“ Address: 212 Renfrew St / Glasgow City G3 6TX / United Kingdom „
At the moment my work is at its busiest time of year. Other than slowly taking a piece of my soul every day I come into work, it also has the effect of making me wish I was anywhere else but there. It really is a horrendously boring job which kills ones faith in humanity more and more each day. As my partner Allan was having similar feelings about his work, we felt it was time to get away for a little bit. Yes, so, we just had a week in Greece in May. The only thing that meant is that we couldn't spend a LOT of money on getting out of Dundee to somewhere different. Sometimes a bit of difference is all you need to recharge your batteries and shake the cobwebs off your brain. After a day or two of searching and a lot of hassle from work about letting me take my allocated leave (Grumble) we decided that we'd pop through to Glasgow for a few days for absolutely no particular reason.
The hotel is easy enough to get to if you even know a little bit of your way around Glasgow. We decided rather than taking the Car that we would get the train through and walk. It takes about ten to fifteen minutes to walk from the Glasgow Queen Street station and Glasgow Central station. The Buchanan Bus station is also only ten to fifteen minutes away being that it's located right next to Glasgow Queen Street.
If you don't know your way around Glasgow, I'd recommend using a map of some sort, be it on your smart phone or on paper. As a rough guide, from Queen street, come out on the right hand side of the station once you get through the ticket barriers, go up to your right, till you reach a T junction, turn left and then go forward till you come to another crossroad. Go right till you hit the next road and you (in theory) should be able to see the Buchanan Bus Station to your right. You are now on Renfrew Street which is the street the hotel is on. Go to your left and continue up this street till you see the hotel on your right hand side. Walla!
If you are driving there, then I pity you. I hate driving in Glasgow. It's all one way systems and straight lines that, frankly, drive me absolutely insane when trying to navigate them in the car. Throw in that there's no real parking near the hotel other than on the very cramped street outside, it might be best to just leave the car at home.
The Address if you want to Google directions yourself is as follows:
212 Renfrew Street,
Phone: 01413 320129
===Stairway to Heaven===
When you arrive at the hotel, you're probably going to be a little bit knackered from the uphill walk. The outside of the hotel is quite lovely. A large staircase from the street lets you access the doors of the hotel which is set a little back from the street. The stairs are quite steep. Before you'll get to reception you'll pass a little seating area outside which is lovely when the sun is shining. Up another flight of stairs and you're into the reception area.
Checking in is no hassle whatsoever, I just had to give my address and signature to them and our room key was handed over. Check in starts at 1pm though we arrived a little early at half twelve and were told we could leave our bags in the reception area and to come back a little later. She did say it may be best to leave it till after about half one so that the rooms can be readied which I found a little strange. Had we arrived on time, we may have had to wait around for the room to be accessed which would have been more than a little annoying. As it stood though, we just popped back into the City Centre and had a wander.
When we arrived back we realised that the hotel was all stairs. We'd now walked from the city centre twice and were wiped. Our room was another three flights of stairs up. I notice that there are some rooms on level with reception but they still wouldn't be suitable for anyone with trouble with stairs due to the fact you need to go up a large set of stairs to even get into the Hotel. As such I'd instantly write this hotel off if you have any trouble with stairs at all or are in a wheelchair. There doesn't even seem to be a lift in the place, though I admit it had a slight maze like quality so we may have just missed it, though I suspect not.
The stairwell was a strange thing for me as the walls mostly looked like they could do with a fresh coat of paint; they looked shabby from years of people going through with their hands on the walls and the occasional splodge of accidental red paint on the cream walls screamed out at my eyes. The carpets, while quite obviously clean, were on old, uneven floorboards, making them a constant trip hazard. More than a couple of times did I almost go flying while in the corridors thanks to a floor inexplicably rising by an inch on the previous place I had set my foot. That's the joy of old buildings, I guess. My impression before we got to the room was that the place was that it was a wee bit on the tired side.
