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/

 

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble…

The nights are getting darker, there is an escapable chill in the air and the streets are slowly becoming festooned in a trail of leaves. Factor in those comforting mugs of hot cocoa, and you definitely know that Autumn is finally here. This officially means that if you are brave enough to pay the shops a visit, you will now be aware that the jolly man in red and his reindeer friends are on the way. However, while we are undoubtedly excited for all the indulgent food, glittering sparkles and mysterious gifts that Christmas brings, we want to focus on some events that are arriving a little sooner. This is because while nothing is quite comparable to the magic and wonder of Christmas, we like to think that the fiendish fun of Halloween and the spectacular night-time displays of Bonfire Night hold their own in the excitement stakes. When else can you dress up as someone you are not, pig out on all kinds of indulgent candy and see the skies brought to life in an illuminating display of rainbow colours? Therefore, this week we thought we would look at all the family-fun you can experience with us this Autumn and when you consider our super city central locations, you know you are never too far away from all the action.

Aberdeen

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Image: http://www.picturebritain.com/2011/05/crathes-castle-banchory.html

Crathes Castle

Being located in ‘Castle County’ with more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK, it is safe to say that we are all relatively castle crazy in our Aberdeen HQ. However, you can take this craziness and lunacy to a ghoulish level when you attend the special Halloween ghost tour of Crathes Castle from 28th – 31st October. With dark passageways and walls that hold stories spanning all kinds of decades, where else could be more spookily fitting to spend the holiday? No matter what corner you turn, expect the unexpected and with a ‘warm’ welcome from the castle’s most renowned inhabitant who haunts the halls, the Green lady, you know you are in for a few chills down the spine.

Website: http://www.nts.org.uk/Events/Theme/Halloween-fun/

Haddo House

Halloween is all about mystery and tricks, but that does not mean it always has to be gruesome. Take for instance Halloween Magic at Haddo House where you can be captivated by mesmerising illuminations that bring both ethereal creatures like fairies, and those which are a little more sinister, to life. With stunning woodland grounds which deserve to be admired both during the day and in the mysterious night, it is the perfect setting for a night rich in fairy tales and magic.

Website: http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Haddo-House/Events/

Codona’s

Complete with bowling, dodgems and an arcade where one can spend many an hour (and your loose change!), Codona’s amusement park is the perfect family friendly trip at it is. However, if you factor in it being bedecked in all kinds of ghostly gruesome decorations and offering traditional party games, then you know there is no where you can get more in the Halloween spirit of things. The only thing not so scary is the special reduced prices Codona’s offering throughout the month of October meaning you can be scared, but for less!

Website: http://codonas.com/sunset-boulevard/smugglers-cove/smugglers-cove-halloween-spook-tacular

Hidden Aberdeen

If there is anything synonymous with Halloween, it is creepy and spine-tingling tours of deserted streets haunted by restless ghosts who want to lure you into their dark and twisted stories. Therefore, if you are the kind of adrenaline junkie who lives for these kinds of scares, Hidden Aberdeen undoubtedly offers a tour which will hit all the spots. With tours focusing on all kinds of morbidly fascinating stories covering murder, bodysnatchers and ghosts, there is a darker history to the buzzing streets of Scotland’s Silver City which deserve to be told and when better to hear them than on this ghostly night?

Website: http://www.hiddenaberdeen.co.uk/

Birmingham

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Image: https://www.cadburyworld.co.uk/whats-on/autumn

Birmingham is the ultimate destination for family friendly fun because due to its convenient location, it is only a short distance away from major UK attractions including Drayton Manor, Warwick Castle, West Midland Safari Park and Cadbury’s World. Fortunately, if these attractions were not exciting enough as it was, they are taking it to a whole new level this Autumn as they fully embody and embrace the ghostly season. Therefore, from horror mazes to all kinds of wicked tricks and treats, there are all kinds of new mischievous fun to be had from the seasonal horror spectaculars on offer.

The National Sea Life Centre

All kinds of mystery and wonder lurk in the dark crevices of the ocean floor and the National Sea Life Centre is certainly playing on this with a Spooky Seas exhibit on display from the 22nd October to the 31st October. From jellyfish to piranhas, not all ghostly forms are to be discovered on dry land!

