Guide to Glasgow

Glasgow is a city that's been through massive changes in the past decade or so, and now easily competes with Edinburgh for the title of most stylish city in Scotland. Forget the tired old stereotypes, Glasgow is seriously edgy these days and although you might start off visiting for a spa break, you'll end up wanting more, especially once you get yourself a flavour of some of the fine bars, clubs and shops that have sprung up in the city.

In the main city, the Victorian style buildings add a little gravitas while the cutting-edge, trendy new buildings give it serious appeal, as do the excellent bars, trendy clubs and fantastic live music venues. For peace and quiet, though, rest assured that there will be ample opportunity to kick back and sample some of the quiet life.

Glasgow was the European City of Culture in 1990, and also boasts the accolade of UK City of Architecture and Design in 1999. There are plenty of cultured pursuits to partake in, museums and galleries to visit and more. Art and history lovers must make a point of visiting the Kelvingrove Art Gallery  and Museum, as well as seeking out The Burrell Collection of over 9,000 works of art and the Gallery of Modern Art - the second most visited contemporary art gallery outside London.



Spa Breaks in Glasgow

  • If it's relaxation on tap you're looking for, you'll find it at Macdonald Crutherland House East Kilbride a fantastic hotel with all the amenities that's also helpfully located in 37 acres of tranquil gardens and woodlands only 20 minutes away from Glasgow. The top quality Vital Beauty Spa is the ideal place to take stock and find calm, and the spa menu includes all sorts of goodies, from  facials and beauty treatments through to relaxing hot stone therapy, reflexology and top class slimming and contouring treatments.

  • Blythswood Square is a proud, fairly recent addition to the Glasgow hotel scene, part of the elegant  House Collection located close to Blythswood Square, which is a green and tranquil area of the city centre. The spa is massive, with nine sumptuous treatment rooms, a fabulously relaxing thermal suite, two relaxation pools, a lounge and cafe;. If you're staying at the hotel, you get free access to the thermal experiences in the spa free of charge mornings and evenings, from 7am to 9am and 6pm to 9pm.

  • For a really classy break, try a traditional Scottish manor house! The Macdonald Inchyra Hotel & Spa is 25 miles from Glasgow, but even so, it has an idyllic setting, and it's also close to Stirling Castle and the Falkirk Wheel. Whether you're heading for the history of the castle or the modernity of the city, you can make your mind up while relaxing in the Vital Health and Wellbeing Club and Spa which has just had a £2.3million cash injection that makes it one of the area's top hotel spas. Gym bunnies can work out in the state of the art Technogym and lazy bunnies can laze around in the swimming pool or thermal suite. If you fancy trying Rasul Mud Therapy there's even a dedicated therapy room for that.

  • For a really handy hotel in one of the best locations for a good night out, the Hilton Glasgow hotel is only minutes away from Glasgow's best shopping areas, right on the outside edge of the city centre. It's also close to touristy places like the Science Centre and Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, but the spa is perfect for chilling out in after a day of sightseeing or a night of partying. The Ocean Rooms Spa has an impressive treatment list that contains everything from luxury spa facials to a detox massage or hot stone back therapy.


Restaurants

  • The Willow Tearooms is an authentic reconstruction of old tearooms designed by 'the great Mackintosh' and the tearooms were designed in the early 20th century especially for a restaurateur called Kate Cranston. Even the teaspoons have an authentic architectural touch.
    Address: 217 Sauchiehall StreetGlasgow G2 3EX
    Tel: 0141 332 0521

  • For fine dining, the sophisticated Piccolo Mondo is famous in Glasgow for more than just its effortlessly chic Mediterranean style menu. The Italian style setting is complemented with murals and statues which makes for a really quaint restaurant, tucked away in one of the city's more secluded areas. Authentic Tuscan soup, homemade crepes and fresh tortellini all take pride of place on the menu.
    Address: 344 Argyle St- Glasgow G28LY
    Tel: 0141 248 2481

  • For a taste of France, the famous French brasserie and bar to be seen in around in Glasgow is La Bonne Auberge. This delightful eatery serves scrumptious meals all made with pride from the best ingredients and the signature dishes include pork fillet and char grilled lamb rump, all with a hint of Je ne sais quoi... perfect for pre-theatre and concert dining, it's also ideally located for the shops and close to the station, all of which make it one of Glasgow's most popular places to eat out.
    Address: 161 West Nile St, Glasgow G1 2RL
    Tel: 0141 352 8310

