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Blythswood Square, Glasgow

The award-winning spa at Blythswood Square 'is worth an entire trip in and of itself' for Kat McAthley

The credentials:

The Blythswood Square Hotel dominates an entire quarter of its eponymous square, with an imposing B-listed facade (dating from the 1820s) that conceals not only 93 luxury rooms, six suites and ‘Glasgow’s most luxurious penthouse’, but also an award-winning spa facility. The Royal Scottish Automobile Club (RSAC) used the building as its headquarters from 1910, after gradually buying up the entire block of neighbouring houses, and almost a century later in 2009 it opened as a hotel.

Since then the Spa has established itself as not merely the best in the city, but an award-winning facility of international recognition, while the hotel was recently ranked as one of Scotland’s top four.

With all this history comes impressive, though not imposing, reception areas (you could line up a series of vintage cars in both the lobby and dining room of the Blythswood, with space left over to go for a spin). From deep red, almost David Lynchian reception booths to a chandelier stretching from floor to ceiling over three floors, the hotel is decorated with a cool and cutting edge elegance that combines modernity with tradition.


Rather helpfully called The Restaurant, the gorgeous dining room of the Blythswood is a truly enjoyable place not just to eat, but to simply be. Despite being so vaulting you could park an aircraft inside it (it was the former RSAC ballroom after all), it manages to never feel intimidating. It is easily as enjoyable a place to have a romantic dinner of Scottish specialities (with the cured Loch Etive salmon a particular joy) as a solitary breakfast with the papers.

And disagree with me if you like; no one does breakfast like the Scots! French pastries, full cooked breakfasts, fruit and Greek yoghurt, eggs-every-way—all were in attendance and all were excellent (the eggs Benedict deserves its own mention), but it is a delight only found in Scotland to come across porridge with whisky (the only way I will submit to eating said wallpaper paste). The real triumph at the Blythswood, though, was the well-stocked station of perfect Scotch pancakes and a serve-yourself bloody Mary bar!

The Salon bar on the other hand is less of a success. Though rated ‘one of the best bars in the world’ by Class magazine, it somehow didn’t feel nearly as comfortable as the rest of the building. The menu was impressive on the surface—I’ve never seen such an extensive list of Scotland’s national alcohol—but service was slow. So slow, in fact, that we waited for our first round of cocktails to arrive for nearly 20 minutes. Our second round picked up pace—at 15 minutes! The resulting drinks sadly did not justify the wait.


There is less history but even more elegance on show in the bedrooms at the Blythswood—all black marble and mirrored surfaces. Not to mention a design first (for me at least): the partition wall above the bath is in fact a sliding window onto the bedroom, excellent if you want to watch TV in the embrace of the hand-crafted Spanish marble!

You will also find delightful waterfall showers and a small stock of Neal’s Yard toiletries. Egyptian cotton sheets, Harris Tweed sofas and black and white Glasgow photos across the walls combine to create a coolly masculine finish.

Who goes there?

From the look of it anyone and everyone; businessmen with laptops were as evident at breakfast as loved-up couples and mother/daughter pairs enjoying a spa visit.

Out & about:

Glasgow is an unexpected delight for the uninitiated, and the Blythswood is right in the centre of it. With its fair share of museums and galleries (The Burrell Collection and The Gallery of Modern Art are just a short walk away) as well as the shopper’s paradise that is Buchanan Street and the Merchant City itself, there’s a surprising amount to keep you busy. And if you’re there for the weekend, Glasgow has a nightlife to rival East London (minus the price tag).

The worst thing:

Sadly the night’s sleep itself! Whether it was the enormous duck-down duvet, starchy crisp sheets, our inability to work the (admittedly very responsive) thermostat, or a combination of the above, my partner and I were both so uncomfortably hot that we woke up feeling like we’d been transplanted to the hotel sauna.

The best thing:

Speaking of which—the hotel sauna! Or to be more precise, the entire spa facility. I can well believe its award-winning credentials; the spa is worth an entire trip in and of itself. The true experience, as provided here by the Blythswood, isn’t just a wet steam room and a dry sauna; it’s five differently heated rooms, all the way from a gently cool Tepidarium through to a furnace-like dry sauna (with options to add an ice fountain and fragrance to rub into your limbs between rooms, if you’re brave enough).

There are also several gently lit pools to soak your limbs in after a hard day, and if you arrive first thing in the morning you genuinely have the whole facility to yourself. All this spa luxury is free to hotel guests, with the option to add on further rejuvenating rhassoul mud and turius seaweed baths or multiple beauty treatments.

The details:

Room rates from £137.75 per night for a standard room and from £380 per night for a suite.

Blythswood Square Hotel, No.11 Blythswood Square, Glasgow, G2 4AD; 0141 248 8888; www.townhousecompany.com/blythswoodsquare; reserve@blythswoodsquare.com

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