Website: https://www2.visitsealife.com/birmingham/discover/events/

Black Country Living Museum

One of Birmingham’s most renowned and award-winning museums, there could not be a better setting for some Halloween fun quite like the cobbled streets of the Black Country Living Museum which tells the story of the world’s first industrial landscape. Factor in live street entertainment including magicians and fire-jugglers; actual trick or treating and interaction with all kinds of creepy, crazy characters, it is a sure fire guarantee for a wicked night out! Available between 28th and 31st October.

Website: http://www.bclm.co.uk/events/halloween-nights–sold-out/14.htm

Pumpkin Flotilla at Sarehole Mill

Ghosts, witches, vampires and candy; all are symbols synonymous with the seasonal haunted spirit. However, from infamous Pumpkin Spices Lattes to Pumpkin Pie, who can forget the other main accessory of the season – pumpkins! Therefore, for a more relaxed spooky evening, how about partaking in Birmingham’s only pumpkin flotilla at Sarehole Mill? Occurring between October 28th and October 30th, you can spend the mysterious period of twilight, not gawping at vampires, but being hypnotised by the wondrous sight of gently glowing carved pumpkins floating away down the Mill pond. The complimentary hot chocolate also adds a little something special to the proceedings!

 Website: http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/sarehole/whats-on/pumpkin-flotilla

 

Glasgow

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Image: https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/halloween-in-glasgow

Glasgow Horror Festival

Sometimes Halloween is not all about going out, it is also about staying in, turning off the lights, snuggling up in a duvet and then subjecting yourself to a marathon of the scariest and most gruesome movies which guarantee you a night with the lights switched on. Well, with the inaugural Glasgow Horror Festival on 29th October 2016, you can be terrified out of your wits with company as the festival will be 12 hours full of indie movies, live music, industry Q and As and of course some crazy dressing up! If you are really a horror movie buff, make sure not to miss the movie drive-in at the Riverside Museum on the 30th October which is showing classics including Hocus Pocus.

Website: http://www.princeandprincessofwaleshospice.org.uk/event-article/social-events/drive-in-movie

Tennant’s Halloween Brewery Tour

Whether it is Halloween or not, the Tennant’s Brewery tour is always worth a visit just because you cannot say you have fully experienced Scotland until you have learnt the story of one of Scotland’s national drinks. However, the Halloween tours on the 28th/29th October just elevate the invigorating stories to be told because mysterious tales of the brewery are interwoven alongside the provision of Halloween games and nibbles.

Glasgow Science Centre – Halloween Fright Night

While you may be dying to enjoy a spooky pint of Tennants, sometimes with your young ones in tow this may not be a possibility. However, Glasgow is able to provide some family friendly thrills and nowhere is this more clearly evident than at the Glasgow Science Centre’s Halloween Fright Night on 28th October. It is literally one of Scotland’s biggest family friendly Halloween extravaganzas and with a costume catwalk, the chance to concoct your own monster potion, a gruesome live autopsy and the telling of tales of mystery in the planetarium, it is no surprise why all the young ghosts and ghouls congregate here!

Website: http://www.glasgowsciencecentre.org/special-events/frightnight.html

Edinburgh

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Website: https://www.scotsmagazine.com/articles/break-free-from-the-edinburgh-fringe/

Ghost Tours

Just from looking at Edinburgh and its cobbled old streets, you can see that it is a city rooted in a rich history and of course where there is history; there are often dark, sinister stories of murder, mystery, treason and blood. Therefore, regardless of whether you visit Edinburgh at Halloween or not, there is always ample opportunity to have the goose bumps rise on your arms and the chill go down your spine as many attractions including the Edinburgh Dungeons, The Ghost Bus Tour, Mary’s Kings Close and Edinburgh’s renowned ghost walks/murder tours are open for haunting all year round. From bodysnatchers to vampires to witch trials, you can learn all about it whatever month you visit, but of course there could not be a more chillingly fitting time than the night of scares and ghouls itself. Mercat Tours in particular are offering dedicated Halloween tours.

Website: https://www.mercattours.com/

 Condemned, Real Mary’s King Close

Mary’s King Close is rumoured to be one of Scotland’s most haunted grounds as it is, therefore where better to spend Halloween? This is particularly true when you consider how the chilling stories of the underground streets are taken to a whole new terrifying level with the seasonal late night experience of “Condemned”. Witches are an integral part of Halloween due to their dark magic and plotting, and therefore this is why “Condemned” is centred on telling the story of Edinburgh’s witchcraft past.

