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Issue 1 - Glasgow – Bonny & Clyde

History & Heritage

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Scotland Magazine Issue 1
March 2002


This article is 16 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

Copyright Scotland Magazine © 1999-2018. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.

Glasgow – Bonny & Clyde

Architecture, resturants, pubs, clubs, parks, meseums, galleries... Glasgow has it all, and plenty more besides.

Glasgow is a city of surprises, a place that has shed its traditional image of the classic industrial centre with surprising ease and grace. Few other cities have accomplished such a complete transition, which is reflected in the awards European City of Culture in 1990 and UK City of Architecture and Design in 1999.

What is genuinely a shock for the first-time visitor is, for such a relatively small city (population just over 600,000) Glasgow has shopping to rival - and better - most other cities, including London. It's the home of Gianni Versace's first British store, the largest branch of Habitat in Europe and hundreds of other top-name shops, many housed in splendid shopping centres that, unlike their English equivalents, somehow give a sense of space inside rather than filling every available space to make a claustrophobic shopping experience.

What any other city has, Glasgow seems to have more. There are hundreds of restaurants and cafés offering foods from all over the world - and it seems to be harder to find a bad place to eat than a good one.

There are more than 70 parks and gardens in Glasgow alone, giving the former industrial city a sense of true space and plenty of places to escape the hustle and bustle of its shopping streets.

One of the city's most striking features is its architecture. When you visit, walk down almost any street in the city centre and you'll see shops, cafés, bars and restaurants everywhere. But look up and you'll see the city's magnificent past; the architecture of Alexander 'Greek' Thompson, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Robert Adam and other noted architects is all around. The council chambers are stunning, looming over George Square; Glasgow University is an almost Transylvanian Gothic castle, dominating the skyline around it; even new buildings seem to have been planned and built with great care to make the most of natural light and to bring something aesthetically to the street it occupies rather than being just another concrete-and-glass structure. Even Starbucks on Sauchiehall Street is in on the action, occupying the ground floor of the Charing Cross Mansions.

The centre of the city seems to have been largely untouched by the bombing raids in World War II that intended to impede the Clyde's shipbuilding industry. Victorian architectural gems are everywhere, and it's worth a trip to Glasgow for these alone.

The feeling you get from Glasgow is, simply, that it's not a place people just end up - it's a place people live and got to because they genuinely enjoy it and love being there. And with everything on offer in the city, it's little wonder.

In the last 18 months alone, seven hotels have been built in Glasgow as its burgeoning reputation as a conference centre is established. Many hotels take advantage of fabulous old buildings in the city, while others are purpose built. Whatever you prefer - history with a modern touch or purpose-built luxury - Glasgow has something for you.

The Arthouse Hotel
129 Bath Street, Glasgow. G2 2SZ
Tel: +44 (0) 141 221 6789
A 68-room hotel in a Grade B listed building that delightfully fuses modern looks and luxury with classical style. The rooms are spacious, with huge leaded windows, high ceilings and oak artefacts. The basement is a 24-hour resident bar (with a new cocktail menu) and grill with an excellent seafood menu plus much more. Room rates are reasonable, particularly considering the beautiful building, and its central location makes it an excellent spot for tourists and travellers looking for a base to explore the city from and a somewhat different, boutique-style hotel to rest their heads.

Malmaison Glasgow
278 West George Street, Glasgow. G2 4LL
Tel: +44 (0) 141 572 1000
Situated in a former church, Malmaison is almost a byword for luxury in Glasgow's boutique hotels. With 72 rooms, a brasserie specialising in Mediterranean and French contemporary food and a city centre location, it's ideal for the luxury-seeking traveller.

Holiday Inn Theatreland
161 West Nile Street, Glasgow. G1 2RL
Tel: +44 (0) 141 352 8300
In an ideal spot for cultural exploration, this Holiday Inn is practically next door to one of the largest cinema multiplexes in Europe and the concert hall in Glasgow's Theatreland. It's also a short walk from Buchanan Street's shopping experience and Sauchiehall Street's variety of pubs, clubs, bars and shops. The hotel contains an award-winning brasserie (La Bonne Auberge), specialising in French Mediterranean cuisine. After a huge amount of investment, this is a cut above other Holiday Inn hotels, fitting in well with Glasgow's wealth of superb accommodation.

More hotels coming soon to the Scotland Directory.

Pubs and Bars
Like its restaurants, Glasgow has a proliferation of pubs and bars all over the city. In fact, there are over 700, and the nightlife is busy and varied. With the cosmopolitan nature of much of the city, the traditional pub is being encroached by more and more style bars, but a good pint can still be found easily enough.

Spy Bar
153 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4SQ
Tel: +44 (0) 141 221 7711
A true style bar, this is the place to be seen for the pre-club crowd but there's more to Spy than just that. It's one of Glasgow's new breed of bars, where the aesthetic of your surrounding is as important as your drink. Seating is in cosy but elegantly designed booths - it looks almost like a futuristic American-style diner, with a large bar in the centre of the room. The drinks of choice are cocktails and shooters. The food is simple and includes wraps, salads, nachos and burgers.

Bar Ce Lona
427 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow
Tel: +44 (0) 141 332 2528
A bar with a Spanish air, inspired by the architecture of Gaudi.

The best way to see most of Glasgow's numerous museums and galleries is by taking the official Glasgow City Sightseeing Tour. At just £7 for a 24-hour adult ticket, it's a bargain as you are shown all the city's major sites of interest, with hop-on/hop-off stops at all of them The tour takes in George Square, the Cathedral, the Tall Ship in the harbour, the impressive SECC armadillo and Science Centre, Hunterian Gallery and Museum at the University, the Botanic Gardens, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Transport Museum, Mitchell Library, the Willow Tea Rooms and Glasgow School of Art - and that's not even half of what you can see. Most of the galleries and museums are free to enter, and the tour is conducted by extremely knowledgeable guides in an open-topped double-decker bus with a partially covered top floor. It really is the best way to take in a huge amount of what Glasgow has to offer. To really do all it has to offer, you'd probably have to go on the tour every day for a week! The only thing that's missing from the Official Tour is Pollok House and the Burrell Collection, but that's worth a trip - and a day - all to itself.

There seem to be restaurants everywhere yin the city centre, and they all look equally appetising. If you plan to eat out in Glasgow on a Saturday night, it's advisable to book in advance. Leaflets are available in most hotels, provided by the Glasgow Restaurateurs Association (see for details of the following selection), which include a map so you can find the members' eateries, with full addresses.

225a West George Street, Glasgow. G2 2ND
Tel: +44 (0) 141 572 0899
Winner of the Spirit of Glasgow Restaurant awards for two years running, Gamba's menu is fish oriented and the food, in a word, is excellent. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal, the service great and the menu and specials varied and adventurous. A really superb dining experience in a city full of fine food.

The Corinthian
191 Ingram Street, Glasgow. G1 1DA
Tel: +44 (0) 141 552 1101
Bar-grill, cocktail bar and piano bar in one place, all in a Grade A listed building, which is regarded as one of Glasgow's finest Victorian interiors. Good food and drink.