Playful things to do
Far from dead following the devastating fire last year, The Art School remains a thriving player on Glasgow’s club scene. Expect a wide, wild array of styles and genres, with a focus on getting people dancing in a party atmosphere (and often at student-friendly prices).
Calling your bar Nice n Sleazy is something of a mission statement – stilletos and sequins will not get you far in this environment. Instead, expect a great programme of nightly gigs and clubs, an utterly delicious burger menu provided by the Meathammer kitchen, and a bar menu that heavily favours the famous White Russian.
Glasgow wouldn’t be Glasgow without this stellar multi-purpose venue, which hosts nightly gigs, clubs, art exhibitions and theatre performances (not to mention one of the city’s coolest bar/restaurant hangouts). Get your dancing shoes on and allow the surrounding rumbles from the subway and overhead Central Station to enhance the underground flavour.
Forget the ever-so-chic vintage stores of the West End – Mr Ben, just south of Merchant City, takes inspiration from the titular TV character to provide a magic wardrobe bursting with clothes and costumery from through the ages. Set aside an hour and prepare to enjoy a good old rummage through their massive selection.
It’s a comedy basement seemingly tucked under an old schoolhouse, but don’t be fooled by outward appearances – The Stand is Glasgow’s premier comedy den, boasting regular cameos from the likes of homegrown superstars Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle in addition to the latest crop of UK touring comics and local up-and-comers.
Wander down the fairy-lit cobbles of Ashton Lane and you’ll stumble across this friendly wee cinema hosting the latest multiplex releases alongside more considered programme choices – not least its great movie-and-meal packages (in conjunction with the upstairs Grosvenor Café) or the semi-regular All Night Horror Madness marathons.
One of a string of locked room mystery games that have popped up across the UK in recent years, Escape Glasgow pits you and your friends against the clock as you attempt to free yourselves using your observational prowess and brain power alone.
We’ll give you a second to absorb the full glory of that sneaky pun before singing the praises of this shamelessly enjoyable cocktail bar located right in the centre of town. Expect tropical beverages in tacky tiki mugs and a surprisingly decent selection of DJ talent at night.
Sophisticated things to do
Glasgow’s ever-so-swanky hotel and restaurant is also home to a top-level spa with a wide range of beauty treatments, relaxation pools and areas and a team of therapists on hand to help you unwind.
In a city overflowing with the style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, this tea room overlooking Buchanan Street stands as a tasteful shrine to his impeccable design work. Not only that, but they have over 25 varieties of loose-leaf tea, the perfect accompaniment to a fancy cake or pastry in the afternoon.
‘Shopping mall’ seems like too tawdry a name for upscale boutique haven Princes Square, the peacock-topped destination halfway down Buchanan Street. It’s a fashionista paradise, home to names like Kurt Geiger and Vivienne Westwood, with a healthy handful of eateries on the premises should you need to recharge after dropping a bomb on the latest couture.
They have a store in the opulent Princes Square arcade, but we’d recommend visiting the café premises of this top-drawer chocolatier; all the better for enjoying an espresso along with your freshly purchased Belgian chocs. The Kimble’s team also specialises in traditional Scottish sweets and some devilish concoctions including chilli truffles and rose and violet creams – a delectable alternative to the local sweet shop.
With the towering Cineworld megaplex just down the street servicing the city’s mainstream needs, the GFT caters for more refined cinematic tastes, showcasing the latest indie awards contenders from the UK and abroad. The in-house café-bar, always buzzing with the chatter of well-informed cinephiles, is a great place to linger pre or post-screening.
One of the leading venues in the fancy-pants Merchant City quarter, the Metropolitan cocktail bar is a place where even the most ubiquitous of Prohibition beverages has been given a glitzy makeover as the Beverly Hills Iced Tea. Sip in style.
There’s no shortage of theatres in Glasgow, but if you want one with an assured touch of class, the 1867 Theatre Royal is your best bet. The home of Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet, it also hosts touring productions, musicals, gigs, stand-up and kids’ shows, and its new rooftop bar-restaurant makes it the perfect venue for a dinner-and-a-show night out.
Perhaps the most mercantile of Merchant City venues, The Corinthian Club occupies the former headquarters of the Glasgow Ship Bank, from which the Tellers Bar and Brasserie derives its name. Book a table for a delicious cut from the grill, or sip a swanky kir royale at the bar.
Housed within Blythswood Square, one of the Townhouse chain of boutique Scottish hotels, The Salon bar has sophistication in its very DNA. Show up early in the day for a tasteful afternoon tea, or wait until later and sample a range of inventive cocktails, complete with hand-cracked ice, freshly squeezed juices and house-made syrups.
With more than 30 jewellers housed under its iron-framed glass roof, the Argyll Arcade pitches itself as Scotland’s answer to Hatton Garden. Even if you’re not in the market for some wearable bling, it’s a swagnificent place to while away an afternoon.