Website: http://www.realmarykingsclose.com/events/16-02-17/condemned-287898829.aspx

The Real Jekyll and Hyde at Edinburgh Dungeons

While some of Edinburgh’s renowned ghost and murder tours may be a little too much for the young ones, the Edinburgh Dungeons are able to make the dark, gruesome past a little more accessible through invoking some comical relief and interactive guest participation. With the seasonal addition of ‘The Real Jekyll and Hyde’ to generate some extra thrills, there really cannot be a better time to interact with some of the shadiest characters of Edinburgh’s past.

Website: https://www.thedungeons.com/edinburgh/en/explore-the-dungeon/jekyll-and-hyde.aspx

Halloween Trail

Between the Botanic Light event and this creepy Halloween trail occurring between the 15th and 31st of October, there could not be a better time to experience the wonder, beauty and now mystery of the Royal Botanic Gardens. A light-hearted activity perfect for all the family, the trail centres on helping a witch’s cat, Caley, to amass all the necessary plant ingredients to concoct the healing potion for the Garden’s witch.

Website: http://www.rbge.org.uk/whats-on/family-events

Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016

There is no experience quite as immersive as the Samhuinn Fire Festival, a non-ticketed event occurring on 31st October which will send your senses into overdrive due to the dramatic fire, pumping music and captivating street performances that occur. Halloween is all about tradition and this event is no different because it is a Celtic festival all about reliving the pagan tradition of Samhuinn, the celebration that occurred when harvest ended and winter was coming. Beginning on the Royal Mile, this is an amazing spectacle and experience not to be missed!

 Website: https://beltane.org/about-samhuinn/

 

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November…

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Website: http://www.walkersandford.co.uk/festive-firework-displays-guy-fawkes-nights-in-glasgow-november-2012/

However, the night-time spectaculars go beyond the 31st of October, so make sure you stick around! This is because of course who can forget the 5th of November where the skies come to life in a blaze of colour and wonder to celebrate Bonfire night. Fortunately, none of our respective locations are shy when it comes to getting in the seasonal spirit of sparklers and Catherine wheels so make sure to discover where some of the headlining public events are occurring for the best view in the house. From fairgrounds to live music, this is a celebration truly not to be missed!

Birmingham

Edgbaston Stadium Fireworks Spectacular (tickets required)

                        Solihull Round Table Fireworks Display

Glasgow   

Glasgow Green Fireworks (free)

Edinburgh

Fireworks at Meadowbank! (tickets required)

Aberdeen

Aberdeen Beach (free)

Your One Stop Serviced Apartment Shop

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If there is anything that we pride ourselves on about our apartments it is their ultra-convenient and central locations. However, if you believe bias to be clouding our judgement, check out these vibrant and quirky word clouds we compiled from Trip Advisor reviews which only attested to how all our guests also agree that we come top when it comes to location.

Our post codes only speak to this as with highly sought after locations on renowned UK streets including Edinburgh’s Hanover Street and on the doorstep of Birmingham’s ultra-exclusive retail paradise known as the Mailbox, we are clearly right in the hub of all the excitement and adventure that cosmopolitan Britain has to offer. However, while we do reside in some of the UK’s biggest and best cities including the glittering granite exterior of Aberdeen and the world renowned hospitality and friendly banter of Glasgow, we appreciate that maybe you want to explore horizons further afield. For instance, maybe you are feeling courageous and want to pay the infamous Loch Ness Monster a visit or perhaps the bright lights of the UK’s greatest metropolis and dear capital London is calling you. Wherever you like, whatever destination your heart desires, from Dundee to Manchester to Liverpool to Newcastle to Belfast, with ‘The Apartment Collection – By The Spires’ we can find the perfect serviced apartment accommodation for you. Wondering how? Let us explain.

