“ Address: 52 Virginia Street / Glasgow / Scotland / G1 1TY / Telephone: 0141 552 2424 „
Back in August everything was going fantastically, I'd been on a great barge holiday with friends, work was bearable, things with hubby good, and my self-injury charity work going amazingly.
I became aware of a self-harm conference in Glasgow on 18th October, and thought that it would be a great networking opportunity. After booking a place. I spent some time while bored at work searching on the Internet for a reasonably priced hotel in Glasgow within walking distance of the train station and the conference venue. There was quite a selection, but it seemed that the Merchant Lodge hotel would suit me nicely in terms of location and cost (£50 B&B).
A couple of weeks prior to the event, disaster struck in our charity (perhaps a year down the line when everything is sorted I will review what can go wrong in small charities!), and I didn't know whether I should still attend or not. Being able to cancel the hotel up to 48 hours before (the conference wouldn't have been refunded but I didn't pay for that) I had time to decide, but in the end I thought the trip would do me good, and I had never been to Glasgow before.
Wednesday 17th was my last day at work before the conference and then a week's holiday, so I boarded the 17:30 from Carlisle to Glasgow (rather than the 17:27 from Carlisle to home in Workington) in a happy holiday mood. Even happier with my little bottle of wine and Walkers crisps - Virgin trains do have some advantages.
~~~Finding the hotel~~~
I arrived at Glasgow on time at 18:46. I was aware that the hotel was within walking distance (and didn't want to waste money on a taxi), but other than turning right out of the station I was pretty much lost. I asked a newspaper seller for directions, and he wasn't very co-operative until I spent 20p on the "Glasgow Evening Times". Following instructions to turn right and take the next left I felt I was entering a quieter part of the city as the hotel blurb had suggested, but still feeling a little confused (and it was dark) after walking a while I asked a street cleaner who told me exactly where it was.
The Merchant Lodge hotel is down Virginia street (which is a side road off quieter part of the high street) (Number 52, postcode G1 1TY to be precise) next to a huge Marks and Spencer's. From the Internet I knew what the hotel looked like, so was relieved when I spotted the turret. I went in, and entered reception where the receptionist (presumably owner) was a man on the phone I waited for about two minutes while he finished what was clearly a personal phone call, which seemed quite rude as he didn't acknowledge my presence.
I gave my name and straight away he demanded my £50, which all seemed a bit odd, since I have always paid bills on leaving before now. I hadn't booked through the hotel's website, I booked from some hotel comparison site. I had looked at the hotel's website for the first time earlier in the day, where it says that a single is £40 and a double/twin room is £62. So I'm not sure why I was charged £50 (could be because for some reason I was given a twin room, or maybe it was an admin charge from the people I booked it with), but due to the man's offhand nature I didn't really want to get into a debate about it.
It's actually quite amusing having a look at the website, as it describes how "Our warm, welcoming, friendly staff will make you feel at home"
Anyway I double checked that breakfast was included, and was told to come down between 7am and 8:45am. I was given a key (a proper key rather than one of these card keys most hotels seem to use these days) and told to go up the spiral staircase to my room (208). Since the hotel has 40 bedrooms I have no idea how one gets to 208....
When entering the corridor I was struck by the smell of paint. On closer inspection it seemed like the painters had come in and painted as quickly as possible without taking into consideration things like the carpet.....perhaps it was a Challenge Anneka type exercise. The corridor was really hot as well, but luckily this didn't extend to my room which was fine.
I was quite impressed on entering my room. The floor was wood-panelled, the doors, mirrors, chest of drawers (etc) made of pine (I assume). It would have been lovely, but was let down a bit by the pale yellow walls (green at the bottom as the painter missed off the bottom inch) with lots of stains on it (looks like red wine, could be blood....) and the curtain which was falling off.
~~~So, what was in the room?~~~
* Kettle with tea/coffee, but no biscuits
* Hairdryer, in a box in a drawer with price tag of £3.75 still on
* 2 bibles, and gumph/bumph about Glasgow tourist attractions
* Built in cupboard with coathangers and an iron
* 2 mirrors (plus bathroom mirror), and a Monet print
* Phone, and info about tariffs (very expensive, especially to Europe)
* 2 wicker chairs and a stall
* TV, but not digital and no remote
* 2 single beds with cream coloured bedding
* En suite with toilet, sink and shower
At about 7:10pm I phoned hubby to announce my arrival, checked that the TV worked buy watching the second half of Emmerdale (with dodgy snowstorm picture). Then I went in the search of food and drink. Having decided that I didn't really fancy a pub meal on my own (and no restaurant in the hotel) I found a fantastic wine shop called Peckhams where I got a Chilean Merlot called "Soleus" for £6.99 - thought I'd splash out! Then I went for a Maccy D's.....and then back to the hotel...wine opened (I happened to have a corkscrew with me), pyjamas on, TV on, bliss :o)
~~~The morning, and breakfast~~~
Had a really good night's sleep which was probably more to do with the wine than the bed (although that was fine) and I have to say it was quiet. Had a quick shower (again that was fine), and then down the turret to breakfast in the basement at 8am. It was a nice room (pictures can be seen on the website), but didn't seem very well organised. There were probably about 10 others sat having breakfast (and it seems that the hotel's guests are mainly tourists) The full Scottish breakfast was served at the counter by the chef - black pudding, white pudding, potato fritter things, haggis, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, and scrambled eggs (or fried if you asked the chef). I had it all except the tomatoes, and some bread and orange juice. I couldn't find the toaster, but I presume there was one there. The food was nice enough...being eager to make my money's worth I followed it with a croissant and jam. I have to say that it was really stodgy.....not really the ideal croissant. I also put a packet of oatcakes in my bad for later! Of course there were cereals and fruit on offer as well.
The strangest thing was that despite there being a woman lurking around making tea/coffee I think, no one asked me what room I was from or took my name. In fact, anyone could walk in off the streets and have a 'free' breakfast there. Of course you did NOT hear this from me!
I returned to my room, read my book, and left at 9am. I entered reception to hand in my key but no one was there (which explains why I had to pay on arrival), so I just left it on the counter. I remarked to an American couple that it was a bit of an odd establishment - they agreed.
I won't be going back....not that it was a bad experience - but I just had an overall feeling that something about the place was all a bit strange...again though that could have been partly down to the wine...
Oh, and if you wondered, the conference was excellent!
I don't think the hotel is particularly disability or small child friendly what with the turret and stairs. However, if you do have a disability or small children and wish to stay here I suggest you contact the hotel on 0141 552 2424. As I said earlier, their website is here, and various information such as local tourist attractions (etc) can also be found here:
Also published on Ciao.
Located in the heart of the 'Merchant City'. Only minutes from the cities attractions.