them and we will have all probably devised a few over the years with the best of intentions. However, it is irrefutable that while resolutions are fairly easy to come up with, they are a lot more difficult in practise. The reasoning is because normally resolutions are often related to cutting something out of lives, and that ‘something’ is normally a vice or indulgence – the things that bring us a lot of joy and pleasure, even though we know they are bad for us. Therefore, resolutions tend to pertain to goals like losing weight by cutting out bad food or to stop smoking. However, while the results of such resolutions are undoubtedly rewarding, it can be hard to get excited for the process as they require a lot of discipline. Therefore, how about balancing out your tougher resolutions with a goal that is fully rooted in fun, fulfilment and adventure with no discernible negatives? This goal will allow you to see things you may have never seen; to meet people you may have not otherwise met and to create memories that will last a lifetime. Guessed what it is yet? If not, we can only be talking about the New Year’s resolution of travelling of course!

Ok, so we know what you are thinking, travelling is expensive and normally resolutions can be associated with cutting costs. However, travelling really does not have to be all that costly when you consider staying a little closer to home and engaging in a staycation. So often people talk of wishing to travel more but this does not mean that you have to dig out your passport and fly somewhere exotic. Travelling can simply be visiting the hidden gems that are only a few hours away as even in our own hometowns, there are wonders that we will have not experienced. Sometimes the most enlightening thing we can do is experience our home town and home country through the eyes of a visitor because then we realise all the potential fun, history, beauty and culture there is to soak in which we often can otherwise ignore.

It is undeniable that most people wish they could travel more as everyone loves new experiences and to escape from their home for just a few days. However, we appreciate that time and money are both inhibiting factors that can get in the way of the dream.  Therefore, this is where a city-break staycation can come into play. You can get all the excitement and cultural enrichment at a fraction of the cost and potentially without even having to take time off work. With locations in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow, we have apartments in some of the UK’s biggest and best cities full of world-class dining, attractions and entertainment. People from all over the world flock to experience the heritage and beauty of such locations and so should we! This has been validated by the fact that Scotland made Rough Guide’s 2017 list for one of the Top 10 ‘Must See’ Destinations. Not only will you get to escape from your daily routine just for a few days but you will always get to experience something new. Do not believe us? Check out just some of the fun and excitement that lies ahead in our respective locations in the coming months:

Aberdeen

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Spectra Festival, Aberdeen

Festivals

Spectra – 9th Feb – 12th Feb 2017

Aberdeen Jazz Festival – 15th Mar – 19th Mar 2017

Look Again – 27th Apr – 1st May 2017

May Festival – 26th May – 28th  2017

Aberdeen International Youth Festival – July 2017

TechFest – 26th Aug – 25th Sep 2017

North East Open Studies – 9th – 17th Sep 2017

True North – September 2017

DanceLive – 12th – 28th Oct 2017

Sound – 26th Oct – 12th Nov 2017

For more details, visit https://aberdeenfestivals.com/ 

Birmingham

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Birmingham Weekender

Chinese New Year – 29th Jan 2017

Muller Indoor Grand Prix – 18th Feb 2017

Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships – 7th Mar – 12th Mar 2017

Birmingham Pride – 27th – 28th May 2017

ICC Champions Trophy – 1st Jun – 18th Jun 2017

Aegon Classic Birmingham – 17th Jun – 25th Jun 2017

Colmore Food Festival – 30th Jun – 1st Jun 2017

Dinosaurs in the Wild – 24th Jun – 24th Aug 2017

Birmingham Weekender – 22nd Sep – 24th Sep 2017

Birmingham Comedy Festival – 6th – 15th Oct 2017

Birmingham International Marathon – 15th Oct 2017

Edinburgh

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Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Six Nations Rugby – Feb – Mar 2017

Edinburgh International Science Festival – 1st Apr – 16th Apr 2017

Imaginate Festival – 27th May – 4th Jun 2017

Edinburgh International Film Festival – 21st Jun – 2nd Jul 2017

Edinburgh Jazz & Blue Festivals – 14th Jul – 23rd Jul 2017

Edinburgh Art Festival – 27th Jul – 27th Aug 2017

Edinburgh Festival Fringe – 4th Aug – 28th Aug 2017

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – 4th Aug – 28th Aug 2017

Edinburgh International Festival – 4th Aug – 28th Aug 2017

Edinburgh International Book Festival – 12th Aug – 28th Aug 2017

Scottish International Storytelling Festival – 20th Oct – 31st Oct 2017

Glasgow

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Piping Live!