While we would love to say that we have managed to grow overnight and launch brand new apartments in cities from the top to the bottom of the country, unfortunately that is a dream for another day. However, that has not stopped us from developing connections with serviced apartment providers all across the country and subsequently alongside the title of ‘serviced apartment operator’, we also would like to add ‘serviced apartment agent’ embossed on a gold name plaque. Consequently, no longer can we just provide you with the ultimate experience in serviced apartment accommodation when you stay directly with us, but we can also source you the best possible stay even when you are not staying with us. At The Spires we are all about delivering our guests with the best experience possible and this is something that we want to continue whether you are staying with us or not. Therefore, we will only source you accommodation with serviced apartment providers who we believe share the same values and ethos as us in relation to customer service. Consequently, we are taking the stress out of your hands in relation to scouring the internet to see if providers are really living up to their proclaimed reputation through those rigorous Trip Advisor checks. All you have to do is dial the magic telephone number to The Spires and you can put your feet up as we do all the sourcing work for you through our network which we have accumulated afters years in business.

Therefore, we really are a one-stop-shop when it comes to serviced apartment living. From offering up our own apartments to helping you find accommodation when we do not have apartments in the city locations you want to stay in, one call to The Spires will sort out all your accommodation enquiries. Whatever the destination, serviced apartments really are the perfect cost-effective alternative to traditional hotels as the flexibility, freedom, space and convenience they offer just cannot be rivalled – wherever you venture in the world! Therefore, whatever your travel circumstances, whether you are travelling for 1 night or 1 year,  whether you are travelling nationally or internationally or whether you are flying solo or as part of a family trip, we will be able to source you the best stay so you do not have to.

With the October holidays on the horizon (an ample opportunity to explore all the treasures that the world has to offer) it is the perfect time to consider visiting somewhere new. Therefore, make sure to visit our dedicated ‘The Apartment Collection – By The Spires’ website to get the inspiration rolling or if you already have a location in mind, phone us at 0345 270 0090 to get your holiday booked. Wherever and whenever, The Spires have your every travel need sorted.

http://www.theapartmentcollection.co.uk/

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 

Coming down with a case of Wanderlust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources: http://wikipedia.org

Bollywood Meets Birmingham

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               Today marks a sad day as we reach the closure point on our Bollywood Meets Scotland series. If you had mentioned to me at the start of this year that I would end up blogging about the connection between Bollywood and India, I would have been somewhat doubtful to say the least; predominantly because I had never even realised that any Bollywood films had been filmed in Scotland. However, fortunately I have now been enlightened, and I have been thoroughly interested to discover just how many a Bollywood movie has been filmed here and the wide array of locations that have been featured. However, before we bid adieu to this blogging series, there is still one important stop to make: Birmingham.

                Ok, so geographically we are all well aware that Birmingham is not a part of Scotland. However, considering the increasing popularity towards filming a Bollywood movie in Britain’s second city, there is no reason why a Bollywood adventure in Scotland cannot turn into a Bollywood adventure in the UK. In 2013, Birmingham even celebrated the 100th year anniversary of the Indian movie industry through hosting a wide range of Bollywood themed activities from live music, dance and entertainment, such as “Bollywood’s Got Talent” to functions which included the attendance of famous Bollywood royalty such as Zeenat Aman. With classic Bollywood movies being shown during the month-long festival, it would be inconceivable to consider leaving Birmingham out of all the fun.

               Prior to last year’s festival, less than 12 films a year used Birmingham as a backdrop but to that ignorant likes of me, that was a much higher number than I had anticipated. One of those dozen films which Birmingham squeezed its way into (it even held the premiere) was the recent Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, a UK-based 2013 action comedy sequel to Yamla Pagla Deewana which focused on the trials and tribulations a married Indian man from Canada experienced when searching for the brother and father in India he had lost contact with. Although not setting the Bollywood Box Office on fire, Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 did succeed in generating £2.5 million for Birmingham’s local economy which only goes to reflect the positive benefits of film tourism. This is particularly true when it is considered how the likes of big stars like Dharmendra have now visited Birmingham, putting it on the map for their loyal fans. Happened to have watched Yamla Pagla Deewana 2? Well, Birmingham featured extensively in the movie and some iconic Birmingham sights to keep an eye out for include the Gatecrasher Night Club, the Rotunda Apartments and the NEC Birmingham.

               Another recent movie to feature Birmingham was Tezz, a 2012 action movie featuring a rather darker plot with a man hiding a bomb on a train in order to avenge the wrong that had been done to him in his past. Birmingham’s St Phillips Cathedral played a part in the action as did Victoria Square where the ransom money was even dropped.

