Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

by Michelle McDermott

Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Escada and Diesel are a small sample of international design labels worn on the streets of Glasgow. Recently this “Style Capital of Scotland” has seen a dramatic upsurge in the number of boutique hotels, and I’ve made it my personal mission to stay in all of them—an expensive little habit of mine.

Malmaison remains my continuing favorite. From the imposing entrance of this converted 19th Century Greek Orthodox Church, the reception area is a veritable feast of deluxe design. Downstairs in the light filled basement, the Champagne Bar specializes in the cocktails and atmosphere of a select gentleman’s club. This perhaps, explains why the hotel is such a hit with visiting celebrities.

The heavy chocolate-brown velvet drapes at the entrance to the Brasserie open to reveal a warm, dark opulence. Inside, you will find the perfect place to while away a winter’s night in the comfort of your own private, leather booth.

Discreet waiters serve up delicious but simple French fare accompanied by a robust European wine menu. I recommend you try the Malmaison steak frites [Scottish rump and home-made fries] followed by banana bread and butter pudding with custard. The wine waiter will happily recommend Malmaison Sauvignon Blanc or Malmaison Cabernet Merlot, both divine and costing approximately $18 a bottle. If cardio exercise is needed after all that hearty food, there is a magnificent wrought iron staircase in the lobby which reaches the first floor bedrooms.

On entering my room, I was struck by the soothing combination of materials used in the decoration. The emphasis was on comfort, warmth and relaxation. Tough sturdy herringbone complemented soft, luxurious muted velvets. There were no strong colors to jar the eye. All that was missing was a pair of muddy riding boots placed at the doorway to give the impression of a stay in a country manor. With the curtains closed tight and a bottle of Malmaison’s own label wine, waiting to be opened, it was easy to kick back and relax.

Just a 10-minute cab ride away, another Glasgow institution is waiting to be discovered.
Rogano’s Oyster Bar is the oldest surviving restaurant in the city. The Art Deco interior of highly polished walnut and brass lends this place an air of exclusivity. As the hoi polloi sip their glasses of champagne, it soon becomes obvious why Giorgio Armani chose to situate his Scottish flagship store only a few blocks away.

Malmaison

278 West George Street, Glasgow

Tel: 0141 572 1000

Rooms from approx $120

Rogano’s Oyster Bar

11 Exchange Place Glasgow

Tel: 0141 248 4055

Oyster Bar opening hours:

Mon – Sat 11am till midnight

Sunday – noon till midnight

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