Celtic Connections – 19th Jan – 5th Feb 2017

The Glasgow Tattoo – 19th Jan – 21st Jan 2017

Cirque Berserk – 24th Jan – 29th Jan 2017

The Glasgow Film Festival – 15th Feb – 26th Feb 2017

Gin Festival Glasgow 2017 – 3rd Mar – 5th Mar 2017

Glasgow Book Festival – Mar 2017

International Comedy Festival – 9th Mar – 26th Mar 2017

Glasgow Science Festival: Glasgow Explores – 8th Jun – 18th Jun 2017

Summer Nights – 3rd Aug – 13th Aug 2017

Piping! Live – 7th Aug – 13th Aug 2017

Total BWF 2017 World Badminton Championships – 21st Aug– 27th Aug 2017

The Mackintosh Festival – 1st Oct – 31st Oct 2017

Have we managed to sell you on the resolution of travelling more in 2017? If so, we can further help cut the costs associated with travelling because with apartments that are capable of holding up to six persons but that are not charged per person; our serviced apartments are the perfect cost-effective alternative to hotels. This is particularly true when you consider how that as our apartments come complete with a fully-equipped kitchen and lounge, you can further cut down on the costs associated with dining out. Never tried a serviced apartment before? Well, it looks like you just found another new resolution! Book today at www.thespires.co.uk, email info@thespires.co.uk or phone 0345 270 0090.

Images
http://jaco.co/SPECTRA-Aberdeen-Festival-of-Light
https://www.visitengland.com/experience/free-events-in-september-birmingham-weekender
http://www.cntraveller.com/recommended/cities/edinburgh-festivals-guide
https://www.scotsmagazine.com/articles/things-cannae-miss-piping-live-2015/

 

Who said No Pets Allowed?

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When you go on holiday there are so many logistics involved beyond where to go, with whom and when, you also have to consider the practicalities regarding your home in terms of ‘who should I leave the spare keys with?’ or ‘who is going to check our mail?’. Some of these practicalities are easy to organise however some require a little bit more thought, and even come at an expense. This is because it might not just be the house you are leaving behind, but also potentially your most loyal sidekick and family member – your pet. Whether you are going away for as little as one night or even for a more extended period, one of the most complex and guilt-ridden issues is ‘but what do we do with the pets?’. Organizing pet care is never easy and it is always likely to come at a high cost; particularly as you are undeniably going to want to leave your beloved furry pal in the most loving and safest of hands. While there is a rise in the number of exclusive, five-star pet only resorts where all furry residents are truly pampered from exercise classes to designated ‘cuddling sessions’, we present an alternative which may be slightly cheaper than those minimum $60 per night fees and which entails no separation whatsoever.

When it comes to traditional accommodation such as hotels, it is often not even an option to bring your pets with you – particularly your affable, bouncing pooch. This is particularly dangerous if you have to move away for a considerable long period of time such as if you are relocating because who wants to be without those warm furry hugs for so long? Therefore, options such as dog-sitters or a stay in a kennel rise to prominence although anyone with dogs knows the pain and guilt that is involved with leaving your pets behind in a foreign place with unfamiliar room-mates. However, at The Spires we are all about creating that home away from home feel, and nothing helps create that quite like inviting your beloved furry friends along with you because after all, dog is man’s best friend!

Consequently, that is why at our Aberdeen apartments we do not want to tear the family apart and subsequently offer the opportunity for you to bring your four-legged friends with you. While we do charge an additional non-refundable £100 surcharge for deep-cleaning purposes (we all know how fur has that amazing ability to spread itself everywhere), this pales in comparison to the cost incurred by hiring out pet-friendly care – particularly for prolonged periods of time. Likewise, knowing that you are able to bring your favourite furry partner in crime with you just saves on so much of the stress and time associated with looking at alternative options. Other requirements involve the signing of a pet disclaimer; the abidance by The Spires’ pet policy as well as The Spires’ pre-approval prior to your stay. However, we will guide you through every step of the way and so it could not be easier to have a pet-vacation this year with The Spires in Aberdeen saving on the costs; guilt and emptiness associated with leaving your pets behind. With our apartments being located in a quiet, residential area, this also means that your four-footed pal will enjoy their many naps uninterrupted and that they can enjoy tranquil walks along idyllic streets when the time comes for their favourite ‘walkie’.

