Where to Stay in Glasgow

SD › Best Places to Stay in Glasgow
Updated: February 6, 2024
By Santorini Dave

Our Favorite Glasgow Hotels

• 5-star: Kimpton Blythswood Square
• 4-star: Dakota
• 3-star: Brunswick Merchant City
• For Couples: One Devonshire Gardens
• For Families: The Spires
• Best Pool: Village
• Near Airport: Holiday Inn Express
• Near Train Station: Motel One

A rooftop view of the mixed architecture of old and new buildings in Glasgow city in late afternoon light, Scotland

Rooftop view over City Centre – a great area for first-time visitors to Glasgow.

The Best Areas to Stay in Glasgow

Flanked by the River Clyde, Scotland’s second city is a gritty charmer. Its slogan is “People make Glasgow”; spend a few days here among Glaswegians and you’ll come to appreciate why they love this buzzy northern powerhouse. An ancient settlement older than Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, Glasgow rose to prominence as Scotland’s largest city in the 18th century. Its growth was fueled by industrialization, notably in shipbuilding and tobacco trade with the New World, establishing it as a vital British Empire port. This prosperity is reflected in the city’s numerous grand Victorian mansions and public buildings. While postindustrial Glasgow got a bad rep, it has managed to shake off its 20th-century associations with crime and grime, and now outpaces Edinburgh with its superb art and music scene. Urban attractions aside, it makes a good base for exploring the scenic estuary of the Firth of Clyde, as well as Loch Lomond, the southern fringes of the Highlands, the Trossach mountains, and Stirling Castle – all within an hour’s drive.

Glasgow is divided into quarters: City Centre, East End, West End, and Southside, with each quarter split into its own distinctive neighborhoods. Many of Glasgow’s best hotels – ranging from 5-star icons and quirky boutique townhouses to budget hotels and low-key guesthouses – are dotted around the City Centre, with more four-star hotels along the River Clyde in Finnieston (West Side). Although Glasgow is a large city, its individual neighborhoods are very walkable, and there are good public transportation connections from the City Center (Downtown) to neighborhoods farther out.

Main building of University of Glasgow, viewed over flowering bushes in spring

The impresssive University of Glasgow main building, in Kelvingrove.

You’re most likely to begin your Glasgow visit in the very walkable City Centre – the city’s most central neighborhood, framed by the MB motorway to the north and west, the High Street to the east and the River Clyde to the south. The City Centre is bisected by the bustling W Nile and Renfield Streets that run north from Glasgow Central train station. Here you’ll find the city’s best shopping, varied dining, some excellent bars, as well as a couple of major sites.

Just southeast of the City Centre’s core, Merchant City – an affluent part of town – is a mix of handsome Victorian palaces of trade and commerce, former merchants’ warehouses, restaurants, bars and residential houses. The city’s LGBTQ+ venues are clustered in part of Merchant City known as the Pink Triangle, and the neighborhood is lively at night.

East of the High Street, and running east from the Trongate boulevard, Gallowgate is the main street that cuts through Calton, the somewhat sketchy neighborhood where Glasgow’s linen mills used to be. The biggest hubs of activity in the historically Catholic, rough-around-the-eedges Calton are the Barras weekend flea market and the Celtic FC stadium down the street. Between Calton and the River Clyde lies Glasgow Green – the city’s biggest park, complete with history museum.

North of Calton is Townhead, the oldest part of Glasgow, centered on the cathedral and flanked by the Necropolis, one of Britain’s largest Victorian cemeteries.

West of the M8 motorway, and running alongside the river is West End’s southernmost neighborhood, Finnieston, the former shipbuilding district, dominated by a defunct shipbuilding crane, the Exhibition Centre, and the Riverside Museum. Spread-out and bisected by the A814, Finnieston is best accessed by car or taxi.

