Glasgow Logistics

How to get to Glasgow? Where to stay? How to get around? Where to eat?

Getting there

The most direct train service from London to Glasgow is the Avanti West Coast from Euston. This route will give you an hourly service, and will normally come in at less than five hours, with no stops south of Warrington. The scenic highlights are a glimpse of Morecambe Bay and the route between the Lake District and the Howgill Fells. Advance tickets may be had for less than £60 each way. There is a slower route which takes in the West Midlands which may be cheaper (change at Preston on some services).

Sleeping there

All the major brands have hotels in Glasgow, from Travelodge upwards. Balance your price-bracket with location. You can usually get a Premier Inn room for under £100 unless there is a big event (big football matches and concerts can send prices across the city through the roof, but university graduations can also make an impact). I like the Malmaison near Blythswood Square, which is quirky (it was a Greek Orthodox church), and the Premier Inn just east of George Square is very comfortable (though get breakfast elsewhere). Note that the Malmaison is at the top of Blythswood Hill!

You may be able to commute into the city from ahotel in the suburbs or beyond, but there will rarely be a great saving overall.

Getting round there

Getting around Glasgow by public transport is easy, with a comprehensive network of buses, supplemented by suburban trains and the “clockwork orange” subway circuit. Saving money on buying tickets is more difficult than elsewhere. There is a rail-and-subway day ticket, and a subway-and-tour-bus ticket, but there are 44 bus operators (plus the tour bus) and I cannot find an equivalent to Oystercard.

Eating and drinking there

Glasgow has a very wide range of restaurants at all price-points. At the higher end of the scale, the venerable Rogano’s (just off Buchanan Street) is generally to be avoided, despite former ratings. Off Byres Road in Hillhead (subway station nearby), the Ubiquitous Chip serves excellent Scottish cuisine (and beer and whisky, plus wines from around the world), and boasts a mural by the renowned Glaswegian author, artist, and presenter, the late Alasdair Gray. There has been a long-held Italian community in Glasgow, and Barolo, on Mitchell Street between Buchanan Street and Central station, represents that tradition. Mediterraneo (Ingram Street, Merchant City) is said to have grown out from the former Italian Centre across the street, but it looks less appealing than its predecessor — in particular, its menu contains significant amounts of food from beyond Italy, and it pushes its party menu. Café Gandolfi (Albion Street) has been a Merchant City fixture as a Scots-Italian bistro: it is also open for breakfast.

Restaurants from across Asia are plentiful, and many have grown up from the standard Indian or Chinese restaurant of fifty years ago. We have been well served at Opium (Hope Street), but it is many years since I dined in the famed Shish Mahal (Kelvinbridge), A city-centre Chinese favourite is Dim Sum (West Nile Street), which serves authentic Chinese food alongside Scots-fusion inspired dim sum and other dishes.

There are many and various cafés, from the traditional breakfast café to dainty afternoon tea at the Willow (Sauchiehall Street). There are several Art Deco cafés dotted around the city, the most famous of which is the University Café (near the bottom of Byres Road). My grandmother lived on the street which joins Byres Road there, and nothing has changed since I was rewarded for a stoic visiting hour at the hospital across the road with a lemonade or some ice-cream with the Verrecchias.

There is a full range of pubs of all kinds, with the usual brands available. The Bavaria Brauhaus (Wellington Street) offers a good range of German beer (and some hearty food), but I tend towards the Shilling Brewing Company (West George Street, just off West Nile Street) for their beer (much of it their own) and perhaps a pizza.

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