In 2008 Glasgow was given the Unesco status as a “city of music,” solidifying this former industrial center as a cultural hub with a great night-life offering. It is truly a city with something for everyone, with posh lounges, pubs with traditional Gaelic music, sleek restaurants, dive bars and fringe theaters.
The city has a vibrant student life that permeates the city, spilling out of the centuries-old University of Glasgow campus. For rainy days (of which there are many) the city has a rich collection of art in its various free museums, quirky boutiques, vintage treasure troves, and beautiful leafy parks to wander.
Ultimately though, it is the friendly and hospitable people that make Glasgow such a fantastic city to visit.
We arrived on Friday night quite late, so joined the after work crowd for a dram of whisky at the Pot Still, an institution that dates from 1857 and is known for its atmosphere with a long wood bar and original Deco moldings, as well as a selection of over 450 malt whiskies.
On Saturday we were up early to set out and explore the city’s art scene. If you’re up for a wander, much of the city can be experienced on foot. Heading over to the West End from central Glasgow brings you through the beautiful Kelvingrove Park and the massive Victorian building home to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This place has to be one of the most bizarre and interesting museums I’ve visited, home to over 8,000 exhibits with everything from Salvador Dalí’s controversial “Christ of St John of the Cross” and French Impressionist works, to an elephant and a life-sized Elvis statue. Nearby, on the grounds of the University of Glasgow, you will find the Hunterian museum and art gallery. The museum contains the reassembled townhouse of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Scottish architect and designer considered to be the main representative of Art Nouveau in the United Kingdom. The home showcases his exquisite organic style, with each floor representing part of a plant. Our final stop on our Art tour was GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art). The building itself is an impressive one, occupying a stately looking neoclassical building in Royal Exchange Square in the heart of the city centre just off Buchanan Street. Not just a gallery space, GoMA also hosts educational facilities, including a studio and a library, and public spaces such as a hideaway café in the basement.
After a long day of Art we were ready to check out Glasgow’s notorious nightlife.
Both my traveling companion and I weren’t looking for a big night out, so left the evening largely up to chance. While wandering around after dinner, we stumbled across the bar-filled Sauchiehall Street, and were quickly lured into Nice ‘N’ Sleazy with the promise of a Star Wars-themed Elvis cover band (it was too bizarre to turn down). The upstairs bar had a retro 50’s american vibe, and the basement space was perfect for intimate, yet loud gigs. So while we many not have experienced the typical Glaswegian night life, it goes without saying, Darth Elvis and the Imperials did not disappoint.
Located right on the north side of the river, The Hilton Garden Inn is perfectly situated between the city centre and the lively west end. This modern hotel perfectly blended functionality with comfort.
Our room featured floor-to-ceiling windows with a fantastic view of the river, complimentary Wi-Fi access and an Apple TV computer, all as standard features. An added bonus was the collection of complimentary Scottish specialties (Irn Bru!). We were lucky enough to have warm, sunny weather, so took full advantage of the pretty riverside cafe with its spectacular views of The Clyde Arc. A sizeable breakfast buffet was included with our room, and the staff were more then happy to provide us with some vegan options.
Overall, we had a fantastic stay and would definitely recommend staying here.
With more meatless options available than cities twice it’s size, it’s no wonder Glasgow was voted the most vegan-friendly city in the UK by PETA. We dove in head first with a meat-free version of Scotland’s national dish, haggis. Traditionally made from sheep’s stomach, veg cafe (and indie music venue) The 13th Note does this dish right, leaving even a meat eater in our group impressed.
Other highlights included the spicy buffalo cauliflower at Stereo, a fully vegan restaurant/music venue tucked away in a small lane downtown, epic sweet potato and seitan tacos from Squid & Whale in the West End, and the house-made organic tofu from The Hanoi Bike Shop just off the eclectic Byres Road.
Great coffee was also not hard to find, first stumbling upon the Siempre Bicycle Cafe after being drawn in by the bikes in the front window. Run by mechanics, the shop opens up in the back with a large outdoor garden, the perfect spot for a quick and delicious coffee break. Another killer cup of coffee can be found at Papercup Coffee Company, a cafe that also roasts their own beans.
Turn your head for a second and you may miss the Riverhill Coffee Bar in central Glasgow, but this tiny spot has a lot on offer. Would definitely recommend the Aeropress filter coffee, paired with one of the many treats available; we couldn’t resist a vegan pear, ginger and cardamom cupcake.