Great Places to Stay
- Arthouse Hotel, Glasgow
Glasgow - UK's Coolest City
There has never been a better time to visit Glasgow. Like Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, Glasgow has had to work hard on its image over recent decades to lose its bleak Victorian industrial past. The turnaround came in 1990 when voted European City of Culture and UK City of Architecture (1999) boosting its Glasgow's Miles Better reputation as a top destination for leisure and business. It has always had a reputation for warmth and friendliness but recently National Geographic Magazine declared Glasgow as "the coolest city in the UK". And just to be clear - that accolade doesn't refer to climate but in recognition of its fabulous sense of style. And to illustrate that cool contemporary design, the best place to stay is the Arthouse Hotel on Bath Street.
Conveniently located five minutes walk from Queen Street Station, and Buchanan Street bus station (for airport bus), the Arthouse features fabulous modern furnishings and design within an arts and crafts 1911 building. This was formerly the office for the Department of Education and much of the fine interior, tiles, stained glass windows and wood panelling have been retained. From the moment you step through the portico into the lobby, with a glimpse of the sweeping staircase and original gated lift beyond, you get the feeling that this is a rather special place to stay. The interior designer has had a field day with matching (or indeed mismatching) colours with a purple carpet, red and gold armchairs and wallpaper decorated with rampant lions. But just wait until you reach your bedroom.
The 65 bedrooms and suites are all totally individual but each designed with the recurring theme of Art. The king size beds have a headboard picture frame and colourful paintings or photographs of old Glasgow decorate the walls. Colours and fabrics in each room are rich and vibrant such as red carpet, blue and yellow armchair and the bed is piled high with black and white cushions. Even the standard rooms are quite spacious but there are also junior suites and double suites with sofas and armchairs. The most luxurious rooms are the Velvet Suites, such as Room 129, which is stunning. This was the Director of Education's private office and the tobacco coloured wood panelled doors and large bookcases are extant. The walls themselves are literally covered in honey cream velvet, soft to the touch. The bed is littered with crimson velvet cushions and in the lounge area is a huge red sofa and large comfy armchair.
The bathroom is spacious and long with a corner jacuzzi. This sounds rather romantic but in fact the bath is rather small and narrow and certainly not likely to fit someone over 5 foot 4 inches (my height) - but the thought is there and great fun it was too. The walk-in wardrobe space and dressing table outside the bathroom is extremely well designed. All rooms have imaginatively filled mini-bars, including Moet bubbly, wine, and a disposable camera along with the usual drinks and snacks. The satellite TV also incorporates a selection of music and in-house movies but there are plans to install a CD/DVD player in the suites. A modem point is supplied for laptop Internet use. The bathroom has bathrobes and piles of really soft white towels and a large supply of toiletries, (not the standard bar of soap and tiny bottle of shower gel for two people). Good pure toiletries too from Arran Aromatics. Room service is 24 hours a day with a fabulous menu from the hotel restaurant.
Dining at the Arthouse
The Arthouse Grill is down the sweeping carpeted staircase to the lower ground floor. At one end of the long, low room, there's also a small bar, darkly lit and rather funky, at least it was at 8pm on a Saturday night. A Sinatra track was playing and it was all very inviting. Sit at the bar on stools or on sofas against the wall. Here you can have a drink while studying the Grill menu - which is extensive so take your time. There's a page of starters, then fish, meat, vegetarian and pasta, so something for everyone - scallops, moules marinere, oysters, various soups and salads. The Grilled Goats cheese and roast pepper salad with tomato was just perfect; warm, just melting cheese on soft, olive oil-drenched peppers. Also enjoyed was the Caesar Salad, with egg, anchovies and croutons with delicately dressed crunchy leaves. The fish menu is fabulous and too good to bypass. I dug into a huge bowl of Shellfish Linguine: scallops, lobster, mussels, langoustine and king prawns dressed in garlic and herb, lemon butter. Pliers and other implements were supplied for breaking off the claws - but well worth it. Also recommended is the Peat Smoked Haddock Mornay with Poached Egg and Spring Onion Mash - a superb dish - (adapted presumably from the classic breakfast haddock and egg) - but with the mash this was a feast. The egg should have been soft poached, but overall so tasty that there is no need to quibble.
Meat dishes included Roast Breast of Gressingham Duck with black pudding mash, garlic and rosemary chicken with chorizo and borlotti beans, the Arthouse Burger with fries and salad and also a choice of Fillet or Sirloin Steak with field mushrooms. Wow, this really is a terrific menu! Vegetarian dishes include Camembert and Onion tart, Risotto and Pasta. Finally pudding - Dark Chocolate Pot with fresh berries, Cheesecake, Sticky Toffee Pudding or selection of Cheese. The Arthouse Grill offers excellent quality and a touch of class, with comfortable, intimate booth seating.
And the next morning...
Breakfast is also served in the Grill with a buffet laid out with juice, fruit and cereals. The menu of hot dishes is very good with special options such as Eggs Benedict and Scrambled egg with smoked salmon as well as the traditional Scottish breakfast. Good, personal, friendly service dinner and breakfast.
The Arthouse is superbly located within minutes of major shopping streets, theatres, cinemas and concert hall - all kinds of leisure and entertainment facilities on your doorstep. This is the perfect kind of city centre hotel, where all the rooms are totally individual and not the standard layout. Fabulous colours and furnishings, homely comforts (bathrobes), superb bar and restaurant so that you can stay in to eat/drink, then stagger back upstairs. The contemporary look and ambience (all that crimson velvet) is very romantic, if not rather seductive. The Arthouse is unique, intimate, funky and bang in the centre of town.
For more information or to make a reservation see the Arthouse Hotel Web site or contact the hotel at 129 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 2SZ (tel. 0141 221 6789, fax 0141 221 6777).
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