Shilpa Ganatra takes a trip up north to check out the UK’s very first Radisson RED
Radisson RED is the contemporary boutique arm of the brand, and as it’s well-received in its other five locations across the globe – we went to the Brussels location for its Christmas markets – it’s finally received its first UK version.
Stepping in on a mild autumn day, it has all the vibe of a slick bar: think pumping music, wrought-iron fittings and mood lighting. It’s most certainly not afraid to shy away from its title theme of red. There’s red on the walls, on the ground, and in every accoutrement, which makes a glorious change from the business-hotel brown that’s universally found these days.
But it’s not only the rooms and the inviting foyer that makes this a busy, buzzing hotel: the rooftop bar, offering upfront views of the Clydebank Titan Crane and the SEC complex, is pretty darn impressive. Especially on concert days, it gets busy, but hotel guests have the benefit of being able to roll straight to their plush, comfy beds just downstairs.
Situated on the banks of River Clyde, it’s on the right side of town for the airport, a 15-minute walk into Glasgow’s centre with its awesome cultural and nightlife offerings (a trip to Stereo is basically our favourite thing to do there) – right near the artsy neighbourhood of Kelvingrove, and seconds away from the SEC complex. That means it’s the one to pick when you’re heading over for a concert, especially if you’re no fan of dealing with thousands of people trying to use limited public transport at the same time. But even for a city break, its set-back location means your radius of the city will increase, offering a broader and more nuanced view of the destination.
Uber works in Glasgow, and its base fare is cheaper than London, so expect to pay around £5 for a cab to the hotel from the city centre. There are buses and the metro too, but meh, life is too short.
As if the ultra-trendy foyer – with its coffee table books, low-hanging lights and geometrical divider – didn’t give it away, its 174 rooms are not your standard double or twin. They’re like the bedroom you wouldn’t dare decorate at home. Glasweigan comic artist Frank Quitely is responsible for the bold wallpaper, depicting Glasgow-tinged scenes. My room offered a floor-to-ceiling window with the crane and SEC set out like a full-wall painting: a continuation of Quitely’s good work, perhaps.
The room is kitted out with the latest features like USB ports, an in-built European adaptor, though guests can use the RED app to do a little more, like order a different pillow. A pillow menu, I tell ye! For all the tech in the hotel, there’s nothing like the personal touch, and the staff are a personification of the hotel itself: warm, welcoming and approachably trendy.
Food and drink
There are two places to imbibe here, but you categorically can’t stay here without taking a trip up to the top floor and enjoying the Red Sky Bar. Its outside terrace is more of a smoking area, but it’s still big enough that non-smokers can enjoy a drink too. Even inside, the glass-fronted bar still makes the most of its sweet views, and it would be remiss not to have cocktail or glass of bubbly to mark the fabulousness here. There’s also an excellent small but sufficient bar food menu, with things like sharing plates, pizzas and little plates – you’ll have to try the haggis bons (£6.50) while in Scotland.
There’s also the OUIBar + Ktchn downstairs: an airy, open place for a café-style meal. When I ate, I couldn’t choose so ordered the smoky grilled aubergine salad (£6.50), porcini arancini (£6), fries (£3.50) and the posh toast and cheese (£8), which was beyond delicious – think a gloriously thick hunk of bread with a right but restrained amount of mustardy cheese that allows you to order seconds without guilt. That said, my pal’s BBQ pulled pork rib bun (£13) was heaped with slaw, pickles and fries, and looked even more appealing.
Breakfast is also taken here, and it’s abundant. There’s a help-yourself coffee machine, an angelic selection of smoothies, granola, fruits, cereals, full sized pastries that look too fluffy to refuse, plus all the usual delectable fry-up items. Ask nicely and they’ll even throw on a spoonful of guac to go with the scrambled eggs.
It’s also worth noting that other bar and restaurant options are right nearby. Kelvingrove is crammed full of them, and they’re united only by their friendly, relaxed feel. One lunch, I walked the 10 minutes to The Sisters restaurant, a local institution in a converted house with Philip Raskin art on the wall and excellent Scottish produce on its menu. Lunch is a reasonable £11.95 for two courses or £15.45 for three, with dishes like Ramsay’s of Carluke ham or chicken liver pate with homemade oatcakes and Arran chutney to pick from. But I couldn’t resist the look of the vegetarian haggis ravioli (£8.95) – which as an ex-meat eater, was the closest thing I’ve come to the real thing in a long time. Generously filled, expertly flavoured, and perfectly textured, it’s the clincher of the meal for me.
I’ve enjoyed city breaks in Glasgow a number of times, but staying at the Radisson RED allowed me to appreciate it in a different light. The calmness of the River Clyde, the comfortable, cool hotel I didn’t want to leave, and the proximity to both the heart of Glasgow and the fascinating neighbourhood of Kelvingrove marked it out as a completely different experience.
With rooms starting from £99, the value is impressive. Now let’s just check those SEC listings to find an excuse to visit…
For more information and to book, see radissonred.com/glasgow