Hidden Gems in Glasgow's West End
Glasgow is a wonderful place, full of hidden little gems. In some cases very hidden. Perhaps too hidden! Office outings to “this cool new place I found” have helped me discover many wonderful areas. To help those new to the city, I have crowd sourced (from my fellow PhD students) a few of the best secret locations in town to help ease the stress and worries that come from life as a PGR. Surprisingly, many are right on the UofG’s doorstep, so that is where we will start! Ashton Lane
Tucked in between Lilybank Gardens and Byres Road, this narrow cobbled street was once a stable. However, it is now the small thriving heart of Glasgow’s West End, lit at night by a canopy of fairy lights. With numerous restaurants serving cuisines from across the globe, British pubs like ‘The Chip’, lively student and cocktail bars, and the Grosvenor cinema—where you can have a pint as you watch a movie from a sofa—Ashton lane is a ‘must visit’ for all UofG students. During our sunnier summer days, Belgian bar Brel also boasts the best beer garden in the West End. The easiest way to get to Ashton Lane is to head to Hillhead Subway station and go down the (slightly sketchy-looking) alley next to the Iceland supermarket.
A hot beverage or two?
For those of you into tea and coffee, Glasgow has you well covered. Perhaps the best and most well-hidden place is the Tchai-Ovna tea house, found at the bottom of Otago Lane, near the Glasgow University Union (GUU). This most unassuming place is an “Aladdin’s cave of teas”. Serving around 100 varieties, along with a selection vegetarian food, it is a chilled place with a relaxed, new-age vibe. For a more traditional tea drinking experience, the Hidden Lane Tearoom in Finnieston works a charm. Located in Argyle Court (the ‘Hidden Lane’) it is VERY easy to miss, but worth the time taken to find it. More into coffee? While coffee shops can be found all around (and throughout) the UofG, for a particularly good one check out the uniquely decorated and cosy Artisan Roast on Gibson Street (also near the GUU).
Want something harder?
If you want to imbibe something stronger… well, Scotland has a reputation for a reason. Watering holes serving all kinds of alcoholic drinks abound in Glasgow’s West End (please drink responsibly and stay safe!). While not hidden as such, the Hillhead Bookclub (across the street from Waitrose on Byres Road) is a ‘quirky café/bar with vintage appeal’. Containing sofas, good music, a classy atmosphere and a ping-pong cage, it is popular with many. For a more intimate experience, the small Vino Valentino on Chancellor Street (just past Bar Gumbo on Byres Road) offers Italian wine tastings for small groups. And if you want to try some of Scotland’s world famous ‘water of life’ (whisky) why not check out The Lismore on Dumbarton Road.
OK, now I’m hungry.
Walking along Byres Road you will encounter places serving global cuisine. But it is always good to poke your head down a side street or two. The alley directly across the road from Hillhead Subway station is Ruthven Lane, where you will find The Hanoi Bike Shop. This is a must stop for all those into Vietnamese street food; they serve the best homemade tofu in town (in the author's opinion). And now you know where Chancellor Street is, why not check out Kimchi-Kult? Scotland’s first Korean style fast food sit in. It is a fusion of western and Korean food—you have to try their steamed bao! Go a little further, down to where Byres Road and Dumbarton Road meet, and you will find Dumpling Monkey—the best Chinese joint in town? Their dumplings are a prime reason for my ever growing waistline, and with a recently expanded menu, you are sure to find something to your tastes. Last but not least, why not venture to the back streets of Finnieston and find Banana Leaf, a traditional South Indian restaurant that has the intimate atmosphere of being in someone’s front room. Different from the one you will find on Byres Road, this small unassuming restaurant receives high praise.
Glasgow’s West End offers lots of entertaining treats. Many local pubs and bars have live music nights: from jazz in Bar Gumbo every Saturday (3-6pm then later) to traditional Scottish folk music in The Ben Nevis Bar (Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; 9pm onwards). Play an instrument? Many are jam sessions! (Karaoke is also common in the West End… attend these at your own risk.) The Rio Café on Fordyce Street (in Partick) offers a particularly diverse range of entertainment, including cabaret, gigs and spoken word events.
For a laugh, why not visit The Stand Comedy Club on Woodlands Road? World renowned, this club is purpose-built for stand-up, attracting both big names and unknown acts alike. It is also where Bright Club Glasgow perform, a group of PGR heavy academics and amateur stand-up comedians from Glasgow’s universities. They blend science and comedy, and best of all you can join them! Why not come up with your own set and perform at one of their events? (Don’t worry, they provide training.)
Finally while you are looking for entertainment, don’t forget the UofG’s own The Gilchrist Postgraduate Club. The Gilchrist hosts a diverse range of events, with recent ones including pub quizzes, knitting and German Karneval. It is also hosting the UofG 3MT (3 Minute Thesis) competition college heats this year.
These are just a few of the “hard to find, easy to miss” treasures waiting to be discovered in Glasgow’s West End. Did we miss your favourite? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @UofG_PGRblog! We may not know your chosen haunt ourselves. And let us know if you liked this post and are hungry for more! The city is larger than the West End, with plenty of gems scattered throughout.