Tag Archive | "Glasgow"

Malmaison Glasgow’s Dark Charms


I knew I had arrived somewhere special before even setting foot into Malmaison Glasgow. Set inside what was formerly St. Jude’s of Blytheswood Square, a 19th century church, the 72-room hotel still boasts the place of worship’s striking Greco-Egyptian edifice. Located on West George Street, just a few blocks from Glasgow’s teeming shops and museums, the hotel’s grand entrance gives way to an equally impressive, if slightly more subdued, lobby.

A great portrait anchors the back wall behind the front desk, while the metal staircase, molded in the design of Napoleon at his coronation (the hotel’s name and concept comes from Chateau Malmaison, the iconic home of Napoleon’s wife Josephine), creates a grand wrap-around work of art, adding a dramatic flair to the reception area. A lounge to the left of the check-in desk offers stylish couches and comfy chairs, complete with checkered carpet.

The hotel’s 72 rooms, including eight suites, each create a similar sense of bold contemporary design along with classic comfort. Light blues and strong reds are brought out by the sunlight that streams in through each room’s large angled windows. Each room includes high beds with stylish comforters, DVD players (as well as a DVD library to choose from) and a flatscreen plasma TV. Wi-fi is also complimentary.

Just to make sure guests are totally comfortable, Malmaison also offers same-day laundry, a high-tech gym (“Gymtonic”) and playfully “dares” its guests to take home its branded toiletries. After trying out their shampoo, I couldn’t help but take them up on their challenge.

But guests will hardly want to stick around their room. Malmaison’s champagne bar on the ground floor, in what used to be the crypt of the church, is an ideal spot to enjoy one of the hotel’s signature cocktails and chat with companions or other guests before dinner or an evening out in the city. For those with larger groups, two meeting spaces are available for groups as large as 40 or 12, respectively (the smaller meeting spot is set in a room with walls stacked high with wine bottles, emphasizing the hotel’s selection of more than 300 wines).

For a full experience of Scottish luxury, guests would be wise to try a meal at Malmaison Glasgow’s bistro. Head chef Graham Digweed has developed a menu full of traditional favorites and inventive takes on the classics, all with an emphasis on the local origin of the ingredients. The elegant dishes are complimented by the moody atmosphere of the restaurant itself, with black leather booths and dim lighting from candles and small lanterns set on each table.

The following morning, it was impressive how much the bistro had been transformed to create a lighter, more energizing place for breakfast. But while the menu, music and atmosphere had changed, the local origin and high quality of the food had not.

-Alex Palmer

Malmaison Glasgow
278 West George Street
Glasgow, G2 4LL
Tel: 0141 572 1000

Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery – Glasgow


Perhaps the best way to begin discussing Two Fat Ladies’ The Buttery (or just “The Buttery” as locals call it) is to describe what it is not. First, it was not actually created by two chubby women, and certainly not the hosts of the BBC cooking show “Two Fat Ladies,” which many visitors assume. The name comes from the slang name for the number 88, which was the address of the original Two Fat Ladies restaurant in Glasgow’s West End (88 Dumbarton Road, where it is still located), which is 88 and when scrawled by giving the bottom half a wider circle than the top, looks like to little heads on two chubby bodies.

Approaching the restaurant from Argyle Street, the area hardly looks like the place you would expect to find some of the best food in Scotland. Set near the M8 motorway, it’s near large apartment complexes and nondescript homes.

But stepping inside, all expectations quickly melt away. The bar and lounge area one first enters is beautifully appointed with plush seats and couches and perhaps even more well-appointed visitors (I regretted leaving the tie at the hotel, but the welcoming server and comfortable atmosphere quickly dispelled any concerns). My date ordered a glass of wine from their extensive menu while I went with Belhaven’s Best, a favorite Scottish beer (wine could wait).

We were shown into the main dining room, elegantly appointed with rich reds and greens and tartan designs on the carpet and chairs and framed photographs and pictures. Inspired by the feeling of classic luxury with a Scottish twist, I started with the cullen skink, a traditional Scottish smoked haddock chowder. It encapsulated the feel of the restaurant perfectly—with rich and complex flavors in a soup that felt like homemade comfort food. It paired perfectly with the bottle of pinot noir we ordered.

I followed up this satisfying starter with the filet of scotch beef. The tender meat fell off instantly at the fork’s touch, soaking up the rioja and basil jus for a wonderful combination of flavor and texture. The ratatouille on the side complimented the filet very well.

