A Festive City Break With Campanile Glasgow

What To Do On A Festive Break In Glasgow | Visit Scotland at Christmas time and explore an amazing city. Tips for the best things to do and sites to see for a fun weekend away www.fivelittledoves.com

Earlier this month Gaz and I were ridiculously excited to be invited to Glasgow for a two night stay with Campanile hotels, child free!  As parents to four children, it’s an opportunity we took with both hands and, with the madness of Christmas just around the corner, it felt like the perfect break to take some time for ourselves and explore a city we have been desperate to visit for such a long time.

Just two and a half hours by train from Preston to Glasgow Central Station, we then took a low level train to the Scottish Exhibition Centre before a short walk across to the Campanile Hotel.

Despite arriving early the receptionist checked our room and, seeing that was ready, handed over our keys so we could drop our cases before going back into Glasgow to explore. The room was simple but comfortable, with adequate space for the two of us, but most importantly, was spotlessly clean.

With an en-suite, television, tea and coffee facilities, and a hairdryer, the room had everything we needed for a weekend break. For those wanting to visit a city location on a budget, Campanile can offer exactly that.

Not wanting to waste a minute of our child-free break, we dumped our bags and made our way back over to the station. The great thing about the hotel being so close to the Scottish Exhibition Centre and The Hydro, a major Scottish arena, is that you can take advantage of the fully covered walkway leading right back to the station. It is lit after dark, a welcome shelter in wet weather, and even has a cycle path running down one side.

Stepping into the centre of Glasgow I was amazed at how big the city is with swarms of people on the streets, music playing, lights twinkling, and the smell of Christmas in the air. We had been told that St Enoch’s square was home to some of the best Christmas markets and, despite having been to some lovely markets throughout the UK, I have to agree that Scotland certainly knows how to do Christmas!

Every stall had something different to offer with so many gorgeous hand made crafts and some really fun stocking fillers for the children. It was lovely to just take our time and wander around together without having to say “Don’t touch!”, “No you can’t have that!” or take the children to the toilet every two minutes!

It’s a good job we didn’t have the kids with us to be honest or they’d have bankrupted me on every food stall. From delicious cookies and freshly baked waffles, to sugar crepes and pick and mix sweets, had we not have travelled by train I think I’d have stocked up for Christmas!

Being gluten free and having recently discovered I have a severe allergy to nuts, I was super nervous about eating on the markets and yet I was amazed just how thorough each stall was with a full allergen menu which was hugely reassuring.

Both Gaz and I went for Chinese which we both declared to be the best Chinese chicken we’ve ever tasted – a bold statement, I know! I guess everything tastes better in the open air.

Of course there were several beer stalls and pop up bars and Gaz was more than happy with his first pint of many. With Christmas carols playing around us, huddled up beneath the warmth of a patio heater, it was the perfect start to our weekend.

For those who love to shop, St Enoch’s shopping centre has recently undergone a renovation and has some fantastic shops and restaurants. It was the perfect opportunity to do some Christmas shopping and coincidentally, with it being Black Friday, we got some real bargains!

New this year is Hamleys toy store which is the most fun to wander around, even without the children! It’s the kind of shop which always makes me revert back to being a child and although we didn’t buy anything, we got plenty ideas of gifts for the children which I later ordered on-line.

Outdoors along the main shopping streets, the Christmas decorations are amazing! Coming from a small town with just a few string lights, I am always fascinated by how extravagant the Christmas lights are in the city, and at times it felt as though we had landed in the middle of our own Christmas movie.

After a long day exploring we made our way back to the hotel and were met by the bright lights of the Scottish Exhibition Centre and The Hydro. With Lauren Hill playing at The Hydro there was a huge crowd of people gathering outside and yet back in the hotel, you would never have known that a major concert was happening just across the road. For anyone attending The Hydro, the Campanile could not be any better positioned!

We had already booked our dinner reservation in the hotel restaurant and were looking forward to seeing what they had to offer. The menu wasn’t extensive but it does have some great dishes on and Gaz and I chose french onion soup, which was absolutely delicious!

For our mains we both went with the waiter’s recommendation – the cheese and bacon burger, which came in a brioche bun, coated in a charcoal glaze to give it an unusual black appearance. With being gluten free I mine without the bun but Gaz said the bread had a smoky flavour and I think it’s great when chefs are experimental with classic dishes. The portion sizes were huge and although the dessert menu looked delicious, we were both way too full to even attempt one!