Just north of Finnieston, much of Kelvingrove is taken up by its vast namesake park, home to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery; next to the park is the University of Glasgow, which gives West End its studenty buzz and youthful vibe and has two excellent museums on site. There’s varied dining along the Finnieston part of Argyle Street and also along Great Western Road that runs to the north of the university to the Glasgow Botanical Gardens.

From the 1840s, Govan, located south of the river from Finnieston, was a bustling shipbuilding hub in Southside. Now rejuvenated after post-WWII decline and home to the family-friendly Glasgow Science Centre, Govan is easily accessible from Finnieston via the Clyde Arc bridge. Nearby, Strathbungo, a short light rail journey south of the City Centre and the River Clyde, is an artsy neighborhood near Queen’s Park’s north tip, known for its great eateries. Further south, accessible by light rail, is the green, leafy area of Pollokshaws, dominated by the expansive Pollok Country Park and the renowned Burrell Collection.

The Best Places To Stay in Glasgow

Luxury hotel for couples in Glasgow.

The Dakota in Glasgow’s city centre.

The Best Areas in Glasgow for…

  • Best Neighborhoods in Glasgow for Sightseeing: Merchant City, Townhead, Finnieston, Kelvingrove, Pollokshaws, Govan, City Centre
    It depends on what you’re into. Architecture buffs shouldn’t miss the Merchant City’s handsome town hall or the Victorian merchants’ residences. Glasgow is particularly famous for the designs of Victorian-era architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh; some of his creations dot the City Centre, and his private residence (with a particularly sumptuous interior) is attached to Kelvingrove’s eclectic Hunterian Museum. For art lovers, the superb Kelvingrove Art Gallery combines a first-rate art collection with extensive natural history displays, while Pollokshaws’ Burrell Collection features priceless paintings, objets d’art, and archaeological treasures. You can see traces of Glasgow’s industrial heritage and shipbuilding heyday in Finnieston and Govan, on either side of the River Clyde. The centerpiece of Finnieston’s Riverside Museum is its extensive collection of historic vehicles, while the Glasgow Science Centre in Govan is a great interactive museum aimed at kids of all ages. Head to Townhead to visit Glasgow’s splendid cathedral.
View up Sauchiehall Street, one of the main shopping streets in Glasgow, UK. About 10am on a sunny and crisp autumn day.

View over Sauchiehall Street, one of the main shopping streets in Glasgow’s City Centre.