However, while the summer holidays are coming to a sad close that does not mean that summer itself is over. While, Scotland is not necessarily renowned for its blistering heat, that does not mean that tourists have never been caught out unaware by those crafty sun rays. Therefore, while you are packing all kinds of holiday necessities from travel sized shampoos/shower gels to sunscreen aplenty, have you spared a thought of what to pack to keep your pooch travelling it up in style too? As we have already mentioned, pet travel is really picking up in the UK and with that is a whole new market of goods you could never imagine. Therefore, while our apartments have easily adjustable settings for you to control the temperature the way you like, do not forget to pick some of these top pet travel accessories to help keep your pet from toasting too much under that warm fur. From sunscreen wipes, iced treats, cooling vests/mats to water fountains and freezer-friendly water bowls, we bet you never knew you might require a whole other suitcase or packing list just for Fido!

Therefore, to book you and your furry best pal into The Spires just make sure to email us at info@thespires.co.uk or phone 0345 270 0090.

Back to School, Back to Work

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They came too slowly, they went to fast – we can only be talking about the already near distant memory of the summer holidays. However, when that dusty old school bell chimes at 9am on that bleak dreaded Monday morning, it does not just signal the end of fun and games for the little ones, but also for the grown-ups too because the sad reality is that back to school also means back to work. While the children are confined to their school desks, only able to experience the sun by wistfully staring out the window, we too share in this pain as the hard reality of the harsh week-long sentence of 9 -5 life sets back in. However, even if you are one of the fortunate ones who are able to escape the desk and travel a little further afield for work, corporate travel is not always as glamorous as it is made out to be. While we all dream of global jet-setting careers, sometimes returning to that same single soulless hotel room every night is not as exciting as it is made out to be. Therefore, why not treat yourself to a serviced apartment where you can have all the space, convenience and freedom you could need? The best part about it is even if you are treating yourself, this is not reflected in the price as serviced apartments actually pose a more cost-effective option than traditional hotels. Not sold yet? Let us explain how serviced apartments can really ease those back to work, and back to business travel, blues:

  1. Having stayed in a hotel room for five weeks, I can attest to the frustration that is caused by returning to the same single room with attached bathroom every. single.night. Nowhere could feel more impersonal than a standard hotel room, and nowhere could feel more claustrophobic. However, with serviced apartments you can break far away from those four walls and to a much more welcoming, spacious environment. Composed of a bedroom, bathroom, fully-equipped lounge and kitchen, it is the little details such as the toaster to the decor to the CD player alongside these big ones that make serviced apartments really feel like a home away from home. It is no surprise that some people can stay for as long as a year, and even longer!
  2. When you stay at a hotel you tend to remember the outright expenses as being the cost of the hotel room; however do you factor in the costs of things such as those rapidly mounting restaurant bills? While your stomach may have enjoyed the indulgence, your wallet may not have. Moreover, there are just times when you really crave a good home cooked meal. This is where serviced apartments really come into their own as with their modern fully-equipped kitchens comprised of a microwave, toaster, oven and kitchen utensils, you have the flexibility and choice to be your own chef. Goodbye takeaways or unfulfilling sandwiches from the local supermarket! Whether you crave the comfort of that traditional British classic of beans on toast, or whether you fancy yourself as the next Masterchef champ, one thing for sure is that our kitchens offer you the most in culinary freedom.
  3. Nothing can be worse than coming home to an empty house. However, as serviced apartments can hold up to six persons due to their mix of double-bedrooms and/or twin bedrooms, you do not have to feel quite as alone. If you have some colleagues who are also on the move, why not collaborate and share an apartment? Not only can you eradicate the loneliness, but you can also help cut the bill as we charge per apartment, not per room. Likewise, do not worry about being at each other’s throats by the end of the week as with your own bedrooms, you still have plenty of space.
  4. Sometimes to get the best deal you have to be located far away from the action i.e. in the inconvenient outskirts of town. However, do not worry about that with The Spires because all of our apartments are in city central locations. Think we are exaggerating? Take our Edinburgh apartments, with an envious spot on Hanover Street they are literally just minutes from the bustling action of St. Andrew’s Square and Princes Street. Therefore, when you want to save on that dash to work or when you are just fancying a bit of exploring, you never have to travel far. However, just because you are in the city centre does not mean the buzz and hum of the effervescent city life will keep you awake at night. We pride ourselves on delivering the most comfortable and peaceful night’s sleep and whether you are travelling with others or by yourself, you could not be in safer locations.
  5. While we do believe that serviced apartments provide that home away from home feel, that does not mean we are leaving you to the arduous tasks associated with running a home including changing the sheets or hoovering the floor. This is because we still offer hotel services including continental breakfasts (available at request and a surcharge) and daily/weekly (location dependent) housekeeping. However, if you do enjoy the freedom of being able to wash your clothes so that they are sweet-smelling and crisp for the next working day, this is also equally possible as we provide all the amenities you could need.
  6. High-speed, reliable Wi-Fi. Need we say more?