We had booked a double room. We'd seen a few photos of the rooms available online and a few of them looked a little small, with others looking quite big, so it was a bit of a lottery as to what we'd get. As it stands we landed somewhere in the middle. The room wasn't massive, but for what we were paying, we didn't really mind too much. The doors are quite heavy and you need to turn your key clockwise and hold it there while you push the door open; it automatically locks when it closes so make sure you always remember your key!
Our first impressions of the room were very positive. The floor was dark wooden laminate. Directly in front of us was a desk with a chair made in wood of the same colour. A decent sized Television hung on the wall. On the wall we were facing was the window, which was nicely decked out in some frilled up curtains with a net covering the window while letting some light in. The bed was flanked with a bedside cabinet with two drawers on each side, again made from the same wood as everything else, and a black wooden headboard mounted the wall behind the bed. A phone was on one bedside table and the complimentary (and in our case entirely un-required) bible was in the drawer of the other; a quirk that I always find fascinating in the hotel industry. Above the bed within arms reach were two wall mounted lamps that came in handy if you wanted to turn the lights on without leaving your bed. The walls and bed were all white with the occasional splash of colour thrown in from some well placed Van Gogh prints on the wall. In a nook to the left of the bed (if you are facing it) was the complimentary tea and coffee (which now resides in my desk drawer at work) and a kettle.
On the same wall as the TV and desk, just next to the window was a single mirror running from the floor to about door height, which turned out to be hung on a cupboard door. I almost missed that myself! This gives the room as much storage as you really need. Under the window there was a single comfy chair and a shelf in the window area created a space you could happily dump your bags and keep them out of the way.
The room looked really fresh and tidy. A touch on the minimalist side but with the splashes of colour and the frilly curtains it still managed to look welcoming. There wasn't any dust kicking about despite the window being open on our arrival and there being a lot of construction work in the surrounding areas during our visit so I was impressed. At most there was a stray cobweb way up high in a corner but it was near impossible to see it. The room had my thumbs up so far!
===The Land of Nod===
Any hotel can be made or broken on the quality of sleep you have there though you're probably never going to get as good a night sleep in a hotel as you would in your own bed. While we didn't have the world's worst sleep, it wasn't overly fantastic either. The bed wasn't as smooth as I'd have preferred, feeling a little bit worn, lumpy and bumpy. The duvet caused a small issue in that it was only just big enough to cover the top of the double bed which I feel is a huge mistake. Duvets should always encompass the whole bed and at least be enough to share between two. Other than this though the bed wasn't terrible, just a bit tired. The other issue we had was that the room was a little warm so we had to sleep with the window open as there was no air con system. That meant that occasionally you'd get a bit of noise seeping in from outside. This probably wouldn't be an issue most of the year round, however, we just managed to pick a really good week for our trip and the sun was shining all day heating the place right up. Normal Scottish weather would solve that problem. Other than this the only other problem we had sleeping was with the noise one of the rooms surrounding us made which is hardly the hotels fault.
The curtains were thick enough to stop most of the light coming in, though the sides did let a little leak through. Most people won't find it a problem. I don't like it as our room at home is pretty much light-tight due to my aversion to the stuff when trying to sleep. A much darker rooms than most other hotels I've slept in during the past year or two though.
So, overall not a great sleep, but not the worst one either. That's not a bad thing to aim for in a hotel in the middle of a busy city. The bed was also nicely made up each day so they were popping in and keeping on top of things.
The bathroom, in stark contrast to the light, fresh and modern looking room, was a bit dated. It was tiled from floor to ceiling in those weird brownish tiles that just look dirty. It wasn't helped much by the fact that the grouting really WAS dirty being covered in black mould that a good scrub with some bleach would have easily gotten rid of. Despite it looking a bit manky, it had everything we really needed; a toilet, sink and shower cubicle and a little mirror above the sink. Plenty of toilet roll was available but the freebies didn't go much further. There were no shower gels or shampoos, only two small bars of soap. I'd recommend not relying on them to stock you up; bring your own toiletries.
