There’s a stark, harsh beauty about Scotland’s countryside. You feel lonely and humbled by the small nation’s splendor. In Glasgow, Scotland’s second capital city, the feelings become even harder to ignore. But is this where you should stay while you’re in Scotland? Do you really want to stay in Glasgow, especially when there are ancient golf courses and whisky distillery trips to enjoy? Sure, this is exactly where all visitors to Scotland should begin their highland adventure.
Best areas to stay in Glasgow
Let’s explore the best places to stay in Glasgow.
1. Glasgow Central, best area to stay in Glasgow
Perhaps it’s the airport express that inspired the centralized layout. More likely, it’s the old High Street plan, which once brought Scottish folk to market. Shops sprung up as the markets faded into the history books.
Now, all along the city center, that’s where the crowds gather and the finest hotels are located. This is where you stay in Glasgow if you’re a shopper, a food or whisky connoisseur, or a clubber.
Sauchiehall Street is the city’s main artery. It runs east to west across Glasgow. Places to stay in this area are well-reviewed and within walking distance of numerous local attractions.
And, for those who don’t have the cash but still expect comfort, there are plenty of cozy little guest houses on the streets, which provide some nice modern amenities.
As all Glaswegians are all too well aware, Sauchiehall Street is a famous shopping district. It’s a lively area, which is dotted with theatres and bars. Indeed, Saw-key-hall Street, as it’s pronounced by the locals, is a rich historical site, with its art deco buildings and old tea rooms attracting visitors from all over the world.
Unfortunately, although the thoroughfare was once famed for its upscale shops, many of these stores have since relocated to places like the Buchanan Galleries, which are also centrally located. Perhaps, the Scots grew tired of the occasional rain shower.
The gray clouds and wet weather would definitely dampen a shopper’s spirits. It only makes sense that indoor shopping malls would become popular in Scotland, then.
Talking about central areas in Glasgow, the aforementioned Sauchiehall thoroughfare combines with Buchanan Street and Argyle Street to form “The Style Mile.” An eclectic collection of shops zigzags between the three metropolitan avenues.
Then, filling in the rest of the jam-packed area, there are nightclubs and pubs aplenty. The Classic Grand is located in the city center. It’s a popular Glasville destination, which is a colorful way of saying this club is favored by country music types.
Elsewhere, Sauchiehall visitors hit The Garage in search of a bass-thumping gig. There really is no shortage of clubs around here, although you might want to check out Edinburgh for gigs that have more old-style Scottish atmosphere.
2. Glasgow East, academically-oriented area with some touristic attractions
Moving east and south multiple students accommodations areas dot the Glasgow City map. There’s the Caledonian University and School of Art out here, plus the University of Strathclyde.
This is a mostly pleasant, academically-oriented region, with libraries and theatres accessible to all regional visitors. Kelvingrove Park is located in this area, as are the Glasgow Botanical Gardens.
Further east, a parade of tourist-centric attractions expands, with Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis coloring the area in rich historical hues. Fewer hotels populate this old town area. One option here is to stay in Glasgow, to dwell in a centrally located hotel.
However, if you must reside among the oldest neighborhoods in Glasgow, off to the east side, there are a mix of hotels and guest houses here, but they’re usually a tad more expensive than those found in the city center.
Of course, Celtic Park is to the east, so, if you’re a big football (soccer) fan, that extra expenditure won’t be an inconvenience, not for a true footie supporter.
3. West End, great neighborhood where to stay in Glasgow
The western ends of Glasgow go further than Govan and its thickly accented locals. There’s the Clydeside Distillery to tour, the iconic Riverside Museum, rich in shipbuilding history, to visit and the Byres Road district to, well, shop around.
Of hotels to the west, there are several dotted along the River Clyde. Of course, the airport lays in this direction, too, so a hotel booking and a very short taxi ride are all that you’ll really need to create a little home-from-home in this area.
Now, as the city grades southward, you’re heading towards the more affluent neighborhoods in Glasgow. It’s out there that you’ll swing south on North Road towards upscale lodgings.
Your places to stay in Glasgow quickly multiply here until hotels that have brand names like Hilton and Marriott pass you on the way across the River Clyde.
To the south, then, the famous river, known once as a shipbuilding hub, falls behind as your Scottish escapades dive down the city map.
Did you like this post about the best areas to stay in Glasgow? Read also: Where to stay in Edinburgh, where to stay in London, where to stay in Liverpool, where to stay in Belfast, where to stay in Manchester
4. Glasgow South, one of the best areas to stay in Glasgow
Looking around, getting your bearings, the places to stay in Glasgow, way to the north, are recalled. Among the tenement blocks and aging apartment towers, Speirs Wharf and a network of Scottish canals show how the old industrial hub has been revitalized.
Still, the standard of living up there varies between grim and gray and green and vibrant. Happily, the greener side of things seems to be winning out and crime rates are dropping.
