By Lindsay MacNevin
Glasgow is a friendly and lively city; the biggest in Scotland and well worth exploring if you are interested in art and culture, as well as food. Despite not having a reputation for being “eco-friendly,” things are improving and will continue to do so in coming years. For now, travelers can experience unique hotels, food festivals, vegetarian restaurants, beautiful museums and immerse themselves in Scotland's vibrant culture.
Check into your beautiful room at the Malmaison Glasgow, a boutique hotel located in the center of the city. Although you won’t find very many eco-friendly hotels in this city, you will find unique ones such as Malmaison. What was once an Orthodox Greek church has been transformed into a hotel full of splashes of color, unique suites, slinky lighting, twisting metal staircases and a stunning restaurant and bar. Like many hotels now, they've implemented basic eco-friendly practices, including recycling and asking guests to only request table substitutes and sheet changes when necessary, instead of every day.
After settling in, head to The Gannet, based in the West End of the city. The Gannet started as a pipe dream between three friends who sought to offer the people of Glasgow a diverse and changing menu that rotates with the seasons. Owners, Peter, Ivan and Pete scoured the coastline of Scotland in the summer of 2012 searching out the best regional produce and meeting local scallop divers, oyster growers, farmers and other local producers. Today, The Gannet stands as a deeply thoughtful restaurant with a mixture of old and new cooking techniques and an ever-changing menu.
Head back towards your hotel and stop in at The Pot Still for one of Scotland’s favorite drinks — whiskey. This tiny bar boasts hundreds of different varieties of whisky and knowledgeable staff are on hand to help you decide. If you don’t like whisky there is plenty of wine and beer available here as well.
Head to Tapa Organic Bakery for breakfast, the city’s award-winning, organic bakery for a great start to the day. You won’t find any artificial flavors or colors in these freshly baked goods. Instead you will be treated to tarts, cakes, croissants and fresh bread along with top-quality coffee. Take breakfast to-go for your busy day ahead of you.
Festivals and events are a huge part of what makes Glasgow so great and it’s worth checking out what is on while you are here. If you happen to be here during September, check out Let’s Eat Glasgow!, a festival in which local restaurant owners come together with regional producers to show people how easy is to eat local.
Glasgow is also part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for its commitment to prioritizing music in its plan for sustainable urban development. There are over 130 musical events happening each week in the city and we suggest checking at least one out. The West End Festival, held in June, offers shows, performances and more. And don’t forget about Vegfest in December when vegan food, education and entertainment come together.
If festivals aren’t your style, head to the Glasgow School of Arts for one of their walking tours. Whether you want to learn more about the architecture, Charles Mackintosh or explore the thriving art scene, there is a tour here for you.
Grab lunch at the Tchai-Ovna House of Tea, Scotland’s first original teahouse that now boasts over 100 varieties of tea, along with a superb vegetarian menu. The owners behind this restaurant work with local producers and suppliers to ensure other small businesses are supported. They also make it their goal to recycle everything, use their bike trailer to do all the shopping, and offer good working conditions to the staff. You won’t find any alcohol here, but you'll likely find a workshop, open mic or another awesome event happening during your visit.
The city teems with free museums. Besides being free and fascinating, they are a great way to avoid the rain that is most likely coming down. We suggest visiting the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art, or GoMa, Scotland's most popular modern art museum. Use your own two feet to walk between museums or use the bike sharing program, Nextbike.
Head to The 78 for dinner for a 100% vegan dinner and drink menu. The retro dining room is beautiful and features a coal fireplace as well funky chairs and tables. Plan on mowing down a wonderful veggie burger, falafel, or the special of the day.
Lounge in bed until breakfast and then saunter downstairs into the original church parish for a delicious breakfast. Both a continental breakfast and a la carte is available for hotel guests. Fresh ingredients, local produce and great chefs make this breakfast worth it.
Take a walk through the city center to experience Glasgow's transformation. What used to be known as Edinburgh’s little sister, is coming into its own, with culture at the forefront. Pop into thrift stores, shop local and enjoy the laid back atmosphere of a Sunday. Take afternoon tea at Blythswood Square, luxury hotel with eco-friendly leanings. With solar panels, a rain harvesting system and eco-friendly appliances, it’s one of the few hotels in the city implementing green technology. Afternoon tea is served in the hotel and includes tiny sandwiches, scones, cream tea and tiny cakes.
Ins and Outs
Fly into Glasgow Airport and take the train to central station. From here it is only a short walk to the hotel. Getting around Glasgow is easy by foot or bike. Public bus routes can be a little confusing but the subway is pretty straightforward.
When Lindsay isn't jet-setting around the world or racing to hit deadlines, she can be found drinking a pint of craft beer watching the Blue Jays game. As a freelance travel, beer and wine writer she spends most of her time on the go, seeking out incredible experiences. She can often be seen losing herself in a good book, tasting delicious wines and expanding her ever-growing collection of beer growlers from around the world.