citizenM in Glasgow is part of a small, Netherlands-based group that positions its hotels as trendy, luxury boutiques aimed at the "mobile citizen of the world" - the citizenM of their name. Rooms manage to be minimalist without being cold and there are clever techie touches, luxury linens and a relaxed, welcoming vibe. Not for everyone - particularly if you need a lot of your "stuff" around you all the time or prefer private time - but other hotel guests seemed to reflect a wide range of traveling "types" and ages, attracted by comfort, and good value in a city-center location. This is a novel hotel but possibly not for more than a stay of one or two nights.
- Easy, on-line booking, check-in and self-check-out
- Extra large beds with crisp white linens and fluffy duvets
- Free wifi throughout the hotel
- Free movies
- International powerpoints ( wall sockets) for most kinds of plugs - including a lower voltage North American power supply.
- Good security - guest floors can only be accessed with your digital room key.
- 24-hour bar/cafe
- No place to hang out longer clothing items
- No in-room coffee or tea making facilities
- Hard to find telephone contacts for questions not covered in their FAQs
- Weak hair dryer
- Not enough shelves
- "Forced" sociability doesn't always work. Sometimes you just want to spend time in your room.
- No hair conditioner
- Address: citizenM Glasgow, 60 Renfrew Street, Glasgow, Scotland, G2 3BW
- Phone: +44(0)2035191111
- Prices Band: $ to $$ for two. Rates are affordable for this quality in a city center location. Rooms can be booked with our without breakfast. Discount offered to "Citizens" who sign up for membership (free).
- Bookings: only taken online, via their website.
- 198 rooms, all doubles.
Review - citizenM Hotel Glasgow
The website for citizenM Hotels, with branches in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London, New York and Paris as well as Glasgow (where I stayed), pitches the group to "mobile citizens of the world," promising "no strings attached fun." The online pictures show public areas with quirky, contemporary furniture and artwork; rooms with gigantic beds and wall to wall windows, adjustable mood lighting and power shower/toilet wetrooms that look like the orgasmatron in "Sleeper."
I imagined the guests as slim, young 21st century trendies, the girls with boy cut hair and black trousers, the boys with ironically retro wardrobes and exaggerated quiffs. The kind of people who travel with little more than their smartphone, maybe a tablet, a change of underwear and a toothbrush.
Okay, time to reign in my imagination. Study the citizenM website and you won't see any people. That's because they believe their ideal "citizen" can be anybody. And despite the post Millennial vibe of the decor and facilities, anybody was just who I found at the hotel. Couples, from young to retirement age and beyond, business people holding informal meetings in the lobby, women traveling on their own, tourists, student travelers and friends up from the country to see a show or do some shopping.
They were no doubt attracted by the convenient,central location, not far from Queen Street Rail Station and close to shopping on Buchanan and Sauchiehall Street, theaters, concert halls and Glasgow's famous art school; the novelty of this plugged in place with its free iMacs, public spaces arranged like living rooms, and electronic toys, and, quite frankly, the promise of luxury on the cheap. In 2015 the price of a room without breakfast, for one or two, was under £70.
Rooms, at 14 square meters are compact but fairly well equipped. An extra large, comfortable bed, dressed in Frette linens and a thick, fluffy duvet, fills the window end of the room, from wall to wall. There's a large flat screen television. The wall to wall window has integrated blinds - sealed between two panes of glass - and a blackout shade, both of which are controlled electronically from an iPad next to the bed. The iPad can also be used to adjust the heat or air-conditioning, select television channels, pick from the menu of free movies and change the color of the ambient lighting to suit your mood - this last, a bit of a gimmick I thought.
The bed sits very high because of the two drawers under it. One holds a room safe, the other a drawer that is meant to be deep enough to contain your open suitcase. The idea is supposed to be that you don't need to unpack - so, naturally there is very little room for you to unpack anything. That's okay except that if you're traveling with a dress or a coat, you might want to hang the wrinkles out of it. There are a few hangers in a short, open cupboard with a shelf above - but it's not really long enough to hang anything longer than a business suit with folded trousers.
The toilet and power shower share a glass enclosed wet area with a shower curtain separating the two. From outside, when closed, it's an arty, sculptural room feature - and the only thing that really picks up the color of the mood lighting.
The Inevitable Quibbles
The short, semi-closet with white resin hangers but very little room is one of several room features that seem to be high-concept, design-led at the sacrifice of comfort or convenience.
- There is one small shelf (a kind of space age desk) near the selection of international plugs. If you are charging your tablet and looking for a safe surface for your camera and iPhone, that's pretty much it for the desk. You can't actually do anything on it.
- Similarly, the sink/vanity combo has compartments that hold hand towels and facial tissues but no place to hang a wet towel. Two hooks on the wall beside the sink will no doubt already be in use for your coats.
- The shower contains two stylish bottles of nice smelling stuff that doubles as shampoo and shower gel. One is apparently for day and one for night. But there's no hair conditioner - something lots of women need. And if you are traveling light - as cute signs and mottos all over the place remind you, you don't want to be schlepping bottles of conditioner.
- Apparently, part of the hotel concept is to encourage guests to use the public rooms, where there are televisions, iMacs, comfortable sofas, etc, like the living rooms of their own homes. That, I was told, was why the rooms have no kettles. You are supposed to join in at the 24-hour canteen. But I challenge anyone to really want to use the hotel "living rooms", lovely as they are, as if they were at home, padding around in slippers and a dressing gown, their wet hair wrapped in a towel. Some concepts are just one design philosophy too far. They work better on paper than in fact.
What, No Kettle?
Travelers in the UK and visitors from abroad have become accustomed to the tea and coffee making facilities found in most accommodations, from luxury hotels to B&Bs. citizenM have made a conscious decision to eliminate this as a frill. The suggestion is, once again, that you should join in and contribute to the buzz.
But I don't think I'm alone in wanting a coffee alone while I'm getting ready in the morning or a quiet hot drink in my room at the end of a busy work day. In fact, a member of the hotel management team confessed to me that she likes a coffee first thing. I'm sure the woman I saw wearing a coat over loose, flowing trousers was, in fact, in her pyjamas, trying to look inconspicuous as she carried at hot drink to bed with her.
Having to dress to appear in public and take a lift down several floors to buy a drink or having to carry one up to your room so that by the time you drink it, it's gone cold is a pain but kettles are not part of the concept.
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