36 Hours in Glasgow (The New York Times)
Since 2008, the year Glasgow gained Unesco status as a “city of music,” this reinvented industrial center in western Scotland has solidified its reputation as a night-life and cultural hub. On any given night, you can wander through the West End near the university or later in the center’s Merchant City, and find lounges pulsing with electronica, pubs with traditional Gaelic music, sleek restaurants, dive bars and fringe theaters, a melting pot for every taste. This year — referendum for Scottish independence aside — Glasgow is stepping further into the spotlight. A few weeks ago, the Commonwealth Games drew thousands of athletes and visitors; next month the Ryder Cup comes to the Gleneagles resort in Perthshire, northeast of town. The vibrant student life that radiates from the gorgeous campus of the centuries-old University of Glasgow, the rich collections of art in the city museums, the concentration of small shops and vintage treasure troves, and unexpected leafy enclaves are only a few of the city’s charms. But ultimately it’s the openhearted, hospitable and occasionally irreverent people who live here that create such a welcoming city.
1. Tea and Tradition | 3 p.m.
If you are not familiar with the name Charles Rennie Mackintosh before coming to Glasgow you will be before you leave. Mackintosh was a prodigious architect, interior designer and artist, and the city has a wealth of his work. One of Mackintosh’s original commissions from 1904, the Willow Tea Rooms, exemplifies the light, airy spaces he created and is the perfect antidote to cloudy Scottish days. Stop in for a cup of tea and a scone, or settle in for afternoon tea (12.95 pounds, about $19.50 at $1.63 to the pound) while taking stock of the mirrored friezes, silver-plated doors and high-backed chairs that Mackintosh also designed. Despite a recent fire that damaged the Mackintosh building at the architecturally imposing Glasgow School of Art a few blocks from the Willow Tea Rooms (the interior is under restoration), the school’s new tour (£9.75 for adults) still includes a look at the building’s facade along with other sites close by that represent the city he lived and worked in.
2. A Wee Whisky | 6 p.m.
The Pot Still dates from 1857.
Chris Carmichael for The New York Times
After work on a Friday many residents head to their local pub for a pint or a dram of whisky. You can join some of them at the Pot Still, an institution that dates from 1857 and is known for its atmosphere with a long wood bar and original Deco moldings. But the real draw is the selection of over 450 malt whiskies. Choose a classic like Lagavulin (£5.70) or Arran (£3.80).
3. Two Fat What? | 8 p.m.
Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery is a wood-paneled space where you’ll find some surprising dishes like sliced home-smoked Gressingham duck with citrus and cherry vinaigrette, mignons of Scotch beef layered with kale colcannon and pancetta jus and mussel risotto. Expect to pay about £30 per person for dinner without wine.
4. Meet the Band | 10:30 p.m.
Friends take a break from dancing at Sub Club.
Chris Carmichael for The New York Times
Glasgow has a well-earned reputation for showcasing and nurturing musical talent. The Verve, Oasis, Radiohead and Franz Ferdinand are only a few of the bands that played at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut early in their careers, and this intimate but legendary music space has become a hub for emerging artists. Down the hill, Sub Club not only hosts indie bands like Hot Chip and Optimo but also plays cutting-edge dance music well into the night. In 2006, it built a large bodysonic floor, which means you will feel the bass frequencies through your feet. So get your dancing shoes ready.
Continue reading the main story
5. Caffeine Hit | 10 a.m.
Perhaps because of locals’ penchant for late nights, spots for good coffee and baked goods have proliferated over the years. At Coffee, Chocolate and Tea in the West End for example, a fire-engine red Samaic roaster is the source for an excellent house blend, and a 1960s espresso machine for the espresso shots and flat whites that people line up for. The spot also has over 40 loose leaf teas, freshly baked croissants and homemade chocolates.
6. Art Crawl | 11 a.m.
Surrounded by one of city’s most lovely parks (Glasgow in Gaelic means the dear green place), the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is housed in a formidable red brick building dating from 1901. The blue and gold inlaid ceiling, Art Deco hanging lamps and marble floors alone provide sufficient reason to visit, let alone the impressive art collection that includes Salvador Dalí’s controversial “Christ of St John of the Cross.” Nearby, on the grounds of the University of Glasgow, the Hunterian museum and art gallery contains the reassembled townhouse of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. Don’t miss a guided tour: The home showcases his exquisite organic style, where each floor represents part of a plant, and the guides will point out the more poignant time in the life of the couple when commissions were down. Before leaving the gallery, check out the marvelous collection of art also on site, including several spectacular Whistlers.
7. A Bite to Eat | 1 p.m.
Scotland has an abundance of excellent seafood, and the intimate Crabshakk is a perfect introduction to the country’s juicy briny oysters and daily catches, including ruby red langoustines (about £20 for lunch). Or stop by the oyster bar at Rogano in Exchange Square, which has been a spot for power brokers for decades to celebrate deals with a glass of Champagne and a dozen oysters (£19) in a space designed to look like a 1930s Art Deco cruise liner.
8. One of a Kind | 3 p.m.
In addition to all the designer labels from Top Shop to Mulberry, small shops highlight Glasgow’s independent mercantile spirit. Starry Starry Night, for example, carries vintage treasures, including top hats and ball gowns; Timorous Beasties, not a far walk away on Great Western Road, has exquisite wallpaper and textiles. Monorail, on the other side of town, is a must for vinyl-lovers and those looking to discover more about the city’s music scene: Glaswegian artists like Mogwai and Young Marble Giants are among the musicians to discover there.