 

For more information and to book online, visit http://www.thespires.co.uk or email us at info@thespires.co.uk 

Meet our Travelling National Sales Manager: Craig

Name: Craig Duguid

Job Title: National Sales Manager

Job Function: I am responsible for driving business into the apartments with the able assistance of my sales and reservations team.

Time with Company: 13 years this December

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How many countries/continents/cities have you visited (rough estimates allowed!)?

Ok here goes: 19 (3 of which were purely for connecting flight purposes) countries, 31 international cities and too many in the UK to count, 4 continents – mainly all for work, but some leisure

What has been your favourite country and your favourite city?

I don’t think I can pick just one as every country is so different.  I always find something I like in each place.  There are countries I have visited which I wasn’t so sure about to start with but have grown to love e.g. India.  It was a real shock to my system the first time I visited as I had never been anywhere like that before.  My first visit was to Mumbai which is so busy and hectic and the mayhem starts the minute you step off the plane, however this is something I now find so exciting and to me what makes India the place I love.  There is always something going on in Mumbai and every one of your senses is kept busy constantly.  The people are so friendly and I have made some great friends over there.  I recently visited Australia for the first time this year.  It’s somewhere I have never been too bothered about going to mainly because of the distance and the time it takes to get there, but I have to say I was absolutely blown away by it.  It is such a fantastic place with so much to do, and it has such a great feeling.  I am also a huge fan of Kuwait and Kuwait City.  I have visited it several times and again have always been made to feel so welcome and have made some great friends.

What is your favourite thing about travelling?

I love going to new places and experiencing new things and meeting new people.  As I am usually there on business I don’t always get to see as much as I would like to.  I am also a bit of a transport geek so love travelling by aeroplane and train.  I love experiencing different airlines and travelling on different aeroplanes!  Favourites so far are the Dreamliner and A380!!  I also managed to travel by train on my recent trip to India.  I travelled from Chennai to Bangalore and I have to say it was amazing.  The train was old and rickety and there was so much chaos at the stations, but it is a system that seems to work and work well.  I booked a first class ticket which cost around £30 and included a 3 course meal.

If you had to travel with only one accessory/item, what would it be?

Hate to say it, but has to be my phone.

Do you have any funny travel stories or any travel disasters?

I have not had any disasters and have too many funny stories to pick just one, however I have had a few exciting things happen: An earthquake in LA, an earthquake in New Zealand, an hurricane in Maryland (US), getting hit 3 times by lighting on a flight into Heathrow (one hit was just outside the window from me and I felt the heat) and trying to land during Hurricane Bawbag in 2011 on a flight from Gatwick to Aberdeen which got a few metres above the tarmac before the pilot decided “maybe not” and we returned to Gatwick as all airports to the north were closed – it wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences!

Travel map or travel app?

Travel app every time.  I would be lost without Google Maps!

Do you have any travel tips for both corporate or leisure tourists e.g. how to pack?

Can give for both.

Corporate – make sure you have chargers and adapters!  Also if you are travelling with hold luggage make sure you have essentials in your hand luggage – spare clothes, toiletries, etc. in case your hold luggage doesn’t arrive!

Leisure – lay out everything you think you need, then only take a quarter of it!  Remember sun cream.

What countries are on your travel bucketlist?

Japan, Russia, Nepal, Poland – in fact too many to mention.

Which destination surprised you the most and you would recommend?

India

Selfie stick for travelling – yay or nay?

The selfie stick is so last year.  I now use my watch to take the best selfie!

What is your favourite accommodation type and why?

Apartments obviously for both business and leisure travel.  When travelling on business I do like my own space after a busy day.  Nothing better then stretching out on a comfortable sofa watching TV knowing I have refreshments in my fridge.  Can also eat what I want, when I want it and not be restricted by hotel restaurant opening times!  When I am travelling for leisure it is normally with my family so we much prefer the space and comfort an apartment offers rather than being crammed into a small “family room” which hotels offer.

