We visited the top of the Rotunda in Birmingham - the views were awesome & that’s not all

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Aparthotel Staying Cool at the Rotunda manages to the top floors of the iconic Birmingham landmark which is 20 storeys high

It’s Birmingham’s original skyscraper - built next to the Bullring and New Street station back in 1965.

The Rotunda stands round and proud at the centre of the traditional heart of our city centre. There are many, like me, who remember it as the Coca Cola tower back in the 80s - the first landmark you saw as you headed into town on the train.

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These days it’s got a bit of competition when it comes to panoramic views of Birmingham. There’s The Cube and the French restaurant Orelle at 103 Colmore Row, to mention but two of Birmingham’s growing collection of skyscrapers, slowly but surely reshaping the skyline.

But the Rotunda is special - it was here first - it’s even got its own limited edition beer named after it, especially crafted by Birmingham Brewing Company down in Stirchley and there’s an arts festival called Creative Heights II in its honour which has just launched. We got an invite to visit Staying Cool at the Rotunda - that’s the independent aparthotel at the top of the tower. The rest are regular apartments where lucky city centre dwellers reside.

The Rotunda was originally built as offices, with its architect James Roberts living in a penthouse on the top floor. The office workers moved out and it was fully turned into apartments in 1971. And it was to the top floor we headed to for our exciting visit - after living in Birmingham for decades, I’ve never been to the top of the Rotunda before.

BirminghamWorld editor Fionnuala Bourke on the 20th floor of the Rotunda (the top floor)BirminghamWorld editor Fionnuala Bourke on the 20th floor of the Rotunda (the top floor)
BirminghamWorld editor Fionnuala Bourke on the 20th floor of the Rotunda (the top floor) | Fionnuala Bourke

Panoramic views of Birmingham at the top of the Rotunda

I’ll talk about the Rotunda apartments next, but first off - let me try to describe the phenomenal view over Birmingham city centre you are presented with at the top floor.

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There are floor to ceiling windows, so you can fill your boots from inside the apartment, but even better than that - there’s a balcony all the way around the cylindrical tower, so you can step outside and drink in the sights amid the sky high fresh air too. It’s a truly awesome sight - and so completely different to the views from Marco’s at The Cube and Orelle, where I’ve been lucky enough to experience Birminham from above before.

Maybe this is because it’s the original place where the city of Birmingham began that makes it so special. You could spend hours identifying all the different modern day landmarks - Grand Central, Digbeth, the Radisson, Smallbrook Queensway, to name just a few.

During our visit there was even a sunset glowing ahead above the towers, jutting out towards the sky, which was remarkable - unfortunately I couldn’t get the phone out fast enough to capture it! My disappointment was short lived however, as I had a stunning apartment to check out to ease my mind.

What are the apartments like at Staying Cool at the Rotunda

Well, these two bedroom apartments aren’t called ‘Staying Cool’ for no reason. The living accommodation is as stunning as the views outside.

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The on trend grey and rustic orange colour schemes are refreshingly chic and the bedrooms, living room and kitchen area, and bathrooms ooze style. There are eye catching artworks adding to the allure. The state of the art kitchen area has everything you need if you want to stay inside. And there’s a high tech flat screen TV in the living room.

Of course the wonderful views outside set everything off to a ‘T’. And as you’re so high up, it’s a peaceful place to soak up the city vibes from on high. You may be surprised at how peaceful a stay is. If you are going out you’ve got the best of Birmingham on your doorstep - so fill your boots with the wealth of independent bars and restaurants waiting to welcome you. There are some of the best shops in Britain all around town too, with Selfridge less than five minutes away.

Rotunda Pale launched in honour if Birmingham’s iconic landmarkRotunda Pale launched in honour if Birmingham’s iconic landmark
Rotunda Pale launched in honour if Birmingham’s iconic landmark | Edwin Ellis

What about the beer and Creative Heights II arts festival?

Staying Cool is celebrating 15 years at the Rotunda by commissioning the Rotunda Pale with Birmingham Brewing Co. It’s a citrus pale ale made from British floor malt berweed in Birmingham using 100% renewable energy. Creative Heights II launched last week with a sky-high piece of artwork featuring Birmingham’s post-war architecture designed and illustrated by city-based Window Artists.

The Window Artists illustration features Brutiful Birmingham buildings including Smallbrook Ringway, Alpha Tower, New Street Signal Box and, of course, Rotunda itself. Working with fellow indies from across Birmingham, Creative Heights II is giving a sky-high platform to even more talented artists, local designers and fab food & drink providers.

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The Window Artists illustration at Staying Cool at the Rotunda in BirminghamThe Window Artists illustration at Staying Cool at the Rotunda in Birmingham
The Window Artists illustration at Staying Cool at the Rotunda in Birmingham | Edwin Ellis

Residents and visitors to Birmingham alike will have the opportunity to visit Rotunda and take part in workshops drawing the skyline, listen to literature talks or see new art against the stunning backdrop of the Brum cityscape. Food & drink pairing events with long-term collaborators The Wilderness will showcase local independent venues from the city’s booming dining scene and will shine a light on restaurants, with the support of creative drinks providers.

You can see the full programme of events in our story here. And you can discover the latest updates and buy tickets at  stayingcool.com/blog/creative-heights-2023/. Follow Staying Cool on Facebook and Twitter as well.

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