With venues for the 2014 Commonwealth Games scattered across Glasgow – from Finnieston to the East End, Ibrox to Kelvingrove, the south side to Scotstoun and Strathclyde Country Park – and served by a network of buses, trains and the subway, the city is your oyster when it comes to accommodation.
Whether budget or boutique, however, hotel rooms will be in short supply come July 2014, so booking well in advance is recommended if you plan to stay in the city for the Games. Here are a few options to get you started.
The five-star £26m Blythswood Square opened in 2009 and since then has played host to P. Diddy and, it’s rumoured, Brad Pitt and Beyoncé. The 100-room hotel was decked out by Harris Tweed, boasts two AA Rosettes and a 10,000 sq ft spa, and was named by The Sunday Times as one of the 50 Most Amazing Hotels in the World. Located in Glasgow’s central financial district, it’s particularly handy for venues in the west of the city, including the Hydro, Kelvingrove Park and the Scotstoun Sports Campus, and is a stone’s throw from the M8.
Malmaison’s Glasgow outpost, a contemporary four-star boutique hotel, is housed in what was a Greek Orthodox church, and the hotel’s Brasserie was originally the crypt. The 72 rooms feature free wi-fi, iPod speakers, plasma screen TVs, drench waterfall showers and huge beds, and the location in the city centre makes it a good option for a quick journey to any of the Games venues, or indeed any of the city’s shops, bars or restaurants.
The iconic four-star Grand Central Hotel, which recently underwent a £20m restoration, adjoins Central Station, making it perfect for rolling out of bed and catching a train to any of the Games’ venues. It is also under a minute’s walk to the shops on Buchanan Street and several bars and restaurants, including Jamie’s Italian, Carluccio’s and the lively Stereo. The 186-room hotel itself has a Champagne bar, for those after something a little more elegant.
Adjacent to Queen Street Station and Buchanan Street, and with airport buses stopping at the door, the four-star Carlton George is ideally situated for transport links to all corners of the city, as well as Glasgow’s shops, bars and restaurants, while boasting its own rooftop eatery with panoramic views, Windows. Each of the 64 rooms feature a complimentary mini-bar, LCD TVs with Sky Sports and CNN.
Fraser Suites’ location in the Merchant City make them ideal for access to the venues in Glasgow’s East End, including the Emirates Arena, Celtic Park, Glasgow National Hockey Centre and Tollcross International Swimming Centre, as well as some of the city’s best bars and restaurants. The 1850s building offers residences ranging from studios to two-bedroom apartments, with kitchenettes, cable TV and a DVD player, stereo, private phone number with voicemail and broadband access. There is a 24-hour reception, maid service and a fitness suite and guests are a ten-minute walk from both Central and Queen Street Stations.
For those who would rather stay outside the city, the five-star Mar Hall with its own 18-hole Championship Golf Course might appeal. The Gothic house, set on a 400-acre private estate, was built in 1840 and is now an A-listed building, with 53 luxurious suites, its own, three restaurants and an Aveda Concept Spa. The hotel is situated five minutes from Glasgow International Airport, 20 minutes from the city centre and 15 minutes from Loch Lomond.
Best Western Glasgow City Hotel is a three-star city centre option located close to the M8, just off Sauchiehall Street with its myriad bars and restaurants, and walking distance to the city centre shops – also particularly convenient for the Hydro and other Games venues on the west side of the city. All rooms have a plasma screen TV with DVD player and PlayStation, tea and coffee making facilities, wireless internet, hairdryer and ironing facilities, and while they are offered on a room-only basis, upgrade to a continental breakfast is available, as are ‘Grab and Go’ breakfast options.
The three-star Campanile Hotel Glasgow is located a stone’s throw from the Hydro, as part of the SECC site by the river at Finnieston. There are 104 bedrooms, with hairdryers, free wi-fi and satellite TV, plus free onsite parking and a Café Bistro with various buffet offerings, and the hotel is a two-minute walk from the SECC rail station, and located right off the M8 motorway.