  • Best Neighborhoods in Glasgow to Stay for First Timers: City Centre, Kelvingrove, Merchant City, Finnieston
    If it’s your first time in Glasgow, and especially if you’re short on vacation time, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these neighborhoods. City Centre has an excellent range of accommodations, plenty of dining options, and is well-connected to the other neighborhoods, so you can easily reach Glasgow’s main attractions. Merchant City is the most attractive part of the City Centre, with an excellent nightlife to boot. Finnieston is great for exploring Glasgow’s shipbuilding heritage and has an excellent dining scene. Kelvingrove is great for dining and nightlife, and home to Glasgow’s best art gallery.
  • Best Neighborhoods in Glasgow for Nightlife: MerchantCity, Kelvingrive, Finnieston, Calton
    The City Centre has a number of centuries-old, characterful pubs along Great Bridgewater Street, plus more contemporary cocktail bars off Bridge Street, King Street, and Deansgate. Finnieston is home to some of the city’s best traditional pubs, such as the Ben Nevis, while The Park Bar is the place to hear live Scottish folk music or attend a ceilidh (with traditional dancing). Kelvingrove’s nightlife is concentrated in bars along Byers Road and Great Western Road, while Merchant City’s Pink Triangle is the epicenter of Glasgow’s LGBTQ nightlife. Beer is a big deal in Glasgow; great brewpubs include BrewDog’s Doghouse in Merchant City and Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchen on Ashton Lane in Kelvingrove; Glasgow’s three biggest beer breweries are located in Calton. Head for Finnieston’s Argyle Road for the cocktail bars and gin gardens. Glasgow is also Scotland’s capital of live music: best venues include Grand Ole Opry in Govan, Barrowlands Ballroom in Calton, Slay Glasgow and City Halls & Old Fruitmarket in the City Centre.
  • Best Neighborhoods in Glasgow for Food and Restaurants: Finnieston, Kelvingrove, CityCentre, Strathbungo
    Glasgow is the best city for eating out in Scotland, with an incredible range of restaurants and cuisines, from great curry houses to casual cafes to slurpy soba noodles, and everything in between. Fresh fish and seafood abound, and there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, too. You’ll find some of Gasgow’s best restaurants in Finnieston, including The Buttery, The Gannet, and Ox & Finch. Byers Road and Great Western Road in Kelvingrove are both rich veins to mine for anything from casual eats to specialty coffee; Byers Road also features truly excellent contemporary Scottish restaurants (Ubiquitous Chip, Cail Bruich, Number 16). Chain restaurants, pubs, cafes, and wallet-friendly eateries dot the City Centre, while Southside is renowned for the ethnic diversity of its edible offerings, with a good range along Pollokshaws Road.
  • Best Neighborhoods in Glasgow for Families: Pollokshaw, Govan, Kelvingrove, Finnieston
    If you’re looking for a quiet neighborhood with a huge park and playgrounds to stay with your family while still being within easy reach of Glasgow’s attractions, Pollokshaw is a good bet, though accommodations are few. Kelvingrove is worth considering, also due to its large green space and quiet streets (but only on the east side of Kelvingrove Park), though again, there are few hotels. Finnieston is convenient for families due to its concentration of 4-star, family-friendly chain hotels (Radisson, Moxy, Crowne Plaza), plus the fun Riverside Museum, while the Glasgow Science Centre in Gowan is a great place to take older kids.
  • Most Romantic Neighborhoods in Glasgow: Kelvingrove, Pollokshaws, Finnieston
    “Romantic” might not the first word that comes to mind when you think of Glasgow. But there is something special about strolling along the River Kelvin in the Kelvinshaw or picnicking in the Botanic Garden in late spring, when the flowers are in bloom, or wandering hand in hand past manicured flowerbeds in Pollok Country Park in Pollokshaws. And if your other half is a foodie, take them to some of Glasgow’s best restaurants along Argyle Road in Finnieston for a romantic dinner.

    A flowerbed in Glasgow's Botanic Gardens and the Kibble Palace - a Victorian wrought iron glasshouse.

    Kibble Palace greenhouse in the Glasgow Botanic Garden.

  • Best Neighborhoods in Glasgow for a Local Vibe: Kelvingrove, Calton, Strathbungo
    These neighborhoods each have a distinct character. East End’s Calton is rough around the edges, but The Barras – a huge indoor and outdoor market – is a great place to hear some creative Glasgow sales pitches while browsing vintage clothes, bric-a-brac, and knock-off goods. Upstairs from the market, you can catch local live bands or go jiving and lindy-hopping at the famous Barrowland Ballroom. Southside’s Strathbungo is one of Glasgow’s most creative nooks, as well as a close-knit community of artists and performers; you’ll catch it at its liveliest/quirkiest if you visit during one of its many micro-festivals. In the West End, browse the vintage stores off Great Western Road near the University of Glasgow alongside Glasgow’s student population, shop at independent boutiques in the tiny lanes off Byres Road, and sit in cafes with local hipsters.
  • Best Neighborhoods in Glasgow for Walking: City Centre, Merchant City, Finnieston, Kelvingrove, Pollokshaw, Govan
    Glasgow is made up of fairly compact neighborhoods that are easy to explore on foot (though you may have to take city buses or light rail to reach some of them from the City Centre (Downtown). It’s hard to beat Finnieston and Govan for the post-industrial vibe and strolls along the riverside footpaths (and the pedestrian bridges connecting the two). In Kelvingrove, combine park strolls with exploring tiny lanes and wandering along the River Kelvin. Pollokshaw’s vast country park is tailor-made for walking, while the City Centre’s and Merchant City’s relatively compact size and logical grid layout make them easy to explore on foot.
  • Safest Areas of Glasgow
    In spite of its gritty reputation, Glasgow is a generally safe city. All neighborhoods frequented by visitors are safe to walk during the day, with Pollokshaws and parts of Kelvinbridge being the quietest. At night, it’s a good idea to stick to well-lit areas, and avoid shortcuts through deserted streets. Alcohol-fueled revelry in the city’s nightspots, such as parts of Finnieston and Kelvinbridge occasionally result in fights breaking out.
  • Unsafe Areas of Glasgow
    Glasgow’s less safe neighborhoods are partially residential and scattered around the city. Be on your guard in Calton, Anderston (just east of Finnieston), Govan, and Hillhead (parts of Byers Road just north of the University of Glasgow) after dark, since muggings are not unknown. Watch out for pickpockets in busy areas, including around the main train station in the City Centre.

