“ Address: 185 Buchanan St / Glasgow / G1 2JY / Scotland „
Having had a bad journey to work (train derailed the day before because it was too hot), and knowing that 2 days later I was going to be relying on the early train to get me to Carlisle in time to get my connection to Glasgow for a self-harm conference (with about 10 minutes to spare), I decided that I couldn't risk it and needed to book a hotel for the night before.
I had two options - stay in Carlisle and get the train on Thursday morning that I had already paid for, or go straight to Glasgow from work on Wednesday evening and buy another and more expensive train ticket. I opted for the latter, knowing how annoyed I'd be when waiting at Carlisle station on Thursday morning and seeing the train I would have been coming in on, coming in perfectly on time!
I searched various sites to find a suitable hotel. I wanted it to be near to the railway station (preferably within walking distance), I also wanted it to be near to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (where the conference was to be held), it should have reasonable reviews, however preferably not already have a review written on Ciao about it, so that I could review it first. This was one of those points in my life where the realisation of how reviews sites have taken over my life hit me. Oh, and probably most importantly it should be pretty cheap and include a breakfast!
There was quite a selection of hotels to choose from, and I was half tempted to return to the Merchant Lodge Hotel where I had spent a fairly odd night once before (again, the night before a self-harm conference), but no, I like to try new things and I like to treat my little conference trips away as a bit of an adventure!
I could have spent £90 on a place which would have been almost guaranteed to be nice, but since I was paying for this hotel myself I thought I'd settle for somewhere in the £50 range! There were several to choose from (found on www.booking.com) - Alexander Thomson sounded very cheap, and reasonable, until I read the reviews!
---My Choice and the Location---
I liked the sound of the Buchanan hotel because it was a fair size with 60 bedrooms (14 single, the rest double or twins) and because it had a restaurant where I could have an evening meal - reviews weren't all glowing, but most agreed that it was good value for money, and an excellent location, right next to the station (apparently also good for air and coach and for me half a mile from the conference venue (in reality it was more like 200 yards from the conference venue which was fantastic!). According to Booking.com, the hotel was built around 1840 "in the most prestigious shopping area of central Glasgow", and is within easy walking distance of theatres, nightclubs, attractions, and 10 minutes from the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre.
The address is 185 Buchanan St Glasgow G1 2JY
The Buchanan Hotel cost just £45 for the one night's bed and breakfast in a single room (main reason for choosing!). A double or twin room cost £90, so the single rate wasn't bad at all (it was £65 for single occupancy of a double or twin room - although I'm a bit unsure about this really, as at the end of the day my room was a twin room anyway). From what I understand, a child can also stay in the room free of charge. Pets are allowed on request.
I booked online via www.booking.com which was a simple process. No money was taken (which actually is quite unusual as lately I've found places want payment before you stay there), but they did want my credit card details. Fair enough, if someone fraudulently uses my card I'll just have to HSBC in India again!
When I got to Glasgow station I realised that I didn't actually have a clue where the hotel was, so asked someone for directions. First he directed me to the bus stop, then I told him I didn't want a bus, I just wanted to know where Buchanan Street was! I needed to cross the road and head straight up. After 5 minutes or so I asked a girl for directions, which was convenient as it was the next turn on the right, along a bit, then turn right onto the street! I was dead impressed with how easy it was to find, I could see the hotel as soon as I turned onto the street, and even better than that I could see the Concert Hall (conference venue) up the end of the road! It is actually really near to Queen Street Station if you have a choice about where to get off a train.
Check in is any time after 2pm. I arrived at about 7:45pm. The hotel looks a bit shabby from the outside, but the reception area was nice with two fish tanks. The girl on reception was very friendly, and asked if I wanted to pay then. I thought I might as well. Had to fill in a form and then was given my key - to room 308.
---The Lift ---
I got the lift up to the third floor. However I didn't really feel very safe in it as it was quite old, and was panicking all the way (the journey seemed to go on forever!). I don't mind lifts when I'm with someone, but not a fan when I'm on my own (unless it's an ultra modern lift where I trust they'd get me out). Therefore, the rest of the time I chose to take the stairs - I need the exercise anyway!
My room seemed to be situated in a dark little corner off a little corridor, but that's fine. Normal key to get into the door, since it's not a flashy modern hotel with a card key! I could lock the door behind me which is always a bonus when travelling alone!
My room consisted of two single beds, wardrobe, work desk (complete with a layer of dust) and chest of drawers. Tea/coffee facilities were there, and there were also a small packet of digestive biscuits and packet of bourbons.
TV was nothing flashy, but it worked (once I turned on the plug at the wall), terrestrial channels and a couple of sky, picture quality not wonderful, but watchable.
