Built at the end of the 19th Century by a railway company that set about linking Glasgow to England, the hotel has witnessed some fairly special arrivals and departures over time.
The Grand Central, which was for a time just known as Central Hotel, came to epitomise all the possibilities of glamour, travel and the thrill of a luxurious downtown hotel.
Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill, Laurel and Hardy – whose appearance at the hotel ended in a crush and eight people in hospital - and Diego Maradona are amongst those who booked in. The Rolling Stones stayed in 1976 for their gig at the Apollo and The Beatles also lay their hats there when in town.
History was made when television pioneer John Logie Baird used the hotel to make the first long-distance broadcast in May 1927, with pictures transmitted from London to a room on the fourth floor.
The hotel was built over the former village of Grahamtown that was demolished to make way for Central Station as the lure of cross country train travel was heavily invested in.
The Victorian-era temple to rest, relaxation and a little refined luxury is now part of the Grade A listed complex that includes the rail station.
Laurel and Hardy visited the hotel several times. Their trip in 1932 resulted in a “wild welcome” from a surging crowd which ended in the collapse of a balustrade and eight people.
“The scene was one of most extraordinary of its kind ever witnessed in Glasgow,” a newspaper report of the day said.
Winston Churchill’s visit on May 20, 1949 drew a crowd of more than 2,000 people ahead of his appearance at Ibrox Stadium for the annual meeting of Scottish Unionist Association. With 22,000 people in the stands, it remains Scotland’s largest political rally.
John F Kennedy was another political heavyweight who crossed the hotel. He was lunching in the Court Lounge with his father, Joseph, the American Ambassador to Great Britain, when news of the sinking of the Clyde-built Athenia liner, which was packed with evacuees, came through.
Sunk without warning 250 miles west of the Outer Hebrides by a German U-boat just hours into the war on September 3, 1939, more than 100 people were killed in an attack that “shocked the world” given the civilian death toll. After rescue boats arrived back on The Clyde, 400 places were reserved at the Grand Central for survivors with JFK later meeting families at another city hotel.
On a lighter note, publicity pulsed around the arrival of Western star Roy Rogers in 1954 with his horse Trigger. Fans and flashbulbs jostled for space as the duo came down the main staircase. The visit coincided with a week long bill of The Roy Rogers Western Package at The Empire, with rumours that the precious Palomino had its own suite at the hotel. But the story turned out to be just a good bit of PR.
The hotel will open as the voco® Grand Central Glasgow on March 22 following a multi-million pound refurbishment almost a year after it closed due to the pandemic. Only essential travel will be accommodated for now.