Finally….post your favourite travel selfie

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See the sights, smell the roses… and catch the Pokémon?

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Image: http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/news/pokemon-go-gaming-gone-mobile

Trends, fashions and fads come and go, and it is clear which one is here to stay for summer 2016 – Pokémon Go. Yes, unless you have somehow managed to miss the numerous social media postings dedicated to the latest trend (borderline phenomenon) seizing not only a nation, but the whole world, or have been spared the incident of bumping into someone actively engaging in a little Pokémon hunting on the street, it is clear that there is nothing more all the rage this summer. Normally mobile phone apps and games are associated as taking the human population to whole new levels of anti-socialness; however Pokéman Go seems to be having a miracle effect which is counteracting this magnetic force. Yes, we are still besotted with man’s new best friend, the mobile phone, but now it is encouraging us to voluntarily enter into the light and freshness of the great outdoors and explore. Such is the power of the Pokémon Go because with the augmented virtual reality app projecting images of everyone’s favourite childhood anime onto city landmarks so it looks like they are really there on your mobile screen, people are going out in their droves to partake in a nostalgic game of Pokémon hunting because the only way to catch them all, is to actively explore the surrounding environment – sitting on the couch will get you nowhere. Of course you also have the assistance of GPS technology on your smart phone to help lead the way also.  Pokémon Go is a truly global craze with it having captivated the eyes of citizens spanning 35 countries and becoming more addictive than those little known apps of Facebook and Whatsapp.

With the UK basking in the glorious freedom of the summer holidays and even enjoying a little bit of tropical summer sunshine, Pokémon Go has come at the best possible time. It is the optimum season to explore a new city and what better way to see it than with a fun interactive activity which will keep all members of the family, whether it is the young or the young at heart, engaged and excited. Already players have remarked how it has taken them to parts of the city they had never thought they would venture; likewise it is helping them to connect with other players and to forge social bonds. Fortunately, with apartments in four major UK cities, wherever you stay with us you are right in the heart of some of the UK’s best Pokémon hunting grounds. Therefore, discover all about the Pokémon Go hype in some of our favourite UK vacation spots and be inspired to come visit us and explore our new cities from a new perspective.

Aberdeen

A legion of unique Pokémon characters have finally invaded the Silver City with even some rare ones also to be found. Of course, it is irrefutable that Pokémon would be hiding in the most dynamic and buzzing part of the city – the city centre. Therefore, when you are hitting up Union Street, make sure to take an extra few moments outside the prime shopping area of St. Nicholas Centre as three “Pokestops” are rumoured to be found there. Likewise, if you wanting to view some of the amazing talent on stage at the Music Hall or His Majesty’s Theatre, you might be able to see more than real famous faces, but also some virtual Pokémon ones too. The beauty of Pokémon Go is also that you do not necessary know where you will find the Pokémon, this is why you can venture all across the city in the hopes of finding one and engaging in a little bit of sightseeing and social interaction along the way. Therefore, the app has had people exploring the beautiful length of Aberdeen’s stunning sandy beach; various churches and it has even seen them take day trips to Stonehaven because those little Pokémon sure get everywhere! With Pokémon being rumoured to be located at all kinds of Aberdeen attraction hot spots from the beach to the fishing community of Fittie to tranquil public areas like Seaton Park, it is clear that Pokémon Go could be the perfect activity that will allow you to become acquainted with the sparkling silver exterior of the renowned Granite City.

Birmingham

Known as Britain’s “Second City”, it is of little surprise that the exciting metropolis of Birmingham is absolutely teeming with Pokémon waiting to be discovered. Pokémon mania has even swept the citizens of Birmingham so much that an organised mass Pokémon Go walk was devised that was held on Saturday 23rd July, reflecting the comradery that the virtual app is creating – up to 1,000 walkers were expected. Rumoured Pokémon hotspots include the Jewellery Quarter, St. Paul’s Square and of course along the sides of Birmingham’s vast canal system. They can even be hunted down within the walls of iconic Birmingham attractions including the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, so it is not just art that can be found and admired! Likewise, if you are hitting up the bargains and the temptation of Grand Central shopping centre, you may find more than just good deals. Therefore, from sightseeing to shopping and even to eating, Pokémon Go may be the perfect addictive activity that will allow you to fully explore one of Britain’s most famous metropolises.

