Tag Archives: Historic Hotel

The Grand Central Hotel – in the footsteps of the famous

2018c Grand Central Hotel

original watercolor by ginda simpson

Grand Central Hotel
99 Gordon Street
Glasgow GI 3SE
+44(0)141 240 3705

Constructed in the age of the steam train, the Grand Central Hotel is both grand and central. Built by the Caledonian Railway Company, it officially opened on June 27, 1883, sharing a rich history with the newly established railways that were vitally necessary to both trade and a growing passion for leisure travel among the Victorians. Inspired by their 1849 Buchanan Street Station, the first in Glasgow, and envious of the St Enoch Station built by the G & SW Railway in 1876, the Caledonian Railway Company pushed for and was finally granted permission in 1879 to build a four-track bridge across the Clyde that would bring travelers and trade goods to central Glasgow. Recognizing the success of the St Enoch Hotel built over that station entrance, The Caledonian Company spared no time or expense in creating a hotel that was as grand as possible with 390 bedrooms, 13 public rooms including billiard and smoke rooms, 40 lavatories and 34 bathrooms. Designed by Sir Robert R. Anderson, one of Scotland’s leading architects, the Central Hotel, as it was named, was to become and remains to this day one of the city’s most prestigious buildings.

central station

With the growth of the city and the increasing passenger travel through the station, the building was enlarged and added to over the decades. The “modern” amenities and its location on the corner of Hope Street and Gordon Street, two of Glasgow’s main thoroughfares, were all that was needed for it to succeed. It welcomed prominent guests and witnessed over a century’s worth of history. Eventually, however, it fell into decline. But the Grand Dame of Glasgow was not to be neglected for long. Purchased by Principal Hayley Hotels, it underwent a £250k refurbishment and re-opened in 2011 to much acclaim as the newly named Grand Central Hotel.


If I have any regrets, it is that we did not travel to Glasgow by train. It would have been an adventure to pull into the station and walk directly to the doors of the hotel, much as the Victorian ladies would have done. To my immense satisfaction, much of the architectural features and period décor remain, including the grand circular staircase with its stunning chandelier that drops from five stories above. I love the vintage feel of the public spaces and the 21st century creature comforts. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be a guest at this iconic Glasgow hotel, following in the footsteps of the famous…

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Eastern & Oriental – a Malaysian Legacy

2016c The Eastern & Oriental

Eastern & Oriental Hotel
10 Lebuh Farquhar,
10200 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6016 419 8238


Crossing Penang Bridge, we arrive after a long drive in George Town, Penang Island on the west coast of the Malaysian Peninsula. In 1786, during its occupation by the British East India Company, it was named Prince of Wales Island, and subsequently George Town after the reigning King George III. In 2008, George Town was formally included in UNESCO, recognized for its unique architectural and cultural heritage. Situated on the longest stretch of waterfront on the island, the Eastern & Oriental Hotel has been welcoming guests for over 130 years. When the Suez Canal opened in 1869 and steamship travel began to flourish, travelers looked to the East to satisfy their lust for the exotic. Answering the demands of these new adventurers, the Armenian Sarkies brothers established first the Eastern Hotel in 1884, and then the Oriental in 1885. When combined, the two hotels became the largest and most sought-after accommodations on the island. Throughout the decades, the brothers continued to enlarge and improve their hotel and their services, maintaining the E&O’s elevated place in the history of the city.

Arriving at the Eastern & Oriental is like stepping into a bygone era in terms of elegance and into a dream in terms of its jewel-like setting, positioned as it is along the seafront. We arrive just in time to savor a complimentary aperitif in the elegant yet relaxed atmosphere of Planter’s Lounge. The décor is reminiscent of its British Colonial past and the savoury snacks are a blend of Eastern and Continental cuisines. The Lounge is in the Victory Annexe, the new extension built in 2013 on the site of its 1923 namesake – named after the British Victory in World War I. This new 15-story addition houses 122 suites, all facing the sea, each decorated in grand style. On the same floor is the rooftop swimming pool where the waters lead the eye directly to the waters of Andaman Sea, an infinity of blue. Sea and sky for as far as the eye can see. It would be hard to choose between this pool and the pool that graces the lush gardens between the hotel and the sea, offering a veritable oasis.

For a stroll through history, one needs only to meander through these gardens or the historic corridor to the 1885 Heritage Wing, where Moorish minarets and a lofty domed lobby speak of times past. Each of the 100 graceful suites are unique in design and include all the updated comforts of a first-class hotel, while still retaining their original colonial charm – including butler service!  Dining options abound from the 1885 Restaurant offering classical cuisine in a rich colonial setting, to casual far served on the terrace. We enjoy dinner at Sarkies, where an abundant local and international cuisine is offered buffet-style.

From the cool comfort of our room on this scorching afternoon, we have a panoramic view of the sea. Later from our balcony we watch the setting sun as it gilds the water with a dusting of Malaysian gold. Simply dazzling. Tomorrow we will explore the many treasures of this island town, but tonight we will do nothing but enjoy our surroundings.


Read more about my books featuring this and other lovely restaurants and hotels, Rooms with a View and Italian Wanderlust, by clicking on their covers:

Rooms cover      italian wanderlust 2

More about my other books.

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