When my wife told me we were going to have a “Glasgow on a budget” family weekend away I was less than enthusiastic.
It’s not Glasgow I objected to, in fact on the contrary, I love the city. It was the idea of a staying in some gloomy, low-cost hotel with no decent facilities and, dare I say… no wi-fi. And what can there possibly be to do on the cheap in Glasgow?
How wrong I was. From the second I set foot in the Styles by ibis hotel in the heart of the Merchant City, seconds away from George Square and the St Enoch Centre, I knew we’d be okay. We were welcomed cheerfully in the bright and funky reception area and I was actually excited to see our room.
Budget or boutique?
The lovely Styles by ibis general manger Rory prefers the term “economical” to describe the accommodation, and I see why he wants to move away from the “budget” stereotype. This is no ordinary hotel. It is an immaculate, design-led, friendly, comfortable option with a wonderful sense of Glasgae humour.
Not so subtle nods to Glasgow’s heart and soul are found all around the hotel, not least a digital print of Billy Connolly’s banana boots featuring on our bed’s headboard. There are other details which help this place stand out from the standard 3-star crowd; the complimentary croissants, fruit, juices and hot drinks available all day in the lounge area, the professionalism and expertise of the staff and the remarkable decor.
We opted for two interconnecting rooms for our family of four and it was the perfect solution. There was ample space for all our gubbins – double buggy, potty, steriliser, baby food etc. Having two bathrooms with big walk-in showers was a blessing too. And while I was brushing my teeth, I loved looking at the traffic cone print on the mirror (and ode to the famous Duke of Wellington statute).
In fact the rooms were littered with brilliant Glasgow-themed designs: Rennie Mackintosh-style metalwork on the side of the over-bed table; the Titan crane holding a picture up; a Glasgow cityscape woven into the carpet; and traffic cone lamp shades. Each floor of the hotel has a different colour scheme. We were on the yellow floor, one of my favourite colours. The beds were plump and comfy and the black-out curtains did just that, so a good night’s sleep was had by all.
Wining and dining
The hotel offers a bog standard pub grub menu, perfect for dinner on the hop or after a hard day’s shopping. Instead we decided to go with Rory’s recommendation for a family friendly pizzeria two doors down. Paesano was crowded even at 5.30pm and after we had tasted its quirky menu we realised why. Delicious, authentic pizzas with a small price tag and industrial-chic decor.
Breakfast is served in the airy open-plan restaurant/bar/lounge area and a generous continental selection is on offer. We all found plenty to fill our bellies, even our insanely fussy two-year-old son.
Worth getting out of bed for
There are a lot of free or cheap activities for a young family in Glasgow and we chose a visit to the Riverside Museum, which was amazing, despite a music festival taking place in the grounds which stopped us visiting the Tall Ship. In fact, my son Reuben and I somehow managed to gatecrash the gig while having a wander, before being escorted out and herded back into the museum. Don’t say I’m not rock’n’roll!
We also took in the Modern Art Gallery, did some shopping and stood in a line for an hour to meet Peppa Pig. All in all, a good time was had by all.
As if the cool decor isn’t enough, there is free wi-fi with excellent connectivity, in-room tea and coffee making facilities, noon checkout and breakfast is served until 11am at weekends.
A wonderfully fun, comfortable city-centre hotel with charming staff, all at an affordable room rate. What great value for money – we will be back.
• Rooms from £75 per room for August and September, Hotel ibis Styles Glasgow Centre George Square, Telfer House, Miller St, Glasgow G1 1DT, (0141-428 3400, www.ibis.com)