Review: Rotunda, Birmingham

Published on: Friday, November 20, 2009


Towering 81m (266ft) above the Birmingham skyline, the refurbished Rotunda offers an impeccably stylish city stay. Ruth-Ellen Davis hopped in the lift to the 19th floor for a weekend of freshly squeezed orange juice and urban panoramas in one of Staying Cool's Rotunda apartments.

“Oh my God. They actually open!” exclaimed my boyfriend, breaking the gobsmacked silence that fell the moment we clocked our Mini apartment’s gleaming wall of floor-to-ceiling windows.

Stretching out before us, 19 stories below, twinkled night-time Birmingham, and it looked beautiful.

Following a hefty makeover in 2008, the top three floors of Birmingham’s iconic Rotunda are now a cylindrical jigsaw of self-catered apartments: from compact Mini through to luxurious Penthouse, these modern suites are the perfect city centre stay, whether looking for a quiet and functional space for the business traveller, a trendy refuge for clubbers, or a stylish self-contained escape for couples.

Size-wise, our Mini apartment was certainly that, but the small open-plan space is so well utilised that it feels like three separate rooms.

The vast view can be appreciated from a low-legged grey felt sofa, which also faces the Apple Mac entertainment system that features in every Staying Cool Birmingham apartment, or, by looking down on the city from a pair of brightly coloured Tulip chairs next to a glass-topped round table.

For ultimate chilling, try juicing the supply of fresh oranges (thoughtfully stored in the fridge so the juice is a suitably refreshing temperature) and sink into the inviting king-sized bed, kitted out with memory foam mattress and crisp white linen, which just happens to be located just a couple of feet away from a wall-mounted flatscreen TV. 

All Staying Cool’s apartments are simple and uncluttered, with splashes of colour coming from a smattering of chic 1960s-style pieces, and everything, from the kettle to the thick white bath robes, is of the highest quality. Compact, slick and functional, it felt like we were staying in the apartment equivalent of an iPod Nano.

A shiny kitchen area has all the essentials, and fresh coffee, tea and milk are provided free of charge, as are the chilled oranges.

The bathroom – not part of the open-plan design, thankfully – continues the fusion of simplicity and quality: gleaming white and glass, and stocked with specially designed aromatherapy bath products.

Sliding the vast sheet of windows to one side, us positioned behind a reassuringly thick, waist-high safety rail, we looked out across the city – freshly squeezed orange juice in hand – and tried to think of ways Staying Cool could improve their city apartment experience. We failed.

New Street, Birmingham
0121 643 0815.
Mini Rotunda apartments range between £99 and £195 per night.