It’s funny how, in the days before kids, a weekend away would have meant a quick change of clothes after dinner before going out for drinks til the early hours. Instead Gaz and I went back to the room, watched the telly, and then milked every single second of a good nights sleep!!

The following day we went down for breakfast where there was both continental and cooked options. We both went for a full English which was tasty but wasn’t very warm, something which had been rectified the following day and was piping hot. The Campanile pride themselves on their range of coffees, teas and hot chocolates and I have to say their Creamy Hot Chocolate was one of the best I had tasted.

I always think that the best way to see a city is to go on a guided bus tour, that way you can be sure to see all the sights, learn all about the history, and hop on and off at places of interest. The City Sightseeing tour starts at George Square and costs £14 for a one day ticket or £15 for two days.

Despite the cold and rain, we decided to sit on the open top deck of the bus which is a great way to really appreciate the view. It was only as the tour started that I realised when you look past the Christmas lights and the busy shopping streets, the architecture in Glasgow is just beautiful!

One of the most surprising, and utterly amazing, things about the streets of Glasgow is the wall art, all done by incredibly talented local artists. Started in 2008, the murals have expanded over the last decade to rejuvenate streets and revitalise buildings and vacant sites that look a little tired, and reincarnate them as beautiful pieces of public street art.

As we approached Riverside Museum, Glasgow’s award-winning transport museum with over 3,000 objects on display, we hopped off the bus for a flying visit. The outside of the museum is so impressive, which it should be given it cost a whopping £74,000,000 to build!

Free to enter, as all National museums in Scotland are, the museum has the most amazing selection of transport to look at – from cars to steam trains, bicycles to motorbikes. My initial reaction was just how much the children would love it, especially Harry who is obsessed with any form of vehicle!

With the next bus passing by just an hour later, we had to rush through the displays and yet with the museum just a fifteen minute walk along the river from the Campanile hotel, we returned the following morning for another visit.

At the back of the museum you can board the Tall Ship and go down into the cabins which was really interesting. It made me determined to get another visit to Glasgow in the diary for the six of us!

Back on the bus we enjoyed the views before jumping off at the stop closest to the Botanic Gardens. Founded in 1817 by Thomas Hopkirk, a distinguished Glasgow botanist, the Botanic Gardens are a popular tourist attraction in Glasgow with indoor and outdoor displays as well as a tea room.

The gardens are lovely although I imagine in the spring, when the flowers are all in bloom, they would be beautiful. Although they were nice and peaceful, and a welcome shelter from the rain, we didn’t get to stay long as we wanted to explore as much as possible!

We decided to walk to our next stop, passing various monuments and points of interest, and of course taking lots of photos. Glasgow is a dream for photographers with something to see on every corner!

The barman at Campanile had recommended we pop by Ashton Lane at some point during the day, a small cobbled street off Buyers Road, with bars,  restaurants and even an old cinema down there. He told us that of an evening the lane was a popular spot for a night out and with the pretty fairy lights hung side to side, I can imagine it’s swarming!

Our next stop was Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, opened in 1901 and a from favourite with local people and tourists. With 22 galleries you can discover everything from art to animals, Ancient Egypt to Charles Rennie Mackintosh and so much more. And we couldn’t wait to see it for ourselves!

The building itself is unlike any museum I’ve ever visited, and exhibitions aside, it’s worth a visit just to see the interior with it’s high arched ceilings and extravagant chandeliers.

Downstairs there is the most amazing animal exhibition which my children would go crazy for, with elephants and giraffes, monkeys and tigers, looking even more spectacular in such a grand setting. From just that room alone I declared it my favourite museum we have ever been to, and I felt exactly the same way by the time that we left.

Over in the Egyptian display the exhibitions were equally as impressive and, with the children learning about Egypt in school this term, it would have been the perfect way to really help them with their understanding of Ancient Egypt.

We spent a couple of hours exploring the museum, marvelling at the huge aeroplane hanging from the ceiling, the randomness Elvis, and the most amazing display of heads above us.

