- Trip in a nutshell: A family weekend city break in smart self-catering apartments Staying Cool at the Rotunda in Birmingham.
- Who went: Tara McBride, husband Joe, 18-month-old daughter Jasmine and Tara’s mum Patricia.
- Best for: Families with children who want somewhere safe and fun with a touch of luxury, extended families, couples, non-drivers.
- Essential travel info: Birmingham is the central hub of England’s motorway network, and parking is easy in the Bullring shopping centre next door. Also the perfect destination for those arriving by train, as the Rotunda is right in between New Street and Moor St stations.
- Family-friendly features: Welcome gifts for kids, complimentary cot bed and high chair loan, dressing-up box, plenty of space, blackout curtains, toddler-friendly furniture, fully-fitted kitchen with all mod cons.
It has to be said, that ‘hip and trendy’ is not usually uttered in the same breath as ‘family-friendly’, let alone ‘reasonably priced’, but Staying Cool at the Rotunda manages surprise in more ways than one. Tucked away on the top four floors of the Grade II-listed Rotunda – a striking ‘glass tube’ situated slap-bang in the centre of Birmingham – are 26 gorgeous boutique-style apartments.
Funky and bright
The 60s-inspired furniture doesn’t just look good, it’s perfect for families with little ones – think low, flat sofas perfect for clambering on, round-edged low tables to minimise the risk of collisions, and light, bright décor.
Apartments come in four sizes, and they all provide floor-to-ceiling windows and comfortable living areas offering amazing views over the city. The penthouse even has a wraparound balcony (with safety rail, of course) – perfect for an al fresco cocktail after the kids have gone to bed, as well as providing some fun in the daytime. The sight of my other half chasing my errant toddler back and forth 280ft up in the air overlooking the Birmingham skyline is etched in my memory for a long time to come!
Everything is designed to make your stay easy, from the moment you walk through the door to a warm welcome from one of the team. Fresh oranges for the juicer, teabags, and everything you need for the coffee machine await you.
The top-spec kitchen was a real treat. Sterilising bottles away from home can be a pain, as anyone who has ever boiled a teat in a travel kettle can confirm. Here, every need is provided for, from condiments, cereal and a microwave to warm your bottles, to dishwasher tablets, detergent for the washer-drier and binbags: all the things you usually have the hassle of bringing or buying when self-catering.
It’s the little touches that elevate your stay from pleasant to extra-special. A cot and high chair already set up, both high-quality and pristine, assure you that your child is well catered for. There is an iMac and free wifi, and generous welcome gifts for the little ones – mine bagged a teddy and book set, some sweets and a puzzle – plus a dressing-up box for under-tens and a large helping of pens and crayons. The beds are super-comfortable (the memory foam toppers are awesome), with blackout curtains helping everyone get a full night’s sleep, and the bathrooms are cool and stylish. Someone has put a lot of thought into making the stay a wonderful experience for guests, and it shows.
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Shopping on your doorstep
We found it hard to drag ourselves out of such swish and comfortable surroundings, but if you do, you will find a huge range of activities to suit all the family. Birmingham’s Bullring is literally on your doorstep (Zara is on the ground floor of the Rotunda and if the bronze bull could moo you’d hear it from your balcony).
The town centre boasts the Think Tank, a world-class science museum which is brilliant for kids of all ages. Let your under-7s loose in Kids’ City, where they can dress up and enact roles in a realistic health centre, garage, dentist and street. Also on offer is under-5s story-telling in the Planetarium, plus the brand new science garden, where the whole family can get stuck into a host of interactive exhibits.
Other attractions in Brum range from the National Trust’s unique Back-to-back Housing and the Birmingham Nature Centre, to the National Sealife Centre and Cadbury World. For more ideas, check out our guide to 10 of the best days out in Birmingham. OK, so if you want seaside, you’ll have to go elsewhere, but for everything else – Birmingham’s the place to be!
Price: Mini studios from £95 per night. Clubman one-bed apartments from £129 per night. Maxi two-beds from £150 per night. Roadster two-bed penthouses from £289 per night.
Free night offer: Book both Friday and Saturday nights and stay on Sunday night free of charge. Use the rate code COMPSUNDAY and book via the official website.
Contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +44 (0)121 285 1290