Champagne Central

If you’re looking for somewhere to spend that odd hour while you’re waiting for your train at Glasgow Central station, then look no further than Champagne Central (although it now has competition from the likes of Riverhill Coffee Bar). Part of the recently-renovated Grand Central Hotel, Champagne Central offers you a chance to surround yourself in opulence while you wait for your train. The coffee’s okay, but frankly, who cares when you are in such wonderful surroundings and overlooking the station concourse so you can keep an eye on the departures board? Not me, at least.

Champagne Central is more than just a posh waiting room though. It serves food, afternoon tea and has a fully-stocked bar, so any time you are looking for a touch of elegance, give Champagne Central a try. And don’t worry, you don’t have to sit overlooking the station concourse if you don’t want to!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

One of my complaints is that finding good coffee spots (or just good places in general) at railway stations is often difficult. In fairness things have been getting better in the last few years, but good places are still a rarity and I’m always on the look-out. So, when I ended up with an hour to kill at Glasgow‘s Central Station a couple of months ago (I tried the standard station fare there on previous occasions and wasn’t impressed), I found myself wandering into the Grand Central Hotel.

It’s one of those beautiful old hotels that all the major railways stations used to have at the end of the 19th/start of the 20th century (in the UK, at least) and it’s recently been restored to its former glory. So, instead of finding myself in a run-of-the-mill station outlet, I was surrounded by opulence, with marble pillars, wood panelling and, best of all, a view over the station concourse. Now, as views go, it’s not the prettiest station in the world, but it did mean I could enjoy my coffee in grand surroundings and keep an eye on when my train was boarding. Definitely a bonus. Shame Virgin killed my train, but that’s another story (and in fairness to Virgin I got £100 in travel vouchers as compensation for my trouble)…

Champagne Central also has a quirky feature: according to the menu, a single espresso is more expensive than a double. I pointed this out to the bar staff and it transpired that this was a printing error that no-one had noticed before. I got a shake of the hand and my coffee on the house as a thank you.

Now, onto the coffee itself. Surrounded as I was by all this opulence, one might expect equally opulent coffee, but sadly it didn’t live up to its surroundings. It wasn’t bad, per se, but if I was looking for somewhere to come strictly for the coffee, then Champagne Central wouldn’t be it. On the other hand, were I looking for somewhere to spend half an hour or more waiting for a train, then this is absolutely where I would come. I might even come here if I was waiting a long time for a train at Glasgow Queen Street (a five minute walk away). It beats the sitting on the station concourse for sure.

I’d also happily come here if I was in the city centre and looking for a spot for lunch or afternoon tea and probably evening drinks as well, since it has a fully-stocked bar. In fact, any time I was looking for a touch of elegance, Champagne Central would be high on my list. The staff are friendly, the service good and the surroundings are just top notch. If you don’t fancy perching on a bar stool watching the station go about its business, then there are plenty of other options, including high tables and some very comfortable-looking seats in the lounge off the bar. Judging by the folks who were there, it’s equally popular with the hotel’s guests, locals and travellers such as myself.

By warned though, it’s not the easiest place to find if you don’t know what you’re doing. The trick is to walk in off the concourse, turn left before reception, and go up the stairs, following the signs from there.

GRAND CENTRAL HOTEL • 99 GORDON STREET • GLASGOW • G1 3SF
www.principal-hayley.com +44 (0) 141 240 3700
Monday 11:00 – 00:00 Seating Comfy Chairs, Tables, Bar
Tuesday 11:00 – 00:00 Food Light Meals
Wednesday 11:00 – 00:00 Service Table
Thursday 11:00 – 00:00 Cards Visa, Mastercard, Amex
Friday 11:00 – 00:00 Wifi Free (with registration)
Saturday 11:00 – 00:00 Power Limited
Sunday 11:00 – 00:00 Mobile 3G, Voice
Chain No Visits 12th August 2012

Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Glasgow for more great Coffee Spots.

PS For those who were expecting a takeaway outlet, I apologise. Much like the trains I’ve been on this week, it’s been delayed. Instead, in honour of all the train travel I’ve been doing recently, I decided this would be a much more appropriate Coffee Spot.


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