                A particular link that can be found between Birmingham and Bollywood is the food series “From Birmingham to Bombay” which followed the renowned head chef Alan Coxon as he discovered how the 5 favourite UK curries, cooked by the best Anglo-Indian chefs, matched up against their authentic Indian counterparts to see just how they compared. Filmed in both the UK and India, if you like curry, spices, food history, Indian food, beautiful scenery and a captivating knowledgeable narrative; this is one for your viewing. As a disclaimer, just remember to have some food at hand because the odds are favourable that you will begin to feel a bit peckish! Make sure to check out the whole series on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6afkSPLHc0. Not to name-drop, but also look out for the credits on Episode 1 where a certain serviced apartments firm makes a sneaky appearance….

birmingham youtube

               One final link that reflects just how intertwined Birmingham and Bollywood is that Birmingham was the first UK city to open up a Bollywood Academy which teaches vocals, acting, singing and dancing from expert teachers who are well renowned in the UK and India alike for their Bollywood based talent. As a result of this academy, the awareness of Bollywood themed Performance Arts in the UK can only be increased and enables further opportunities for the industry.

Alas, that brings us to the final stop on our Bollywood venture through Scotland into Birmingham. While the story may be over, your journey can only just begin if you choose to follow the action, music, dancing and romance in the movies and live it out for yourself. See where all the famous stars acted out those iconic moments in some of the UK’s  favourite and most beloved cities that are full of history, culture, entertainment and beautiful landscape. The whole way throughout your journey, The Spires can accommodate you and with apartments that come with fully equipped kitchens, spacious lounges and comfy bedrooms, we can cater for the whole family. So what are you waiting for? Engage in a little bit of Bollywood magic and follow in the paths of the stars. Make sure to share those movie-ready selfies with us!

Photo: VisitBirmingham

Want to go back and look at how the Bollywood journey began? Or have you just tuned into all the fun now? Here are our previous Bollywood blogs…

https://thespiressuites.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/have-a-bollywood-adventure-in-scotland/  

https://thespiressuites.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/bollywood-meets-the-north-east/

https://thespiressuites.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/bollywood-meets-glasgow/

https://thespiressuites.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/bollywood-meets-edinburgh/

The City Spotlight is on Birmingham

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Maybe it was due to a lack of regional knowledge, but Birmingham was never really a place that was on my travelling radar. I am ashamed to say that whenever I considered a visit to England, invariably my favourite ‘go to’ places were Manchester and of course, that distinctly well-known city of London. However, coming to The Spires and doing a daily press check to see what is going on in the world, a city that keeps coming up on my newsfeed is you guessed it; Birmingham. Not only is Birmingham a consistent news item but it is one for all the right, positive reasons such as being named best city to *insert activity such as live/visit/invest*. Birmingham is on such a role that it is really starting to give London a run for its money, hence it commonly being referred to as“Britain’s Second City”. Consequently, Birmingham is now firmly headlining my ‘to go’ list and I hope to persuade anyone who is thinking of engaging in a ‘staycation’ this year or even in a mini city-break to do the same. All the way back in 2012 we highlighted the awesomeness of Birmingham (read here) but here are some facts and reasons as to why Birmingham (and The Spires!) should be on your 2015 UK bucketlist and to fit with the 2015 theme, I will give you 15 reasons:

