Wednesday, March 2, 2022

The best hotels in Glasgow for a climate-aware city break

Host city to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), where heads of state, climate experts and campaigners come together to concoct a plan to tackle climate change, the world's eyes fall on Glasgow this autumn.

It's an appropriate choice; Glasgow's Gaelic name, Glaschu, means ‘Dear Green Place’ and with no fewer than 90 city parks, including Pollok Country Park where Highland cattle roam, Glasgow is rated one of the greenest cities in Europe.

When the world leaders take time out from climate chat they can visit The Gallery of Modern Art on Royal Exchange Square. Packed with contemporary works by Andy Warhol, David Shrigley and Grayson Perry, however, its most photographed installation is the statue outside of a mounted Duke of Wellington with a traffic cone on his head.

As the largest city in Scotland, Glasgow is not short of Gaelic charm. The first UK city to be named European Capital of Culture, it's renowned for its grand Victorian architecture, modern art scene and eclectic nightlife. It's also brimming with some of Scotland's best hotels.

Whether you want to bed down in a four-poster in a tiny Victorian castle or style it out in a sleek Art Deco penthouse overlooking the city, check out our pick of the best hotels in Glasgow.

1. Sherbrook Castle, Pollokshields

Looking like a scene from a Roald Dahl book, Sherbrook Castle is a baronial redbrick castle on the south side of Glasgow, complete with twisting turrets and wandering ivy. Built in 1896 and set in neat landscaped gardens, inside is just as impressive; think ancestral paintings, steely knights of armour, regal plaid carpets and acres of polished dark wood panelling. Dine out on Scotland's finest produce in the restaurant and don't miss sampling the much-loved afternoon tea in the library.

Rooms and suites are spacious and comfortable, some feature four-poster beds, claw-foot baths and antique furnishings. And if you really want to impress, book a night in the Tower Suite in the tallest turret, which has sweeping views over Glasgow.

2. Voco Grand Central, City Centre

There's something rather romantic about railway station hotels of the 19th century. Glasgow's Voco Grand Central is a prime example and evokes the golden era of travel. Refurbished in 2021 by IHG's trendy Voco brand, the grandiose Victorian pile attached to Glasgow Central once counted Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill and JFK as former guests.

Inside you'll find ornate panelled ceilings, glittering chandeliers and a sea of wood panelling, while rooms and suites are a little more contemporary than in Frank's time, although the swanky loft rooms still have marble bathrooms.

Dine out on classic Scottish dishes behind huge arched windows the Tempus Restaurant, and don't miss a tipple at Champagne Central, the hotel's palatial bar with a domed ceiling, a spherical chandelier and marble columns.

3. Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens, West End

Housed in a beautiful tree-lined avenue in Glasgow's green West End, the Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens is a 15-minute stroll from Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Converted from a row of five imposing Victorian townhouses, which merge seamlessly via a warren of wood-panelled rooms, it has a cosy country house vibe with stone fireplaces, wingback chairs and heavy drapes.

The rooms have kept the original Victorian features, some have roll-top baths others have open fireplaces. And if that's not enough to tempt you, the bistro is a Gaelic delight and serves topnotch Scottish produce such as Orkney scallops and Highlands venison, naturally with some impressive wines from the in-house cellar.

4. Boclair House, Bearsden

Set in two acres of rolling landscaped gardens, the charismatic Boclair House is a rare treat - a boutique country house hotel in the heart of the city. An elegant redbrick mansion, it was built in the Tudor Gothic style in 1890 and has worn many hats over the years, including as council offices and as a home for infirm gentlefolk.

But the castle tower and Italian-style cloisters are best fit for a romantic weekend away. There are 12 suites, each one as plush and impressive as the other; think gilt-framed art, antique furnishings and an abundance of overly plumped cushions, while several suites have whirlpool baths. Naturally, a sumptuous Scottish breakfast is included.

