With a lively music scene, an old artistic streak dating back centuries and top fashion credentials coming from Christopher Kane and Jonathan Saunders, when it comes to cool, Glasgow is a city to rival the best of them.
Where to Stay in Glasgow:
The world of fashion, film and music have all descended on Glasgow of late; Christopher Kane at Glasgow Fashion Week; Eva Green, Scarlett Johansson, Halle Berry and Brad Pitt on location, and P Diddy and Jessie J at the MOBO awards. So where does Glasgow’s new celebrity set choose stay? One Devonshire Gardens has long pulled in the A-list with the likes of George Clooney and Justin Timberlake, amongst many many others, having settled in for the full-on five-star Scottish experience – think deep tartan carpets, oak panels, roaring fireplaces and sterling service.
Adding some fierce competition, and it has to be said setting new standards for luxury in the city, is the Blythswood Square Hotel (8-13 Blythswood Square, City Centre, G2 4AG). Whilst still gamely sticking by its Scottish roots, the hotel emanates a much more contemporary vibe with its luminous lobby, buzzy restaurant and sultry underground spa. If you can’t stay the night, it’s worth stopping by for afternoon tea or an early evening aperitif at the swish first floor salon.
For something a little bit more intimate and a little bit less expensive, the five-bedroom boutique B&B 15 Glasgow is tucked away in an early-Victorian mansion on the leafy cobbled streets that halo Park Circus and makes for an elegant base to exploring both the city centre and the West End.
Where to Eat in Glasgow:
The Butchershop Bar and Grill (1055 Sauchiehall Street; 0141 339 2999) with its sassy NY vibe, extensive prime meat menu and exceptionally friendly staff wouldn’t seem out of place in Midtown – book ahead for a table overlooking the magnificent Kelvingrove Art Gallery. For a more - ahem - Scottish experience, try the likes of scallops and Stornoway black pudding or strawberry shortcake sheep snacks at the diminutive but hugely popular Black Sheep Bistro (10 Clarendon Street; 0141 333 1435). Over in the city centre follow the glow of spiralling fairy lights to The Citation (40 Wilson Street; 0141 559 6799). This grade A-listed, former Sheriff Court has been reborn as an arrestingly beautiful bar and restaurant serving up an impressive and well-priced menu of classic and contemporary dishes.
If you’re looking for a little slice of Glasgow’s magnificent architecture (and a big slice of cake), take a trip to The Cup Tea Lounge (71 Renfield Street; 0141 353 2959). Inside its unobtrusive doorway lies a mini-opera set with floor to ceiling Victorian tiling, elegant chandeliers and groaning trays of scones and fairy cakes - and best of all, by night it transforms into a decadent desert bar.
Where to Go Out in Glasgow:
There’s no doubt about it, Glasgow likes to party so be prepared to drink harder and dance harder than ever before. The first decision you’ll have to make is whether to head for the sleek city centre or the bohemian West End.
Staying in town? Start you evening by filling up on cocktails and eye-candy at The Corinthian (191 Ingram Street, Glasgow, G1 1DA; 0845 166 6030). This ridiculously glitzy affair has a large bar with an exquisite Georgian dome at its centre, a top-notch restaurant, chic casino and nightclub all housed in its massive confines. It’s no stranger on the celeb circuit either, Jessie J and P Diddy have made appearances while it’s rumoured that Brad Pitt threw his wrap party in one of the hush-hush private suites when World War Z finished filming in the city. If you fancy moving on, try Sugarcube (44 Queen Street; 0141 248 7268) or Kushion (158 Bath Street; 0845 166 6031).
On the other side of town, expect to find a more languid atmosphere amongst the unpretentious pubs, hip bars and buzzing back streets of the West End. Work your way down from the spectacular converted church Oran Mor (Top of Byres Road; 0141 357 6201), towards the ludicrously popular Ashton Lane – just follow the crowds – here you’ll find a run of trendy drinking establishments to keep you busy all night, if not all weekend.
Where to Shop in Glasgow:
Glasgow has arguably some of the best shopping in the UK outside of London, the majority of which is concentrated in around the handsome sandstone buildings of Buchanan Street. Don’t miss the stylish Princes Square shopping centre - Il Pavone makes a great spot for a light and lovely Mediterranean lunch (Princes Square, 48 Buchanan Street; 0141 221 0543).
Nearby Ingram Street is Glasgow’s most exclusive fashion boulevard and home to the likes of Mulberry and luxury fashion retailer, Cruise. Alternatively, if you prefer your wardrobe to be peppered with one-offs, take the subway around to Hillhead for a wander around the l leafy West End. Artistically inclined while never taking itself too seriously, the West End positively brims with independent labels and chic retro stores. Vintage Guru (195 Byres Road; 0141 339 4750) leads the way with an unrivalled collection of exceptional pieces from yesteryear but there are plenty more retro shops secreted in the alleys and lanes round about so don’t be afraid to explore.
What to Wear in Glasgow:
Glaswegians love their fashion and tend towards being unselfconsciously cool so they’ll be wearing the labels but they won’t be flashing them. Think casual cool by day and bold glamour pieces (a la Jonathan Saunders) by night.
Don’t Leave Glasgow without:
Some retro cool, whether it be some figure-enhancing Joan Holloway-like lingerie from Betsy LaBelle (Byres Road, 0845 8388 457) or an instantly wearable, original 1940s dress from Watermelon (603 Great Western Road; 0141 334 3900). For a sweet fix grab a stock of colourful jars of parma violets, pink and white mice and Sherbet Dips from retro sweetie store, I Love Candy (261 Byres Road; 0141 337 3399).
Beauty SOS – Where to Go for Pampering in Glasgow:
The Aveda Lifestyle Salon at James Dun’s House (4 Hanover Street, Glasgow, G1 1GA; 0141 248 5864) is the perfect place for a mid-shop pick-me-up or pre-party fix-up. Located just off the main shopping drag, between the salon and the three treatment rooms cover everything from blow-drys to pedicures – and all at surprisingly reasonable prices. For a more indulgent experience head to the low-lit and high-glamour underground spa at the Blysthwood Square Hotel (8 – 13 Blythswood Square, Glasgow, G2 4AG; 0141 208 2458) for amazing Ila treatments with a side order of champagne.