Historic site of former insurance office transformed into new hotel

New hotel: Alistair Campbell and Carolynn Morrison outside the new Park Inn by Radisson on West George Street.
New hotel: Alistair Campbell and Carolynn Morrison outside the new Park Inn by Radisson on West George Street.© STV

In the past few weeks Glasgow has been a bustling hub of new activity.

We’ve seen the opening of state of the art sports facilities in Rosshall, funky bars in the west end and fashionable shops at the Buchanan Quarter.

Now a city centre building which has been lying empty for the last eight years is being brought back to life as a 91 bedroom boutique hotel.

The Park Inn by Radisson is set to open at the former General Life Assurance building on West George Street on April 17.

The development which spans five floors will include a self check-in area, restaurant, bar, two meeting rooms, an on-site gym and an internet kiosk.

The new hotel has created 40 jobs in the city, with more than 250 people applying to be a part of the Park Inn family.

Alistair Campbell, the general manager of the hotel, which is part of the same group as Hotel Missoni and Radisson Blu, explained: "There used to be a Park Inn in the city centre but a few years ago the owners decided to change it into good quality student accommodation.

"In the past we’ve been clever with positioning ourselves in the outskirts of a city, but it was important to be back in the busy heart and to offer something different.

"These are challenging times but we are aware of what we’re looking to achieve and there certainly is room for more hotels in the city with what’s happening this year and next.

"What we are doing is fresh and different, we want to make younger generations come in and feel comfortable and at home but it’s also important for us to monitor rates and stay competitive.

"Glasgow is buzzing with the highly anticipated arrival of the new music arena The Hydro, this year and the 2014 Commonwealth Games, so the timing is perfect to bring 91 new rooms into the heart of the city."

Designed by 19th century architect Robert Alexander Bryden, the six storey building was used by General Life Assurance for many years. There were once plans for Hotel Missoni to take over the building, but after the boutique hotel chain chose to open its Scottish venture in Edinburgh, 139 – 141 West George Street has lain empty.

Park Inn by Radisson

Developers have been working with Historic Scotland to preserve aspects of the listed building.

Original features including red ashlar stonework, sash and case windows can be spotted around the building, while the visitors staying on the fifth floor can peek out the windows from behind the turrets.

Carolynn Morrison, the hotel’s sales manager, said: "It’s such a fantastic building there’s so many little gems and some nice surprises around the hotel.

"I’ve been speaking to a lot of local businesses and the feedback has been terrific, they are delighted there’s something opening at a site that’s been vacant for so long, and they’re delighted about the extra footfall it’s going to bring to their business.

"The timing is perfect, even since I started in January the scale of events being announced at The Hydro is tremendous."

Work on Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s latest property began 12 months ago. The hotel is the 24th Park Inn by Radisson in the UK and Ireland and second in Scotland following the opening of the Aberdeen hotel in August 2010.

The design mixes red, white and dark grey colours with teals and purples with contemporary artwork including a chandelier made from milk bottles, from local Glasgow artists.

The new site includes a 60 cover restaurant selling fresh sandwiches soups, pastas, grills and sharing platters.

Alistair said: "When I first came it was the bare bones of where the bedrooms and the bars would be, you really had to look at the plans to get an idea of what it would be like. The transformation to the hotel since Christmas has been tremendous.

"We call our staff crew members because they will take guests through the process from start to finish.

"The focus is on service, we don’t have specific food and beverage staff or front of house, everyone is multi-skilled and trained in all the departments.

"We want guests to feel comfortable in the environment."

Rooms at the Park Inn by Radisson Glasgow City Centre are now available. For more information call 0844 847 6747 or go to the website.

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