Glasgow's sparkling gem - Scotland on Sunday travel

A sparkling gem overlooking the grandeur of Glasgow’s Blythswood Square, the iconic Kimpton Blythswood Hotel shines on in the Covid gloom and delivers gourmet food, a touch of glamour and gallons of Glasgow warmth.

Beetroot risotto with toasted walnuts and discs of parsnip topped with zingy green watercress
Beetroot risotto with toasted walnuts and discs of parsnip topped with zingy green watercress

Since 2009 when the Georgian townhouse home of the Royal Scottish Automobile Club became a hotel it has established itself as the ‘It’ place to celebrate special occasions and treat yourself and your favourite people, whether for a weekend, spa day or simply to enjoy a family friendly drop in meal in the Bo & Birdy brasserie headed up by Scotland’s first female 5-star hotel Executive Head Chef, Gillian Matthews.

Original features from marble fireplaces to SRAC motifs and touches of vintage car inspired leather chairs combine with contemporary glamour such as the sparkling column of crystal spiralling down the stairwell above a grand piano to serve up old meets new glamour and style. The reward is a cabinet bursting with awards including this year’s Luxury Brand Hotel of the Year at the Scottish Hotel Awards 2020.

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Since 2019, one of the Kimpton Group (Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square is a sister hotel), Blythswood channels inclusiveness and with hotel manager Gilliam Mylles at the helm, makes everyone feel at home.

The Spa pool with its ever-changing lights.

Covid precautions

“We are taking all the precautions we can take and in a subtle manner so people still enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, with our team focusing on guests in their own areas,” says Mylles.

There are new hygiene procedures and social distancing measures in line with government and public health advice, and the spa has appointment slots and reduced numbers while hotel group’s IHG Clean Promise aims to give guests extra reassurance.

Budget or boutique?

Crispy clouds of courgette tempura, mixed olives and home-made bread in Bo and Birdy.

It’s a boutique, five-star hotel that pulls out all the stops, with a Scottish twist - who doesn’t love tablet?

Room Service

There are 113 rooms, all refurbished in 2019, from doubles to suites and visiting before the latest restrictions, my Deluxe Double with garden view decorated in a palette of pigeon with bright modern artwork had amazing views over the green Square. A separate lounge area provided space and the grey marble bathroom has an ingenious sliding wall panel so you can splash The Perfumer’s Story by Izzi toiletries in the bath while watching TV through in the lounge area. Bliss. A tuck box with hot chocolate, tea, coffee and milk and a kettle, mini bar and hairdryer are provided, and anything you need that’s not there, from a coffee maker to a yoga mat, call reception and they’ll deliver.

Wining and Dining

Glasgow Gin and Fever-Tree Tonic makes for a spirited welcome.

Bo & Birdy at the Blythswood, the hotel’s brasserie reopened after lockdown with a new menu designed to be more accessible and the prices and surroundings - a long horseshoe bar, huge windows and lofty ceilings make for a great daytime destination for a coffee and burger or something more substantial.

Residents enjoy dinner at well spaced tables and while there’s no music right now, the engaging staff are chatty and well informed about the food and a lively hum of conversation makes for a warm, convivial atmosphere.

After welcoming cocktails (French 75 with Botanist gin, lemon and champagne £11) and a mocktail raspberry and elderflower Fizz (£5), try not to overdo it on the can’t-stop-eating it selection of home-made bread (£2.5) and mixed olives (£4) as you wait for your starter. Ours was delicate batter clouds of courgette tempura (£4) and Loch Fyne smoked salmon with capers shallots and rye toast (£9) followed by mains of an eye and stomach pleasing mauve-tinged Beetroot risotto (£12), with toasted walnuts, discs of parsnip and zingy green watercress, and a hearty 8oz flat iron steak (£19) with Bearnaise sauce, with sides of honey and parsley-roasted carrots (£4) and a crispy mixed leaf salad (£4). An unnecessary but nice sweetly sharp blackcurrant sorbet and a cracking selection of cheeses served with oatcakes and chutney (£9) followed, while in the morning a wide selection of options including full cooked breakfasts is available served in rooms or brasserie.

Worth Getting Out of Bed For

A Deluxe Garden Room with views over Blythswood Square.

Spend the day cocooned in the spa after padding down in your slippers and gown straight from your room and enjoy a range of treatments using Ishga products, and facilities including vitality and hydro pool with body jets, floor jets, seated areas and a tepidarium with heated beds on which to relax and doze (steam rooms are closed). To keep you feeling secure there are stricter time slots and reduced numbers to ensure social distancing and a fantastic massage from therapist Elaine eased away covid anxieties and working from home shoulder kinks.

Stretch your legs or hop on one of the bikes in the foyer for a spin in one of Glasgow’s parks, hit the shops and do your Christmas shopping (then head straight back to the spa) or consult the all-knowing senior concierge David Nellany for his top to-do suggestions.

Little Extras

Glaswegian Gin and Fever-Tree Tonic and Tunnock’s Teacakes in the room were much appreciated, as well as a £5 gift token for the spa.

Guestbook Comments

Blythswood gives a big glamorous, gourmet Glasgow (virtual) hug from the moment you arrive until it's time to brace yourself, force yourself to leave, and head back out there.

A sliding panel between bathroom and bedroom means you can watch the Smart TV while you soak.

Dinner, Bed and Breakfast for two is available from £170 and check website for latest deals and information.

Spend £100 on monetary gift vouchers and save 20% currently with the code Xmas20, which can be spent across the Hotel, Spa and Bo & Birdy, https://blythswoodsquare.skchase.com/vouchers (Offer applies to the other Kimpton hotels too, including Charlotte Square).

Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel, 11 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4AD, +44 (0)14 1248 8888, www.kimptonblythswoodsquare.com

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The Bo & Birdy at the Blythswood, the hotel’s brasserie.
Guests are invited to take a cycle from reception and explore the city.
The five star Kimpton Blythswood Hotel in Glasgow.
Leather seating, large windows and lofty ceilings make for a spacious, light filled brasserie.
A crystal chandelier and grand piano in the reception area.