Unbeatable among Glasgow’s city-centre hotels in terms of price (low), convenience (high) and style (quirky but fine if it is the kind of quirkiness that makes you happy).
Set the scene
Smack-bang in the middle of town. From the upper storeys there are superb views to the east of the glass roof of Central Station – a luminous masterpiece of Victorian engineering; and to the south of the foul blank windowless façade of the Radisson Blu – an inhuman and almost indescribable affront to architecture. Ask for an east-facing room if such things bother you.
English high-school dropout Simon Woodroffe worked for a while as a roadie and dabbled with set design before taking a radical career dingle-dangle and starting the wildly successful Yo! Sushi chain of low-price Japanese restaurants in 1997. A decade later he opened the first Yotel at London’s Gatwick airport. The Yotel concept – ‘everything you need and nothing you don’t’ – was apparently inspired by his fondness for first-class plane cabins. Today there are six airport Yotels and 12 city-centre ones, all over the world, with more in the pipeline.
Not rooms – ‘cabins’. The aeronautical analogy is very apt in some ways, less so in others. Certainly there is a comparable element of fun and ingenuity about these compact, pared-down, crisply efficient, tech-forward spaces with their clever space-saving features, such as beds that extend and withdraw at the press of a button like a flatbed on a plane. That said, not everything is tiny: the in-room safes are large enough to fit a laptop. If you want lashings of Champagne and caviar, however, to match the Etihad Apartments or Air France La Première experience, you will have to bring your own.
Food and drink
Instead of minibars there are fridges in every cabin – so you can bring your own Champagne and caviar and store it all appropriately before it disappears down the old hatch. Otherwise there are vending machines and tea and coffee in the lobby. But the hotel’s great USP is its top-floor bar and restaurant, Vega. The place is a hoot – space-themed, with a Mexican-inspired menu and cocktails that come in robot-shaped tankards. Plus a bowling alley.
There is no spa but there is a small gym. And bowling is exercise.
Pretty much as central as can be, and especially convenient for several of the city’s preeminent live-music venues and nightclubs. With only slight deviations from the hotel’s Argyle Street axis you could in theory tick off the Barrowland Ballroom, the Sub Club, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, the O2 ABC and the SSE Hydro. That would be quite a night.
Very much as you would expect from a hotel of this kind, in this city: young, friendly, more or less unshockable.
Better than you might expect. The Triple Cabins, of which there are 24, sleep three in a double bed with a single bunk overhead – a cosy configuration that is likely to please excited young occupants of the bunk. The VIP Suite, meanwhile, sleeps four, if the sofa in the living area is converted into a bed. Kids will love the comfort food, milkshakes and bowling at Vega. The entire top floor becomes an adults-only zone after 8pm – but hopefully by then the wee tots will have bowled off their sugar high and be ready to conk out for the night anyway.
The hotel occupies a curvaceous modern building that wraps sleekly around the corner of Argyle and Hope Streets. As such it has many practical and technological advantages over its Victorian-era neighbours. In addition to familiar eco-friendly features such as LED lights, refillable bathroom amenity containers and a policy of minimal paper usage, there are also sophisticated sensors in place to control water flow and the activation of lighting and temperature-control systems. Refillable Yotel water bottles and washable straws are available from reception – sorry, from ‘Mission Control’.
Accessibility for those with mobility impairments
Multiple lifts and ramps make for easy access to each of the hotel’s seven floors – including Vega at the top, which, as a matter of fact, has the best lift of them all – a dedicated express service that provides an ‘immersive’ disco experience, brief but intense, with trance-y music and flashing lights, and turns a short ride in a lift into the sort of thing you might expect to queue up for at Tate Modern. There are also 13 cabins with special accessibility features, including bathrooms with roll-in showers, grab bars and lowered fixtures.
Anything left to mention?
A night-time visit to Vega by means of the disco lift is compulsory. And the satisfaction of seeing the lights in the bowling alley change colour according to the movement of your balls – there really is no nice way to say that – is not to be denied. But for this reviewer the hotel’s greatest pleasure was also one of its subtlest: the bottle opener fixed to the wall in his bathroom. Shall I brush my teeth and go to bed or crack open another brew and go clubbing? Something about Glasgow brings such existential questions into unusually sharp focus.