Insiders Glasgow

Glasgow isn’t top of most people’s list when it comes to British cities. But it’s a place of hidden depths…

Glasgow is one of those cities that seem to attract the sort of negative preconceptions that can put people off visiting. With a bit of guidance however a short break in Glasgow can be a fascinating and enlightening experience.  With plenty of great hotels in Glasgow (check out the Millennium site for a good selection) there are plenty of reasons to consider a visit to this unfairly maligned city. Here are a few tips to help you get the best out of the city.

The Glasgow School of Art (pictured) sits atop the steepest hill in town, on Renfrew Street. Past alumni included actors Robbie Coltrane and Peter Capaldi, and many notable bands have passed through its famous doors, including Travis and Franz Ferdinand. But for visitors, the real attraction is the building itself. Designed by maverick hero Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the main building bears all the great man’s trademarks, from the restrained use of light and space to the thrusting spikes and Japanese-influenced evocation of calm collection. A visit to the art school is capped off nicely by a teetering walk down the steep hill on the other side.

Once at the bottom, you’re on Sauchiehall Street, and from here it’s a short walk to the start of the west end, demarcated by the M1 cutting a swathe through the centre of town. The first stop here is the wonderful Mitchell library, one of the largest reference libraries in Europe. The impressive building was built on tobacco money, from a bequest left by Stephen Mitchell & Son. Worth a wander round, take the exit out the back into the Georgian terraces of the west end.

One of Glasgow’s hidden delights is Tchai-Ovna, a tea house which is more like a tea den, all billowing tents and cushions and fragrant smells. With hundreds of teas from around the world, and a chilled atmosphere, this is where the art school kids and musos hang in between pubs and classes. Don’t ask for milk or you’ll be treated as the philistine you are.

Further down Great Western Road, where it intersects with Byres Road, is Oran Mor, Glasgow’s premier arts and entertainment centre. Formerly the Kelvinside Parish Church, this marvelous building is now home to a first-rate restaurant, lounge and whisky bar. Most impressively, the auditorium boasts a stunning mural painted by legendary novelist and artist Alasdair Gray. If you can fit it into your stay, it’s worth catching one of the ‘A Play, A Pie and a Pint’ lunchtime theatre shows.

For dinner, head back round to Sauchiehall Street from the west end and find Mr. Singh’s India. Glasgow is renowned for its Indian food, and the city claims invention of the chicken tikka masala. There’s a significant Indian community in the city, and Mr. Singh’s India showcases the very best of their culinary skills.

Image: mark.hogan

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