I also knew that Harry would have gone crazy to see the dinosaur bones and I did feel a pang of guilt that we hadn’t brought the children. I guess even when you know they are having the time of their lives with the grandparents, that Mum guilt is strong!!

Upstairs the exhibitions continued and I honestly could have stayed there all day reading all of the information signs, the sculptures, stained glass, and art displays. It’s somewhere that, should I live locally, I would pop in each time that I passed, enjoying the displays just as much as I did the last time, and as we left I knew undoubtedly that we would be back with the children on our next trip north.

Back on the tour bus we gave ourselves a much needed break and enjoyed the whole 22 stops again without getting off. It was lovely to see Glasgow by night, and the commentary about the history of Glasgow was fascinating.

We finally got off again at the Gallery of Modern Art which again was free to enter although perhaps, with hindsight, not really our kind of thing! Perhaps I’m just not educated enough to find modern art interesting to look at, but we did have a good giggle walking around the museum and pretending to have half a clue what we were looking at!

We didn’t stop long but to either side of the museum are the most gorgeous streets, with canopies of light the whole way across, and there are countless restaurants and bars tucked away. I think that’s one of the things I love the most about Glasgow, that even with the city tour and two days of exploring, there was still so much hidden away that we didn’t get to see, and I don’t think I would ever tire of exploring!

Despite the many, many beautiful restaurants on every corner, Gaz and I always find ourselves gravitating to our old favourite – TGI’s. I think after a full day seeing the sights, both of us were in desperate need of a cold drink and a filling meal.

We did have plans to hit a few of the bars with it being our last night and yet honestly, by the time we had eaten and the tiredness kicked in, we were both more than happy to head back to the hotel and enjoy our final chance of some peace and quiet.

The following day as we boarded the train home it felt as though we had been away for far longer with how much we had managed to cram into our time there. Glasgow is undoubtedly one of the most welcoming, interesting, and beautiful cities I have ever visited and I feel as though not only did Gaz and I get to enjoy some much needed quality time together, but we also broadened our horizons.

I have previously been put off staying in large cities, worried that I would feel on edge, that it would all be very commercialised, that hotel rooms would be extortionate. And actually, I felt completely at ease, it was wonderfully historic, and with hotels like Campanile you can stay in prime locations without it breaking the bank. Not only will we be returning to Glasgow, but I know that we will definitely be staying with Campanile for future trips too.

** We were invited to stay at Campanile Glasgow for the purpose of our review, inclusive of food and travel. All words and opinions are my own. **  

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58 Comments

  1. December 9, 2018 / 6:55 pm

    The food looks amazing, I’ve always wanted to visit. Looks like you had a great time, and enjoyed some time kid free.

  2. December 10, 2018 / 12:44 am

    Sounds like you had a great two days away in Glasgow, i have not been for a number of years now and fear would get lost.

  3. December 10, 2018 / 8:51 am

    I absolutely love your photos. Glasgow is not somewhere I would really have ever thought about staying, but I think I am converted!

  4. December 10, 2018 / 9:04 am

    Looks like you had a fantastic time. The photos of the food look that was there looks absolutely amazing!

  5. December 10, 2018 / 9:09 am

    This looks like you had a great couple of days away. I’d love to visit Glasgow so this has given me some ideas! Great pictures too! Thanks for sharing!

    Victoria | http://www.spokenreveries.co.uk

  6. December 10, 2018 / 9:17 am

    Looks like you had an amazing time! Not been Glassgow before, love the wee pub, so may have to put this on my travel list xx

  7. Cathy Stucker
    December 10, 2018 / 1:07 pm

    I am just loving the tour of this beautiful city. I almost knows everything about Glasgow by visiting the photo you have posted in the article. Its quite amazing.

  8. December 10, 2018 / 1:44 pm

    I’m jealous! A child free break?! And a wonderful place to visit too! Glasgow looks so vibrant and inviting! (I don’t like the swarm of pigeons though! Haha)

  9. December 10, 2018 / 1:45 pm

    Do you know I haven’t been to Glasgow since my uni days and it looks like it has changed so much! Looks like you had a fantastic time and what a nice break to have just before xmas.

  10. December 10, 2018 / 1:48 pm

    It must have been a lovely weekend alone with just the two of you. It can be hard work when you’ve have the kids running around and not experiencing a new city as much as you would otherwise. Love how the food stalls were brilliant in your gluten and nut allergies. The cookies look amazing.

