Whilst Edinburgh is rightly known for its station hotels – the Balmoral and its clock tower are iconic landmarks of the city, and the Caledonian Hotel is the UK’s only Waldorf Astoria – Glasgow is by no means the poor relation.
The Principle Grand Central Hotel, the august Victorian building attached to Central Station, boasts one of the world’s largest chandeliers, hanging over its stunning, wooden central staircase. In its heyday, the hotel (known then as the Grand Hotel) counted Frank Sinatra and Winston Churchill as guests. It was originally designed by Robert Rowand Anderson in a Queen Anne revival style and completed in 1883, and then extended, along with the station, in 1901–1906.
The hotel is in the process of a refurbishment, thanks to new owners Principle Hotels. So far only the fifth floor has had a refresh. Whilst we didn’t stay there, I did pop up for a nosey and was impressed by the dark grey and blue colour palette, feature lighting and oversized room numbers. After the 2010 refurbishment the hotel was voted Scotland’s best hotel in 2013, so the latest makeover will be one to watch.
Our room on the 4th floor overlooked Gordon Street and the, often missed, rooftops of the city. Decorated in warming hues of purple and red, the room had a king-sized bed, desk area, flat-screen TV and spacious en-suite with bath tub and rain shower.
Budget or boutique?
With standard guest rooms coming in at from £76 per night including breakfast, this is a boutique hotel in terms of style but without the inflated price tag.
Wining and dining
Best known for its Champagne bar, Champagne Central, the hotel is also home to Tempus bar and restaurant and Deli Central.
Champagne Central, which overlooks the station concourse and evokes the golden age of travel, has also had a makeover, with modern interpretations of Art Deco in the main bar and restaurant area. Original features, such as the domed ceiling in the bar (also set off with a beautiful chandelier), Italian marble floor and bow-fronted windows speak for themselves. Best to head there early if you want a seat as it gets very busy at the weekend for both drinks and afternoon tea.
We tucked into dinner at Tempus, which does a very reasonably priced pre-theatre menu (perfect before a panto) and thoroughly enjoyed the starters of Thai prawn fishcakes and prawn and crayfish cocktail followed by Peterhead landed fillet of coley with puy lentil and white bean stew, and Perthshire chicken supreme.
Worth getting out of bed for
At this time of the year Glasgow is transformed for the festive season with not one but two Christmas markets – one in George Square and one in St Enoch’s Square.
St Enoch’s offering brings the best of traders and stalls from all over Europe. Featuring traditional flavours and produce from countries such as France, Germany and Italy, there are also guests from further afield (including a special visitor from Lapland). Try glühwein from the wonderful Glühwein House, operated by Markus Kochems from the Mosel valley, or grab some continental beers from the Bavarian bars.
The second market in George Square (sadly there’s no open air ice skating this year) offers the additional fun of live entertainment, the big wheel and funfair rides.
The hotel is situated a five-minute walk from Buchanan Street and two minutes from Argyle Street, making it perfect for some last minute Christmas shopping.
For visitors to the city, the hop-on, hop-off city tour bus stops at Central Station and its informative guide will tell you everything you want to know about Glasgow on the hour-long tour of the city, from east to west.
White Company toiletries add some five-star luxury to the bathroom and our welcome plate of fruit, chocolates and traditional tablet was delicious.
An iconic hotel in the city centre with a fabulous Champagne bar and sense of golden age glamour.
Double rooms from £76 including breakfast, The Principle Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow, 99 Gordon Street, Glasgow G1 3SF
(0141-240 3700, www.phcompany.com/principal/glasgow-grand-central-hotel)