The 8 Best Neighborhoods in Glasgow for Tourists

1. Glasgow City Centre

View from Glasgow city center, main steet.

Stretching north from Glasgow’s central train station, the City Centre can be mentally divided into eastern and western halves. The western half is more sedate, with the shops and pubs around the train station giving way to upmarket offices and basement bars of Bath Street. You’ll also find the Glasgow School of Art here, as well as Mackintosh at the Willow tea house, and a number of the city’s best hotels. The City Centre’s nightlife, fueled by the city’s largest student population, is concentrated along Bath and Sauchiehall Streets that span the neighborhood east to west. The east side of the City Centre is all about shopping along W Nile Street and dining at the many restaurants on and off it; cultural centers such as the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall are located here as well.

2. Merchant City

Large Victorian building with turrets and a statue in front

Glasgow City Chambers in George Square

With George Square as its focal point, overlooked by the impressive City Chambers (the town hall, open for tours), Merchant City in the eastern half of the City Centre is less about specific sights and more about the collective atmosphere of a neighborhood that features some beautiful examples of Victorian architecture – the former commercial buildings that once belonged to Glasgow’s merchants and have since been repurposed. Highlights here include Agryll Arcade (a.k.a. the Style Mile) – an historic shopping arcade featuring dozens of boutiques. The area around Merchant Square is known as the Pink Triangle – the epicenter of LGBTQ nightlife in Glasgow, while City Halls & Old Fruitmarket is an excellent live music venue.

3. East End

View of Glasgow cathedral from a hilltop cemetery

Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis

Separated from the City Centre by the High Street, the East End includes Townhead – the oldest part of Glasgow where you’ll find the Cathedral, one of Scotland’s finest houses of worship, as well as the adjacent Necropolis, a beautiful and tranquil Victorian cemetery. South of Townhead, gritty Calton makes for a great weekend visit when the craft, design and vintage scene of the Barras Market, off Gallowgate, is in full swing. Short on accommodations, the East End is great for a variety of inexpensive eateries serving a variety of cuisines, with the biggest concentration around Barras Market and along Duke Street, as well as craft beer, with Drygate and Tennent Caledonian breweries off Duke Street, and West Brewery just north of Glasgow Green. The park is home to the People’s Palace history museum, while farther east, off London Road is Celtic FC – a must for soccer fans.

4. West End: Finnieston

A panoramic view along the north bank of the River Clyde in Glasgow, with hotels, the Hydro, the Armadillo and with the skyline dominated by the historic Finnieston Crane.

View toward Finnieston from the River Clyde. From right to left: The Finnieston Crane and Hydro event venue, the SEC Armadillo event venue, and the Crowne Plaza Glasgow.