1. What links Rome and Birmingham? Well, Birmingham’s quality of life is on par with Rome’s with both cities placing at number 52 out of 440 cities featured on Mercer’s Quality of Life 2015 report. Factors that were taken into account to generate the rankings were aspects such as political, cultural and social environments. However, Birmingham edges it in terms of miles of canals when it is considered how its 18th century canal systems designed for trading, outstrips Venice’s at 56km of waterways. Read more here for full rankings.
2. There will be a greater sense of jubilation in the city with many anniversaries being celebrated in Birmingham including Birmingham Cathedral’s 300th Birthday and the renowned Rotunda’s 50th. Get those party poppers out!
3. In 2015, the party is at Resort World Birmingham which will be the UK’s first ever integrated destination leisure complex complete with an 11-screen cinema; an outlet shopping centre; an array of international cuisine options and a casino.
4. In 2014, the Birmingham Hippodrome was the highest attended single theatre in the UK and features all kinds of shows from musicals to drama to opera to comedians. Things to look forward to in 2015 include the likes of Shrek, Dirty Dancing and The Bodyguard. However, if concerts are more your thing, the Genting Arena and 02 Academy should be sure to hit the spot with musical acts this year including Take That and Fleetwood Mac. Birmingham’s music scene has clearly proven itself to be one to watch as previous bands which have made their breakout in Birmingham include UB40, Duran Duran and Black Sabbath.
5. Have a liking for the sparkly things in life? Well, Birmingham’s trendy Jewellery Quarter is still inhabited by over 500 jewellery firms and is full of heritage with it being a designated conservation area. Come here to check out some positive community spirit, historic architecture, some unique restaurants and a bit of bling!
Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham (Source: http://www.maguirejackson.com)
6. Out of all UK locations, Birmingham was the only one to make it in Rough Guide’s Top 10 Destinations of 2015 where it was in the warm company of destinations such as Wellington and New Orleans. Factors that attributed to the awarding of this accolade were in relation to Birmingham’s impressive shopping, music and diverse cultural scenes.
7. According to Site Selection’s (read here) “The Best to Invest List”, Birmingham was determined as the best UK city to invest in and the second best in Western Europe. This was determined by its success at attracting investment projects and considering all the developments that are happening, it is no surprise why these investments are sparking further ones such as the ambitious HS2 high-speed rail project.
8. If you are a chocoholic as well as a foodie then Birmingham is your new paradise. As well as the production of the nation’s favourite chocolate bar happening here, within Birmingham you can also find Bournville which was a community built by the Cadbury family for their chocolate factory workers. For all you extreme chocoholics, make sure to check out the Cadbury World Museum where all the chocolate fun and sugar comas are at.
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Cadbury World (Source: http://www.coolplaces.co.uk)
9. The iconic Bullring is more than just iconic, it is also historic as it has been a market trading area since the Middle Ages. With the wide array of brands, restaurants and retailers it now boasts, it is an attraction that acts as a retail magnet for tourists the world over with its status as one of the UK’s largest shopping centres.
10. Exiting times lie ahead for you in Birmingham in 2015 if you are a sports fan with two Rugby World Cup matches being held in Birmingham as well as The Ashes.
11. Are you a foodie? Well, after London, Birmingham has the greatest number of Michelin starred restaurants, such as Glynn Purnell, and its dining scene has been praised by many a national and international publication. Do not have a Michelin friendly wallet? Well, Birmingham also has an abundance of street foods covering a global range of cuisine.
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Adams Restaurant (Source: http://www.edgemagazine.org)
12. Nature is in abundance because there are plenty of places to take a leisurely stroll with Birmingham having more parks than any other European destination and in Victoria Square, you can even find one of the largest water fountains in Europe.
13. Exciting developments are all around in 2015. For instance, in September, the New Street Station development will be complete with improved facilities; a new concourse and a shopping mall; the Grand Central Shopping Centre. The centre will feature 60 retailers and restaurants as well as the inclusion of a flagship John Lewis store. It has been claimed that the new centre will be a “world class transport, shopping and community hub”. Definitely one to watch!
14. Those who like to engage in a little bit of retail therapy will also be pleased by the developments going on at The Mailbox Refurbishment and Selfridges Birmingham. Selfridges’ £20 million investment will bring in 70 new brands as well as an “Oxford Street” edge while there is a an even greater upgrade being made to The Mailbox, including the flagship Harvey Nichols, where £50 million has been spent to take luxury shopping to its max. You can already feel bank accounts cowering away in fear…
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Birmingham 2015 Developments (Source: http://business.grandcentralbirmingham.com/the-location.aspx)
15. The Library of Birmingham was the only UK Visitor Attraction to be featured in the UK Top 10 Most Visited Visitor Attractions (as determined by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions) that was not in London. Just look at this building for the reason why!.
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Birmingham Library (Source: Wikipedia)
Therefore, I hope right now you are all plotting a getaway to Birmingham because with even bigger, future developments on the horizon, it is clear that Birmingham’s already impressive music, cultural, dining, shopping and transport scene are set to become even more attractive. If I have failed to convince you of this, watch this space and let Birmingham’s growth do the talking!

Information: http://visitbirmingham.com/ ;http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/birminghams-15-15-big-projects-7149572http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/

Head Image: http://finedininglovers.com