Glasgow - two nights, two styles of sustainability
Glasgow is a city full of surprises. To my regret, my first visit was brief, just long enough to skim the surface of a place brimming with personality and promise.
With limited time I decided to try out two very different, yet both sustainable, types of accommodation: The ultra-stylish Blythswood Square Hotel embodying luxury with a conscience and staying with a local via Airbnb, a great way to both experience a city and help out the local economy.
In a previous life, Blythswood Square was the clubhouse for the Royal Scottish Automobile Club and the feeling of a private members club remains, even after an extensive retrofit which turned the building into not only an outstanding 5 star hotel, but also one of the most environmentally friendly in the UK.
Walking into the stunning lobby I felt transported to another time, half expecting people in fifties getup coming jiving around the corner on their way to the cocktail bar.
The vision of eco-conscious owner Peter Taylor to employ the latest in green building techniques while keeping the period features of the building has certainly been a success. The building has nearly half the carbon footprint of other buildings of its size and era. Peter built his own home according the latest in sustainable building methods, so this is a subject close to his heart.
The bed was so comfortable it virtually embraced me and I could have happily stayed there for the rest of the day. I couldn’t resist taking a peek at the sleek spa in the basement of the building on my way out. The thermal suite looked tempting and treatments with products such as Ila Organic Skincare and Scottish homegrown brand Ishga, developed from seaweed on the Isle of Lewis were appealing. On this occasion there was however no time to indulge as the city was calling me.
As a Glasgow virgin I was surprised how close everything is. You can easily walk across town and if your legs aren’t co-operating there are black cabs everywhere with fares that rarely exceed £5. In London you only have to look at a black cab and it will cost you that!
Well fed, happy and content I returned to Blythswood Square and checked out the hotel bar, The Salon. Here, cocktail making is turned into a fine art with an impressive range of inventive concoctions. Let’s just say that I slept well that night, which was never in any doubt considering the quality bed, excellent food and delicious nightcap.
Waking up refreshed, it was time to check out my residence for the next night, staying with a local just of the renowned Byres Road, dubbed the heart and soul of the West End. There certainly is a remarkable range of food and drink available along this stretch and the cosy, cobbled Ashton Lane tucked behind Byres Road is a magnet for a riot of colourful revellers in search of food, drink and fun.
My Airbnb abode was in a town house flat, with impossibly high ceilings, a spacious feel and stylish decor. My room was comfortable and my hosts, Syinyi and Dave made me feel instantly welcome. So far I have never had a bad experience staying with a local and this was no exception.
On this occasion I didn’t get a chance to hang out with them much, but for longer stays chatting with your host is a great way to get insider tips and to crawl under the skin of a place. I loved the almost treasure hunt-ish map left on my bed, marking out good restaurants and bars and anything else of interest. The Botanical Gardens are just at the end of Byres Road too, a lovely place to spend a peaceful couple of hours.
In case you been living under a rock and haven't heard, 2014 is a big year for Glasgow with the Commonwealth Games this summer and a plethora of Homecoming events taking place all over Scotland for this year, celebrating all things Scottish.
I left Glasgow infinitely more intrigued than when I arrived, a sign of a truly great destination! I’m thrilled to be returning next month to delve deeper into this city of many faces.
If you fancy checking out Blythswood Square they have a Spring Sale with 15% off best available bed and breakfast rate. This is valid from 1 March - 31 May 2014.
Part of this trip was kindly hosted by People Make Glasgow. As always, all views are mine alone.