Glasgow

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http://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/ultimate-guide-pokemon-go-glasgow-11614786

Priding itself for the warmth and friendliness of its citizens, it is no wonder that Pokémon would feel welcome along the dynamic and effervescent streets of Glasgow. With its renowned reputation for its nature scene and its abundance of parks, it is no surprise that many Pokémon have been rumoured to be hiding among the shrubbery such as at Glasgow Green. However, while hiding in parks or even by the Clydeside, they are also of course hitting up popular city central locations from the likes of the Duke of Wellington statue (the one famous for having an ever-present traffic cone residing on its head), George Square, Kelvingrove Museum and even within the haunting beauty of the Victorian cemetery; the Necropolis. Likewise, other rumoured hotspots include the Finnieston Crane as well as the Armadillo and the Hydro which means you may get a dual batch of entertainment if you are stopping by the check out the latest musical talent on stage.

Edinburgh

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https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1omOow1m09QBs1-UVcJ89wSnRI-g&hl=en_US

Of course there is no city in Scotland that Pokémon could desire to infiltrate more than the cobbled historic streets of Scotland’s stunning and animated capital. With some of the most iconic attractions and streets in the nation, it is irrefutable that a couple of Pokémon would want to pop up at these stops. Therefore, it may be of no surprise that if you want to engage in a little bit of Pokémon hunting, than prime locations such as the Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street Gardens, Leith Docks, Edinburgh Zoo and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art certainly pave the way for victory. These are attractions that you would want to visit anyway but doing it under the guise of Pokémon hunting, also gives it that added extra bit of fun. Likewise, it may also bring you to attractions you had never considered previously such as Lochend Park or St. Margaret’s Well which is a well that has been in existence since 1362 and therefore possesses its own unique level of historical value. The hype of Pokémon Go mania in Edinburgh has even reached such a level that local taxi drivers are offering Pokémon Go tours, so if you are feeling a little tired and want a crafty (albeit pricy!) way of viewing the city, this could be the alternative as the route set out claims to stop at 50 “Pokestops” in 20 minutes.

So there you have it, if are really getting swept up in the phenomenon that has captured the nation and their phones, how about a Pokémon Go tour with The Spires? With apartments right in the city centre of these 4 active Pokémon spots, you could not be any closer to all the excitement and hype. While we cannot guarantee that the little monsters will be found under the beds in our apartments, you are bound to find some lurking not too far away whether they are in attractions, parks, restaurants or even transport spots. Therefore, let us know how many you catch and share with us any top tips – maybe we will try and engage in some Pokémon hunting of our own!

Get into the Festival Spirit

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Image Courtesy of: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/

In 2015 we were very excited to open apartments in one of the world’s leading festival cities – Edinburgh. With a schedule comprised of 12 internationally renowned events that cover all disciplines from Films to Storytelling and which are spread out over the year, it is irrefutable how Edinburgh is certainly championing the festival scene. However, did you know that Aberdeen, Scotland’s renowned Oil Capital and Silver City, also has its own dedicated festival group? People often think of the golden sandy shores of the beach or the glittering architecture when they think of Aberdeen, but it is really starting to evolve beyond that and developing a rich multi-cultural entertainment and events base. This has culminated in the formation of “Aberdeen Festivals” so that there can be a collective effort towards raising awareness of the festivals and enhancing their offering. The success of “Aberdeen Festivals” is already prevalent with it being discovered how it generated a £2 million economic impact for the region – thus reflecting the number of visitors the collective events enticed and inferring the quality of the festivals. Therefore, if you are thinking of visiting a Festival city, why not choose Aberdeen with its burgeoning events scene that predominantly takes place between February and November? Amidst the stores, the dolphins and the castles, soak in culture in a different way and with 10 prime festivals underlying “Aberdeen Festivals”, there is at least one Festival that will appeal to everyone.

SPECTRA – starting off the year in a blaze of bright light, SPECTRA is officially Aberdeen’s Festival of Light which helps to brighten up the dark winter days. Involving international artists collaborating with Scotland’s creative community, this is a festival that touches all the senses. From gallery installations to imaginative works in public spaces, this festival truly celebrates all that is unique and amazing about the city’s creative scene.