Here in the south, though, it’s an entirely different story. Affluence and beautiful surroundings abound. Areas in Glasgow don’t come prettier than they do south of the River Clyde, which is probably why the richer communities prosper around the Shawlands area.
Of note, though, The Gorbals is a poverty-stricken area. It’s located just south of the river, and, along with Govan, it does receive negative coverage. Urbanization efforts are ongoing in both regions. In the meantime, crime is a problem, so keep a safety-conscious attitude in mind at all times.
As for why The Gorbals would even get a mention in this blog post, the southern necropolis sits waiting to the south, waiting for a Gothic explorer, perhaps, or for the visit of a genealogy enthusiast, for there are over fifty-thousand old graves dug into the Victorian-era cemetery.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. If you intend to stay in Glasgow, do check out the south. Unfortunately, most city hotels are located in the city center, back at Sauchiehall Street and Buchanan Street, which is wonderful if you like to walk and shop while exploring old “High Street” culture.
For visitors who want a base of operations lower on the Glasgow map, things get a little harder. You may just have to cross the river twice a day, north to south and back again in the evening.
If that thought is a dealbreaker, browse on over to the Queens Park area, where you’ll find an encircling group of small, budget-style hotels. Actually, most of these buildings look more like guest houses and less like luxury hotels, so plan accordingly.
As for Queens Park itself, its an unremarkable little slice of greenery, which uses its manicured lawns to good effect. Again, crime rates drop this far south, but that doesn’t guarantee a safe park stroll.
Head slightly north and west to Bellahouston Park if a tourist attraction is desired. In here you’ll discover House for an Art Lover. The property’s quaint, rustic charm is designed to convince you you’re far from a metropolitan city.
And, for those architecture devotees who’re visiting areas in Glasgow, this fascinating old home characterizes the talents of Scotland’s greatest architect, Mr. Charles Rennie Mackintosh, himself.
Happily, things aren’t that different for hostel seekers. If you spend $34 U.S. dollars a day, you’ll receive a low-key dorm, which may even include bunk privacy. Hostels are mostly centrally situated, however, so you’ll need a bus to get you around the city.
That’s not really an issue, because buses run regularly all throughout the city. Only, just as a safety measure, some eccentric Glaswegians also take advantage of inexpensive public transportation systems, so journey during the day, if at all possible. If a hotel upgrade is on the cards, double or even triple that daily hostel expenditure amount.
5. North West, gateway to the highlands
The neighborhoods in Glasgow extend north towards Cowcaddens. Sauchiehall comes in from the north and west, then it streaks east towards the city center.
If you stay in Glasgow up here, you’re on the cusp of seeing some of the most amazing sights known to man, because this is the gateway to the highlands.
Indeed, the highlands seem almost within touching distance. Loch Lomond isn’t far away, and the A9 road, which takes travelers to Inverness, is within throwing distance.
North and west, Kelvingrove Park South has a little island of hotels. Take note, though, stay in well-lit areas around those inns and hotels, and be aware that safety issues worsen as the hour grows late. If you want out, maybe to take a late evening jog, reconsider your options. Take a taxi to a gym.
Maryhill and Govan are the two neighborhoods in Glasgow that come to mind when talking about safety matters like this, unfortunately. Interestingly, though, Govan is famed for its deep, throaty, perhaps even indecipherable Scottish accent.
6. Glasgow North, check around Kelvingrove Park South and Glasgow´s Botanic Gardens
To the north, there are canals and a thin threshold of structures separating you from the gorgeous Scottish countryside. Drive onto the busy A9, sticking to the left, of course, and end up in Inverness before the late afternoon sunshine impairs your driving vision.
Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness await. Perhaps you’ll even be lucky enough to see Nessie. Back in the city, the northern parts of Glasgow are packed with older tower blocks, so it’s not the prettiest part of town.
Incidentally, do remember that Glaswegians are some of the friendliest people on the planet. And do know that this is one of the cleanest and civilized cities in Europe, as proven by the European City of Culture Award. However, crime is still a problem in some outlying areas, and that includes the northern regions of the city.
North and west, Kelvingrove Park South has a little island of hotels. Likewise, the south side of Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens, which are far to the north of the city, gathers a small clump of hotels, including a rather luxurious Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor.
There are lots of places to stay in Glasgow around those two large swathes of greenery.
Last of all, just like New York and other major metropolitan cities, Glasgow once had a rather unsavory reputation. Crime has fallen to an all-time low in and around the city of Glasgow, so this is very definitely a good place to visit. In fact, the natives are well-known for their friendly, outgoing attitudes.
All the same, crime is an issue, especially to the north. Do plan accordingly and stay in the company of a friendly group when traveling around Glasgow. It’s the most sensible attitude, after all, and it shouldn’t cramp your Scottish adventure too much.