  • The award winning Di Maggio's right in the city centre boasts not one but two Scottish Restaurant Awards 'Best Family Restaurant' awards, as well as a lively menu that combines traditional Scottish with a touch of Italian and a hint of American. Italian food lovers won't be disappointed as there's plenty of Mediterranean influence and if you're a bit of a burger aficionado, brace yourself for a good selection. The Scottish sea food influence is also in evidence with mussels and sea bass. Desserts and wines to complement the mains are all on offer.
    Address: 21, Royal Exchange Square, G1 3AJ Glasgow
    Tel: 0141 2482111

  • More sea food abounds at the lovely Mussel Inn on Hope Street, you'll be sure of a good catch here as the restaurant is owned and run by local shellfish farmers. Conveniently sited in the city centre, the restaurant welcomes families too, even offering half portions as an option on all dishes. There's a fantastic variety here for sea food lovers, and it's just five minutes on foot from Glasgow Central Rail Station.
    Address: 157 Hope Street, Glasgow G2 2UQ
    Tel: 0141 572 1405

  • For Spanish-themed food combined with great quality and a fun ambience, the Las Ramblas Tapas Bar and Restaurant on Kirk Lane is incredibly popular with Glaswegians for its menu of fresh traditional food, and ingredients sourced from the very best local suppliers.
    Address: 5 Kirk Lane, Bearsden, G61 3RU
    Tel: 0141 942 1380

  • More exotic and spicy dishes await you at the Kama Sutra, on Sauchiehall Street. The popular Indian restaurant is well known for attention to detail and a varied menu that encompasses all the old favourites along with aromatic spices, some atmospheric music and great service. The speciality is the thali - a delicious banquet that includes appetisers, starters, mains and desserts.
    Address: 331 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, Lanarkshire G2 3HW
    Tel: 0141 332 0055

  • Mansion House is a classy establishment which sprawls out across three levels and is fronted by an elegant glass frontage overlooking central Glasgow. The atmosphere changes from day to night, from relaxed to buzzy, as the nightclub and three bars start to fill up. The restaurant boasts an eclectic fusion menu that features everything from katsu chicken curry to fish and chunky chips.
    Address: The Glasshouse, 20 Glassford St, Glasgow G1 1UL
    Tel: 0141 553 4888


Nightlife

You won't be disappointed if you head into Glasgow city centre in search of a good night out, the city has over fifty clubs, plus well over 100 pubs and bars. Wander around the city streets and you can find anything you want from a good night on the town, whether it's a traditional pub with real ales or themed bars and thumping club nights.

  • Party lovers should head for Play one of Glasgow's most popular bars/clubs, on Renfield Street. It's known for being something of a party venue both at the weekends and on week days too and there are two rooms to take your fancy, depending on what mood you're in.

  • For something a little on the sophisticated side, Arta is a bar with a Mediterranean feel, located bang in the middle of fashionable Merchant City, boasting one of the best Glasgow restaurants as well as a bar to relax in. Once a week there's live music in the bar too, which always proves popular.

  • Princes Square is an entertainment hot spot with five bars all open until midnight in close proximity as well as a nightclub that stays open until 1am. Try spending some chill time gossiping in Darcys, in the courtyard of Princes Square, check out the impressive Hummingbird, a venue spread out over four floors that includes a club, several different stylish bars, plus fun 'party pods' with ipod docking stations and hanging chairs. The decor is unusual to say the least, featuring web cams, a decadent fresco ceiling, bird cages, and impressive African style art. Downstairs, the club, Diskoteka, features a mix of music that includes some underground tunes and rare treats.

  • There are plenty of gay and lesbian bars and clubs in the city, but Delmonicas is perhaps the best-known, as it's been around since 1991. You'll hear it referred to as 'Dels', and it's a friendly, fun place to hang out any day of the week. Themed nights and weekends, weekend DJ's and a totally unmissable karaoke make Del's entertainment central for Glasgow's gay (and not-so-gay) nightlife.