5. Native Glasgow, City Centre

For something a little different head to Native Glasgow, a swish apartment hotel in the Anchor Line building, formerly the grand Art Deco headquarters of the Anchor Line Shipping Company. Splash out and bag one of the penthouse apartments on the seventh floor, which has a balcony and a birds-eye view over George Square and the rooftops of central Glasgow.

Inside is swathed in mustard-yellow and petrol-blue furnishings, plaid carpets and vintage Anchor Line posters, while floor-to-ceiling windows engulf the lounge and bedroom in sunlight. For dinner, take the lift straight down to Atlantic, the building's 1930s-style bar and brasserie or nip next door for a nightcap at The Citizen, a grand bar in a former newspaper building.

6. The Alamo Guest House, West End

Overlooking the leafy wilds of Kelvingrove Park, this charming guesthouse housed in a Victorian tenement building feels a little like staying in a wealthy (and tasteful) aunt's house. Huge shuttered windows, wood-panelled walls and an abundance of antiques line the classic rooms, and there's a warm and familial vibe to Alamo Guest House.

There are 10 rooms, all spacious with high ceilings and a bay windows, some have deep copper baths, others have traditional claw-foot tubs. There's no restaurant, but an impressive Scottish breakfast is served in the elegant dining room with views overlooking the park and the University of Glasgow.

7. Kimpton Blythswood Square, Blythswood

Overlooking the imposing Georgian mansions of Blythswood Square, the former home of the Royal Scottish Automobile Club is now a classy Kimpton but still has all the charm of a gentile private members' club. Contemporary rooms are nicely plush; think cool greys and marble bathrooms, blending both classic and modern vibes seamlessly.

Moments from buzzy Buchanan Street, it's well placed for all that Glasgow has to offer. However, it's equally as tempting to make the most of the facilities and dine in at Bo and Birdy, a modern brasserie housed in the ballroom restaurant, hunker down in the private cinema or steam the day away in the spa, which has a thermal suite and a hydrotherapy pool.

8. Radisson Blu Hotel, City Centre

Steps from Central Station, the Radisson Blu is the suitably sustainable choice of Glasgow hotels. The cool Scandinavian brand is a leader in eco-credentials and the Glasgow base is committed to recycling more, reducing waste and making more mindful choices when sourcing food and drinks. It also encourages staff to give back to the local community with a volunteering programme each year.

Its central location makes it a good choice for a family city break. Rooms are spacious and modern with a cool Scandinavian appeal, some have sofa beds, while kids can stay and eat for free. There's also a 24-hour bar, a health and fitness club with a gym, a sauna and a 15-metre pool.

9. Mar Hall Golf & Spa Resort, Bishopton

A 10-minute drive from Glasgow Airport, Mar Hall is a breath of fresh clean air and a perfect escape from the city. A sprawling Edwardian mansion set in the Earls of Mar, some 240-acres of ancient woodland overlooking the Kilpatrick Hills, it was built by Sir Robert Smirke, who also designed London's British Museum. Now this dark stone baronial pile is a luxury golf and spa resort.

Inside, it's all carved oak panels, stone fireplaces and regal tapestries, while the Grand Hall is impressive, especially when the resident pianist is tinkling the ivories of the grand piano. But the biggest draws are the 18-hole championship golf course which overlooks the River Clyde, and Mar Hall's swish spa with an infinity pool, an ice cave and heated loungers.

10. Dakota Glasgow, City Centre

For the ultimate luxury city break, look no further than Dakota Glasgow, widely regarded as one of the best hotels in Glasgow. Located off Sauchiehall Street, this stylish and modern boutique pad is within easy reach of the King's Theatre, the Tenement House Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art, not to mention some of Glasgow's finest bars and restaurants.

Designed by co-owner and acclaimed interior designer, Amanda McCulloch, the rooms are a delight. Decked out in plush velvets and elegant greys, and floor-to-ceiling windows with urban views, they have distinct Manhattan feel. The top-shelf rooms and suites also have complimentary minibars and Nespresso machines. Downstairs the New York vibe continues with a cool cocktail bar and a basement grill, which has been wooing local foodies with its creative Scottish dishes.

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