Some cities’ slogans feel a bit forced. But “People Make Glasgow” perfectly suits Scotland’s largest city. The riverside metropolis was a shipbuilding and manufacturing hub for the British Empire, and following rapid expansion during the Victorian Era, is one of the UK’s trade and financial hubs today. Yet, behind the commerce are people—warm and friendly, culturally and ethnically diverse, extraordinarily creative people—who make Glasgow a cultural melting pot with some of the most unique art, design, music and food in the world right now.
We’re excited to leave our mark on Glasgow, too, as we open the Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel. It’s close to must-see attractions along with pockets of cool contemporary art, indie music clubs, and flavors ranging from some of the UK’s best curry to riffs on Scotland’s national dish.
Glasgow is Scotland’s capital of culture, with renowned museums and galleries, public parks and botanical gardens, and national theater and dance, set among fascinating Victorian and modern architecture.
If you only visit one museum, make it Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The 22 galleries have something for everyone, from fossils and historic aircraft to works by “The Glasgow Boys,” a group of young, modernist painters from the late 19th century.
But contemporary art lovers should explore beyond the major museums. In 1983, graduates of the Glasgow School of Art, one of the top in Europe, founded the celebrated Transmission Gallery, which supports emerging artists and sets the tone for Glasgow’s art scene. Other noteworthy spaces include Art Pistol, known for the Best of Scottish Art School Graduates Show and street art, and Tramway, Glasgow’s answer to London’s Tate, a hub for visual arts, theater and dance.
The artsy aesthetic extends to the shops, too. Glasgow’s Style Mile is considered the best shopping in the UK outside London with high-end and high-street brands—but you can find more unique items too. Check out Ryan James for independent brands from the UK and Europe, and 18montrose for fashion-forward streetwear and accessories. For curated design, housewares and furniture from Scotland and beyond, head to Hoos.
The Sound of Glasgow
If Edinburgh is Scotland’s city for writers, then Glasgow is for musicians, including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra as well as Belle and Sebastian, CHVRCHES, Franz Ferdinand and Primal Scream, among others. Named an UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow has countless concerts weekly. Catch a big act at the 12,000-capacity SSE Hydro, 15-20 minutes from the Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel, but don’t miss the smaller venues too. Sub Club is the longest-running underground club in the world, with house and techno dance party “Subculture” running on Saturdays since 1994, and Mono is frequently a musician favorite for indie gigs and vintage vinyl.
Address to a (Haute) Haggis
Did you even visit Glasgow if you didn’t try haggis? The national dish, a sausage of sheep offal and spices, is most popular on January 25, Burns Night, to celebrate the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns (“Auld Lang Syne” and “Address to a Haggis”). But you can find haggis on menus year-round, including versions for contemporary and vegetarian palates. City Merchant is highly rated for haggis and market seafood like brown crab and whole Scottish lobsters, while the West End’s Ubiquitous Chip is a hip spot for venison or vegetarian haggis, as well as local, seasonal fare and cocktails. For some different Scottish flavors, we recommend A’Challtainn, featuring sustainably sourced Scottish seafood, meat and produce.
Foodies should head to Finnieston, named “The Hippest Place to Live in Britain” by The Times, about 20 minutes by foot (10 by public transport) from the Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel. It’s teeming with hot spots like Alchemilla, serving Mediterranean tapas and natural wines, alongside curry shops. Mother India is the gold standard, while Mother India’s Café serves tapas-style Indian and fusion. Glasgow happens to be the vegan capital of the UK, so if meat dishes aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other reasons to explore Glasgow’s culinary scene.
After dinner, the Ben Nevis in Finnieston is our pick for a whisky bar, but for local flavor, we like the craft beers at Drygate Brewery, or the creative, seasonal cocktails at West End’s stylish Kelvingrove Café, whose walls are unsurprisingly adorned with contemporary art.
Whether you’re doing business in the financial district or seeking creative inspiration, we think you’ll find what you need in Glasgow.