Dates: Normally held in February

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/spectra/

Aberdeen Jazz Festival – for the music fans out there, the Aberdeen Jazz Festival organised by Jazz Scotland should definitely be headlining your list as it is one of the city’s headlining music festivals. Attracting renowned jazz players and incorporating free lunchtime performances for those making their way into the jazz scene; the festival truly encompasses all players in the vibrant Jazz scene. Held in a multitude of locations, Aberdeen’s iconic “Blue Lamp” location plays a prominent role in the festival.

Dates: Normally held in March

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/aberdeen-jazz-festival/

LOOK AGAIN – If the dazzling lights of SPECTRA caught your eye, so will the equally aesthetically attractive LOOK AGAIN festival which is centred on visual arts and design. For a number of days, you have to really be on the lookout as the city centre with its existing structures such as statues are transformed into imaginative and innovative works of art. Popping up when you least expect them, the works of art will really catch your eye so you have to ‘Look Again’. Seeing really is believing!

Dates: Normally held April/May

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/look-again/

May Festival – the title is not a misnomer, you can certainly expect this festival to occur in May! One of the longest standing events in Aberdeen, the May Festival commenced in 2013 and is centred on one of the city’s renowned higher education institutes – Aberdeen University. Celebrating the world-class research that is consistently being carried out at the university, this festival crosses various disciplines and subsequently is a simultaneous arts and science festival.  Comprising of performances from a wide collection of familiar faces including musicians, authors and chefs, this festival is truly perfect for the whole family with there being over 100 events of all genres to be engaged by across 3 days.

Dates: 27th to  29th May 2016

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/may-festival/

Aberdeen International Youth Festival – as inferred by its name, this festival is truly international in its scale and in its reputation both within the city itself and further beyond on the global stage. Formed forty-two years ago, this festival can now attract over 25,000 performers which only alludes to how well-regarded, popular and prestigious it is. A world-class festival celebrating performance arts and which also prides itself on its intimate chamber and classical music performances; it is bursting at the seams with talent and in 2015 held over 80 performances across the 9 days.

Dates: 29th July to 6th August 2016

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/aiyf/

TechFest – it is not just all about music, drama or visual arts however, Aberdeen even has a dedicated festival to all things technological and numerical. An annual festival where people convene to celebrate four major disciplines, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, this event centres around promoting their attraction in an engaging manner to audience members of all ages.

Dates: 3rd to 18th September 2016

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/techfest/

North East Open Studios – One of the biggest Open Studios events in Scotland, it is more than just a networking opportunity for the artists and designers involved, but is also an excellent opportunity to promote Scottish arts, crafts and galleries and to open their access up to the public. Therefore, be prepared to be introduced to some of the finest talent in Scotland and be inspired by their amazing works in their studios.

Dates:  10th to 18th September 2016.

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/north-east-open-studios/

 

True North – One for all the music lovers out there who are always looking to discover the latest talent, True North is all about celebrating Aberdeen’s very own music scene with concerts aplenty all over the city. Whatever kind of music you love, you are sure to hear it and from some of the up and coming talent as well as well-established acts.

Dates: 23rd to 25th September 2016.

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/true-north/

DanceLive – In its 11th year, the name of this festival says it all with this festival being dedicated to the beautiful world of dance. Specifically focusing on contemporary dance, it is a wondrous opportunity to witness spectacular talent from the dancers and choreographers of national and international companies involved and to bring the world of dance to our corner of the world. Combining both intimate studio encounters and performances held on a larger scale, you are sure to be entranced particularly as the programme has been broadened to even encompass masterclasses and workshops.

Dates:  14th to 25th October 2016.

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/dancelive/

 

Sound – another music festival, but this one focuses more on the discovery of new “sounds” meaning it is all about innovation and new kinds of music that you may never have heard of before. A welcome into a world you may never have expected to enter, you can experience it all across a wide range of concerts and workshops that encompass all unique sounds from acoustic to improvised and experimental. Think you know music – experience “Sound” and really awaken your ears!

Dates: 20th to 6th November 2016

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/dancelive/

Although not run by “Aberdeen Festivals”, an honourable mention needs to go to the Energetica festival particularly as the summer season is luring temptingly in front of us. Energetica is a long-term programme centred around developing Scotland’s Energy Corridor in a sustainable and innovative manner and this focus on energy and the environment is mirrored in the programme of events. In its fourth year, this festival focuses on activities which will bring you in harmony with nature including guided walks, wildlife spotting and tours of gardens. Taking place from May to August, most of the activities are free and provide the perfect itinerary for an adventure basking in the glory of nature.

http://energetica.uk.com/festival2016#August

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/