OutUK correspondent Adrian Gillan takes the high road north of the border for a queer cultural treat in gutsy Glasgow!

Glasgow skyline
Glasgow's skyline. Photo courtesy: Visit Scotland

Scotland’s largest and most vibrant city: or so it says on the tin. Dockyards and access to America and beyond meant Glasgow quickly grew to become one of the most important trading hubs of the British Empire, as still witnessed by her imposing architecture and squares. She has since re-emerged triumphant from industrial decline, to reinvent herself as a modern, buzzing city of style and culture.

SIGHTS

Take in the central George Square itself, with its imposing columns, statues and City Chambers; the old Cathedral, especially spooky in the basement; the renovated Merchant City quarter; and Glasgow Green with its People’s Palace pleasure complex. Explore the amazing masterpieces of Glasgow’s most famous designer son, Charles Rennie Mackintosh - notably the Glasgow School of Art, Willow Tea Rooms and The Lighthouse tower.
Out west, take in Kelvingrove Park and its renovated museum, Glasgow Uni (including the excellent Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery) and the lovely Botanic Gardens.

Also peruse the renovated dockside area, with its Science Centre and Tall Ship across the way.

River Clyde The River Clyde at night.
Photo Credit: Scottish Viewpoint
For art’s sake, enjoy the latest exhibitions at the vibrant Gallery of Modern Art or Centre for Contemporary Art.

SCENE

Near the Central Railway Station, The Waterloo (306 Argyle Street; T: 0141 248 7216) claims to be the city’s oldest gay pub, but is just as buzzing and packed now as of yore. That said, it’s enough to make you crave some style, so wait no more: a whole clutch of newer gay venues in the Merchant City quarter await! Court Bar (69 Hutchinson Street; T: 0141 552 2463) makes a perfect springboard into Merchant Pride (20 Candleriggs; T: 0141 564 1285); then Underground (formerly Revolver, 6a John Street; T: 0141 553 2456), with in its alternative basement bunker, Speakeasy (10 John Street; T: 0141 553 5851) or Milk (17 John Street).

Delmonica’s (68 Virginia Street; T: 0141 552 4803) is a triumph of sofas and tunes to set chic toes a tappin’. When Del’s bars shut shop and lights flood up, pouting punters dutifully file next door to The Riding Room (58 Virginia Street; T: 0845 6595904) and larger annex, the plush Polo Lounge (84 Wilson Street; T: 0141 553 1221). Don’t be fooled: Polo’s not quite as pretentious as its ground-floor leather-and-oak gentlemen’s club upholstery may suggest. Venture downstairs and you’ll soon find your fair share of mature strong cheese and trancy dance.

But to view Glasgow’s true queer soul, visit revamped AXM Club (formerly Bennets, 80-90 Glassford Street; T: 0141 552 5761) that still seems to pull in the crowds, a few of whom still slur loyally that they’d “never visit Polo”, as they bop to pop, or slump into their umpteenth pint of the night. Steam away at The Pipeworks (5-10 Metropole Lane; T: 0141 552 5502) sauna.

STAY

Base yourself at the Grasshopper Hotel Glasgow (6th floor, Caledonian Chambers, 87 Union Street; T: 0141 222 2666) - a value-for-money boutique luxury affair slap-bang in the city centre, perched high above Glasgow Central Station, close to all scene and sights! The 30 bedrooms combine style and comfort - think Egyptian cotton linen and Arran Aromatic toiletries - with high ceilings, cornices and large windows, many boasting views. 
All have free Wifi along with Sky HD television which includes the movies and sports packages. Supper is served Mon-Thurs in The Kitchen, where you may also enjoy a sociable breakfast any morning. Lovely bright lounge sitting room too. Free fresh cookies and cakes on plates throughout! Grasshoppes Hotel
Glasgow's Grasshopper Hotel
To find out more about great accommodation offers, booking your city break to Glasgow, or things to see and do in the city, visit www.visitscotland.com. Also check out our hotel partners Booking for more great deals.

Updated May 2013

 

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