A stay in the Radisson Red Glasgow brings to mind the old saw about living in the handsomest house on an ugly street. Here on the north side of the Clyde, the new hotel’s neighbours are the SECC exhibition centre (locally known as the “Armadillo”), another big hangar of a venue, the SSE Hydro, and the Finnieston Crane – a monument to the area’s onetime incarnation as a hub of shipbuilding. Development here since the shipyards were shuttered in the 1980s has been piecemeal and the area lacks much cohesive character: the views from the Radisson Red’s higher rooms are of dual carriageways, car parks, squat grey buildings without any design flourishes, and the blandly glassy broadcasting HQs across the river, accessed via the fondly nicknamed “Squinty Bridge”. Fortunately, it’s only ten minutes’ walk to shops, restaurants and cafés on Argyll Street, and both the leafy, studenty West End and the centre of town are a short journey from there.
Equally fortunately, Radisson Red is one of those boutique-budget hotels that really works. Staff are implausibly cheery and chatty; the rooms are bright, clean, and well-designed, with clean lines and comfortable furniture – particularly the beds, which are more comfortable than those in much costlier hotels. Evident care and thought has gone into even the smallest details. Sometimes that’s a little overweening – cutesy puns on shampoo bottles are unnecessary; better the energy go on ensuring these are full for incoming guests – and at other times quite charming, as with the crane mosaic picked out in the shower tiles, the rather Twin Peaks hallway carpeting, and the irregular “beehive” screens and hexagonal stools in the lobby. Murals cover every wall, from architectural watercolours in the corridors to frescoes of airborne figures in the restaurant.
The Radisson Red’s rooftop Red Sky Bar was hopping every time I visited
In spite of the indifferent views, the Radisson Red’s rooftop Red Sky Bar was hopping every time I visited; on Saturday night the “Glasgow Fabulous” crowd, who wholeheartedly and touchingly believe their city the fashion and glamour capital of the world, were out in full force, dolled up and living their best life. The bright, airy ground floor brasserie serves substantial and interesting all-day dining options; regrettably, the promise of live entertainment on weekend evenings, under the odd banner of “Oui Sessions”, did, as so often, mean a basic busker type with an acoustic guitar and a songbook of tired 2000s standards. On subsequent evenings, a big family get-together and a works outing were convening in the space, and there’s every chance that the hotel’s placement will make it a nexus for groups converging from different areas of Glasgow. It at last gives this often unloved and underappreciated part of the city a place you’d look forward to coming back to. C
Radisson Red Glasgow, 25 Tunnel St, Finnieston Quay, Glasgow G3 8HL, United Kingdom
+44 141 471 1700; radissonhotels.com