The 113-room Holiday Inn Glasgow offers competitive rates for a city centre location; close to buses, trains and the subway for access to all the venues, as well as the shops, bars and restaurants and family attractions. The four-star hotel was ranked top of the Holiday Inns worldwide by the chain’s own Quality Excellence Awards, and has its own award-winning brasserie La Bonne Auberge. Bedrooms have a television with in-house movies, satellite channels and a guest service link, and the hotel has full unassisted access for wheelchair users. http://www.higlasgow.com The chain’s lower-priced three-star bed and breakfast option, also in the city centre, is the Express by Holiday Inn, which has 128 rooms with satellite TV and tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryer and high-speed Internet access. Rooms accommodate up to two adults and two children and guests can choose from twin, family, accessible and interconnecting options. www.hiexpressglasgow.co.uk
The four-star Jurys Inn Glasgow, the largest hotel in Scotland, overlooks Central Station and the River Clyde, and is a five-minute walk to Queen Street Station, giving easy access to transport links for all the venues as well as the area’s shops, restaurants, fast food options and family attractions. There are 321 rooms, with tea and coffee facilities, flat screen TVs and wi-fi, and most can accommodate three adults or two adults and two children. There is a restaurant on-site, plus a Grill Bar for light lunches and a Costa Coffee Bar.
The recently opened Premier Inn Buchanan Galleries is an affordable three-star option, adjacent to the shopping mall of the same name, Buchanan Street Bus Station and Queen Street Station. The hotel has its own restaurant, Thyme, and all 210 rooms have en suite bath and shower and tea and coffee facilities. Wi-fi is free for 30 minutes of each day and a further 24 hours of access can be bought for £3. The hotel also has 12 universal access rooms for wheelchair users, six of which are available with wet rooms.
The cheap and cheerful Glasgow branch of Euro Hostels, conveniently located a stone’s throw from Central Station and overlooking the Clyde, offers en-suite accommodation in private rooms for any number of people from one to 14, plus dorms, in bunk and double beds. There is free wi-fi access, some rooms have TVs, and all have electronic key card locking. The hostel’s bar Mint & Lime has a pool table, screens sports events and puts on DJ and acoustic music nights, and there is also a kitchen for guests’ use, a TV lounge, laundry room and a locked valuables area, plus vending machines for snacks and a huge array of restaurants and fast food joints within five minutes’ walk.
The one-star Ibis Budget Glasgow at Springfield Quay on the south bank of the Clyde is situated by the M8, a 15-minute walk to the Hydro at the SECC site across the river. The hotel has 165 rooms, and each comes with en suite shower, air conditioning and a flat screen TV. A continental breakfast buffet is served every morning, and there’s indoor parking and chargeable wi-fi access in public areas. The Quay is also home to a cinema, casino, bowling alley and bingo hall, while dining options include Nando’s, Ashoka, Burger King, Chiquito, Crolla’s Ice Cream, Frankie & Benny’s and Panda Chinese Cuisine.
CitizenM is the hotel that does boutique on a budget. Opened in 2010 and located in the city centre, the 198 stylish cabin rooms offer wall-to-wall windows, Frette linen, king-sized beds, free wi-fi, movies, video games and rain showers, plus a touch screen mood pad that allows you to control the TV, blinds, temperature, coloured lighting and themed wake-up calls. The hotel restaurant, canteenM, is open 24/7 and serves snacks, salads, sandwiches and sushi. Guests check themselves in on touch screen terminals and the lobby is designed to be used as a living area.
At the time of writing there were rooms to rent in Glasgow city centre on excellent private rental site Air BnB (airbnb.co.uk) from £15 per night, with flats starting at around £60 per night, although both demand and prices are likely to rise dramatically in the run-up to the Games, so book early for a bargain. Online classifieds site Gumtree’s Glasgow branch (http://www.gumtree.com/glasgow) will also be well worth checking nearer the time, as savvy residents cash in on spare rooms, and the city’s universities – Glasgow, Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian – let out their student accommodation over the summer for very reasonable prices, with alumni entitled to discount.