Historic Hilton Glasgow revamp inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh - Hotel Insider

Renovated 30 years after it first opened, the Scottish stalwart features the UK's first Dilmah Tea Lounge and the chain's new fitness-centric guest rooms

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More than 30 years since it opened in Scotland's largest city, Hilton Glasgow has undergone a complete renovation bringing upgraded rooms, new facilities and improved dining experiences to the property.

Inspired by the work of one of the city's most revered sons, interiors are influenced by the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

It's also the first UK Hilton outside London to feature the brand's new fitness-focused rooms where guests can enjoy in-room workouts via the installation of various fitness equipment and accessories, and an interactive screen.

New designs also champion sustainability, via the installation of bulk amenities, drinking water fountains and 14 electric vehicle charging bays.

The National checked in for a night in the hotel that has hosted several famous faces over the past three decades, including Nelson Mandela, James Brown and Mike Tyson.

The welcome

Once we navigate the underground parking situation, we ride a small lift up to the hotel where we step out into a grand lobby. Spacious with a lofty ceiling — it feels calming, with comfortable armchairs dotted across the carpet and a friendly reception team behind a spacious desk on the left hand side. Check-in is quick and efficient, and we’re soon headed up to our room near the upper-echelons of this 20-storey property.

The neighbourhood

The towering hotel has been a stalwart in Glasgow since November 1992, and its location has improved as Scotland's biggest city has grown up around it. Housed in what used to be primarily an industrial area, the hotel is within walking distance of several bars, restaurants, pubs and shops, not to mention being just a 10-minute walk to Glasgow Central railway station.

Right underneath a flyover from a busy motorway, it’s not the most picturesque location, but soundproofed rooms eliminate any traffic noise. It’s also a good choice for anyone heading to a concert or event at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre and SSE Hydro entertainment arena and is on the right side of the city for access to Glasgow International Airport.

The room

We’re staying in a king room on one of the top floors of the skyscraper hotel and the first thing we notice is the natural daylight spilling in from a huge picture window that leads to fantastic city views extending all the way to the rolling Campsie Fells in the distance.

Interiors are inspired by the Glasgow Style — made famous by Scottish designer and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. In keeping with that era — there’s a mix of metal, wood and ceramic materials, geometric shapes and linear elements and a palette featuring blue, teal, pink and gold highlights.

All of the amenities you need for a comfy stay are included with tea and coffee-making facilities, a minibar, large flat-screen TV, USB charging points, fluffy robes and a spacious bathroom that has an inviting high-pressure shower and refillable ZERO% toiletries.

The service

Staff are friendly and helpful, easily answering the questions we have about parking and opening times for the restaurants. And when we arrive towards the tail end of breakfast next morning and mention that some of the buffet options are looking a little slim, it is immediately replenished.

The scene

Attracting a mix of locals and tourists, the former for meals and drinks and the latter seeking out Hilton's renowned hospitality, there’s a mix of business and leisure travellers staying at Hilton Glasgow when we check in, with several guests in town for a sporting conference.

Families are well looked after in rooms that sleep up to four guests plus adjoining options, cribs and high chairs on request and children under five dining free at breakfast time.

It’s not the type of hotel where you’d go to spend days lounging at the pool or enjoying the facilities, instead it’s ideal for sightseeing, attending events or as a base before onward travel.

Unfortunately, the Health & Fitness Club was being renovated when we stayed but it is now open and has a fully-equipped 24-hour gym, a 15-metre swimming pool, sauna and steam room. Spa and beauty treatments are also on offer from PURE Spa & Beauty. Corporate facilities at the hotel include several meeting rooms and one of the largest ballrooms in Glasgow.

The food

A daily buffet breakfast is served in a beautifully designed space on the ground floor where there’re plenty of nooks, crannies and tartan print armchairs to settle into. Guests can opt for the Big Yin — a locally sourced traditional full Scottish breakfast, with the Big Vegin available for non-meat eating guests.

With rows upon rows of candy coloured tea boxes along its walls and pretty botanical-inspired decor, The Tea Lounge by Dilmah is the first of its kind in the UK and serves a delightful daily afternoon tea, with vegan and vegetarian options available.

Whisky Mist is the hotel’s bar and kitchen, located just off the lobby. Open for all-day dining, its popular for lunch and dinner and serves à la carte specialities including regional options such as prime Scottish beef fillets and battered haggis. We start with a warming tomato soup (£7.50) perfect for a winter’s day, followed by coconut panko tiger prawns (£12.50) that come with a tangy Asian coleslaw and soft miso dressing. For mains we try the seared sea bass fillet (£18) served on top of a creamy parsnip purée and a generously-sized Caesar salad topped with grilled halloumi (£18.50). Nothing disappoints.

Highs and lows

Renovated rooms are fresh and modern, and offer travellers a unique vantage over the city. The breakfast buffet is great, with many regional favourites for guests to try, and impressive vegan versions of the same. There's also a water fountain in the lobby where travellers can refill water bottles at as part of the hotel's commitment to slash its environmental footprint.

The low is that charges apply for using the swimming pool, even for in-house guests.

The Insider tip

If heading to the hotel on foot, don’t follow Google maps, which will take you via a dark underpass. Instead, use the beautifully landscaped and well-lit 39 Steps entrance from St Vincent Plaza. For some of the best Glaswegian views, request a room on as high a floor as possible.

The verdict

A stalwart property in Scotland’s biggest city has been brought bang up to date and makes for a comfortable and dependable choice for a few days of sightseeing in Glasgow

The bottom line

Rates start from £113 (Dh504) excluding taxes. Check in from 3pm, and check-out is at noon; www.hilton.com

This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel. It reflects hotel standards during this time, services may change in the future.

Updated: March 17, 2023, 6:02 PM