  • The Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom has to feature on any self-respecting musical tour of Glasgow. The Barras is always packed, so expect a bit of good-natured jostling, all worth it for the amazing acoustics and the possibility that you'll get to witness quality bands like local boys Primal Scream and Teenage Fanclub and many, many more who've played the legendary venue.

  • Almost as legendary in music history is King Tuts Wah Wah Hut - known as the place where it all started for a little-known band called Oasis back in the day. It's not glamorous so expect it to be cramped, hot and sweaty as well as extremely loud. But if you're there early enough (the capacity of King Tuts is a lowly 300) you could be around to witness the birth of another music legend...

  • For new, up-and-coming entertainment venues, try the ABC, an all-purpose bar and music venue housed in an Art Deco building and complete with two music venues and four bars.


Shopping

Glasgow is the second largest shopping centre in the UK and it certainly lives up to expectations, featuring pretty much anything you need from high street fashion and retail to boutiques, department stores, and quaint craft and antique shops to add interest.

Glasgow's Princes Square is probably the best known shopping area to head for in Glasgow, and the upmarket mall cleverly mixes it up with a fine selection of high street, designer and independent options. The mall features more than thirty shops on three elegant floors, including designer staples such as Ted Baker, Whistles, Vivienne Westwood, Kurt Geiger, Jo Malone and Space NK.

For sheer choice, you can't go wrong with a visit to the Buchanan Galleries with its 90 shops. Again the mall is well known for being a Mecca for anyone with a shopping addiction, with everything from tried and trusted high street favourites to more specialised stores. Some of the stores are one-offs to Glasgow and even in the whole of Scotland, so it's worth having a wander around if you feel the urge to flex your plastic. There's a John Lewis, East, Fred Perry, Moda in Pelle and a Lipsy as well as plenty of coffee and snack stops to recharge your energy.

Right in the heart of all the best shopping in Glasgow is the city's very own answer to Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, the Argyll Arcade. If you're on the lookout for something sparkly or want to drop a few hints to a significant other, best to wander around there and check out the amazing selection of top quality diamond rings, diamond jewellery, wedding rings and watches. Some people call it the Hatton Garden of Scotland, because there are over 30 jewellers and diamond merchants all under one roof.

Bargain hunters might want to hang around until the weekend and visit the Barras market, which you'll find in the city's east end not far from St. Mungo's Cathedral.

If you prefer to get away from the city centre and do some out of town bargain hunting, you can also while away some shopping time in the Parkhead Forge mall, the Glasgow Fort shopping park (just off Junction 10 of the M8) and the Silverburn mall off Junction 2 of the M77.



GLASGOW'S TOP THREE SPAS

  1. Mixing style with contemporary fitness options and a chance to lie back and relax, the Virgin Active Glasgow Health Racquets and Golf Club is set within 300 acres of countryside on the outskirts of the city, and boasts its own 18-hole championship golf course as well as a superb spa, with fabulous treatments that include the best of ESPA, Jessica, mama mio and St. Tropez. Chill out away from the crowds in one of the spa's relaxing therapy rooms, making the most of the aromatherapy and mood lighting, swim in the pool, have a little sauna and then, if you feel like it, you can even take in the gym or a class.
  2. The Westerwood Hotel & Golf Resort Glasgow is perfectly located for you to be able to enjoy the excitement of Glasgow as well as a little bit of me-time. The hotel is about 15 minutes from the city centre and tempts visitors in with a fabulously relaxing spa menu, complete with Decleor, ESPA and Elemis treatments that quite frankly make you want to not go outside the spa, let alone the hotel. You can chill out in the relaxation room with complementary magazines and refreshments, enjoy a spa ritual and even cosy up afterwards with a special Spa Comfort Package, which involves a heated blanked, duvet, pillow and bolster to relax you even more than you thought possible...
  3. PURE and PURE Spa is a funky urban spa that you'll find in the Silverburn Shopping Centre in Pollock, which is about 15 minutes from the city centre. The Glasgow spa has five luxurious treatment rooms to kick back in while you're pampered with top quality spa products and massages; a PURE speciality. There's an infra red sauna to relax in afterwards and all therapies include a complimentary PURE Spa foot ritual, and fresh fruit juice.

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