===Plumbing and Scumming===
The shower cubicle was an interesting thing. It was quite small. I'd go as far to say that people of a larger persuasion may actually feel quite claustrophobic in the shower cubicle. There is room for one, slim person and even then I (one slim-ish person) felt a little confined. If I'm in a hotel I quite like having a shower big enough for two. Who doesn't love a mutual shower experience when holidaying with their partner? That would not be an option here.
That being said, the shower did make up for this lack of space with sheer power. It's by far the best shower I've had in any hotel. The water was hot and remained so throughout. The pressure could be adjusted with the shower head, so I put it on its most violent setting as I do quite enjoy feeling like I've been beaten up in the shower. This feeling was certainly achieved.
To close off the cubicle there's a simple shower curtain that doesn't do much by way of keeping the water inside the cubicle so do be careful when coming out of the shower and stepping onto the wet tiles. I nearly decked it on my first go, meaning my footing was ever so delicate upon my next visit to the shower.
My main irk with the bathroom was the cleanliness. After the room being so spotless, it felt like they couldn't be bothered in the bathroom. Not only was one of the lights out, making my shower experience less than well lit, the bathroom sink seemed to be taking an age to drain. The toilet and the shower had no drainage issues at all so I decided to have a closer look. It was instantly obvious that there was a lot of grot blocking the plug hole so I poked the room key around (read: Got Allan to poke the room key around) and pulled out two packets of sugar (from the complimentary tray) and a giant wad of hair. It really was disgusting and should have been noticed by the cleaning staff straight away. It really is a shame as the bathroom wasn't terrible other than the cleaning side of things and that instantly takes a star off the hotel. A bit of bleach and checking the plug holes goes a long way.
That aside, the towels were changed every day so I can't complain too much, especially considering other hotels in the area charge £2 for towels!
One thing that I always tend to keep a look out for is hotels that serve breakfast. If you're staying away it's always a good idea to start the day with a big breakfast so you don't need to worry too much about finding food throughout the day. The Victorian House Hotel offers a full cooked breakfast with its bookings. The breakfast area is really quite nice and offers more than a simple cooked breakfast too. The area can be seen from reception which faces directly into it and is almost a T shape. You enter at the bottom of the T shape and all up the left hand side you'll find all you need for a continental style breakfast if that's more your cup of tea. Croissants, toast, cereal, yoghurts, jams, fruit, coffee, tea and juice will all be found here. I always tend to grab a banana for later if there's fruit kicking about.
Making your way to the top of the T shape and to your left there is a small counter with hotplates containing all the separate ingredients for your cooked breakfast. Unlike other hotels, the Victorian House have someone who will dish what you want out on to a plate for you which I found a little bit odd. It also meant maybe not getting as big a serving as I would have given myself through not wanting to be a pain. If you are less worried about telling them to add more, however, they will happily do so. Here you'll get your normal fare; Bacon, sausage, hash browns, potato scones, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, black pudding and eggs both scrambled and fried. If you want to go that step further they also have a few extras you can ask for such as haggis and smoked fish. These will be cooked if you ask for them; I assume there's not a huge demand for them, though I did see one woman ask for a smokie and it only took about five minutes to get to her.
Breakfast was good quality and the surroundings are quite nice. The top of the T shape is almost a conservatory in which you can see the back of the hotel which has a few benches and is surrounded by bushes. It's not the most spectacular back garden but it's nice and light and airy with the conservatory being lovely and clean with plenty of space to move around.
The only real downside of breakfast was the times that it is served between. Any other hotels I have been to serve breakfast till at least 10am, sometimes 10:30am and at weekends even as far as 12pm. The staff at the Victorian House hotel are apparently early risers and serve breakfast between 7am and 8:45am. I feel incredibly harsh but I'm taking a star off for this. If I'm on holiday I don't want to have to be up and in the breakfast area before 9am at the very earliest. I want a lie in. Throw in that a lot of people would prefer to get ready for the day before going down to breakfast that means getting up even earlier. Personally my body doesn't really begin to want food till about half nine anyway so I did feel a little like I was forcing myself to eat just so we didn't miss the food. They could really do with extending the breakfast times in my opinion to cater for guests who don't want to feel like death warmed up in public.
