Where to Stay in Glasgow: citizenM Hotel
I arrived in Glasgow sometime past 10 in the evening, although I can’t really tell you exactly what time it was, because I had been in and out of sleep for the past 8 hours, and everything was a bit hazy. My boyfriend and I had just finished driving from Isle of Skye all the way back down the ever-claustrophobic A Roads leading back into the city (a 6- or 7-hour drive), and we were exhausted. To make matters even more bleak, after we parked the rental, hopped into a seriously delayed Uber, rode from the airport into the city center, got out of the car, and started walking towards our hotel, we realized that the damn rental car keys were still in our possession. Long story short–we were off to a hilariously rocky start in Scotland’s capital city.
After my boyfriend took another Uber to the airport and back to return the rental keys, we were finally able to settle into our home for the next two nights. Centrally located and brazen in design, citizenM Glasgow is charming and certainly not without its quirks, and within seconds of stepping into the bright red lobby, our stress and exhaustion started to dissolve as we stood there, taking in what could honestly only be described as an Alice in Wonderland-inspired interior designer’s play room.
Before I even knew anything about citizenM, I sought this hotel out because of its central location. The hotel is on Renfrew Street, which is just a few blocks away from Sauchiehall Street (major bar and club scene) and Buchanan Street (Glasgow’s high street of upscale shopping and distinctive architecture). We were able to walk pretty much anywhere in the city center with no problem, and, when we did need a car, calling a cab in Glasgow was actually easier than using Uber! Cabs arrived in minutes and were always extremely cheap.
Immediately after walking into the red-tinged lobby, we were able to check ourselves into our room. A cheeky hotel employee stood nearby to answer questions, and after I commented on the eclectic decor, he smiled, shrugged, and said, “yeah, the company’s a little mental.” I couldn’t help but laugh, and as I looked around the enormous lobby, my eyes stopped at so many different things, from large red couches, to floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with books and figurines, to more oversized lamps and lanterns than you would possibly know what to do with. On the walls, Alice in Wonderland-esque (I’m going to keep using this comparison because I swear, it’s SO accurate) portraits of travelers donning umbrellas, suitcases, and animal heads fill out the vertical space. The lobby of the Glasgow location spans 2 stories divided by a red spiral staircase, and each story has tons of cozy nooks and corners to congregate in, kind of like a series of open floor plan living rooms and offices. Strong WiFi throughout helps to cement the usability of the space, and I could easily see myself finding a cozy couch or other abstract seat and posting up with my laptop and a warm coffee all afternoon long. The 2nd floor also plays host to citizenM’s canteen, which serves food and drinks all day, and has prepackaged food available for purchase 24-7. Unfortunately, there’s no hot, fresh food at all hours of the evening, and the bar stops serving drinks at around 1 am, but other than that, we loved grabbing coffee and croissants here in the morning and sitting in front of the large, open windows looking out on the busy streets below.
To me, a telltale sign of a hotel "getting it right" is revealed when there are actually people hanging out in common areas, and in this hotel, there were people everywhere, meeting, laughing, eating, drinking, you name it. All at once, it definitely felt like it captured the communal energy of a bunch of international travelers congregating in a foreign city.
Rooms here will only set you back around $55-$150 per night depending on the day of the week (with a 10% discount if you book directly on their site). The rooms in the citizenM are distinctive because they are, by conventional standards, unorthodox. According to the company, the idea behind its design is to keep rooms focused on what you’re actually there to use them for, sleeping, and provide large, open, cozy common areas in the lobby to be used for gathering and hanging out. That said, the pod-like rooms are as streamlined as possible, and everything down to the bathroom sink has been carefully selected to save space without compromising on convenience. There are 198 rooms in the Glasgow citizenM, and every single one of them is the same size and layout. While the rooms are compact in size, the beds are enormous XXL kings, and the window covers the entire wall behind it. I could honestly roll over in bed like, 7 times and still not fall off. Under the bed, you’ll find suitcase-sized cubbies and a safe to store your belongings, and a micro closet built into the entryway to hang 2-3 things (perfect for coats). A tiny desk, bedside table, and red chairs complete the space.
One of the signature components of a room here is the “mood pad,” an iPad that comes with every room and allows you to control all kinds of things, like opening/closing the window, changing the lighting color, and playing music or streaming something from the hotel’s impressive collection of shows and movies. I probably changed the light color 15 times every day, from pink to blue to green, because why the hell not?
The bathroom in each room is a bit interesting, as it’s actually built inside the room as opposed to en suite. On top of that, the bathrooms are actually only separated by frosted glass and there’s no way to lock the door. Overall, they look cool, but could pose an interesting situation depending on who you’re rooming with? We didn’t have any problems with it, and I actually loved the funky bathroom and the rainfall shower.
We spent our time in the city walking around, eating all of the quintessential Scottish foods we could find (yes, that includes haggis and blood pudding), bar hopping, and shopping (more on my Glasgow itinerary in a future post!). At night, we snuggled up in the biggest bed I’ve ever seen and binged on movies into the early hours of the morning. Overall, citizenM served as the perfect homebase for taking in all that Glasgow’s city center had to offer, and provided a great balance of “affordable luxury” and quirky style that any world traveler with a sense of humor could appreciate.
This is the first in a series of posts I plan to do about my recent trip to Scotland. I'll be sharing hotel recommendations, city guides, and itineraries, but if there's anything specific you'd like me to cover, please let me know! You can reach me here.