“ Two locations in Glasgow! „
The Willow Tea Rooms - Sauchiehall St- Glasgow
Last autumn we spent a few days in Glasgow following the Charles Rennie Macintosh trail and during that time we visited both the Willow Tea rooms.
Our first visit was for a cup of coffee in the original building in Sauchiehall Street. The tea rooms take the name from this street as in Scottish Gaelic Sauchiehall means alley of the willows.
The tea rooms suffered a bit of a decline after Mackintosh originally designed them for Kate Cranson in 1903 as she sold her businesses when her husband died in 1917 but luckily for us in 1983, Anne Mulhern decided to recreate these tea rooms in the original locations.
The Sauchiehall street tea room was entirely the work of Charles Rennie Macintosh from the outside of the building, through the rooms the furniture, the cutlery and even the waitress's uniforms. This has all been very faithfully recreated in the space above a jewellery shop. At the back of this shop there is a small gallery/museum displaying some designs and furniture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
We walked upstairs, initially a bit confused by going through the jewellery shop, and found the cafe was on a sort of balcony around the stairwell so that the cafe had no centre, you looked down onto the shop below. It was nice and bright and open as the light came in from above and below through the stairwell. The chairs were typical high backed CRM ones and the tables were light coloured . The colours of the décor in the cafe were basically silver, cream with just highlights of black.
At the height of their popularity these tea rooms took up five floors but the main attraction was the Room de Luxe which is the one recreated that we visited for our morning coffee. What I find surprising is that to me it still looks very modern, CRM was way ahead of his time in design. I just love the high backed chairs, the crisp lines, silver painted furniture, leaded windows, stained glass and fabulous lights which are right back in fashion again today.
I was so taken with everything, looking around and finding new things to marvel at that I could barely concentrate on my coffee. I took lots of photos but was aware that other people might have just wanted a quiet coffee and not be bothered y me leaping around taking photos so I had to be a bit sensitive.
Our coffee was served in lovely cups and was a nice enough coffee but I think we were ore interested in the place itself than the standard of coffee.
The only issue I could see was that someone with a wheel chair or even a push chair would struggle as the cafe was small on its balcony setting. The toilets were upstairs again; they were clean but nothing special.
The Willow Tea Rooms -Buchanan St
Having had a coffee in the Sauchiehall street tea room we decided to have our lunch in this Buchanan Street site. This site is much bigger and here it is more of a restaurant as well as tea rooms/cafe so if it is food you want then this site would be better in my view.
We walked up stairs and we welcomed into the White Dining room and shown to a small table in the window which was nice. The cafe was pretty busy but the service was very efficient and our meal came pretty promptly. We wererather enjoying looking around the place and people watching, checking out what others had ordered so we didn't notice the wait. I was in my element as I love CRM art work and all around the place there were paintings, lights, friezes and mirrors, stained glass etc
I chose a simple smoked salmon salad and I had so much smoked salmon I could have fed our family with brown bread and slices of lemon! My husband chose an Arboath smokie ( Smoked haddock) which I never choose as I hate small fish bones but this came very strangely paired with a a clootie dumpling which was a bit odd as it was a kind of steamed fruit cake!
This restaurant has more than one floor and although the other floor was not being used we could go and take a look at the toilets were upstairs. The Chinese room was very dark blue with Chinese style lights and silk paintings. It was a Mackintosh interpretation of Chinese and quite beautiful for a restaurant but not a look I would choose in my home.
WORTH A VISIT?
Yes both Willow tea rooms were lovely, very different from you usual cafe and somewhere with a bit of a story. If it is just a cuppa and a snack then the cafe in Sauchielhall street is nice but if you want more of a meal then go to the Buchanan street shop as they have a bigger menu and offer more meals.
Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites, in whole or adapted under my same username.