2014: great expectations and nice surprises!

As a new business we are always taking a good hard look at ourselves, what we do and how we deliver to our guests, but New Year is traditionally the time to set new ambitious goals.

I have four resolutions for 2014. Firstly, Edinburgh’s Old Town provides an intriguing, atmospheric and rich backdrop to our day-to-day lives and the longer I work here the more I want to find out about Edinburgh’s Closes.

From former residents to the ghosts that are still meant to walk the cobbled lanes, from the architecture and town planning that gave us these narrow streets to the uses of the different buildings that remain (which range from breweries to printing presses). The history of the area is a key part of who we are and it is fascinating whether you are simply passing through as a guest or someone who works here all year round.

My next resolutions are all about the business. We are going out to the world to talk about Old Town Chambers and, in particular, why serviced apartments are a positive choice. The comments we have had so far, either directly or through the main booking/review sites, have been tremendous. They give us the encouragement that we are doing the right things and doing them well. For us, it is about thinking differently, to raise and set new standards.

Our official launch in early 2014 will be our first chance to take our philosophy to a wider audience. Part of that message is that we make serviced apartments rock!  Self-catering has been around for years. The same might be said for serviced apartments. But with the Old Town Chambers serviced apartments there is a big difference.

Our apartments have been designed in such a way, and located so perfectly, that they offer the independent traveller far greater independence, freedom and space than anything that has gone before. They also offer a new level of luxury and style that is unquestionably on a par with the best 5 star hotels. The experience we can provide we hope will help change perceptions of serviced apartments for UK travellers in particular and that is one thing we want to achieve in 2014.

Finally, I want to reach out to the business community to promote long stays. As a home from home, the Old Town Chambers is an ideal alternative to a hotel. Its city centre location is also perfect for any corporate exec looking to relocate to Edinburgh and who needs a base to become fully acquainted with Scotland’s capital.

It is exciting times for Old Town Chambers as we head into 2014, but we believe in our product, aim to work hard and grasp every opportunity with style! Happy New Year!

Julie Grieve

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GHOST TALES FOR CHRISTMAS

One of the traditions of Christmas that will never be allowed to slip away while we work in Edinburgh’s Old Town is the telling of ghost stories on Christmas Eve.

The Old Town is reputed to be one of the most haunted sites in the British Isles and the closes just off the Royal Mile, where we are located, possess the historic character and moody atmosphere for the best scary tales.

While part of a re-design now breathing new life into Advocate’s Close, Roxburgh’s Close and Warriston’s Close the uniqueness of our serviced apartments has a lot to do with our 15th century foundations, with the sense of history essential to the experience of staying at Old Town Chambers.

Next to us is the Real Mary King’s Close. Buried deep beneath the Royal Mile is a warren of hidden streets that were once home to the good, the bad and the ugly of Edinburgh’s often gory past. It is said that you can hear the revellers at a long gone bar, or the scratching of a child stuck in a chimney and then there is the shrine to ‘Annie’ where tourists leave their gifts of toys.

Tunnels are also said to exist from the Castle to Holyrood Palace and when these were re-discovered a hundred years ago a piper was sent down to explore. He played his bagpipes so that his progress could be tracked by those above. When he got to the Tron the music stopped. He had vanished, never to be seen again. Although, it is sometimes said the sound of his pipes can be faintly heard by passers-by on the Royal Mile today.

At our official launch in the New Year we are planning a tribute to the heritage of our location, with history tours provided with the help of Mercat Tours, The Real Mary King’s Close and history festival co-founder Susan Morrison. We hope to capture the historic nature of our setting alongside the style and panache of modern ideas in architecture, hospitality and service. In the meantime I expect there may be some ghost stories told in our apartments on Christmas Eve and who knows, someone might spot Santa as he delivers to all the good children staying with us, after all with many of our apartments occupied on Christmas Eve, he’s going to be with us for a while!

Julie Grieve 

Serviced Apartments are the future

I am just back from The Association of Serviced Apartments conference.  I found it a very useful two days. 

Serviced apartments are growing in popularity in the UK and now make up over 5% of all hotel bookings, whilst in the US it is over 12% – fascinating statistics and good news for us.  It is not always the case that what happens in America happens here, but I do believe we are following our American friends in this trend.  I know I am biased, but seriously why would you stay in a hotel when you can spend a similar amount of money and have often, double the space?

Just to be clear, I am not saying you would never stay in a hotel, of course you would and there are many that I love, it is more just when you need some flexibility and some space, then serviced apartments are a great alternative.

It was also interesting to hear how far ahead Edinburgh is in terms of adoption. So many more people visiting Edinburgh choose to stay in a serviced apartment then in other cities; we really are leading the way.

And finally, I was amazed to hear that serviced apartment is now a more searched term on google than hotel: that was from the keynote speaker from Savills.

Serviced apartments are here to stay and we know we must make each and every customer experience a great one, so they spread the word.

Serviced apartments are the future

I am just back from The Association of Serviced Apartments conference.  I found it a very useful two days.

Serviced apartments are growing in popularity in the UK and now make up over 5% of all hotel bookings, whilst in the US it is over 12% – fascinating statistics and good news for us.  It is not always the case that what happens in America happens here, but I do believe we are following our American friends in this trend.  I know I am biased, but seriously why would you stay in a hotel when you can spend a similar amount of money and have often, double the space?

Just to be clear, I am not saying you would never stay in a hotel, of course you would and there are many that I love, it is more just when you need some flexibility and some space, then serviced apartments are a great alternative.

It was also interesting to hear how far ahead Edinburgh is in terms of adoption. So many more people visiting Edinburgh choose to stay in a serviced apartment then in other cities; we really are leading the way.

And finally, I was amazed to hear that serviced apartment is now a more searched term on Google than hotel: that was from the keynote speaker from Savills.

Serviced apartments are here to stay and we know we must make each and every customer experience a great one, so they spread the word.

Julie Grieve

 

Christmas lights – a view lost to the city for 200 years!

Standing on the balconies of our north facing apartments, particularly at this time of year, the vista of Princes Street and beyond is spectacular, with the lights of the Christmas markets, the Edinburgh Wheel and the buzz of festive shoppers generating the most amazing feeling.

It’s a panoramic view of the city that had been lost for centuries and so it is quite a privilege to be enjoying it once more.

Xmas PH view (balcony 2)[199647]

By the mid-fifteenth century, Edinburgh was a walled city and heavily populated, forcing building upwards.  Because of the grid-like nature of the Old Town’s tightly packed tenements and narrow streets, it became a ‘medieval Manhattan’ of high-rise homes. Some buildings soared 12 storeys high.

Architecturally, today, the Old Town Chambers is a really stand out place. It emerges out of the fifteenth century foundations and the design of our purpose built serviced apartments is representative of the shaping of the buildings as they once were. It is a very contemporary take on Edinburgh’s Old Town and with it we have reinstated these very special views of the New Town.

So if it’s the Christmas lights you want to see, I can’t recommend a better or more unique viewing experience. If you are a bah humbug then watch out, this place could have converted Scrooge without all the ghosts!

Julie Grieve