Central Hotel to be restored

25 Jun 2009

by Vivienne Nicol, Evening News 

One of Glasgow's oldest hotels, which played host to John Logie Baird's first long-distance transmission of a TV image, presidents, royalty and Hollywood icons before it shut this year, is to be restored to its former glory in a £20m revamp.

The Central Hotel is part of the fabric of the city's Central Station and the lives of many travellers who have stayed in one of its 222 rooms or lunched in the Victorian A-listed building's restaurant - including John F Kennedy, The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Frank Sinatra, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and Winston Churchill.

Baird's transmission of the first long-distance TV pictures in May 1927 is still commemorated by a plaque, but the hotel became another victim of the downturn after its former leaseholders, the Real Hotel Company, went into administration in February and the hunt for a leaseholder came to nothing.

Yesterday it was revealed that UK hotel group, Principal Hayley, had bought the long lease.

The group plans to capitalise on Glasgow's reputation for business tourism by carrying out a the multi-million pound refurbishment of the hotel, more recently known as the Quality Hotel Glasgow, which it plans to reopen in February.

It will boast 30 more bedrooms and be known as the Grand Central Hotel harking back to its glory days. A spokesman for the chain, which owns 24 hotels in the UK, Paris and Barcelona, including the four-star George Hotel in Edinburgh, said: "We like to restore our buildings to their original glory. The Grand Central Hotel is a great old dame of hospitality so it is only right it gets resorted and opens again next year. Our plan is that it takes its place again as one of Glasgow's top four star hotels."

It was in the past the hotel to be seen at for high-profile visitors to Glasgow. But in recent decades, what was once the jewel of the city's hotels had lost its sparkle.

Tony Troy, chief executive officer of Principal Hayley, said: "Glasgow is a thriving tourism and conference destination and the acquisition of the Grand Central Hotel is in keeping with our strategy of offering dedicated conference hotels in key city centre locations around the UK."

"Even in today's challenging economic climate we are confident our unique model of offering an a la carte selection of high quality city centre hotels and dedicated conference, event and training venues is one which will continue to appeal to both the corporate and leisure markets alike and this acquisition further enforces our commitment to grow."

Local councillor Philip Braat, said: "We await further details on the proposed development of the Central Hotel with interest.

"This hotel played a very important role in tourism and hospitality terms for Glasgow in the past - welcoming world-famous stars through its doors - and a revitalised hotel in such a location has the potential to play a very significant role in the city's economy.

"This hotel played a very important role in tourism and hospitality terms for Glasgow in the past - welcoming world-famous stars through its doors - and a revitalised hotel in such a location has the potential to play a very significant role in the city's economy.

"With the advent of the 2014 Commonwealth Games and an ever-increasing numbers of visitors to Glasgow, this could be a very exciting project to join the number of top-quality hotels either already in the city or being developed.""

Reproduced with the permission of the Herald & Times Group.

  • Detail of Central Hotel and the fireman statue, by McAteer Photograph