But when it came to texture, my date’s dish may have had mine beat. She ordered the seared scallops, which came set atop a chunk of stornoway black pudding, drizzled with a delicious smoky dressing. The buttery texture of the scallops and bready feel of the pudding was so well matched, I could not believe I had never had a similar dish before.

For dessert, we shared the lemon curd cream meringue crush, which was as cool and tart as it sounds. We were regretfully too full to order the two fats grand dessert, a platter of all five of The Buttery’s desserts, including dark chocolate mousse mille feuille, crème brulee and red wine poached pear with stilton ice cream.

The main dining area was ideal for the pair of us, and several other couples sat in the main dining restaurant, ranging in age. But for larger parties and groups, The Buttery offers a private side room off the main dining area. For those looking for something even more memorable, the restaurant has a VIP space upstairs where guests literally walk through the kitchen to get to their private room, which includes a window directly into the kitchen. A visit from the chef is not unusual for those who enjoy a meal in this room.

For something more casual, visitors can go a floor below The Buttery, to The Shandon Belles, a new restaurant Two Fat Ladies recently opened. Emphasizing homestyle Scottish cooking, it is a less expensive, but no less delicious, option for visitors looking for the best of Scottish cooking.

-Alex Palmer

Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery
652-654 Argyle Street, G3 8UF
Glasgow,G3 8UF
0141 221 8188

Hotel Du Vin – Glasgow


Entering the Hotel du Vin Glasgow is like stepping into an elegant maze. Originally five Victorian town houses that have since been connected and developed into Hotel du Vin’s flagship property, walking through the hotel creates an exciting labyrinthine effect. Moving up and down levels and around corners, one leaves the spacious lobby and enters the Bistro Bar for a cocktail or afternoon tea, or slips into the subtly labeled Whisky Snug down the hall for a sample from one of the hotel’s exclusive single-cask bottles care of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Doors in the lobby open out into a secret garden where a walk down the garden path brings visitors to a stylish cigar shack. Entering one doorway, one comes across a gorgeous stained glass window, part of which was commissioned by famous collector William Burrell in the 1890s.

The Bistro itself is not to be missed. Offering classic Scottish cuisine with a modern twist, it draws on local ingredients while creating some truly inventive flavors. The Bistro’s oak-paneled space can fit 78 guests and is available for both guests and non-guests (much to the delight of locals).

But perhaps the most special thing about Hotel Du Vin is its bedrooms. Its 49 spaces include two spacious Standards, 15 Classic Suites, and two Town House Suites, among several other categories all the way up to the massive Mews Suite, which can sleep up to eight. As with the rest of the hotel, the rooms boast a classic contemporary style, featuring roll-top baths, four-poster beds and open fireplaces (by request).

Smaller details, like decorative hat boxes on top of the closets, framed vintage photographs and a golf putter set in every room, enhance the feeling of classic luxury. The Hotel du Vin’s splendor comes with a richly satisfying sense of history.

Part of this may be that the hotel has evolved significantly over time, first occupying just the first two houses on the block, under the name of its iconic address, 1 Devonshire Gardens. It expanded to the third house, then took over the fifth house as Hotel Du Vin took on ownership of the property, until finally just one flat in house number four was left occupied. When the occupant finally departed, Hotel Du Vin bought it and completed the connection between all five houses in early 2007.

I was fortunate enough to stay in one of the rooms with a skylight (also available by request), and was amazed at how pleasant it was to wake up with sun streaming through the roof of the suite. The bathrooms are vast, luxurious spaces in their own right, with fluffy bathrobes and HdV bathroom products created exclusively for the hotel by Arran Aromatics.

True to its name, the Hotel Du Vin makes wine a central part of its culinary offerings. Whether at dinner or to enjoy in the room, guests can choose from more than 600 bins of the hotel’s carefully curated wine list. Better yet, they can pop down to the wine cellar themselves to sample some of the bottles with guidance from a sommelier (as with many places in this expansive hotel, finding the staircase leading down to the cellar may require some help from the staff).

The prices of the wine are reasonable, making a bottle from the hotel’s collection an excellent gift or souvenir. A complex and supremely satisfying vintage might be the most appropriate to remember the Hotel du Vin Glasgow by.

-Alex Palmer

Hotel du Vin Glasgow
1 Devonshire Gardens
Glasgow, Scotland G12 OUX
0141 339 2001