Great Places to Stay
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow
"Radisson Blu is an international brand which prides itself on providing quality hotels around the world. Glasgow, with its recognised flair for style and culture, is a natural choice for this Scottish venture."
Philip Mahoney, General Manger, Radisson Blu, Glasgow
A Sparkling New Hotel
Glasgow has a sparkling new hotel in a perfect location for leisure and business visitors. It's bang next door to Central station, (where trains arrive from the south, including London), with an easy walk or drive to all the shops, restaurants, nightlife and the cultural and commercial life around the city centre. This is no ordinary city hotel - this is a paradise for lovers of interior design and sleek chic style. If you know the fabulous series of super sexy illustrated books, Hip Hotels by Herbert Ypma, illustrating the most beautifully designed hotels in the world, you'll get the picture. The Radisson Blu Glasgow would not be out of the place in the next edition of the Hip Hotels - City guide.
So what is so special and unique about the new Radisson.? Standing on the opposite side of the street, a huge curving copper and glass facade sweeps up and outwards in a smooth curving shape like a giant cinema screen, reflecting the natural sun and shadow through the day, contrasting with illuminated green-blue tints by night. The hotel is designed by leading Glaswegian architects Murray and Dunlop, who most interestingly were pipped at the post in the final selection for the major contract to design the new Scottish Parliament building. Now a few years down the line, there may be quite a few of us who would admit - what a shame Murray and Dunlop were not chosen.
But what Edinburgh and the Parliament missed out on, Glasgow has gained. The futuristic radical style of the hotel, both inside and out, is already seen as an architectural landmark. On the ground level there is a long open space, divided into the various sections, providing the lobby and reception area flowing through into the comfortable lounge and bar - all kept very airy and bright with a panoramic expanse of smoked plate-glass windows along the entire length.
A row of small individual reception desks has neat computers into which the check-in clerk types in details rather than long form filling. All around the design of the immediate lobby area and lounge-bar beyond is spacious, cosmopolitan and chic. It's all very glamorous and of course so new and untouched. The gorgeous high backed armchairs and sofas are of the best quality soft suede in colours of dark grey contrasting with poppy red cushions. They just shout at you to take a seat and order a martini, shaken not stirred. On the walls is an array of contemporary art; a theme of Pop art is painterly spattered throughout the hotel, especially in the restaurant, Collage (more of which later).
And so to Sleep, Perchance to Dream...
There are 247 bedrooms of various sizes, grades and design and the good news is that the rooms here are quite unlike the typical standard design that you would normally expect. The interior designer in charge is Christian Lundwell Associates and this company is to be warmly congratulated. Their fresh exciting concept has created an individual and modern environment, which is functional, comfortable and fun to sleep in. But there is not just one design but at least four totally contrasting rooms to suit differing tastes and needs of all guests. All the rooms are well proportioned and compact with double or king size beds and floor to ceiling windows to allow lots of light.
Stylish women may appreciate the City rooms with leopard print throws on the bed, and elsewhere smart, contemporary colours in ochre, coffee and black. At last a hotel room you would wish to linger in for hours. Other guests may prefer something subtler in the Modern rooms with a good use of brick and glass. In the centre is a huge round tower stretching from the long curving desk to the ceiling. This amazing structure houses the TV/internet which swivels around from sofa to bed, and a private bar. Alternative designs are the Nordic rooms which, as the name infers, is based around a simple style, cool colours and natural light pine.
Business class rooms are similar to junior suites with a separate sitting area. Again the colour scheme, quality of furnishings and fabrics, soft lighting, huge bed, and workspace show innovation and style. Flop onto a fabulous long sofa, blissful at the end of a long journey or stressful day, large coffee table to hand perfect for in room dining - but where's the TV? This is at the other end of the room opposite the bed. A slight slip-up in the design perhaps. Answer: bring in another TV so that you can curl up, indulge yourself with room service and be a couch potato for a night. All rooms have Satellite TV, radio, and Internet access, with in-room movies available.
Going further upmarket if you require exclusive privacy and space, you may also select a corner suite or the four apartment Presidential suite. As you would expect from a brand new purpose built hotel, there is adequate provision for guests requiring special needs with several accessible rooms.
Innovative contemporary style follows through from the environment to the overall hospitality, facilities and room service. On requesting dinner to be brought to my room I was informed it would take around half an hour. Within 20 minutes a charming waiter arrived bearing a full tray - Smoked salmon, scrambled egg, red onion and salad for starters then Ricotta Tortellini with tomato sage sauce and parmesan cheese (keeping warm under a lid). Basket of bread, fresh fruit and a bottle of white wine. A perfect TV dinner, (if I could see the TV).
The hotel restaurant just off the bar in the lobby and once again the design concept is utterly distinctive. Collage is a restaurant within an art gallery, which has been created with an exceptional collection of the work of Sir Peter Blake, leader of the British Pop Art movement. His work includes the famous Live Aid poster and album covers reflecting the changing tastes in music fashion and design over the past 40 years. Temporary exhibitions will show the work of Sir Paul McCartney and David Hockney.
The name Collage also refers to the eclectic European menu, which offers the authentic cuisine of France, Greece, Spain and Italy to bring the taste of sunshine to Glasgow. While pondering the menu a basket of bread and a bowl of olives arrives - a delicious start to the meal. Then what about mussels in a white wine and herb sauce, or a plate of Spanish tapas - jamon, chorizo, tortilla, manchego cheese? Here you will be assured of freshly prepared fish, steak, chicken, risotto and pasta with side orders of potato wedges, mash or a green salad. In this very Continental brasserie, as you would expect, there are classic desserts such as lemon tart and a good cheese board. To wash it all down there is a wide selection of French, Spanish and Italian wines starting with the house wine at £12.
A second restaurant - TaPaell`Ya - will soon give a choice of dining at the hotel, offering an authentic Spanish menu - paella and tapas dishes, ideal for a light bite or sharing a few dishes with friends.
Adjacent to the Radisson is a fitness club and Health Spa, managed separately by LA Fitness, but with complimentary use by all hotel guests. Changing room, locker and towels are supplied. It's all very compact with gym, pool and spa on one level. Rather than the usual kidney shape splash pool this is a traditional 20-metre lap pool, ideal for serious swimming but with its plain white tiles, it's depressingly dull and reminiscent of the old-fashioned corporation baths of childhood. There are no loungers for relaxation not even a chair, let alone hooks to hang your towel or robe while swimming and none of the usual exotic palm trees to add a sense of desert oasis to the setting. This is described as a Health Spa and while there is a small Sauna there is no steam room and the Jacuzzi is like a child's paddling pool - to suit one adult at a time. Or two very friendly adults.
The entire LA Fitness complex looks as if there was very little space for the architect to play with. The Chi health and beauty salon is tucked into the corner opposite the Spa reception with two very comfortable private treatment rooms decorated in a cool soothing mauve colour, as well as two sunbed rooms. Despite the restricted size there is an extensive range of face, body, hand and feet treatments, skincare programmes, reflexology, waxing and electrolysis. There is a special Chi treatment programme for men. The Chi health and beauty programme is based on traditional Chinese philosophy and holistic healing to maintain balance and energy.
The Radisson Blu is an exceptionally stylish, chic and cosmopolitan hotel designed for the 21st century business or holiday traveller. Fabulous homely bedrooms, great restaurant and bars, friendly service and an overall ambience of cool, casual sophistication without any formality or fuss.
For more information or to make a reservation, see the Radisson SAS Web site.
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