Just west of the M8 motorway that separates the West End from the City Centre, Finnieston stretches along the north bank of the River Clyde, and is bordered by Kelvingrove to the north. Finnieston’s defining feature is the defunct crane that’s a relic of Glasgow’s shipbuilding days. Great river views from the riverside footpaths and cycle paths aside, the main draws are the excellent Riverside Museum and the Tall Ship Glenlee that houses Glasgow’s maritime museum, both sitting near the confluence of River Clyde and River Kelvin. The Finnieston stretch of Argyle Street features some of Glasgow’s best dining, as well as the city’s best traditional pubs, and the West End in general is particularly good for Indian food. (Glaswegians love a good curry.)

5. West End: Kelvingrove

Front view looking over part of Kelvingrove Park to the imposing architecture of Glasgow University's main building, in the city's West End.

View over Kelvingrove Park to the University of Glasgow.

Argyle Street marks the unofficial border between Finnieston and Kelvingrove, the upscale, leafy neighborhood where residential streets lined with elegant terraced housing sit right near Kelvingrove Park – one of Glasgow’s largest and most appealing green spaces. The University of Glasgow, its campus nestled alongside the park, is responsible for the neighborhood’s youthful buzz. While the indisputable park highlight is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, the university campus features the excellent Hunterian Museum and Mackintosh House – Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s architectural masterpiece. Farther out, the Glasgow Botanic Gardens are a welcome retreat from the city hubbub. The riverside path along the River Kelvin makes for a scenic stroll, while those into shopping for vintage clothes should head for the stores that dot Great Western and Byers Roads – the two main thoroughfares that frame Kelvingrove to the north and the west, respectively. Both streets offer varied dining options, while several alleyways and lanes branching off the main streets harbor one-of-a-kind stores, craft studios, and excellent restaurants; De Courcy’s Arcade and Ruthven Lane are particularly good.

6. Southside: Govan

View of Govan from across the River Clyde and the Clyde Arc bridge

View of Govan from across the River Clyde and the Clyde Arc bridge

Cross the Clyde Arc bridge, the pedestrian Bell’s Bridge, or Millennium Bridge from Finnieston and you find yourself in Govan, one of Glasgow’s key shipbuilding docks on the south bank of the Clyde that thrived with the opening of the first shipyard in 1840 but fell into decline following the demise of the industry after WWII. Extensive rejuvenation in recent years has resulted in the building of various cultural venues: the interactive Glasgow Science Centre is a family favorite, as is their IMAX theater next door, and there are great views of the city from the Science Centre Tower. South of Govan Road, Once Upon a Whisky offers popular whisky tours, and the Grand Ole Opry hosts live music; dining is restricted to a handful of chain restaurants near the Odeon cinema.

7. Southside: Strathbungo & Queen’s Park

People making the most of a sunny summer's day in Queen's Park, in Glasgow's Southside.

Queen’s Park

Lined with attractive sandstone terraced houses designed by Victorian architect Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, the tight grid of streets that makes up compact Strathbungo is known for hosting micro-festivals. If your visit coincides with Strathbungo Window Wanderland, you’ll see the streets turned into one big outdoor gallery, and homes opened up to host live performances, while Bungo in the Back Lanes turns the neighborhood into a big flea market, complete with food stalls. Separating Strathbungo from Queen’s Park is Pollockshaws road, lined with independent restaurants, such as Ranjit’s Kitchen (Indian), as well as The Glad Café, an excellent local music venue.

8. Southside: Pollokshaws

A beautiful bandstand like folly in Pollok Park Gardens, near Glasgow, Scotland, UK.

Pollok Country Park

A short walk from Pollokshaws Road as it becomes Kilmarnock Road, or a short light rail ride down from the City Centre, much of Pollokshaws is taken up by the vast green space that’s the Pollok Country Park, complete with walking and cycling trails, golf clubs, outdoor play areas, streams, and even a small lake. At the heart of the park is the Burrell Collection, one of Glasgow’s biggest attractions – a private museum featuring everything from medieval furniture and Chinese porcelain to centuries-old tapestries, collected by industrialist Sir William Burrell. The historic Pollok House and Gardens are open to tours and feature a charming café. Accommodations in the area are pretty scarce, but there are numerous dining options on and off Kilmarnock Road.

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