– S P O N S O R E D P O S T –
I love city breaks. I love researching where to go to eat, sleep, shop, drink cocktails and soak up the must-see spots the city has to offer. It always feels like an adventure and I can’t get enough.
Isn’t it weird that, even though so many of us adore a city break, sometimes we can overlook the gems our own city has to offer? Living 20 minutes outside Glasgow, you can 100% say I’ve been a firm fixture in the city from a young age, from hitting the shops with my mum when I was wee to studying at Glasgow Caledonian University. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Glasgow, but when the place you know so well becomes a familiar backdrop to your everyday, you can really miss out on the culture that is so proudly there.
– C I T Y T O U R I S T –
I was ready to be a tourist in my very own city and CitizenM made that happen, combining my love of creativity and cocktails into a perfect Saturday afternoon. Glasgow’s Renfrew Street holds many memories close to my heart, particularly during my uni days of battling the elements to get up to Mandors Fabric Store for more material or fastenings (I studied Fashion Business so you mostly found me putting together sketchbooks and attempting to make clothes) and my best friends at uni also had a flat on the very street for our final years of studying, filled with hilarious hangovers and post-library catch ups. Walking along it now makes me reminisce about my beloved student days.
– I C O N I C S P O T –
Of course, one of the most iconic spots on Renfrew Street is the Glasgow School of Art, especially the famous Mackintosh building. I still remember the first time I walked in the doors of the art school. I was in 5th year at high school, still not entirely sure what I wanted to study, but I knew it involved art so I attended the GSA’s open day. We were shown around the bustling hub of creativity and, although I ended up going in a different direction with my studies, I’ll never forget looking on in wonder at all the talent and passion of the students and their work.
When CitizenM got in touch for a special tour with Glasgow School of Art, I was instantly reminded of that day, back when I was 16. The date was set and my boyfriend, Brian, and I headed to GSA for their Mackintosh at the GSA tour. The tour itself is about all things Charles Rennie Mackintosh, of course, but it also has a renewed meaning due to a certain event.
If you cast your mind back to 2014, you may remember the tragic fire of the Mackintosh building. The city was abuzz with the news breaking as firefighters fought to extinguish the flames. I felt sad, not only for the damage to such a beautiful building, but it was also during the degree show, meaning many students’ hard work had either been completely or partially destroyed.
– T H E T O U R –
It’s funny how time passes so quickly, I can’t quite believe 3 years’ have gone by, but I’m so glad to hear work to restore the building is well underway and it’s scheduled to reopen in 2019, but more on that later. The tour itself takes place in the new Reid building, literally across from the Mackintosh building. Well, I say new – it opened in the same year as the fire, but it has such a modern feel to it while still highlighting the beauty of the original Mackintosh design.
The tour itself is guided by GSA students, meaning you really get to experience not only their knowledge, but the clear love they have for the work of Mackinotsh and the school in general.
Although the Mackintosh building is still completely shut off, GSA have created exact models of the building, meaning the guide can show you the intricate details of Mackintosh’s design. Even though I very briefly studied Mackintosh in my school years, I found out so much more about the Scottish designer in the 45-minute tour and our guide even shared some lesser known facts about Mackintosh and his links to GSA.
The tour group is kept small, meaning you can ask questions and really interact with the guide and the tour, something which can sometimes feel intimidating to do on a larger tour. As we worked our way through, one of the most interesting questions asked was surrounding the fire; just what happened to the degree students whose work was destroyed? Well, all the students did indeed get their degree, but were also all awarded a bursary and a studio space in various locations around the world, so they could use the following year to create something new. GSA then held a degree show the following year to give them the chance they never got the year before, to showcase their work. I found this such a lovely thing to hear and the relief in the group was audible that the students got their second chance (and degree)!
– T H E H I S T O R Y –
To finish the tour, you are taken to the Mackintosh furniture room, an up-close look at some of the Mackintosh furniture which was salvaged from the fire, alongside some other designs archibed from over Mackintosh’s years. One of the most interesting to me was some original furniture from the Willow Tea Rooms; seeing the skill that went in to crafting some of the pieces was just mesmerizing to see.
Not only do you take away a lot from the tour, but you’re also giving something back as the money from the tour tickets goes straight back in to the restoration appeal for the Mackintosh building, ensuring the prestigious architecture can one day be restored to its glory.
– C O C K T A I L S I N T H E C I T Y –
Feeling very cultured for a Saturday afternoon, we couldn’t resist heading to CitizenM Glasgow for a cocktail (or two). CitizenM has established itself as the modern and stylish hotel in the city since opening in Glasgow back in 2010. Its unique interiors have been the backdrop to many an Instagrammable stay and it sits at prime position, only a short distance from Glasgow School of Art and at the top of the Glasgow Style Mile.
As we took a seat in the relaxed bar area, with the floor to ceiling windows overlooking Glasgow, I opted for a classic favourite; a French Martini, complete with a dusting of pink! The hotel is such a hub for people watching, something which I love to do. Feeling suitably chilled out, we stayed on for a second drink (Pink Cosmo for me this time) as other guests came and went, some clearly getting ready for a glamorous evening, others relaxing after checking out. The perfect way to spend a Saturday.