  11. December 10, 2018 / 3:08 pm

    Wow what a great place to have some quality time together. The hotel looks perfect for a mini break and there was so much to do there. I love all the edible treats, and would have been stuffing my face 🙂

  12. December 10, 2018 / 5:03 pm

    Wow, what a lovely break.It sounds like you had an amazing time and how great you got to do it, just the two of you x

  13. December 10, 2018 / 5:39 pm

    The best Chinese ever huh?? That soup also looked good. Glad you had fun without the kids.

  14. December 10, 2018 / 5:49 pm

    I’ve never been to Scotland, but I’ve always wanted to go. Glasgow sounds like a great place to start!

  15. December 10, 2018 / 8:14 pm

    Looks like such a fabulous place to take a break. I love the idea of going here some day in my future, must add to my travel bucket list.

  16. December 10, 2018 / 8:43 pm

    It looks like you did so much whilst you were there. I also love food pictures and your are fab!

  17. December 11, 2018 / 12:37 am

    This looks like another place to put on my bucket list! So much fun!

  18. December 11, 2018 / 9:23 am

    Oh wow! I’ve never been to Glasgow, but it looks like somewhere we would love for a family short break 🙂

  19. December 11, 2018 / 12:10 pm

    What a wonderful trip! I’d love to explore Glasgow for a weekend or longer. From the food to the interesting museums, I’d love to experience it all. And shopping at the outdoor market would be so much fun. Love all the photos too!

  20. December 11, 2018 / 12:37 pm

    WOW what an amazing trip. I had no idea there was so much to see and do in Glasgow but it looks fantastic! The outdoor market would probably bankrupt me, I cant resist all things pretty and sparkly lol, the food looks so good too!

  21. Candy
    December 11, 2018 / 12:54 pm

    Now this is something I would totally be up for doing. The accommodation looks top notch and would love to see the stalls

  22. December 11, 2018 / 1:16 pm

    What a great looking town to explore. I would love it here. Especially without kids. It looks like there’s tons to see and do.

  23. December 11, 2018 / 1:29 pm

    Wow a child free few days must have been such a break for you! I love Christmas markets as the stalls are so nice to walk around, especially the food stalls x

  24. December 11, 2018 / 2:24 pm

    I visited Glasgow for my hen weekend, but would love to visit again as that was 13 years ago now. Still haven’t found a good christmas market locally

  25. December 11, 2018 / 3:11 pm

    WOW! Looks like an amazing trip! Glasgow is totally on my bucket list. I’m so envious you had a chance to experience it…and child free!

  26. Melanie
    December 11, 2018 / 4:23 pm

    The food looks awesome! One of my favorite things about traveling is trying new foods. My husband and I have a deal when we travel that we do not eat at chain restaurants but try the local fare instead.

  27. December 11, 2018 / 4:28 pm

    What a nice time away it looks like you had. I’ve never been to Glasgow but I think we’d enjoy exploring it from reading this. Michx

  28. December 11, 2018 / 5:04 pm

    I’ve never been to Glasgow before but your photos make it look gorgeous! Especially the market.

  29. December 11, 2018 / 6:41 pm

    I’m jealous. This looks like such a fabulous time away and I just love the covered walkway tunnel.

  30. December 11, 2018 / 7:52 pm

    I love Glasgow! It’s such a beautiful and underrated city! Loved reading about your experience and weekend away – glad to hear you had such a great time exploring

  31. December 11, 2018 / 8:08 pm

    It sounds like a lovely trip, I bet it was amazing exploring a new city at Christmas time without the children. I really need to visit Glasgow at some point as I adore Scotland but we always go to Edinburgh x

  32. December 11, 2018 / 8:18 pm

    You are making me want to go to Glasgow right in that very moment ! i loved the place and your virtual tour so much i also love discovering new places

  33. December 11, 2018 / 9:34 pm

    Looks like a fabulous place to visit. I’d love to add this to my travel bucket list some day.

  34. December 11, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    Wow looks like you had an amazing tome and I love how quickly we can get to places from Preston now!

  35. Pam
    December 11, 2018 / 9:40 pm

    This looks like it was such a fun trip. All of the food and sights look amazing, what a great adventure.