The en suite was small but pleasant to look at, with toilet, sink and shower, and enough towels for two people. The shower wasn't wonderful though with temperature a bit dubious (glad I wasn't washing my hair - NB you have to ask reception if you want a hairdryer); shower curtain kept attaching itself to my bum! However, there were 2 mini bottles each of shampoo and shower gel, which is quite good for a cheap hotel (I like to have something to take home with me!). More about the toilet later....
While dinner is served until 8pm in the restaurant, apparently they had a big group in, and the receptionist advised against it. I wasn't particularly bothered, and went across the road to Sainsbury's to pick up pasta salad fruit, and the obligatory wine to take back to my room. Keys should be left with reception when leaving the hotel which I suppose is a bit of a pain, but I can see why they do it. If I'd been with someone then I'd have eaten out - loads of places nearby!
---My evening and night---
My evening was reasonable, with my food, wine and the TV, and I settled down for sleep at about 10:30pm. The window was slightly open to let a breeze in, and there was noise from outside as it is a busy area, but this sort of noise doesn't really bother me. There were also some times where my door rattled as other people went into nearby rooms, but again this didn't really bother me as my door was locked.
At the time I went to bed I would probably have given the hotel 4 stars out of 5 based on value for money. The bed as well was pretty comfortable!
However, at 5am I was woken up by the toilet. It sounded like someone was having a p*ss in it....it went on for about 10 seconds, would then stop for 10-20 seconds, and then start again. I went to investigate, and nothing looked out of the ordinary. I went back to bed, but couldn't sleep as the noise was so annoying. I tried flushing the toilet, but this made no difference - the noise didn't seem to be coming from the actual toilet.
After about an hour the noise finally stopped and I got back to sleep. Perhaps the ghost of the toilet had finally finished relieving himself.
Breakfast is served from 07:30 until 09:30 in the Buchanan Tea rooms. I went in, no-one was there to welcome me or anything. I poured myself a drink on the way to a table - think it was grapefruit juice, but it tasted of water. The orange juice jug was empty.
A waitress came and offered me tea/coffee and toast. I don't really do hot drinks, but asked for some toast.
The cereal was in big bowls, didn't look terribly appetising, but I don't eat much cereal anyway. There were also big bowls of slightly dubious looking fruit. There was one roll, and one croissant on a table, but I thought I'd leave them in case someone else really wanted them.
The hot selection had the usual selection, but it wasn't very nice to look at. The first tray consisted of bacon, sausage and egg. The bacon was REALLY fatty, and perhaps slightly undercooked - I picked the best bit I could find but it wasn't very nice and I left it. The sausages were pathetic looking but tasted quite nice (the best part of the breakfast). The scrambled egg (there was no other kind) looked absolutely vile, so I avoided it.
Second tray consisted of black pudding (looked REALLY dry - I avoided it), potato pancake things (which were quite greasy, but edible), and grilled tomatoes (I'm not a fan of these anyway).
Third tray consisted of haggis (actually not too bad), mushrooms (swimming in water), and baked beans (these were ok).
Nothing really suitable for vegetarians what with meat/non-meat being mixed up. However, none of it is very appetizing anyway. The toast was ok, but only butter available, so no good for those who only eat margarine.
I did have a glass of apple juice which actually tasted of apple juice. But quite honestly the breakfast was really not particularly good at all.
Check out is before 11am. I left at about 9:15am, nothing extra to pay, so a simple process.
All of the rooms are non-smoking, but for smokers out there, there are plenty of bins in Glasgow with ashtrays on the top (I think this is great as it stops the butts from being on the ground). There is a bar in the hotel, and public toilets next to it - I didn't use the bar. Apparently there is free WiFi in this area, but I didn't test it out. It was a shame there wasn't in the rooms, as I had to just use my slow Internet connection on my phone.
On of the features of the hotel listed when I researched the hotel was "Heating" - well, I would hope that there would be. Being quite an old building I imagine that it gets quite cold in the winter. I would also imagine on hot days the rooms can get quite hot.
Perhaps I should also mention that the Buchanan Hotel is a member of the Strathmore Group of hotels, not sure why anyone would really care though!
The Buchanan Hotel is in an absolutely fantastic location (so long as you expect a little bit of noise), and is an excellent price. The room I stayed in was adequate for my needs, and having biscuits and mini shower gels was a bonus.
However, the toilet ghost interrupted my night's sleep. And, the breakfast was in two words "somewhat dubious". Therefore I can only give it 3 out of 5 - however, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to someone who wants a cheap night in Glasgow. Just wouldn't recommend for a romantic getaway!
Oh, and the conference was well worth it if anyone's interested! This review can also be found on Ciao.co.uk with pictures :o)