Though the lure of cheap airline seats, affordable European city breaks and Mediterranean sunshine is ever present in my world, the fact that we reside on one of the most richly historical and cultural islands in the Western world means there’s never any shortage of home-grown breaks to indulge in. From the cobbles of Cambridge to the beaches of Devon, I’m determined to start making the most of Britain and its beauty and exploring more of our fair land this year.
When I found myself in Glasgow recently, I decided to indulge in some well-earned R&R with a night at the Blythswood Square Hotel & Spa. Having heard more than one or two complimentary reports on this city centre oasis, I couldn’t wait to visit.
Perfectly situated only a few minutes’ walk from the bustling shops, restaurants, galleries and attractions Glasgow city centre, Blythswood Square seems a world away from the buzz of the city. The award-winning five-star hotel is one of the most elegant in the city, taking up one side of Blythswood Square overlooking beautiful gardens (though the view was a tad grey and blustery the day I arrived…) and features 100 guest rooms including suites and a rather impressive penthouse. The lobby instantly transports you back in time; heels clack on the black and white tiled floor, little red velvet lined seating nooks call out for your you to sink in with the weekend papers and the impeccably dressed doorman doffing his cap to you can’t help but make you stand a little straighter and walk a little taller.
With a chic restaurant, garden view salon, fully-loaded spa, private dining rooms and private screening room, you’d be hard-pressed to want to leave its four walls.
The Rooms at Blythswood
Good luck not falling in love with your room the moment you step through the door. The decor in my Deluxe Room was luxurious yet understated. The room had a beautifully comfortable king size bed (complete with pillow menu, naturally) and an absolutely dreamy bespoke Spanish marble bathroom with a huge tub and rain shower, making scheduling a time to get into that tub number one on my to-do list!
The spa at Blythswood
With a Scottish storm full-on raging outside, there was nothing better to do with my Friday afternoon than really get away from it all by paying a visit to the 10,000 square foot basement spa.
One wouldn’t think that a city centre building would have the space to accommodate nine treatment rooms, a thermal suite, two relaxation pools, a lounge and café area and additional relaxation rooms, but lo and behold this cavernous subterranean wonderland does just that.
Slipping into a robe and flip flops, we managed to while away three hours quite easily, flitting between the walk-through hydrotherapy pool, sauna, crystal steam room, laconium, saunarium and vitality pool, before falling asleep on one of the heated tiled beds in the toasty tepidarium.
Treatments on offer vary from signature hot stone massages, seaweed body wraps and rhassouls to couples’ massages, detoxing body scrubs and chakra-aligning experiences. I indulged (the only word for it really) in a relaxing massage, using seaweed oil from local Hebridean beauty brand ishga; so lovely to see a spa supporting local brands and businesses and it’s certainly a beauty brand I’m going to be trying again.
The restaurant at Blythswood
After floating back up to the room on a cloud of bliss to chill out in front of the TV, my guest and I headed down to the restaurant. Inspired by local Scottish favourites, the dishes focus on classics with a twist and European flavours,
The Restaurant at Blythswood Square comes with impeccable reviews and is obviously a big hitter on the Glasgow dining scene. Housed in a majestic former RSAC ballroom, it’s certainly an elegant setting in which to enjoy dishes such as hand-dived scallops, cured Loch Etive trout and slow cooked ox cheek.
With a menu full of tempting dishes, we’d need to visit again to work our way through the menu. During our visit, we had the pistachio-crusted goat’s cheese mousse, with beetroot, curly endive, apple gel and rye wafers, a perfectly light intro before my steamed fillet of lemon sole with a potato cake, roast shallots, lobster scampi and lobster bisque. While my dish was delicious, I did get a slight dose of food envy at the chicken and duck liver parfait that arrived across the table however, resplendent with blood orange and hibiscus fluid gel, shaved fennel salad and sourdough wafers, accompanied with a fresh, warm bread basket we couldn’t get enough of.
The wild Highland venison with date and darjeeling tea puree, honey spiced beetroot, red wine pickled salsify and red wine sauce looked particularly good and - uncouth as it may be - I couldn’t help but have a nose around at the other dishes that were arriving on surrounding tables throughout our meal. Everything looked - and smelt - sublime - and judging by the empty plates everywhere one presumes it tasted it too. Try and leave space for dessert if you can, the gingerbread cheesecake with honeycomb and gingerbread crumb won’t disappoint.
If not being lured out to the bright lights of a night in Glasgow, I can heartily recommend the aforementioned bubble bath, wrapping up in a cosy bathrobe and getting into that glorious bed for a night in front of your screen; with Pitch Perfect 2 on the TV and a bottle of prosecco on ice, my tonic for the perfect night in.
Although the thought of a 7am wake up on a Saturday was enough to make me want to stay in bed, my woes were eased by a hearty Scottish breakfast consisting of tattie scones, haggis and smoothie station.
Work or play, when looking for accommodation in Glasgow, I urge you to eschew the Hiltons and Marriotts of the world and embrace the independent. My night at Blythswood was one of the most relaxing and reviving I’ve had in a long time and when aligned with big chains I’ve stayed with in the past, there really is no contest.
Overnight stays including bed and breakfast from £160. Market Menu lunch at the Restaurant at Blythswood Square from £18.50 per person for two courses, dinner from £20 per person for two courses. Afternoon Tea in The Salon from £28 per person.
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