Staying Cool – A Room With a View

The Rotunda I would argue is the most iconic building in the city – I have grown up with it being a permanent fixture on Birmingham’s skyline; I distinctly remember from my youth the digital clock and Coca Cola sign - I was therefore eager for the chance to stay atop this cylindrical wonder in the  Staying Cool apartments.

On arrival check in was a breeze, the staff on the front desk were welcoming and I soon found myself ascending in the speedy lift en route to the 20th floor penthouse named the Roadster. 

On opening the door I was met with a luxurious and spacious serviced apartment  - a stylish modish decor with a distinctly 60’s vibe - this was clearly a nod to the fact that this Grade II listed building first opened in 1965 as part of the original Bull Ring Shopping centre.  Pictures of a Twiggy-esque model adorn the walls, low backed sofas,  bespoke furniture, glass tables - it's all very swish indeed.

There are two double bedrooms in the penthouse on adjacent sides and each has its own sizeable en suite.  A large living space sits in the middle with an open plan kitchen – The bedrooms are accessible from here and also from a corridor at the entrance for added privacy.

Mod cons you ask? Sky movies - check - Blu ray - confirmed - free Wi-Fi – affirmative - is it fast? Yep - iPod dock - tick - iPod 5 compatible? Sure – yup this place has all the tech and during my stay I made use of it all. For the less savvy or traditionalist there’s also a great selection of games – including Jenga, however the last thing I wanted to play was a game which involves a large tower collapsing.

The fully equipped kitchen had everything you need and more - I am informed it is a Poggenpohl –this means nothing to me but it lives up to its snazzy moniker all the same.  There was of course an oven - but this was a night of indulgence and although I flicked through the recipes in Glynn Purnells’ cookbook, it would have been a travesty to lift a finger - luckily being in the heart of the city I had my pick of restaurants on the doorstep some 250ft below.

Ok, back to the penthouse and time to discuss one of my favourite parts of the experience - the view. The view can be split into 4 distinct phases...


Phase 1 – The daylight hours

After I had worked out how to open the snazzy floor-to-ceiling window which can tilt or open I swung it aside to survey the view...

My first instinct was to jump.

That would have been a total waste of the evening.   

I really was taken aback at how high it was and for a short time I hit the deck – or decking and lay on the floor to look down below - I didn’t think I had vertigo and I still don’t - after a few minutes of acclimatising to the height I was skipping around the balcony with confidence. I was eye to eye level with the seagulls - seeing them drift around in the sky was rather relaxing.  Anyway...

The top floor of the Rotunda is split into 6 penthouses – as the balconies are wraparound it means you have a near 180 degree view of the city – I was delighted I was looking out over the South of the city as this is where I reside and I could make out Edgbaston, Moseley and Kings Heath – it all looked very leafy indeed.

This is the highest open air balcony in the city (some 266ft) and it was the best views of the city I have ever seen – make sure you take a camera/ binoculars/ eggs?

My colleague noted that the tiny orange clad workman below working on the New Street Station construction were like little Lego men – cue spontaneous rendition of ‘Everything is Awesome’.  For once this rang true – everything was indeed awesome – lookie...


Stage 2 – Dusky

My absolute favourite time of day – known in the film trade as the golden hour - The weather was beautiful and the sunset was a doozie.  And here it is for your viewing pleasure – the outlook was only slightly marred by the fact that I could see the entrance to work.

 Stage 3 – The hours of darkness

And then at night it’s all change as the cityscape below is transformed and the bright lights of buildings flicker on, lighting up like markers on a map.  It’s easier to get your bearings with the lights and then it’s a case of ‘Oooh look there’s the library’, ‘look over there, it’s the Hippodrome’ ‘Is that the...’ Where’s so and so ?..’ You can spend quite some time doing this. 

You can see the traffic snaking around the city and you can see pockets of light which are the suburbs – As I mentioned before I could see Edgbaston, Moseley and my hometown of Kings Heath. I couldn’t see my house.


Stage 4 – Morning hath broken

Unfortunately I didn’t see the dawn or the sun rise - a pity as I had left my blackout curtains open for said occasion - alas my eyelids weren’t up to the task, they remained closed for the duration.  This was probably due to the oh so comfy memory foam bed and lush pillows but it might also have been something to do with wine – specifically as it was priced thus – a bad omen for a bad head ahead.

The previous night I had the best intentions of using the complimentary Illy coffee machine and squeezing some juice utilising the free oranges in the fridge, but unfortunately I had overslept – and all these plans were dashed.  I did however have time to grab me a bowl of the Rude Health Granola – very tasty and recommended.

The en suite bathroom was a welcome sight; minimalist and clean – the large showerhead blew mine at home out of the water and this coupled with the luxurious bathing products worked a treat at rejuvenating me to some sense of normality.

Luckily being in the centre of town I was just a hop and skip away from the office – not that I did hop and skip, it was more of a slope and an amble.

That evening as I walked home past the Rotunda I looked up to my ex-pad and lamented the fact that I wouldn’t be up in the clouds with the gulls.  But I knew one day I would return – perhaps with my entourage to share the experience.

A stay in the Roadster Penthouse starts from £299 per night.

Staying Cool also have studios and one and two bedroom apartments on the 19th floor – the Mini, Clubman and Maxi - the more savvy amongst you will have spotted that they are all named after mini cars.  These apartments have all the luxury of the penthouse but on a more compact scale and of course slightly lower down! But rest assured the views are still a-ma-zing.

It’s no wonder that Staying Cool currently sits #1 on Tripadvisor for hotels in Birmingham.

Paul (22/05/15)


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