  36. Kimberly Rambles
    December 11, 2018 / 11:09 pm

    These photos have me craving and adventure with just husband and I. I adore our kids but we rarely do much without them. It might be because when we try, we both find ourselves wishing they were there to experience something or other that they too would love. Couple time though is needed! I think my favorite photo from the ones you shared is the garden one!

  37. December 12, 2018 / 3:46 am

    Wow! Scotland is such a magical place. It’s on my bucket list. I’d love to experience the city vibe first hand.

  38. December 12, 2018 / 4:00 am

    I need to come and do this exact trip. How much Christmas fun can you have??? Love the food pics, especially.

  39. December 12, 2018 / 5:52 am

    My husband loves Glasgow. What a great trip! And so festive.

  40. December 12, 2018 / 7:14 am

    Glasgow comes across as a beautiful and lively city in your narrattive and pictures. There seems to be so much to experience in the city from food to shopping to museums. I am really impressed by the look of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, it has so many interesting exhibits.

  41. Tasheena
    December 12, 2018 / 8:02 am

    This looks like such an amazing trip and experience. All of the food looks so yummy.

  42. Catalina
    December 12, 2018 / 8:17 am

    How many beautiful places to visit in Glasgow! The perfect location for a city break!

  43. December 12, 2018 / 8:45 am

    Glasgow sounds like a wonderful city to visit! I love all of your photos!!

  44. Nicz Escat
    December 12, 2018 / 12:14 pm

    Wow, the photos are so lovely. The food are so appetizing. I would really love go here someday

  45. December 12, 2018 / 5:20 pm

    We had an amazing trip to Glasgow a few years ago, your post has just reminded me that we are overdue another visit.

  46. Jeanine
    December 12, 2018 / 5:44 pm

    The food looks so good! Looks like you had an awesome time. I’d love to take a trip like this. So fun.

  47. December 12, 2018 / 8:20 pm

    Looks like you had an incredible time . The photos are amazing! 🙂

  48. December 13, 2018 / 2:35 am

    Looks like you had an Amazing time! And being Kid free too!!!! :-O Glasgow looks amazing.

  49. Rosey
    December 13, 2018 / 11:37 am

    I like to do the guided bus tours sometimes. I think traveling is amazing, and I wish we could do more of it.

  50. December 14, 2018 / 12:08 am

    Wow I’m so envious of a few child free days. I’ve never been to Glasgow but it looks like a great place to visit. Love hotels that don’t break the bank.

  51. Jenn Mitchell
    December 14, 2018 / 1:40 am

    This looks like it would be a great spot to getaway. So many sights to see and good food to try!

  52. December 14, 2018 / 2:54 pm

    what a wonderful place to go visit with so many things to see, do and eat Thanks for sharing

  53. December 14, 2018 / 4:26 pm

    All of it looks pretty darn amazing. I would love to go and visit. I really would want to stop at the Christmas themed area though. So magical. It’s not that we don’t have anything but I just love the beauty in those pictures you showed here. Looks magical.

  54. December 17, 2018 / 12:35 pm

    Firstly, I am so jealous of your child-free break! Amazing! Secondly, I have always wanted to visit Glasgow, so I am very jealous of that too! Such a fab post with beautiful photos that makes me want to book that break to Glasgow right now! The hotel looks like it was fab and in a great location. Also, the museums look insane! So good! Looks like the perfect city for a magical weekend break.

  55. December 17, 2018 / 2:04 pm

    Wow, you managed to fit in so much! It’s amazing what you can manage to see when you don’t have kids in tow 😉 I love a Christmas market, and the Botanic Gardens are supposed to be fab – I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. I’ve actually stayed in Campanile hotels in Europe but I didn’t realise they were in the UK too – that location looks ideal.

  56. December 17, 2018 / 8:12 pm

    Glasgow looks amazing and that burger looks interesting. I would love to go and I would equally love some child free time. Claire x

  57. December 17, 2018 / 11:05 pm

    It looks like you had a great time in Glasgow. I’ve never been vut the pictures look great x One to add to the list.

  58. December 19, 2018 / 6:08 pm

    I’ve been to Glasgow once and I didn’t see all those street arts or visit the Kelvingrove gallery. I guess it’s time to go back for more. Thanks for sharing. It sounded like you had a great time there. 🙂

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