Most hotels these days come with Wi-fi connectivity, varying between a terrible signal for free and a fantastic signal for a price. The Victorian House Hotel are definitely up to date in this aspect. Walking up the main stairs and even in the breakfast area, you can see wireless routers mounted on every floor with aerials sticking out of them. As such the signal in the place is fantastic and, bonus, it's also completely free. One downside of their Wi-fi service is that you need to ask for log in details at the desk. If you remember to do this, you'll be given a little receipt slip with log in details which you can then use. You can't get given the details over the phone from your room so do remember to ask when you pick up your key for the details otherwise you'll need to traipse down the stairs again to get the details.
The other slight nuisance is that each slip basically gives you log in details to an account. Most other hotels have a password that lets you access their network whereas this set up means that if there are two of you, you'll need two separate slips with two separate accounts so you can both access at the same time. If not you'll get a message saying that you're already logged in and using Wi-fi elsewhere. That's something we didn't realise till we got back to the room so we were a little frustrated by that. Overall though, as long as you are prepared, the Wi-Fi offered was really good for light browsing via our mobiles.
===Leaving the hotel===
The Victorian House Hotel has a 24 hour reception so when you leave you can (and are requested to) drop off your room key there. Encouragement to do this comes in the form of the gigantic plastic key ring that is attached to your room key. You simply need to hand it over and the staff bid you farewell. On returning if you get a member of staff you've dealt with before they'll simply hand you the key back with a smile. If it's someone new you are dealing with they'll ask your room number and name and check the list before they give you it back. It's not a terrible system and the staff are all incredibly friendly which is always a plus.
===Out and About===
The hotel is within easy walking distance of the city centre so if you enjoy a good shop or even just want to go out on the town, it's all about 10 minutes walk downhill. You'll find plenty of pubs and clubs kicking about and there's a fairly good selection of gay bars too if that's your thing (del's, polo lounge, underground, speakeasy, FHQ to name but a few for your Googling pleasure)
The city is full of architectural awesomeness so, with one hand firmly on your belongings, I implore you to look up and drink in the lovely buildings you'll encounter all over the city. If you really love arty stuff then the hotel is perfectly placed less than a minute's walk from one of the art schools in Glasgow that also houses the Rennie Mackintosh museum. The building is a beautiful piece of work and in fact a lot of the prettiest buildings dotted in and around Glasgow have been influenced by Mackintosh or even designed by the man himself. A few of the hotels on the street have taken their namesake from the famous artist too. If you really love his work, you'll want to get out to Hill House which is on the outskirts of Glasgow in Helensburgh and is well worth a look if you have time and transport.
A little bit further out, but still only a twenty minute walk from the hotel is the Glasgow Necropolis which is basically a graveyard with some fantastically beautiful tombs surrounded by thick creepy tree trunks and breathtaking views over the city. It's like something from a rather beautiful horror graveyard and it's great for camera fodder.
It's a huge city, there really is plenty to do here if you are interested enough to seek it out and if you DON'T want to do much, then there's plenty of places to sit down and watch the world go by.
Any of the shortcomings of the hotel really need to be taken with a pinch of salt considering what we paid. For two nights, bed and breakfast in a double room for two of us, we paid, all together, £98. The only thing that would cost you more was if you A: damaged the room or B: made a lot of phone calls from the phone in the room. For a price like that so close to the city centre, it's well worth it, despite the slight issues with bathroom grunge and early breakfasts.
The price was low, the bed wasn't bad and the staff were all very friendly. Chuck in free Wi-fi and breakfast and I'm sold. The only things I really do need to take stars off for were the sad fact of the grot and grime in the bathroom (Honestly, a little bleach would solve it) and the horrifically early breakfast times. Other than that, though, the place really is a steal. Not suitable in the slightest for anyone who has trouble with stairs but otherwise, a very good attempt. It's just a shame that something so easily remedied is what's loosing the place points. So that's three stars out of five for a hotel listed as two stars. Not too terrible!