Destinations

City hitlist: Glasgow

Clever, creative and unpretentious, Scotland’s biggest city is a model of urban renewal.

By Helen Anderson
High Street mural of Saint Mungo by Sam Bates, aka Smug.

What to see

Mackintosh at the Willow
A painstaking four-year restoration has returned these 1903 tea rooms, by renowned architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, to their full glory. Their heritage value has assumed even more importance after a second fire destroyed Mackintosh's landmark Glasgow School of Arts last year. Commissioned by the colourful businesswoman Kate Cranston, these are the only surviving tea rooms in which Mackintosh had complete control over the interior and exterior. The all-day restaurant runs as a youth training enterprise; the full Scottish breakfast, elevenses and whisky afternoon tea are highlights. Duck next door to the visitor centre for CRM souvenirs, exhibitions and daily guided tours of the tea rooms (book in advance).
217 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow mackintoshatthewillow.com
Mackintosh at the Willow. Photo: Corrie Martin
City Centre Mural Trail
Tap into Glasgow's clever, creative vibe on a self-guided walking tour of its city-sanctioned mural art. A downloadable city map lists 25 huge murals on underpasses and buildings. Tributes to local identities jostle with wild animals let loose in an urban jungle. Two Australian artists feature: Stormie Mills continues his Lost Giant series; and Sam Bates, aka Smug, revives Saint Mungo, the city's patron saint.
citycentremuraltrail
City Centre Mural Trail Photo: Laura Speirs
Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society walking tours
The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society runs a range of excellent walking tours that focus on the prodigious talent of the city's most famous son, but also reveal layers of fascinating urban history. Book in advance.
crmsociety.com

Where to stay

Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel
Once the Royal Scottish Automobile Club's HQ, this converted terrace of Georgian townhouses is well located on a central leafy square. The hotel's cut-above spa and 114 rooms in soothing greys make it
a tranquil retreat in a city that knows how to party.
11 Blythswood Sq, Glasgow, ihg.com
Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel Credit: Corrie Martin

Where to eat

Cail Bruich
For the past decade this kitchen has been the city's fine-dining barometer. Menus are strictly seasonal, showcasing highland game, Loch Fyne oysters, Wye Valley asparagus, and foraged herbs and berries in dishes such as sea buckthorn mousse with apple and honeycomb. A new fit-out last year features bare brick walls and the huge trunk of a fallen tree (below). The team is also operating Mad Lab, a pop-up diner at the SWG3 arts venue, until September.
725 Great Western Rd, Glasgow, cailbruich.co.uk
Cail Bruich Photo: Corrie Martin
Crabshakk
This narrow, noisy shopfront appears perpetually packed with diners, happy as clams, tucking into big servings of simply prepared, very good west-coast Scottish seafood. Langoustines and lobsters are chilled or grilled; brown crab comes whole or in cakes; scallops are seared in anchovy butter. Crabshakk was the pioneer in the now thriving bar and dining neighbourhood of Finnieston, with bonus proximity to the Ben Nevis bar and its impressive whisky list. 1114 Argyle St, Finnieston, Glasgow, crabshakk.com

Alchemilla
Chef-owner Rosie Healey trained with Yotam Ottolenghi, which might account for the elevation of vegetables to centrestage. Choose from the natural-wine list and share simple, robustly flavoured dishes such as roast cauliflower beneath a mantle of pomegranate, hazelnuts and tahini yoghurt, and mackerel with rainbow chard and chilli.
1126 Argyle St, Glasgow, thisisalchemilla.com

Getting to Glasgow

Emirates flies one stop between Glasgow and select Australian capitals. The city is an hour by car or train from Edinburgh.