STYLE and the city

Cheshire Life: Novem­ber 2018 Glas­gow is among Europe’s must-visit cities, and one of its most en­tic­ing ho­tels is the Prin­ci­pal Blythswood Square, writes Louise Tay­lor

Cheshire Life - - Special Feature -

It’s a Sun­day af­ter­noon and we are perched at a cock­tail ta­ble in the Sa­lon of The Prin­ci­pal Blythswood Square in Glas­gow. Par­ties of women in their fin­ery are tak­ing af­ter­noon tea, this be­ing the kind of room – high ceil­ings, long Geor­gian win­dows, gold-topped white columns – which makes you want to dress up a bit.

Through those long win­dows, we can look down across the pri­vate gar­dens around which Blythswood Square’s houses for the well-to-do were first built in the 1820s – a sup­posed new cen­tre for Glas­gow, high on a hill, above the hoi-pol­loi.

By 1910, the homes on the side of the square which is now the ho­tel had be­come the club­house of the Royal Scot­tish Au­to­mo­bile Club. Hence the square was one of the start points of the 1955 Monte Carlo Rally. It’s tempt­ing to think of a dar­ing chap down­ing a stiff­ener in The Sa­lon – per­haps the cock­tail menu’s Corpse Reviver No 1 – be­fore get­ting be­hind the wheel and screech­ing off in search of glory.

The club’s crest sur­vives on the ho­tel’s frontage. It’s more prom­i­nent, in fact, than any cor­po­rate brand­ing. This is a ho­tel too so­phis­ti­cated to need to scream its pres­ence. But, for all the en­tic­ing whiff of his­tory and the Geor­gian charm of the ex­te­rior, the five-star Blythswood is a 21st cen­tury propo­si­tion, with all the style, the spa, the food and the cock­tails, which go with that. A multi-mil­lion pound re­fur­bish­ment is on­go­ing to keep it look­ing shiny and con­tem­po­rary. If our room was any­thing to go by – lots of el­e­gant grey with the bath­room a riot of brown mar­ble – the re­sults are as shiny and con­tem­po­rary as you’d like.

The up­stairs Sa­lon is a peer­lessly stylish place to while away time sit­ting on a Har­ris Tweed-up­hol­stered bar stool.

But what about the ground floor restau­rant? Once the au­to­mo­bile club’s ball­room, the restau­rant is a mix of booths and ta­bles above which hang a pro­fu­sion of state­ment black lamp­shades, fringed in red.

It’s a room which must strike a bal­ance in terms of for­mal­ity and in­for­mal­ity be­tween break­fast and evening meal, and a menu which runs the gamut from a cheese sand­wich to £65 Chateaubri­and from the Josper grill.

We tried a starter of tuna tatiki (£12) – lush slices of pink tuna edged in sesame seeds, with dabs of avo­cado purée, a slightly tart cu­cum­ber con­sommé and a sprin­kling of smoked her­ring roe. Lots of del­i­cate flavours there, deftly jug­gled. As was our other starter of honey and pine nut baked goat’s cheese (£7.50).

A main of roast chicken (£18.50) came with a beau­ti­fully musty mush­room stuff­ing, sweet and sour turnip and beets and a £3.75 side or­der of hand-cut rooster po­ta­toes... yes, up­mar­ket chicken and chips, and very de­li­cious.

An­other main of seaweed but­ter roasted brill (£19.50) was a golden, flaky fil­let with solid lit­tle po­tato gnoc­chi, broad beans and a deeply-flavourful pea velouté.

A white choco­late cheese­cake (£7) us­ing Scot­tish crowdie was dense, deep and sat­is­fy­ing, ac­com­pa­nied by berries and hon­ey­comb ice cream. Le­mon pos­set (£7) looked al­most as good as it tasted – dec­o­rated with freeze-dried rasp­berry frag­ments and teamed with fin­gers of meringue and a vanilla cookie.

Out of the door of the ho­tel, the heart of Glas­gow city cen­tre is but a ten-minute walk in one di­rec­tion, and the Kelv­in­grove Art Gallery and Mu­seum – one of my favourites any­where in the world – is a 20-minute stroll in the other. There’s so much to see and do in this lively city, but should you be in­clined, this is one of those ho­tels where you could en­joy a short break with­out set­ting foot out­side, thanks to its fab­u­lous spa with fully equipped gym. As well as of­fer­ing a wide range of fa­cial and body treat­ments – us­ing high-end brands like Ishga and Ila – the Ther­mal Ex­pe­ri­ence here is a big as­set. You can loll around re­lax­ing for ages in ei­ther the pool – big enough to swim in – or the saunar­ium, the crys­tal steam room, the tep­i­dar­ium or the hy­dro pool with its body mas­sag­ing jets of wa­ter. Af­ter a cou­ple of hours in here, you’ll feel bliss­fully serene and have lit­tle in­cli­na­tion to do any­thing other than head for The Sa­lon and re­lax again, tak­ing in the splen­dour of it all.

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