Endearingly feisty Glasgow is a city of swagger, style and sharpness, writes David Whitley.
Endearingly feisty Glasgow is proud of its sense of edge and energy. It's a city with a strong mercantile and industrial past, but it also represents a forward-looking Scotland away from the tartan and shortbread cliches. There's a big live music scene, comedy comes regularly and raw, while the rejuvenation of the River Clyde has seen several architectural stand-outs line up along it. It's a city of swagger, style and sharpness, which has always looked outwards to the wider world.
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/kelvingrove) is Glasgow's cultural big-hitter, and it's justifiably one of the most beloved museums in Britain. A visit to this high temple of Victorian grandeur should easily eat half a day, and the sheer variety inside is a key part of the charm. The mix includes, Dali paintings, stuffed elephants, Spitfires hanging from the ceiling and exquisite furniture that's an artwork in its own right. The Glasgow Stories section – covering everything from the city's unexpected fondness for country music to tobacco trading and slavery to – is arguably the most fascinating.
The West End is home to a cluster of interesting places to eat, with many found on cutesy-looking Ashton Lane. The Ubiquitous Chip (ubiquitouschip.co.uk) being the best spot for Scottish produce and contemporary twists on traditional Scottish dishes. The pub part is relaxed, with a brasserie-style menu, while the courtyard leans more towards fine dining.
The Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre (Sharmanka.com) – part of the Trongate 103 arts complex – is one of the weirdest and most delightful thing you're ever likely to stumble into. The owner has lovingly crafted dozens of mechanical figures from scrap metal – and shows see them crank into life, doing heart-warmingly hypnotic dances to an incredibly bizarre soundtrack.
Celebrating one of the city's most influential sons, the House For An Art Lover (Houseforanartlover.co.uk) has been painstakingly built to designs by Glasgow's highly distinctive and world renowned architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh's graceful, Japanese-influenced thin lines and artful floral motifs are at their most jaw-dropping in the music and dining rooms. The plans were originally drawn up for a competition by Mackintosh, and realised long after his death.
Hitting that sweet spot of affordability and hip design, the Citizen M (citizenm.com/destinations/Glasgow) features carpets made from Google maps of the city and a hostel-like lobby/ common area full of brightly-coloured weird furniture. The rooms are little more than pods, but they come with superking beds, wall-to-wall windows and blackout blinds. Doubles cost from £76 ($151).
Surrounded by handsome Georgian townhouses, the top of the town Blythswood Square (www.townhousecompany.com/blythswoodsquare) has luxurious Italian marble-clad bathrooms, supremely comfy beds and an in-house spa for shameless pampering. Doubles start at around £133 ($263).
The Finnieston area is rapidly becoming the place for a night out in a city that really likes a good night out. The Brewdog bar (Brewdog.com/bars/Glasgow) – run by the rebellious and rapidly expanding Brewdog brewery – is a fine place to start. But once you've indulged in a hoppy Punk IPA and 5am Saint amber ale, there are plenty of other options to move the pub crawl on to.
More information: visitbritain.com
David Whitley was a guest of Visit Scotland. This article brought to you by Visit Britain.